“I think it would be suicide for the president to fire [Mueller],” Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said during an interview with CNN.
“I think the less the president says about this whole thing, the better off he will be,” he continued. “I think that Mueller is a person of stature and respected, and I respect him. Just let the thing go forward.”
Trump hinted Monday that he’s considering axing Mueller as head of a federal probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, hours after the FBI raided the office of Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer.
Cohen’s lawyer told The New York Times that a search warrant had been issued after a referral from Mueller, but wasn’t directly related to his investigation.
When asked by a reporter Monday why he doesn’t fire Mueller, Trump danced around the question, stating that he would “see what happens.”
“I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on,” Trump told reporters. “We’ll see what happens, but I think it’s really a sad situation ... Many people have said you should fire him.”
Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including Grassley, have repeatedly defended Mueller’s integrity and leadership in the Russia probe. At least four bills have been introduced in Congress that would prevent Trump from firing Mueller, but none of them has yet been taken up.
“It’s pretty clear to me everyone in the White House knows it’d be the end of President Trump’s presidency if he tried to fire Mr. Mueller,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who introduced one such bill last year, told ABC News in January.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters Tuesday that he did not feel it was yet necessary to pass legislation protecting Mueller.
“It’s still my view that Mueller should be allowed to finish his job,” McConnell said. “I haven’t seen clear indication yet that we needed to pass something to keep him from being removed. I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Jennifer Bendery contributed reporting.
This article has been updated with McConnell’s comments.