The House passed legislation Friday that includes language that Republicans say could require the Government Accountability Office to audit Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
The provision, attached as an amendment to a spending bill, serves to underscore skepticism of the Mueller investigation among House conservatives, many of whom have called for Mueller to end his more-than-year-long probe of possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian meddling of the 2016 presidential election.
Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, introduced the amendment, which was attached to an annual spending bill that in part funds the legislative branch. The bill still has to move through the Senate before reaching the President’s desk, making the future of the House-passed GAO requirement still a question.
“While the work of the independent counsel is indeed important, it’s just as important that we properly take into account the hardworking American taxpayers’ dollars and where they go,” Meadows said late Thursday night on the floor while debating his amendment.
Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, however, argued that the legislation wouldn’t actually affect Mueller’s probe because he’s technically a “special” counsel rather than an “independent” counsel.
“Trying to muddy the waters by going after the integrity of the investigation is a classic tactic used by the people who feel threatened by an investigation because they know they’ve been caught,” said Ryan.
Meadows, however, argued that the amendment would still apply to Mueller. “We have confirmation, based on the statutes that are there, that this would apply to special counsel,” he told CNN.
Reached for comment by CNN, a spokesperson for the GAO said they were still reviewing the amendment to see whether it would apply to a special counsel.