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Story highlights

A proposed bipartisan measure would bar the President from directly firing any special counsel

It would also mandate that only a Senate-confirmed AG would have the power to remove the special counsel

(CNN) —  

Support is gathering behind a bipartisan push to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from potentially being fired by President Donald Trump.

Sen. Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, and Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, plan to introduce a measure Thursday that would bar the President from directly firing any special counsel – retroactive to Mueller’s appointment in May.

“The President would maintain the power to remove the special counsel, but we would just want to make sure that it had merit and have that back-end judicial process,” Tillis said Thursday morning on CNN’s “Newsroom.”

“And if there is a termination, we just want to make sure, through judicial review, that it was warranted,” he added.

01:17 - Source: CNN
Sessions: Trump's criticism is 'hurtful'

The measure would also effectively shut down another avenue for firing Mueller – mandating that only an attorney general confirmed by the Senate would have the power to remove the special counsel.

Trump has openly blasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the federal Russia probe, leading to speculation he may try and find a new attorney general who would fire Mueller.

Tillis voiced support for Sessions Thursday, saying the attorney general is “doing a great job.” The Republican lawmaker also warned that if the bipartisan proposal passes through Congress and Trump decides to veto the legislation, “it means that we’d have work to do potentially override a veto.”

CNN’s Liz Stark contributed to this report.