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 TrumpHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Countdown clock is on for Mueller conclusions Omar: White supremacist attacks are rising because Trump publicly says 'Islam hates us' 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 Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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 DeutchOmar controversies shadow Dems at AIPAC Five things to watch as AIPAC conference kicks off Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Dems push Pelosi on bill allowing federal funding of abortion | Key Republican says Dems left him out of drug pricing talks | Court upholds Ohio law to defund Planned Parenthood | Trump taps acting FDA chief MORE (D-Fla.).

Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinEx-Georgia candidate calls for probe, says more than a hundred thousand votes went 'missing' Dems struggle to turn page on Omar controversy Schumer: Trump 'redefined chutzpah' by calling Dems an 'anti-Jewish party' 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 SessionsMueller's investigation ends, but divisive political circus will continue Mueller delivers report to Justice, ending investigation Trump says 'people will not stand' for Mueller report MORE or Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinWill the Mueller report go public? The courts, not Barr, may ultimately decide Mueller figures celebrate end of probe Showdown looms over Mueller report 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 LeeThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump attacks on McCain rattle GOP senators Harris to make hard Texas push, recruits key O'Rourke aide: report Trio of NFL players intern on Capitol Hill as part of league program MORE (D-Texas).

Several lawmakers seized on the recent remarks by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyTop Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview Gowdy calls congressional hearings like Cohen's 'utterly useless' The family secret Bruce Ohr told Rod Rosenstein about Russia case 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.