Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Senate Republicans blocked a vote Wednesday on legislation protecting special counsel Robert Mueller in his probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, objected to a request by Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz, Chris Booker, D-N.J., and Christopher Coons,D-Del., for unanimous consent to proceed to a full vote on the bill, citing constitutional issues previously brought up by the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
"As Justice Scalia explains, we cannot convert an office like this one ... without creating a de facto fourth branch of government fundamentally undermining the principles of the separation of powers that is so core to our liberty," Lee said.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky also dismissed the bill as unnecessary.
"This is a solution in search of a problem," McConnell said. "The president is not going to fire Robert Mueller ... We have a lot of things to do to try to finish up this year without taking votes on things that are completely irrelevant to outcomes."
Flake asked why his colleagues in the Senate weren't "up in arms" after Trump criticized Mueller's investigation in a series of tweets Wednesday morning.
"With the president tweeting on a regular basis, a daily basis, that the special counsel is conflicted, that he is leading so-called 12 angry Democrats and demeaning and ridiculing him in every way, to be so sanguine about the chances of him being fired is folly for us," Flake said.
Coons said it was important to pass the bill to ensure Mueller's job as head of the investigation remains safe.
"This is the easiest way possible to prevent an entirely predictable constitutional crisis," he said. "We could take up and pass this bill in a few minutes this afternoon and I'm confident it would get 60 votes."