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 TrumpSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Gosar's siblings pen op-ed urging for his resignation: 'You are immune to shame' Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate 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) 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 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 DeutchIncorporating mental health support into global assistance programs Ethics panel upholds 0 mask fines against Greene, other GOP lawmakers Sanders reaffirms support for Turner in Ohio amid Democratic rift MORE (D-Fla.).

Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinHouse at war over Jan. 6 inquiry, mask mandate GOP Rep. Clyde defends 'normal tourist visit' comparison for Jan. 6 Five takeaways from a bracing day of Jan. 6 testimony 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 SessionsWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Democrat stalls Biden's border nominee Garland strikes down Trump-era immigration court rule, empowering judges to pause cases MORE or Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWashington still needs more transparency House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week 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 LeePhotos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris House ethics panel decides against probe after Hank Johnson civil disobedience Jackson Lee is third CBC member in three weeks to be arrested protesting for voting rights MORE (D-Texas).

Several lawmakers seized on the recent remarks by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey GowdyTrey GowdyTrey Gowdy sets goal of avoiding ideological echo chamber with Fox News show Fox News signs Trey Gowdy, Dan Bongino for new shows Pompeo rebukes Biden's new foreign policy 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.