Update: In response to our article, Senator Lisa Murkowski has stated the following: “I was asked to read the final orders adjourning the Senate last night as a courtesy because I was still on the Senate floor, working to broker a deal to confirm two FERN nominees and restore a quorum to that critical independent agency. I did not seek pro forma sessions; Senate Democrats would not agree to adjourn without them.” We’re not sure why she’s now declining to take credit for her actions. If she hadn’t wanted to be responsible the pro forma sessions, she would have yielded the floor back to the Democrats and let them implement the sessions instead. In any case, we stand by our reporting on the matter. Original article follows below:
Donald Trump’s toothless threats against Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska during the TrumpCare debacle are continuing to backfire on him, even as the Republican Senate’s overall allegiance to Trump trends closer to zero. As the Senate prepared to head into recess on Thursday evening, Murkowski made a point of dealing a major blow to Trump which effectively puts one of his key schemes out of its misery.
Trump was considering firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the recess so he could appoint a replacement without needing Senate confirmation, which would then allow the new Attorney General to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. As Palmer Report pointed out late last month, the Democrats in the Senate were planning all along to take steps to technically keep the Senate in session during recess so that Trump couldn’t make a recess appointment, and there was nothing the Republicans could have done to stop the Democrats. But today things went the other direction.
Lisa Murkowski closed out the Senate session by putting a series of pro forma mini-sessions in place which will indeed keep the Senate from ever technically going into recess. This makes it official: Donald Trump cannot sneak a new Attorney General into office during recess, and he therefore no longer has a strategic reason to fire Jeff Sessions. The big twist is that it was Murkowski and the Republicans who ultimately made the move to formally block Trump.
Again, the Democrats would have done it anyway. But this sudden willingness on the part of Senate Republicans to stand up to Donald Trump, both by blocking any recess appointment, and by separately signing into bipartisan legislation to limit Trump’s ability to fire the Special Counsel, makes a sea change. As I opined just before Lisa Murkowski appeared on television and punched Trump in the mouth, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Republicans now want Trump gone (link) – and they’re going to protect Mueller so he can do the dirty work of destroying Trump.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report