Dems warn Trump: Firing Mueller, Rosenstein would spark 'constitutional crisis'
© Greg Nash

Democratic leadership on Friday issued a warning to President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE that using a controversial GOP memo to fire special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE or Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinEx-federal prosecutor: I would have 'owned' wearing a wire to record Trump The embarrassing return of Andrew McCabe The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight MORE would create a "constitutional crisis" not seen since the Nixon administration. 

"We write to inform you that we would consider such an unwarranted action as an attempt to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation. Firing Rod Rosenstein, [Department of Justice] Leadership, or Bob Mueller could result in a constitutional crisis of the kind not seen since the Saturday Night Massacre," Democrats wrote in the letter to Trump.

In addition to Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNational emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration Mandatory E-Verify: The other border wall MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiNational emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win Congress allows Violence Against Women Act to lapse High stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks MORE (D-Calif.), the second- and third-ranking members of Democratic leadership in both chambers, as well as top Democrats on the Intelligence and Judiciary committees in both chambers signed the letter.

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The House Intelligence Committee on Friday released a previously classified memo accusing senior officials at the Department of Justice of inappropriately using a piece of opposition research into then-candidate Trump to obtain surveillance warrants on transition team members as part of the federal investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia.

The release came roughly an hour after the White House said Trump signed off on the memo's release without redactions despite fierce objection from the FBI, which argued it contained "material omissions." 

Democrats argue the memo is meant to undercut Mueller's investigation into the 2016 election and potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign by using "cherry-picked" facts that lack context.

"The decision to release a partisan and misleading memo ... was a transparent attempt to discredit the hard-working men and women of law enforcement who are investigating Russia’s interference with our Presidential election and that nation’s ties to your campaign," Democratic leadership said in the letter to Trump.

They added that they are "alarmed by reports that you may intend to use this misleading document as a pretext to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in an effort to corruptly influence or impede Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s investigation."

The memo has sparked a wave of speculation that Trump could try to use it as a basis for firing Mueller or Rosenstein, a Trump-appointed official who named Mueller to be special counsel after the president fired then-FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyMcCabe's 25th Amendment comments 'taken out of context,' spokeswoman says Ex-federal prosecutor: I would have 'owned' wearing a wire to record Trump Ex-federal prosecutor: 'Thank God' Whitaker is gone, Barr will bring 'integrity' back to DOJ MORE in May.

The White House and its allies have downplayed reports that Trump could fire Mueller, though The New York Times reported late last week that he wanted to fire him in June but backed off after White House counsel Donald McGahnDonald (Don) F. McGahnManafort pardon would be impeachable, indictable and convictable Both political parties guilty of weaponizing impeachment More questions than answers in too many Trump stories MORE threatened to quit.

Trump declined to say on Friday if he had confidence in Rosenstein, telling reporters: "You figure that one out."