President Donald Trump called Thom Tillis after the senator from North Carolina introduced legislation aimed at providing protection for special counsel Robert Mueller in the event Trump fired him.
Mueller is investigating Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election and whether there was any collusion with the Trump campaign, which has drawn complaints from Trump of a “hoax” and a “witch hunt.”
“Earlier this month, Senator Tillis and the President talked on the phone and discussed a number of policy issues. The conversation was cordial from beginning to end,” Tillis’ office said in a statement to McClatchy.
The two haven’t spoken since.
Politico first reported the Aug. 7 phone call Wednesday night in a story about angry Trump phone calls to Republican senators, including Bob Corker of Tennessee and Tillis.
Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly had an Aug. 9 phone conversation that “quickly devolved into a profane shouting match,” according to The New York Times.
Tillis, a first-term Republican, has tried to distance himself from the president on several fronts this summer, including Trump’s reaction to violence in Charlottesville, Va., and his criticism of McConnell and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“I have not deviated once from any nomination or any vote that the president happens to be supportive of,” Tillis told McClatchy earlier this week. “This has more to do with tone and message and discipline.”
Tillis’ Special Counsel Integrity Act would allow a fired special counsel to have his or her dismissal reviewed by a three-panel judge within 14 days of the firing. If the judges found there was no “good cause” for the special counsel’s removal, he or she would be immediately reinstated.
Tillis introduced the bill on Aug. 3, just hours before the Senate went on August recess.