If President Donald Trump was tuning into his favorite morning news shows Wednesday, he may have noticed a peculiarly placed advertisement.
Republicans for the Rule of Law — an initiative spearheaded by a cadre of GOP politicos and conservative commentators — kicked off its campaign to defend special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russia’s 2016 election meddling and its alleged ties to Trump’s campaign with a television ad that aired on “Fox and Friends” and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
The ad first aired Wednesday, a day after The New York Times first reported that Trump wanted to have Mueller fired in December.
Those reports renewed efforts in the Senate to pass legislation protecting the special counsel and his investigation.
A bipartisan group of four senators on Wednesday merged separate legislation they had previously introduced to protect Mueller’s position and probe in the event the president tried to dissolve the special counsel’s office without just cause.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa has committed to holding a committee vote on the so-called Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act.
“Special counsels must act within boundaries, but they must also be protected,” South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the four lawmakers behind the special counsel bill, said in a statement Wednesday. “Our bill allows judicial review of any decision to terminate a special counsel to make sure it’s done for the reasons cited in the regulation rather than political motivation. I think this will serve the country well.”
It is unclear whether House Republican leaders would take up such a bill.
Republicans for the Rule of Law, the group responsible for the ad, said it was “heartened” by Grassley’s decision to put the bill to a vote.
“Mueller must be allowed to conduct his investigation unobstructed by the specter of unjust termination, and with the independence required to serve impartial justice,” the group said in a statement. “The integrity of our nation’s democratic norms, values, and institutions depends on it.”
The Wednesday ad included footage of GOP figureheads publicly vouching for Mueller and endorsing his completion of the investigation without the president’s interference.
“I have a lot of confidence in Bob Mueller,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says in one clip.
“This is our justice system, and the justice system needs to play itself out,” Speaker Paul D. Ryan says in another.
The ad highlights Mueller’s heroics as a Marine in the Vietnam War, where he earned a Bronze Star for rescuing injured troops under enemy fire.
It also mentions his time as a federal attorney prosecuting corruption and terrorism cases and connects him to a former Republican president.
“As the head of the FBI under George W. Bush, Mueller has been trusted by Americans to put America first,” the ad narrator says, borrowing language from one of Trump’s trademark campaign slogans.
Republicans for the Rule of Law is led by conservative voices such as The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, columnist Mona Charen, and restaurant and beverage lobbyist Sarah Longwell.