April 19, 2018

Harris on Mueller Investigation: Special Counsel must be allowed to go where the facts lead

HD Video of Harris’ Remarks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris spoke out on the importance of protecting the Special Counsel and the current investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Harris’ statement comes in light of bipartisan legislation recently introduced in the Senate that would protect the Special Counsel from being fired for reasons other than good cause. Media reports have indicated that the President has previously attempted to fire the Special Counsel, only to be convinced otherwise by his staff.

Key excerpts from Harris’ remarks:

  • “As we all know, our justice system is built on a foundation of trust. That the American people trust our system of justice, and the trust also that the rule of law applies to everyone equally. This means that if an individual has broken the rules, then that person will face consequences, whoever they are, wherever they are, whenever that occurs. And our system does not allow someone to change the rules simply because the person doesn’t like where the facts are leading.”
  • “Congress is of course a coequal branch of government to the executive and the judicial branches, and we exist to place a check on the President’s actions, among others, and to ensure that our democratic system of justice is preserved. We are a nation of laws and nobody, of course, is above the law.”
  • “I strongly support the bipartisan legislation authored by Senators Booker, Graham, Coons, and Tillis that would protect the independence and integrity of the Special Counsel, and I urge my colleagues to pass it immediately. Moreover, I hope that the Majority Leader reconsiders his statement this past week that he would not put the bill on the floor for a vote.”

Full transcript of Harris’ remarks:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I’d like to say a few words about protecting the Special Counsel’s investigation. Specifically, the obligation that I believe that we have as Senators to ensure that the Special Counsel is given the independence he needs to follow the facts where they may lead.

As we all know, our justice system is built on a foundation of trust. That the American people trust our system of justice, and the trust also that the rule of law applies to everyone equally. 

This means that if an individual has broken the rules, then that person will face consequences, whoever they are, wherever they are, whenever that occurs. And our system does not allow someone to change the rules simply because the person doesn’t like where the facts are leading. They are the actions that raise concerns of the appearance of an authoritarian regime and not a democracy, when one can simply change the rules because they don’t like where the facts are leading.

Congress is of course a coequal branch of government to the executive and the judicial branches, and we exist to place a check on the President’s actions, among others, and to ensure that our democratic system of justice is preserved. We are a nation of laws and nobody, of course, is above the law.

That is why I am deeply troubled by the growing calls to shut down the Special Counsel’s investigation and the possibility that Bob Mueller may be fired.

And I believe the possibility that he may be fired is very real.

According to reports, the President has on more than one occasion ordered his staff to fire the Special Counsel before being talked out of it.

According to these accounts, not only has the President tried to fire the person in charge of the investigation for the second time, but he has also tried to delegitimize the investigation by repeatedly and falsely called it a “witch hunt.”

The Special Counsel must be allowed to continue to do his job and go where the facts lead, and his authority must not be undermined in any way, shape, or form.

I say this not only as a United States Senator but as a former prosecutor with a deep appreciation for the importance of prosecutorial independence.

I strongly support the bipartisan legislation authored by Senators Booker, Graham, Coons, and Tillis that would protect the independence and integrity of the Special Counsel, and I urge my colleagues to pass it immediately.

Moreover, I hope that the Majority Leader reconsiders his statement this past week that he would not put the bill on the floor for a vote.

And let’s be very clear. This bill is very straightforward and is good public policy, as the Chair has mentioned. And it would ensure that the Special Counsel can only be fired for good cause.

It would allow the Special Counsel to petition a judge to be reinstated and preserve the investigation in the meantime.

Just as important, it would send a clear signal that if there’s any attempt to interfere with the Special Counsel’s investigation, it will be met with swift and severe and certain consequence – another sign of a justice system that has integrity.

Equally important, removing Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein on a trumped-up pretext would be a blatant attempt to shut down or sideline the Special Counsel’s investigation, and would be equally outrageous, and it would demand an equally strong response from Congress.

So I believe it is up to us as Senators of both parties to speak out and to take action and pass this bill, and I thank you for the consideration. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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