Dem: 'Disheartening' that Republicans who 'stepped up' to defend Mueller are leaving

Rep. Mike QuigleyMichael (Mike) Bruce QuigleyIn testimony, Dems see an ambassador scorned, while GOP defends Trump Ex-Ukraine ambassador arrives to give testimony Tax-return whistleblower in spotlight amid impeachment fight MORE (D-Ill.) said he is disheartened that Republican lawmakers who pushed to protect special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox News legal analyst says Trump call with Ukraine leader could be 'more serious' than what Mueller 'dragged up' Lewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network MORE’s probe into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign will be gone from the next Congress.

“What’s disheartening for me is that those who have stepped up, are those Republicans who are leaving,” Quigley said on CNN Tuesday, citing Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeVulnerable senators hold the key to Trump's fate Trump's GOP impeachment firewall holds strong How to survive an impeachment MORE (R-Ariz.) and the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainPublisher announces McSally book planned for May release Democrats lead Trump by wide margins in Minnesota Here's what to watch this week on impeachment MORE (R-Ariz.) as examples of Republicans who voiced their disagreements with President TrumpDonald John TrumpGraham to introduce resolution condemning House impeachment inquiry Support for impeachment inches up in poll Fox News's Bret Baier calls Trump's attacks on media 'a problem' MORE’s criticisms of Mueller.

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“This is the time to step up. This is the extraordinary period of our life where the rule of law and constitutional protections are at risk,” he added.

Quigley had been asked about a letter signed by 44 former senators calling on the Senate to defend democracy and warning that the country is entering a "dangerous period." They want lawmakers to pass legislation that would protect Mueller's probe.

Flake, along with Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerProgressive commentator: Voters becoming weary of Warren policy proposals Saagar Enjeti: Warren, Buttigieg don't stand a chance against Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump faces backlash for comparing impeachment to 'lynching' MORE (D-N.J.) and Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSenate Democrats want Warren to talk costs on 'Medicare for All' Meet the dog and 'sea turtle' who launched campaigns for office Senators demand briefing on Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria MORE (D-Del.) introduced a bill protecting Mueller from being unjustly fired, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham to introduce resolution condemning House impeachment inquiry Overnight Defense: Trump's Syria envoy wasn't consulted on withdrawal | McConnell offers resolution urging Trump to rethink Syria | Diplomat says Ukraine aid was tied to political investigations Partisan squabbles endanger congressional response to Trump's course on Syria MORE (R-Ky.) has said the upper chamber will not take up the legislation. Many Republicans who have been vocal critics of Trump will be exiting the House and Senate after this term.

"I'll put it this way. The president has abused his power," Quigley told CNN. "We have seen detailed accounts of the Trump financial and political world forging ties with a foreign adversary for their own political and financial gain. I believe there has been an effort, a conspiracy to work with Russians toward that end.

"I believe the President of the United States obstructed this investigation and others joined in that obstruction and I believe my Republican counterparts were complicit in that obstruction," he added.

Trump lashed out again at the Mueller probe after new revelations.

Friday’s filings revealed that Trump personally directed former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to make payments to two women who alleged they had affairs with Trump. Those payments were determined earlier this year to have constituted campaign finance violations.

Mueller's team also said that former Trump campaign chairman Manafort lied to prosecutors about his contacts with the White House in violation of his plea agreement. 

Trump maintained that the filings “totally clears the President” and responded with a string of tweets in the following days ripping the Mueller investigation.

Updated at 10:53 a.m.