Sen. Mark Warner warns Trump: Firing Robert Mueller would be a 'gross abuse of power'

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday warned President Donald Trump against firing special counsel Robert Mueller during his investigation into Russia’s meddling with the 2016 presidential election.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said that any attempt by Trump to oust Mueller, pardon key witnesses in the investigation or shut down the inquiry would constitute a “gross abuse of power and a flagrant violation” of the executive branch’s responsibilities.

“These truly are red lines and [we] simply cannot allow them to be crossed,” said Warner, who is vice president of the Senate intelligence panel.

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Committee Vice Chairman and ranking member Senator Mark Warner addresses U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 13, 2017.

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) (L) takes note of the "I Voted" sticker worn by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) to mark his participation in New York primary elections, at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington September 9, 2014.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Sen Mark Warner, (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, looks over his papers before delivering a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate about the future of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) speaks with reporters at the U.S. Capitol after delivering a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate December 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Warner, the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, spoke on speculation that special counsel Robert Mueller may be fired.

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), accompanied by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), gives an update on the ongoing investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election at the Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2017.

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) speaks at Ralph Northam's election night rally on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, November 7, 2017.

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) speaks to reporters ahead of the weekly party luncheons on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., August 1, 2017.

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) meets with Christopher Wray, who U.S. President Donald Trump has nominated to be FBI Director, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 13, 2017.

REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member Mark Warner (D0VA) asks questions during former FBI Director James Comey's appearance before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 8, 2017.

REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Committee Vice Chairman and ranking member Senator Mark Warner (L) and Chairman Richard Burr (R) listen as U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 13, 2017.

REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Committee Vice Chairman and ranking member Senator Mark Warner questions U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 13, 2017.

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) (from L), Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) arrive for a procedural vote on defense spending authorization legislation at the U.S. Capitol in Washington December 11, 2014.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (L) and ranking member Senator Mark Warner (R) speak about former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn following a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), accompanied by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), vice chairman of the committee, speaks at a news conference to discuss their probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., March 29, 2017.

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) listens to Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) speaking to the media following the emergency caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2017.

(REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

Sen Mark Warner, (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, looks over his papers as he walks to the Senate Chamber to deliver a speech about the future of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (L) and U.S. Senator Mark Warner wait to take pictures with phones of U.S. President Barack Obama as he disembarks from Air Force One at Air Force Station Palam in New Delhi January 25, 2015. In a fresh bid to make India an enduring strategic partner, Obama landed in New Delhi on Sunday for a highly symbolic visit and to nurture friendship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who a year ago was persona non grata in Washington. Obama is visiting India for three days to attend India's Republic Day celebrations and meet with Indian leaders. Pelosi and Warner accompanied Obama to India aboard Air Force One.

(REUTERS/Jim Bourg)

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), (C), chats with Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), (L), who is attending his first Finance Committee hearing and Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr. prior to U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testifying on President Obama's Fiscal Year 2015 Budget, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, March 5, 2014. Obama is sending a $3.9 trillion budget to Congress, seeking new spending for economic growth, higher taxes on the wealthy and looking to resolve immigration issues.

(REUTERS/Mike Theiler)

Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) speaks at a news conference to discuss the committee's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., March 29, 2017.

REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

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Warner added that Mueller’s firing could spark a “constitutional crisis,” and warned Trump that no one in the U.S. is above the law.

“Firing Mr. Mueller or any other of the top brass involved in this investigation would not only call into question this administration’s commitment to the truth, but also to our most basic concept, rule of law,” he said.

“It also has the potential to provoke a constitutional crisis,” Warner added. “In the United States, no one, no one is above the law. Not even the president.”

Warner admonished the Republicans who have recently ramped up their attacks on Mueller, the FBI and the investigation after reports revealed that FBI agents involved in the probe had been found exchanging text messages that could be viewed as critical of Trump. 

“Over the last several weeks, a growing chorus of irresponsible and reckless voices have called for President Trump to shut down special counsel Mueller’s investigation,” Warner said.

The Democrat also criticized Fox News, which suggested in a recent segment that the Russia investigation could be “a coup in America.”

