‘What is the White House afraid of’ with Mueller probe, Democratic senator asks

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — The Democrat who heads the party’s senatorial campaign committee said Republicans need to end what he called a “concerted effort” to undermine the credibility of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“I think Republicans should end their concerted effort to undermine the credibility of the Mueller investigation,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview on This Week Sunday.

The Maryland senator also questioned why the White House is concerned about Mueller’s probe.

“The question is, ‘What are they afraid of? What is the White House afraid of?’” he said.

Mueller has so far charged four people, including Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

When President Trump was asked Friday whether he would consider pardoning Flynn, he said, “I don’t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet.”

After Trump’s comment, White House lawyer Ty Cobb said, “There is no consideration at the White House of any pardon for Michael Flynn.”

Similarly, Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, in August told USA Today that firing Mueller has “never been on the table.”

Van Hollen on Sunday told Stephanopoulos that he takes the president’s team at its word that firing Mueller is not under consideration.

“I certainly hope that is the case,” Van Hollen said.

He also discussed the GOP tax plan, which Congress is expected to vote on early this week. He slammed the 1,000-page bill as “huge giveaway to big corporations.”

“This is a total betrayal of President Trump’s economic populist message on the campaign trail,” Van Hollen said. “Millions of middle-class taxpayers will see their taxes go up, even though Republicans promised that would not happen.”

Stephanopoulos also asked Cornyn why a provision was added to the bill at the last minute that could give a tax break to people who earn income from real estate through limited liability corporations, or LLCs, and which could potentially benefit the president and other Republican elected officials who invest in real estate.

“We were working very hard. It was a very intense process,” Cornyn said. “What we tried to do was cobble together the votes we needed to get this bill passed, at the same time maintaining the largest tax cuts we’re going to be seeing since 1986.”

Stephanopoulos asked if this is how they got Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., to support the bill. Corker had voted against the Senate version of the tax bill, but said this week that he’ll support the final bill.

“Well, the particular provision you’re talking about, honestly, is just one piece of a 1,000-page bill which is going to grow the American economy,” the Texas senator responded.

Cornyn also discussed Republican Roy Moore’s loss in the Alabama Senate race last week.

Stephanopoulos noted that Cornyn was “not a fan of Roy Moore” in the election. “Do you think the GOP dodged a bullet with that loss?” he asked.

“Well, I think the explanation for Alabama was we had a flawed candidate who won the Republican primary and who couldn’t win the general election. That’s really not a new lesson. That’s an old lesson remembered or demonstrated once again,” Cornyn said, adding that what his party needs to do is “make sure we nominate electable candidates, good candidates who can win general elections.”

Asked about former White House senior adviser Steve Bannon, who backed Moore in Alabama, and his role in 2018, Cornyn responded, “Mr. Bannon can do whatever he sees fit. It’s a free country.”

“But I don’t think his track record — particularly now in losing Alabama, one of the reddest states in the country — particularly commends him for his expertise,” Cornyn added.

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