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

Democratic leadership on Friday issued a warning to President TrumpDonald TrumpGOP-led Maricopa County board decries election recount a 'sham' Analysis: Arpaio immigration patrol lawsuit to cost Arizona county at least 2 million Conservatives launch 'anti-cancel culture' advocacy organization MORE that using a controversial GOP memo to fire special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE or Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinProtect the police or the First Amendment? Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' Comey argues Trump shouldn't be prosecuted after leaving Oval Office 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 SchumerChuck SchumerSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Pro-tax millionaires protesting in front of Bezos's homes Student debt cancellation advocates encouraged by Biden, others remain skeptical MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate House extends proxy voting to July On The Money: IRS to start monthly payments of child tax credit July 15 | One-fourth of Americans took financial hits in 2020: Fed 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 ComeyThe FBI should turn off the FARA faucet Barr threatened to resign over Trump attempts to fire Wray: report 'Fox News Sunday' to mark 25 years on air 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. McGahnCongress hits rock bottom in losing to the president in subpoena ruling Rudy Giuliani's reputation will never recover from the impeachment hearings In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book MORE threatened to quit.

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