The Mueller investigation into possible Russia-Trump campaign connections
A new group founded by prominent Republicans is taking its pro-Robert Mueller message straight to President Donald Trump's most loyal supporters in North Carolina and South Carolina via his favorite news network.
Republicans for the Rule of Law began airing a 30-second television ad on Fox News' "Fox and Friends" in four states on Tuesday, calling for the special counsel to be allowed to finish his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
"It's Trump supporters who should be leading the charge to protect the president from doing something that would imperil his presidency," said Sarah Longwell, the chairwoman of the Log Cabin Republicans and a member of the board of directors of Republicans for the Rule of Law.
North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham are Republican co-sponsors of a bipartisan measure intended to protect Mueller (and future special counsels) from being fired without just cause. The bill would allow for judicial review after a special counsel was fired.
The ad is also airing in Iowa, home of Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, and Kentucky, home of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said the bill will not be voted on by the full Senate.
"We're hoping he'll reconsider," Longwell said. "The call to action is to have people call their representatives and let them know they support the Mueller investigation and it should be allowed to come to its conclusion without political interference."
Along with Longwell, Bill Kristol, founder of the conservative political magazine The Weekly Standard and a vocal critic of Trump, is among the founders of Republicans for the Rule of Law, which was created as a nonprofit 501(c)4 earlier this month.
They are joined by Mona Charen (a former staffer for President Ronald Reagan and now a columnist and author), Linda Chavez (a Reagan staffer and conservative commentator) and Andy Zewick (the executive director of the Foundation for Constitutional Government) on the group's board of directors.
The group says it represents "the majority of Republicans who believe Robert Mueller should not be fired." In a recent Marist poll, just 24 percent of Republicans said Mueller should be fired and 56 percent of Republicans said that Mueller should be allowed to finish the investigation.
Many congressional Republicans, including Tillis and Graham, have said they do not believe Trump will fire Mueller. Graham has said several times that firing Mueller would be "the beginning of the end" of Trump's presidency.
"We can say we’ve seen this movie before. We know how it ends if Trump were to try to fire the special counsel," Longwell said. "History would be repeating itself."
The group has aired this ad and previous ads, including one of Reagan defending the rule of law and one about President Richard Nixon's firing of a special prosecutor during the Watergate scandal, in Washington and New York City on Fox News and MSNBC. This week marks the first time the group has aired ads outside those major cities.
The ad is airing in the Raleigh and Charlotte markets in North Carolina, in Charleston and Columbia in South Carolina, in Lexington and Louisville in Kentucky and in Des Moines in Iowa during the "Fox and Friends" morning show. Trump watches the show extensively, often tweeting about topics that were covered on the show.
"The goal is expand the campaign, expand it nationally," Longwell said. "We've been incredibly heartened by how many Republicans have come out and wanted to get involved in the campaign."
Despite McConnell's vow, the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Some on the right have criticized Tillis for introducing the measure with Democrats Chris Coons of Delaware and Cory Booker of New Jersey.
"I, for one, don’t think the president is going to fire the special counsel, but I can’t say that for future presidents. For some that have suggested that I’m filing this bill because I don’t trust the president, it’s quite the contrary," Tillis said last week when the bill was introduced in committee. "I trust this president on this issue. What I don’t trust are future presidents that I don't know yet."