Schumer Warns of 'Constitutional Crisis' 6 Times in 3 Minutes

Susan Jones | April 11, 2018 | 5:48am EDT
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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks to reporters about a "constitutional crisis" on April 10, 2018. (Photo: Screen grab/C-SPAN)

( - Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday warned President Trump not to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the man who appointed Mueller to lead the FBI's long-running Trump-Russia probe.

In remarks to reporters, Schumer used the phrase "constitutional crisis" six times in three minutes.

A short time earlier, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told a news conference he thinks Mueller should be allowed to finish his investigation. McConnell also said he doesn't think legislation protecting Mueller is necessary, because "I don't think he's going to be removed. I think he'll be allowed to finish his job."

But Schumer and his fellow Democrats have worried -- or pretended to worry -- for weeks about Trump firing Mueller. Since getting rid of Trump is the goal of many Democrats, the firing of Robert Mueller could accelerate impeachment, which is what they mean by "constitutional crisis."


Speaking on Tuesday, Schumer said:

Now, for months we've heard our Republican colleagues say there's no reason to pass legislation to protect Special Counsel Mueller and the Russia probe from President Trump.

They've relied on anonymous White House officials, who've assured them there was no effort afoot to undermine or get rid of the special counsel, so there was no need to pass legislation to protect him.

Well, with a few words last night, President Trump made it frighteningly clear that he may be considering firing Special Counsel Mueller.

Our Republican colleagues must not continue ignoring the elephant in the room. We Democrats are urging our Republican colleagues to work with us, now. Pass legislation to protect this investigation. And head off a constitutional crisis that would be devastating to this country.

Let's not wait until it's too late. I heard what Leader McConnell said. Why not pass the legislation now and avoid a constitutional crisis? That makes eminent sense if you believe what so many of our Republican colleagues have said, that it would be a constitutional crisis if Mueller were fired.

Let's not wait until it's too late. Let's take the threat of a crisis off the table right now. The rule of law cannot be, should not be turned into a partisan issue.

The Congress must be clearly, loudly, with one voice. By passing legislation to ensure that any effort by the president to remove Director Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein would be unsuccessful.

I plead with Senator McConnell: Support this legislation. Put it on the floor. Now. Let's debate it, let's pass it, let's do so before -- before the president creates a constitutional crisis, which looks more and more like a possibility.

I'd also like to make one final point. A number of news reports in the last several hours have described Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein's role in everything that's transpired over the last 24 hours. I'd like to make something crystal clear to the president.

Mr. President, any attempt to remove Rod Rosenstein will create the exact same constitutional crisis as if you fired Special Counsel Mueller. Don't do it. Do not go down this path.

For the sake of our country, we plead with you. Don't put this country through a constitutional crisis, whether by firing Mueller, Rosenstein or otherwise impeding this investigation from going forward. The rule of law is paramount in this country. No man -- not even the president -- is above it.

In response to a reporter’s question, Schumer repeated that he hopes to avoid a constitutional crisis by passing legislation to protect Mueller. “That’s as far as we’re going to go right now,” he said.

At the White House press briefing on Tuesday, spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked if President Trump believes "he has the power to fire" Mueller.

"Certainly he believes he has the power to do so," Sanders said.

Trump would have to direct Rosenstein to fire Mueller, but the president could fire Rosenstein directly.

CNN reported on Tuesday night: "President Donald Trump is considering firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, multiple people familiar with the discussions tell CNN, a move that has gained urgency following the raid of the office of the President's personal lawyer."

And The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Trump considered firing Mueller in December. "The president’s anger was fueled by reports that the subpoenas were for obtaining information about his business dealings with Deutsche Bank, according to interviews with eight White House officials, people close to the president and others familiar with the episode," the Times reported.

On Monday, President Trump was asked why he doesn't just fire Mueller.

"Well, I think it's a disgrace what's going on. We'll see what happens. But I think it's really a sad situation, when you look at what happened. And many people have said, you should fire him."

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