Lawmakers rally to defend Mueller after McCabe exit

Lawmakers on Sunday rallied to the defense of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerGraham: Mueller investigation a 'political rectal exam' House progressive: Pelosi 'has it right' on impeachment Democrats talk subpoena for Mueller MORE after concerns were raised over his job security following the abrupt firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeTrump accuses Hillary Clinton of 'destroying the lives' of his campaign staffers The Mueller report concludes it was not needed Ten post-Mueller questions that could turn the tables on Russia collusion investigators MORE.

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsAmash: Some of Trump's actions 'were inherently corrupt' 'Persuadable' voters are key to the 2020 election — and the non-screaming news industry Jeffrey Rosen officially sworn in as deputy attorney general MORE announced on Friday that he fired the FBI’s No. 2 official in a move that roiled Washington, D.C., and spurred a series of tweets from President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE denouncing Mueller, McCabe and former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTrump orders intel agencies to cooperate with Barr probe into 'spying' on 2016 campaign Attorney General Barr puts former intel bosses on notice Christopher Steele's nugget of fool's gold was easily disproven — but FBI didn't blink an eye MORE.

McCabe said his firing was an attempt to undermine the Mueller investigation into Russia's election interference and possible collusion between members of Trump's campaign and Moscow. The president targeted Mueller's investigation in a series of tweets over the weekend, further alarming many lawmakers.

Democrats on Sunday were calling for proactive measures to protect Mueller and his investigation. Republicans insisted Trump has no intention of firing the special counsel, although the White House also acknowledged Trump is "frustrated."

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“Give him the time, the resources, the independence to do his job,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyHouse Dem calls on lawmakers to 'insulate' election process following Mueller report Democrats put harassment allegations against Trump on back burner Democrats seize on Mueller-Barr friction MORE (R-S.C.) told “Fox News Sunday” of Mueller. 

“Let it play out its course. If you’ve done nothing wrong, you should want the investigation to be as fulsome and thorough as possible,” he added of Trump.

Trump has repeatedly denounced the Russia investigation as a "witch hunt." But the president’s most recent attacks on Mueller come after the special counsel reportedly subpoenaed the Trump Organization and, according to another report, provided Trump’s legal team with a series of questions leading up to a possible interview with Trump. McCabe has also provided the special counsel with memos describing his contacts with Trump, according to multiple reports. 

While Trump's team has quietly cooperated with Mueller over the past weeks, the president over the weekend seemed to unleash his frustration with the investigation.

“The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime,” Trump wrote on Twitter Saturday. He went on to criticize on Sunday the members of Mueller's team as "13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary [Clinton] supporters, and Zero Republicans." He also lashed out at reports McCabe had memos on their interaction on Sunday, tweeting that McCabe “never took notes when he was with me.”

Democrats have long expressed concerns over Trump’s attacks on the special counsel, and lawmakers in both parties have put forward legislation that would enshrine legal protections for Mueller.

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan House Intelligence enjoys breakthrough with Justice Department Schiff blasts Trump's 'un-American' order to intel agencies to cooperate with Barr probe MORE (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, called on his colleagues to “speak out now” and not wait for the possible “crisis” of Trump firing Mueller.

“I think, George [Stephanopoulos], you just pointed to the single most important development of the week and that is at the same time it's revealed that the special counsel is looking at business records of the Trump Organization, and I've always thought the money laundering issue was the most serious, you have the president through his lawyer trying to shut down the Mueller investigation and speaking out against special counsel,” Schiff told ABC’s "This Week."

Trump's personal attorney John Dowd on Saturday called on Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinJake Tapper fact-checks poster Trump admin created describing Mueller investigation Jeffrey Rosen officially sworn in as deputy attorney general Democrats talk subpoena for Mueller MORE to "bring an end" to Mueller's investigation, prompting increased concern from Trump critics that the president was trying to influence the Justice Department over the probe. 

Such a move would be “a massive red line that can’t be crossed,” according to Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSen. Coons examines Amazon's privacy and data security practices for Alexa devices Oil companies join blitz for carbon tax The Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget MORE (R-Ariz.).

“So, I hope that that's the case [for most Republicans]. And I would just hope that enough people would prevail on the president now, don't go there. Don't go there,” Flake told CNN.

Senate Minority Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThreat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Senate Democrats request watchdog, Red Cross probe DHS detention facilities Iraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran MORE (D-Ill.) echoed those concerns, saying it would be a “constitutional crisis” should Trump stop the special counsel’s probe.

And Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamNew Yorker cover titled 'The Shining' shows Graham, McConnell, Barr polishing Trump's shoes Graham: 'US must be willing to intervene in Venezuela' Trump Jr. slams Republican committee chairman: 'Too weak to stand up to the Democrats' MORE (R-S.C.) said Trump dismissing Mueller “would be the beginning of the end of his presidency.”

“I pledge to the American people, as a Republican, to make sure that Mr. Mueller can continue to do his job without any interference,” Graham told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I think he's doing a good job.”

Both Graham and Flake — who are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is leading its own Russia probe — suggested the committee would look into McCabe's firing.

Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordSenate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump Congress reaches deal on disaster aid Bipartisan group of senators introduce legislation designed to strengthen cybersecurity of voting systems MORE (R-Okla.), who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said McCabe’s firing is “not surprising in many ways" and suggested he deserved it, due to the contents of an internal review. The full report has not been released so the evidence that got McCabe fired is not fully known.

But the Oklahoma lawmaker, like most of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle, said Mueller should be allowed to complete his investigation.

“I would say the best thing the special council can do is to finish the investigation, gather all the information that’s needed, come to a conclusion so the American people can make their own decisions,” Lankford told ABC's “This Week.”

Trump has grown frustrated with the length of the Russia probe, White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told CBS’s “Face the Nation.” But Short said that no White House officials are recommending the administration stop cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.

-Update 1:46 p.m.