A top Republican senator said Tuesday that it would be “suicide” for President Donald Trump to discuss firing special counsel Robert Mueller as tensions heightened on Capitol Hill a day after Trump said he had been urged to oust Mueller.
“I have confidence in Mueller. The president ought to have confidence in Mueller. I think … it would be suicide for the president to want, to talk about firing Mueller,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said on Fox Business Network. “The less the president said on this whole thing, the better off he would be, the stronger his presidency would be.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also had stern words for Trump in a speech on the Senate floor.
“Special counsel Mueller, the FBI, federal prosecutors and U.S. attorneys are following the due process of our legal system. Calling that an attack on our country undermines the rule of law,” Schumer said.
He said that firing Mueller would cross a “red line” and called on Congress to pass legislation to protect the special counsel from being removed without cause.
Senators unveiled bipartisan legislation last year designed to protect Mueller. But Republican leaders have not moved forward with it, saying in recent months that it did not seem necessary.
The warnings from lawmakers came the day after the FBI’s seizure of privileged communications between Trump and his private attorney Michael Cohen, as well as documents related to a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, the adult-film actress who has alleged that she had a sexual affair with Trump a decade ago.
“I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on. We’ll see what happens,” Trump said Monday after reports of the FBI raid. Of Mueller, he said: “Many people have said you should fire him.”
The FBI raid of Cohen’s office was part of an investigation referred by Mueller to federal prosecutors in New York.
Some Republicans have defended the president. In doing so, one mentioned Trump’s 2016 opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“Think about the double standard,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said on Fox News Channel. “Yesterday we had the FBI raid the president’s private attorney’s residence and business. That’s privileged information. And yet when Hillary Clinton had some 60,000 e-mails, David Kendall had possession of those e-mails, they got to decide … which ones were personal.”
However, all of the top law enforcement officials involved in the raid are Republicans: Mueller; Rod Rosenstein, picked by Trump to serve as deputy attorney general; FBI Director Christopher Wray, another Trump pick; and Geoffrey Berman, the interim U.S. attorney in New York.
The New York Times contributed to this report.