The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday warned President Donald Trump against firing special counsel Robert Mueller during his investigation into Russia’s meddling with the 2016 presidential election.
Speaking on the Senate floor, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said that any attempt by Trump to oust Mueller, pardon key witnesses in the investigation or shut down the inquiry would constitute a “gross abuse of power and a flagrant violation” of the executive branch’s responsibilities.
“These truly are red lines and [we] simply cannot allow them to be crossed,” said Warner, who is vice president of the Senate intelligence panel.
Warner added that Mueller’s firing could spark a “constitutional crisis,” and warned Trump that no one in the U.S. is above the law.
“Firing Mr. Mueller or any other of the top brass involved in this investigation would not only call into question this administration’s commitment to the truth, but also to our most basic concept, rule of law,” he said.
“It also has the potential to provoke a constitutional crisis,” Warner added. “In the United States, no one, no one is above the law. Not even the president.”
Warner admonished the Republicans who have recently ramped up their attacks on Mueller, the FBI and the investigation after reports revealed that FBI agents involved in the probe had been found exchanging text messages that could be viewed as critical of Trump.
“Over the last several weeks, a growing chorus of irresponsible and reckless voices have called for President Trump to shut down special counsel Mueller’s investigation,” Warner said.
The Democrat also criticized Fox News, which suggested in a recent segment that the Russia investigation could be “a coup in America.”
“Just this weekend, one major news organization suggested that special counsel Mueller could be involved in a coup against the president,” Warner said.
“Those statements are reckless,” he added. “They are inappropriate, and they are extremely worrying.”
Despite assuring the public that Trump won’t fire Mueller, top Republicans have slammed Mueller and questioned the legitimacy of the probe in recent news interviews and on Twitter.
Trump has denied that he has plans to dismiss Mueller. But he, too, has been critical of the investigation and continues to deny that there was any collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia.