Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell of the House Intelligence Committee issued a stern warning Wednesday to President Donald Trump concerning Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation of Russian meddling in the elections: “Fire Mueller and we fire you.”
Swalwell told Newsweek by phone Wednesday that his warning was with regard to impeachment should the president interfere in Mueller's investigation.
"Firing the person investigating you, I think, is direct to impeachment," Swalwell said. "We shouldn't wait any longer to see what else he would torch as far as rule of law or institutions in our country."
The warning came after a tweet storm from the president earlier that morning in which he called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom Trump appointed himself, to “stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further."
In April, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president “certainly believes he has the power” to fire Mueller. Trump had once reportedly considered firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller’s investigation as a result of Sessions’s recusal from the case. Last week, a group of 11 Republicans filed articles of impeachment against Rosenstein over claims of withholding documents from Mueller's investigation, but they later backed down.
Claiming there had already been some support for impeachment in the Democratic Party, along with among Republican colleagues he had spoken with privately, Swalwell said actually firing Mueller or Rosenstein would be crossing the red line.
"I wrote that so the president knows what the red lines are and what I believe that the consequences will be if he crosses it," Swalwell said.
By law, the special counsel can be “disciplined or removed from office only by the personal action of the attorney general.” That can happen only “for misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest or for other good cause, including violation of departmental policies,” the law states. The attorney general—or, in this case, Rosenstein—would be required to cite a specific reason for the removal of Mueller.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders came to the president's defense later during a press conference, claiming the president was merely "stating his opinion” rather than giving an order to Session. At other times she said: "The president is not obstructing, he's fighting back. the president is stating his opinion. He's stating it clearly and he's certainly expressing the frustration that he has with the level of corruption that we've seen.....There's no reason that he shouldn't be able to voice that opinion."
The president’s seven-tweet rant Wednesday about the ongoing investigation and claims of no collusion comes as his ex-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is in the second day of his court trial on charges arising from Mueller’s investigation. Manafort faces a 32-count indictment, including bank fraud, failing to disclose foreign bank accounts and filing false income tax returns, laundering more than $30 million.
As Mueller’s probe continues to close in around the people the president once considered close allies and confidants, including five who have entered plea agreements with Mueller's team, Trump and his current attorney Rudy Giuliani are ramping up attacks against the investigation.
The recent reports that the president’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is ready to flip on the president by providing the Mueller team with secretly taped meetings have both Giuliani and Trump now saying that collusion is not a crime. Since the leak of Cohen’s tapes, which allegedly indicate that Trump knew in advance about a 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his aides and a Russian delegation offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, Giuliani said he’s been “trying to find 'collusion' as a crime.”
“I've been sitting here looking at the federal code, trying to find 'collusion' as a crime,” Giuliani said Monday morning on the president’s favorite morning show, Fox & Friends. “Collusion is not a crime.”
Legal experts have said it is true collusion itself is not a specific crime listed as a federal statute—but “conspiracy against the United States" is.
This story has been updated to include comments from Sarah Huckabee Sanders during the White House press briefing.
Article: Newsweek, by Ramsey Touchberry