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How Would PA’s U.S. House Delegation React If Mueller Is Fired?

J. Scott Applewhite
In this Wednesday, June 21, 2017 photo, Special Counsel Robert Mueller leaves the Capitol after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.


President Donald Trump's recent public criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election has raised concerns he may be laying the groundwork to derail the probe.

While the president and members of his administration have consistently denied any action would be taken to silence the investigation, top Republicans in Congress don't seem too concerned. They have said they won't back legislation to protect the special counsel.

Other members of the House and Senate have avoided answering questions about the topic.

So, where does Pennsylvania's U.S. House delegation stand?

WITF teamed with our public media colleagues at WESA in Pittsburgh, WHYY in Philadelphia, and WPSU in State College to find out what your elected congressman would do if Trump made a move against Mueller.

We contacted all 18 members, with a request they answer three questions. They were initially given a deadline of at least three days, which was extended for some that expressed an interest in responding.

1. How would you respond if President Trump fired Robert Mueller?

2. Would you take any specific actions and, if so, what would they be?

3. Should the president be able to fire Mueller?

Our reporting shows more than half of the House members from the commonwealth refused to answer any of the questions. Eight of the 18 members (six Republicans and two Democrats) simply did not respond to multiple requests for comment. A few issued statements. A handful were willing to talk about their views on tape. 



Find out how your congressman responded below:

Credit Mark J. Terrill / AP
Rep. Robert Brad, D-Pa.

1st District:  Democrat Bob Brady represents parts of Philadelphia, the city of Chester and parts of Delaware County. 

Did not respond to multiple requests for comment.


2nd District: Democrat Dwight Evans represents parts of Philadelphia and portions of Montgomery County. 

How would you respond if the Trump administration fires Robert Mueller?

"He is obstructing justice if he attempts to do that, and I believe that's more than cause for him to be impeached."

Would you take any specific actions and, if so, what would they be?

"I would seek articles of impeachment...Last December, I voted not to table a house resolution calling for the impeachment of Trump. I voted for it twice when it came up."

Should the president be able to fire Mueller?

"I do not believe that he should be able to fire the special counsel that is investigating him. I believe that is not acceptable.... I signed onto a discharge petition to support the special counsel's integrity. It's called house resolution 4659, which would prohibit the removal of the special counsel without cause."


3rd District: Republican Mike Kelly represents the Armstrong, Butler, and Mercer counties and areas of Clarion, Crawford, Erie, and Lawrence counties.

Kelly's director of communications emailed WESA this statement:

"I spoke with Rep. Kelly about your questions and he has decided to respectfully decline your request. Considering that does not serve on the Judiciary Committee and that each question is based on a hypothetical situation, he does not believe that he is in a proper position to issue a public response at this time."

Credit Jaqueline Martin / AP
GOP congressman Scott Perry.

4th District: Republican Scott Perry represents Adams and York counties, as well as parts of Cumberland and Dauphin counties.

"I'm not going to speculate on hypothetical situations. Factually, it's within any President's jurisdiction to fire a Special Counsel. The Mueller investigation should be allowed to run its course, but it clearly has turned into a fishing expedition prompted by the illegal use of federal surveillance powers and discredited information that was bought and paid for by operatives related to Hillary Clinton's Presidential Campaign.  I've said previously the scope of this investigation should include such actions undertaken by the Clinton Campaign and the Obama Administration. The truth is the truth and it should have no agenda."


5th District: Republican Glenn Thompson represents Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clinton, Elk, Forest, Huntingdon, Jefferson, McKean and Potter counties and parts of Clearfield, Crawford, Erie, Tioga, Warren and Venango counties.

Did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Credit Lebanon Daily News
Congressman Ryan Costello.

6th District: Republican Ryan Costello represents portions of Philadelphia, Montgomery and Berks counties. 

How would you respond if the Trump administration fires Robert Mueller?

"At this moment in time, knowing what I know, if Mueller were fired, I would take issue with that. I think he should be allowed to proceed with the investigation as he has been charged to do by the department of justice."

Would you take any specific actions and, if so, what would they be?

"It's difficult to say what actions I would propose taking if he were to be fired, because number one, it's a hypothetical, and number two, I don't know what basis would be alleged to have him fired. Without knowing those two elements, it's difficult to provide any more clarity. But I think he should be allowed to continue with his investigation."

Should the president be able to fire Mueller?

"My view is that whatever is customarily or constitutionally prescribed should remain...If we make changes to the independent counsel, it should be done at the conclusion of this investigation, not in connection with this investigation. I think that would only further politicize or poison an already very controversial situation."


7th District: Republican Pat Meehan represents portions of Philadelphia, Delaware, Chester, Montgomery, Berks and Lancaster counties.  

Did not respond to multiple requests for comment.


8th DistrictRepublican Brian Fitzpatrick represents Bucks County and parts of Montgomery County.

How would you respond if the Trump administration fires Robert Mueller?

"I called for the appointment of a special counsel, and I have fully supported the decision to appoint former FBI Director Mueller - who I served under as an FBI Special Agent - as special counsel to oversee the federal investigation into Russian interference in last year's election. The special counsel must see his investigation through to the end."

