WASHINGTON – Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said President Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey coupled with his public criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions have amounted to a potential “constitutional crisis.”
“A firing need not take place. Actions might take place that will force out these individuals and we have seen that particular action with the forcing out of the communications director [and] Mr. Sean Spicer, so we are here not without evidence of a potential crisis and a constitutional crisis,” Jackson Lee said during a press conference at the Capitol on Thursday, a day before White House chief of staff Reince Priebus was let go. “We believe this Republican leadership in the House and the Senate should be ready to call us back [from recess] if these actions occur.”
Jackson Lee was joined by other House Judiciary Committee members to announce a resolution (H.Res. 474) of “disapproval of any action by the president to remove the Special Counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and opposition to the granting of pardons to any person for offenses against the United States arising out of Russia’s activities to bring about the election” of President Trump.
“I cannot imagine that one Republican would not want to vote to disapprove of the firing of the special counsel that represents that integrity of this country and as well to not abuse the power of pardon,” Lee said.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Trump is “going after” Sessions and Mueller simply for “doing their jobs and complying with their own oaths of office to the Constitution, to the rule of law and to the people of the United States.”
“So what we have here is a full-blown offensive against the rule of law in America,” he said. “There’s really nothing like it in our history that we have seen before.”
Raskin said a lot of Democrats are “nervous” about what might happen during the August recess.
“We wanted to make it perfectly clear that we would view any attempt to fire Mr. Sessions or Mr. Mueller over the Russian investigation or any attempts to force them out of office as a very clear example of constitutional obstruction of justice,” he said.
Cohen said he foresees Trump attempting to fire Mueller during the August recess.
“I can clearly see during the August recess, when we are not present, an effort to go through the appropriate people to find the Bork among them to fire Bob Mueller,” he said. “I think we can see the groundwork being laid to fire Bob Mueller.”
Jackson Lee emphasized that Sessions is not Trump’s “personal lawyer.”
“He should not be doing his personal assignments nor is it realistic for anyone to tell you they are going to recuse themselves before they have made a determination or the staff lawyers on the DOJ have made the determination based on the law,” she said.
Cohen said firing Sessions would be a reminder of the “Saturday Night Massacre” in which the attorney general and deputy attorney general resigned over President Nixon’s order to fire independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the Watergate scandal.
“The support [Sessions] has among conservative senators might save his job although not his dignity,” Cohen said. “I do foresee him terminating Mueller – that’s his whole M.O. – ‘you’re fired,’ and he doesn’t like anybody to stand in his path.”
Raskin said Trump’s “temperament and intellect is far better suited to that of a monarchy than it is to a constitutional democracy.”
“This president is just absolutely obsessed with this investigation,” he said. “He’s acting very much like a guilty man.”
Raskin applauded Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for “standing up for the rule of law” and supporting Mueller’s investigation. He praised the media for its reporting on the Trump administration’s actions.
“The media is doing its job. The media is not the enemy of the people. The media is the people’s best friend. The people are doing their job by standing up and speaking out,” he said. “The courts are asserting their proper powers under our system and those of us in Congress are using our voices and our opportunity under the speech and debate clause to stand up for the constitutional system.”