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Former FBI Director Robert Mueller
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Former FBI Director Robert Mueller
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: Former FBI director Robert Mueller attends the ceremonial swearing-in of FBI Director James Comey at the FBI Headquarters October 28, 2013 in Washington, DC. Comey was officially sworn in as director of FBI on September 4 to succeed Mueller who had served as director for 12 years. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama applauds outgoing Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) director Robert Mueller (L) in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington on June 21, 2013 as he nominates Jim Comey to be the next FBI director. Comey, a deputy attorney general under George W. Bush, would replace Mueller, who is stepping down from the agency he has led since the week before the September 11, 2001 attacks. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller applauds key staff members during a farewell ceremony held for him at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW HEADSHOT)
391489 03: U.S. President George W. Bush speaks during a conference as he stands with Justice Department veteran Robert Mueller, left, who he has nominated to head the FBI, and Attorney General John Ashcroft July 5, 2001 the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller stands for the national anthem during a farewell ceremony for him at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller (L) reacts to a standing ovation from the audience, Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole (C) and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (R) during Mueller's farewell ceremony at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller gestures during his remarks at a farewell ceremony held for him at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
FILE PHOTO -- U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft (R) and FBI Director Robert Mueller speak about possible terrorist threats against the United States, in Washington, May 26, 2004. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller reacts to applause from the audience during his farewell ceremony at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 19: Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., right, and FBI Director Robert Mueller make their way to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on oversight of the FBI. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller (C) delivers remarks at a farewell ceremony for him at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Also onstage with Mueller are Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole (FROM L), U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, former CIA Director George Tenet and TSA Administrator John Pistole. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 15: (L-R) Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton attend the National Peace Officers' Memorial Service at the U.S. Capitol May 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. Holder and other members of the Obama administration are being criticized over reports of the Internal Revenue Services' scrutiny of conservative organization's tax exemption requests and the subpoena of two months worth of Associated Press journalists' phone records. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Federal Bureau of Investigation oversight on Capitol Hill in Washington June 13, 2013. Mueller said on Thursday that the U.S. government is doing everything it can to hold confessed leaker Edward Snowden accountable for splashing surveillance secrets across the pages of newspapers worldwide. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (L) welcomes FBI Director Robert Mueller during their meeting in Kiev June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Efrem Lukatsky/Pool (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS)
FBI Director Robert Mueller (L) arrives for the Obama presidential inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol January 21, 2013 in Washington. President Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term as President of the United States. Woman at right is unidentified. REUTERS/Win McNamee-POOL (UNITED STATES)
WASHINGTON, : FBI Director Robert Mueller answers questions before Congress 17 October 2002 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Mueller was testifying before the House and Senate Select Intelligence committees' final open hearing investigating events leading up to the September 11, 2001. AFP Photos/Stephen JAFFE (Photo credit should read STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP/Getty Images)
(L-R) CIA Director Leon Panetta, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and FBI Director Robert Mueller testify at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 16, 2011. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
399994 02: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller visits the American military compound at Kandahar Airport January 23, 2002 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Mueller had lunch with FBI officials and Haji Gulali, commander of the Kandahar region. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller (L) stand during the National Anthem alongside Attorney General Eric Holder (R) and Deputy Attorney General James Cole (C) during a farewell ceremony in Mueller's honor at the Department of Justice on August 1, 2013. Mueller is retiring from the FBI after 12-years as Director. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
399994 01: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller greets American forces on the American military compound at Kandahar Airport January 23, 2002 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Mueller had lunch with FBI officials and Haji Gulali, commander of the Kandahar region. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 19: FBI Director Robert Mueller, center, talks with Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., right, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, talk before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on oversight of the FBI. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 06: OVERSIGHT HEARING ON COUNTERTERRORISM--Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, and Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, before the hearing. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
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“Just this weekend, one major news organization suggested that special counsel Mueller could be involved in a coup against the president,” Warner said.

“Those statements are reckless,” he added. “They are inappropriate, and they are extremely worrying.”

Despite assuring the public that Trump won’t fire Mueller, top Republicans have slammed Mueller and questioned the legitimacy of the probe in recent news interviews and on Twitter

Trump has denied that he has plans to dismiss Mueller. But he, too, has been critical of the investigation and continues to deny that there was any collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia.

 
  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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