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Judiciary Dems warn Trump: Don't fire Mueller, Sessions during House recess

Judiciary Dems warn Trump: Don't fire Mueller, Sessions during House recess
© Greg Nash

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are nervous about actions President TrumpDonald John TrumpPolice say man dangling off Trump Tower Chicago demanding to speak with Trump Fauci says he was 'absolutely not' surprised Trump got coronavirus after Rose Garden event Biden: Trump 'continues to lie to us' about coronavirus MORE might take during a scheduled two-week congressional recess.

Roughly a dozen lawmakers in a press conference on Thursday warned that a “constitutional crisis” would ensue if the president attempted to fire special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE or other top government officials overseeing the Russia probe and investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin. 

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“Do not meddle with the special counsel’s investigation,” cautioned Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), the top Democrat on the committee.

The press conference comes amid speculation that Trump will carry out a “Saturday night massacre” during the upcoming congressional recess, when lawmakers are in their home districts and less prepared to respond to a possible ouster, according to Rep. Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchShakespeare Theatre Company goes virtual for 'Will on the Hill...or Won't They?' Florida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum Matt Gaetz, Roger Stone back far-right activist Laura Loomer in congressional bid MORE (D-Fla.).

Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinWarren, Porter to headline progressive fundraiser supporting seven swing state candidates Democrats unveil bill creating panel to gauge president's 'capacity' The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Debate chaos as Trump balks at virtual format MORE (Md.), a senior Democrat on the committee, said the president could seek to block the probe from moving forward in two ways: either through a “guillotine” or a “straightjacket.”

Raskin as well as other Democratic members, raised concerns Trump may seek to fire Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsHarris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump's erratic tweets upend stimulus talks; COVID-19 spreads in White House The Memo: Team Trump looks to Pence to steady ship in VP debate MORE or Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinTrump turns his ire toward Cabinet members Ex-deputy attorney general says Justice Dept. 'will ignore' Trump's threats against political rivals The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump's erratic tweets upend stimulus talks; COVID-19 spreads in White House MORE, who is overseeing the Russia investigation since Sessions recused himself last spring.

The members speculate that the president may seek to replace the top two Justice Department officials with lackeys, who can then either seek to fire Mueller or curb his ability to run the high-profile investigation.

The Democrats called on their Republican colleagues to join them in protecting the special counsel, claiming many of their GOP colleagues — particularly Republican leadership — have remained relatively mum about Mueller’s safety.

“This should not be partisan. It should in fact be non-partisan,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeePocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair Grand jury charges no officers in Breonna Taylor death Hillicon Valley: Murky TikTok deal raises questions about China's role | Twitter investigating automated image previews over apparent algorithmic bias | House approves bill making hacking federal voting systems a crime MORE (D-Texas).

Several lawmakers seized on the recent remarks by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdySunday shows preview: Election integrity dominates as Nov. 3 nears Tim Scott invokes Breonna Taylor, George Floyd in Trump convention speech Sunday shows preview: Republicans gear up for national convention, USPS debate continues in Washington MORE (R-S.C.) who, directing his comments to the president’s legal counsel, said during a recent television appearance that the president is not acting like he is innocent.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a former attorney, echoed those remarks, claiming the president’s actions “scream consciousness of guilt.”

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), a vocal critic of the Trump administration, advocated for the committee to pursue impeachment hearings if Trump does seek to end the investigation.

Nadler, who declined to explicitly say whether he would support such a move, maintained “all options will remain on the table.”

The Judiciary Democrats pointed to the GOP decision not to support adding a statement concerning the special counsel in the omnibus spending bill, which is expected to be voted on Thursday afternoon. When asked whether they would vote to support the omnibus since there is no text about protecting the special counsel, Nadler said that their fear remains hypothetical.

Democrats previously raised alarm that Trump would seek to shut down Mueller’s investigation before the New Year, which proved not to be the case.