Noose Tightening Around Trump Family in Russia Probe, Top Democrat Warns

Even though President Donald Trump has calmed his firestorm of tweets about the investigation into alleged ties between Russia and his campaign—he hasn’t called it a “witch hunt” in weeks—top Democrats say that the noose is tightening around the Trump family, and that it is now crucial to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller so he can complete the investigation.

"As the noose starts to close around the White House and around the Trump family, a very different set of behaviors could emerge,” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) told Politico on Tuesday. "It’s under those kinds of pressures that the special counsel needs to be able to continue its work.”

He was talking about two bipartisan bills introduced last week that could block Trump from firing Mueller. One bill would requires a review of any terimation by three federal judges, and the other would require top officials at the Department of Justice to go before a panel of judges to explain any decision to fire Mueller.

Whitehouse also said that the current lack of complaints from the White House about the probe was not a guarantee of cooperation, and that it's not time to stop seeking protective measures for Mueller. “I think it would be a mistake to base that decision on present circumstances," he said.

Whitehouse said the two bills likely would be merged.

“It doesn’t make sense to have competing ones so we’ll have to either agree to support one or the other or work on a compromise version,” he told Politico.

The latest contribution to the Russia probe comes from the IRS, which this week has begun sharing information with Mueller, CNN reported. Though the FBI and the IRS were at odds early in the investigation, the latter is now sharing a decade worth of financial information about a former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and about a former national security advisor, Michael Flynn.  

On Monday, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said Manafort and Flynn were “almost sure” to be hit with criminal charges. “I’m about 99 percent sure there will be some criminal charges from this investigation,” he told Politico.

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