Would you take any specific actions and, if so, what would they be?

"I would join Congress in voting to have the special counsel resume his operation. As I've said before: At the FBI, all of my colleagues - regardless of our role - put the pursuit of the truth and the defense of our nation above all else. Our mission was to follow the facts wherever they lead, and to report those facts with unimpeachable integrity. Congress should follow that lead."

Should the president be able to fire Mueller?

"Although the President has executive authority to do any number of things, it is Congress' job to provide checks and balances to that authority. As DAG Rosenstein noted at the onset of the investigation: 'Our nation is grounded on the rule of law, and the public must be assured that government officials administer."


9th District: Republican Bill Shuster represents Bedford, Blair, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton and Indiana counties, as well as parts of Cambria, Greene, Huntingdon, Somerset, Washington, Westmoreland counties. 

Did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Credit Susan Walsh / AP
Rep. Thomas Martin.

10th District: Republican Tom Marino represents Mifflin, Juniata, Snyder and Union counties and parts of Perry County.

His office provided the following statement:  "Unfortunately, Congressman Marino cannot comment on if something will happen but is happy to speak to you when something does happen."


11th District: Republican Lou Barletta represents Bradford, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Pike, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Union and Wayne counties and portions of Lackawanna, Monroe, Northumberland, Perry and Tioga counties.

Did not respond to multiple requests for comment.


12th District: Republican Keith Rothfus represents of Beaver County and parts of Allegheny, Cambria, Lawrence, Somerset and Westmoreland counties.  

Representative Rothfus's communications director told WESA in a phone call that the Congressman does not wish to speculate during this time. While she initially said Rothfus might have further comment, the office did not respond 


13th District: Democrat Brendan Boyle represents Montgomery County and parts of Philadelphia County.

How would you respond if the Trump administration fires Robert Mueller?

"If the President were to fire the special counsel Robert Mueller, I would file an article of impeachment. That would constitute obstruction of justice.

It would be an exact replay of what President Nixon did in October of 1973, which has been subsequently referred to as the Saturday night massacre, when President Nixon was attempting to end the Watergate investigation. He fired the special counsel and it was after that event that you saw the first articles of impeachment filed against President Nixon."

Would you take any specific actions and, if so, what would they be?

(see answer to #1)

Should the president be able to fire Mueller?

"No president should be able to obstruct a criminal investigation of any kind, especially an investigation into his own conduct."


14th District: Democrat Michael Doyle represents portions of Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.

How would you respond if President Trump fired Robert Mueller?"

"Well, I think if he does that it would be the beginning of the end of his presidency. What the president needs to do is stop making himself look guilty by his behavior and let the special counsel do his job. If he's done nothing wrong, he has nothing to fear from the special counsel.

Robert Mueller is a man of integrity unquestioned on both sides of the aisle. He's a Republican and he has a reputation for fairness and thoroughness, and the president just needs to let him do his job.

And the president should do his job and not spending most of his time Tweeting about how unfair this is that there's an investigation going on."

Would you take any specific actions if President Trump decided to fire Mueller? If so, what that would they be?

"Well, I wouldn't take any specific actions personally, but I think the Congress would. I think if he would [fire Mueller], this would trigger serious action by the House and Senate leadership.

I think it would be joined by members of both parties in the Congress. As to what specifically that is, I wouldn't be the one that would be formulating that. That would be formulated by the leadership in the House and the Senate."

Should the president be able to fire the special counsel?

"I mean the president has the power to do that. So it's not a question of whether or not he's afforded that power but in this particular instance where he is the one being investigated, it would certainly, I believe, spark many different kinds of actions against him.

So I think, you know, if he were smart, he would stop what he's doing and he would focus on the job that people elected him to do ... This is a distraction that's not good for him and it's not good for the country."

Credit J. Scott Applewhite / AP
Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa.

15th District: Republican Charlie Dent represents Lehigh County and parts of Berks, Dauphin, Lebanon and Northampton counties.  

Did not respond to multiple requests for comment.


16th District: Republican Lloyd Smucker represents Chester County and portions of Lancaster and Berks counties.  

Did not respond to multiple requests for comment.


17h District: Democrat Matthew Cartwright represents Schuylkill County and parts of Carbon, Monroe, Luzerne, Lackawanna, and Northampton counties.

"I agree with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: the special counsel should be allowed to finish his job. That investigation has already yielded guilty pleas from three individuals, a grand jury indictment of another, and prosecutor indictments of 13 Russians for allegedly trying to undermine our national democratic process.  This investigation predates Robert Mueller, and Mueller has a reputation for only being interested in the facts.  Both Congress and the president should allow him to get to the bottom of the issues underlying the indictments that are within the scope of his assignment."

Credit Gene J. Puskar / AP
Democratic Congressman Conor Lamb.

18th District: Democrat Conor Lamb represents parts of Greene, Washington, Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. 

Did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Adelina Lancianese is the assistant producer for the NPR Story Lab, a creative studio that fosters newsroom experimentation and incubates new podcasts. At the Story Lab, Lancianese works primarily on investigative, long-form projects, and also helps organize the annual Story Lab Workshop for the development of new independent and Member station podcasts.