Axelrod: Russia could become ‘major crisis’ for Trump

Democratic strategist David Axelrod said Thursday that possible ties between President Trump's campaign and Russia could become a “major crisis” for his administration.

“If it is found that his folks were coordinating with Russia and knew about the hack and the leaks that were to come, that is a very serious thing,” Axelrod said on ABC’s “The View,” referencing last year’s hacking of several Democratic organizations.

“And then the question will be the Watergate question — ‘What did the president know, and when did he know it?' I think that will be a major crisis. And it will be very tough for the congressmen.”

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Axelrod, who served as former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump questions Kavanaugh accuser's account | Accuser may testify Thursday | Midterm blame game begins Dems look to Gillum, Abrams for pathway to victory in tough states Ford taps Obama, Clinton alum to navigate Senate hearing MORE’s senior adviser, argued that the House Intelligence Committee's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election had suffered under Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).

“The Nunes thing was weird,” Axelrod said. "That was a strange interlude. He really set their probe back.”

“The Senate [Intelligence Committee] is on a different track,” he continued. “The best thing would be if there were a national commission that was free of some of this politics [and] could really shine a bright light on this.”

The Senate panel kicked off its first public hearing on Russian election meddling Thursday amid controversy over its House counterpart.

Nunes revealed last week that he had seen evidence the U.S. intelligence community incidentally surveilled Trump’s transition before the president’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

The California lawmaker, who was on Trump's transition team, met with an unidentified source on White House grounds the day before his announcement and trek to the White House last week to brief Trump, prompting criticism from Democrats on his committee. 

The New York Times reported Thursday that two White House officials helped Nunes acquire the information, which he claims shows Trump’s transition team was incidentally surveilled. 

Democrats and one Republican, Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), have demanded Nunes recuse himself from his committee’s investigation of Russia’s intrusions in the 2016 race.