Holder: US under stress 'the likes of which we've not seen since Watergate'
© Lauren Schneiderman

Former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderHolder redistricting group targets GOP control in states IG poised to reignite war over FBI’s Clinton case Justice Dept sidelines office dedicated to expanding legal aid to poor citizens: report MORE said Wednesday that the U.S. is undergoing a "stress test the likes of which we've not seen since Watergate." 

He specifically cited American institutions and the "founding documents" as under stress, and warned that Republican attacks on the FBI's credibility could have "long-term consequences," according to Business Insider.  

"I think for something that is for short-term partisan gain, people are not looking at the long-term consequences of that," Holder said, speaking to reporters. "When you try to delegitimize a probe and try to delegitimize the FBI and you try to delegitimize the Justice Department, that has long-term collateral consequences."

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Some Republicans, including President TrumpDonald John TrumpTillerson: Russia already looking to interfere in 2018 midterms Dems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Speier on Trump's desire for military parade: 'We have a Napoleon in the making' MORE, have taken to criticizing the FBI's handling of its probe into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. The current federal investigation is led by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE, who is also looking at allegations of Trump campaign collusion. Some Republicans claim Mueller's investigation is biased, following the revelation that two agents on his team allegedly sent anti-Trump text messages last year.

Holder said there are some parallels between the current situation and the Watergate scandal that resulted in the resignation of former President Nixon.

"At that point, people put partisan politics aside and decided that country was more important than party," Holder said. "I hope we'll see the same thing here."

Holder, an appointee of former President Obama, said he was disappointed in Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Grassley to Sessions: Policy for employees does not comply with the law New immigration policy leaves asylum seekers in the lurch MORE, who recused himself from the Russia investigation, for not condemning the partisan attacks on the law enforcement agency. 

"And I'm disturbed by that — uniquely disturbed by the fact that I've seen nothing from this attorney general to defend the people of the Justice Department who are patriots and who do their jobs without any regard to partisan politics," Holder said. "They need to be defended."

Democrats have roundly condemned Trump and Republicans for targeting the probes and the special counsel as an inappropriate attack on an impartial investigation.