WASHINGTON, March 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Republican senators warned President Donald Trump on Sunday against trying to shut down the federal probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, saying it was important to let Special Counsel Robert Mueller do his job.
Trump, a Republican, has renewed his Twitter attacks on both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Mueller's probe since the firing on Friday of the bureau's former deputy director, Andrew McCabe, days before he was eligible to retire with a full pension.
Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who has criticized Trump harshly, said it appeared the president's latest comments were aimed at the firing of Mueller.
"I don’t know what the designs are on Mueller, but it seems to be building toward that, and I just hope it doesn't go there, because it can't. We can’t in Congress accept that," Flake told CNN's "State of the Union."
"So I would expect to see considerable pushback in the next couple of days urging the president not to go there. He can’t go there."
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On Saturday, Trump personal lawyer John Dowd urged the Justice Department official overseeing Mueller, Rod Rosenstein, to "bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe's boss James Comey."
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said it was very important that Mueller be allowed to proceed without interference and that many Republicans share this view.
"The only reason Mr. Mueller could ever be dismissed is for cause. I see no cause when it comes to Mr. Mueller. He needs to be able to do his job independent of any political influence. I pledge to the American people as a Republican, to ensure that Mr. Mueller can continue to do his job without any interference."
"As I have said before, if he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency, because we’re a rule of law nation,” Graham said.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)