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Durbin says taking Mueller off Russia probe would be ‘unacceptable’

Durbin says Trump firing Special Council Robert Mueller would be unacceptable

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin comments on President Trump trying to stop Special Council Robert Mueller's Russian investigation.
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U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin comments on President Trump trying to stop Special Council Robert Mueller's Russian investigation.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said it would be “unacceptable” if President Donald Trump tried to stop Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The comments came after new reports that Trump ordered the firing of Mueller last year, but ultimately backed off when White House Counsel Donald F. McGahn II threatened to resign.

“This is a warning shot for America,” Durbin said Friday in East St. Louis. “This president needs to know that it’s absolutely unacceptable to stop the investigation by Robert Mueller. If he should try to dismiss him, fire him or intimidate him, I hope members of both political parties would step up and say, ‘enough.’”

Durbin, a Democrat, added: “I’m prepared to accept what Robert Mueller comes up with, one way or the other, whether there was collusion, or coverup, or anything. I trust this man; he’s a real professional.”

Durbin made the comments after speaking at the reopening of Ameren Illinois’ East St. Louis operations center, which recently underwent a $10.6 million renovation.

“We have to give (Mueller) all the opportunity to do his job and do it properly. No one, no one in the United States is above the law. Bob Mueller’s investigation is to make sure we stand by that principal,” Durbin said.

Earlier this week, in an impromptu meeting with reporters, Trump said he would be willing to be interviewed with Mueller and do so under oath.

Mueller is investigating Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, and Trump has denied any collusion.

Shutdown politics

Less than a week after the end of a three-day federal government shutdown, Durbin said the Senate is now focused on immigration issues, and Democrats were able to secure a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, to have a vote addressing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA. The program gives deportation protections to young immigrants who were mostly raised in the U.S. but lack legal status.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin addresses questions on DACA and immigration issues.

“We had emerging in the United States Senate, a new, moderate force — a strong center of Democrats and Republicans who continue to meet as late as yesterday and talk about ways to make the Senate more effective and responsive,” Durbin said. “I know what people think about congress and politicians and they have every right to. If we can solve our problems make our own institutions stronger and really respond to the real challenges facing families across America, then ultimately that temporary shutdown would have been worth it.”

Congress is under pressure to come up with a solution because President Trump gave notice he would end DACA in March.

“The lives of literally millions are at stake with this decision,” Durbin said. “There are almost over 800,000 signed up for DACA protection. There are another million perhaps that might also be protected, the Dreamers and the like. There are lives at stake here. We’ve got to do this.”

However, Durbin, along with Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, was criticized for ending the shutdown, by groups such as the left-leaning

“Senators Durbin and Duckworth flip-flopped, abandoning their stated commitment to Dreamers and failing the American people,” Political Action Campaign Director Corinne Ball said. “By voting in favor of the Trump-Republican plan without the Dream Act, they’ve kicked the can down the road while increasing the number of Dreamers that face the terrifying threat of immediate deportation. In a matter of weeks, if Trump’s decision to rescind DACA goes into full effect, more than 800,000 will lose protection.”

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451, @JoeBReporter