Senate GOP leader rejects legislation to protect special counsel

GOP leader Mitch McConnell says the president wouldn't sign the bill anyway.

“I'm the one who decides what we take to the floor. That's my responsibility as the Majority Leader, and we will not be having this on the floor of the U.S. Senate,” McConnell, R-Ky., said emphatically in an interview Tuesday on Fox News.

The president has recently stepped up his public and private criticism of DOJ officials and the Russia probe, lashing out at Mueller on Twitter and openly musing to reporters about firing the special counsel in a meeting last week, saying “many people” are telling him to sack Mueller, adding, “We’ll see what happens.”

Despite that, McConnell has said he does not believe the president will fire Mueller.

Nevertheless, McConnell's sentiment is echoed by many of his fellow Senate Republicans.

Sen. Jim Lankford, R-Okla., told reporters Tuesday that he did not see a need for the legislation, calling it “a political distraction.”

But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who last week said Trump would be committing “suicide” if he sacked the special counsel, scheduled the Mueller protection bill for consideration in his committee in just over a week.

A Grassley aide told ABC News that the McConnell announcement would not change committee plans.

“This doesn't really change anything as far as the committee is concerned. Chairman Grassley said if the authors of the various proposals put forward a consensus bill, he'd bring it up. That remains the plan,” the aide said in an e-mailed statement to ABC News.

That is not likely to be welcome news to a number of Republicans who have also voiced private concerns about bucking a president still popular with the GOP base.

House Democrats have introduced a companion bill.