Following the release of a controversial memo alleging misconduct by FBI and Justice Department officials, top Democratic lawmakers have warned President Donald Trump against using the document as a pretext to fire either Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
The top House and Senate Democrats sent a letter to Trump on Friday warning that firing Rosenstein or Mueller would be considered an attempt to obstruct justice and spark a constitutional crisis.
“We are alarmed by reports that you may intend to use this misleading document as a pretext to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in an effort to corruptly influence or impede Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s investigation,” the Democrats wrote.
“We write to inform you that we would consider such an unwarranted action as an attempt to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation,” they added. “Firing Rod Rosenstein, DOJ Leadership, or Bob Mueller could result in a constitutional crisis of the kind not seen since the Saturday Night Massacre.”
The Saturday Night Massacre refers to former President Richard Nixon’s attempt to shut down the Watergate investigation by ordering the firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox.
Trump was asked if the memo made him more likely to fire Rosenstein but would only tell reporters, “You figure that one out.”
The memo released by Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee notes Rosenstein signed at least one application for a warrant targeting Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The document commissioned by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., accuses the FBI and the Justice Department of omitting material and relevant information when seeking the warrant.
However, Democratic members of the committee argued that the memo makes several serious mischaracterizations about the applications.
The letter to Trump was signed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.
Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley, D.N.Y., also signed the letter along the top Democrats on the Senate and House Intelligence Committees and the Senate and House Judiciary Committees.
The Democrats argued the memo was meant to discredit the FBI and Rosenstein in order to protect Trump and undermine Mueller’s Russia investigation.