"Don't go down this road": Jeff Flake warns Trump of impeachment if he ousts Mueller

"To fire Mueller without cause, I don’t know if there is any other remedy left to the legislative branch"

Published March 21, 2018 1:42PM (EDT)

Donald Trump; Jeff Flake (Getty/Mandel Ngan/Win McNamee)
Donald Trump; Jeff Flake (Getty/Mandel Ngan/Win McNamee)

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., is the latest notable GOP lawmaker to express support for impeachment proceedings if President Donald Trump were to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel of the ongoing Russia investigation.

Top Republicans in both the House and the Senate, however, have remained skittish when it comes to taking potential future action. Instead, they have continued to take the White House at its word, which is that Trump won't threaten the investigation.

"We're begging him: 'Don't go down this road. Don’t create a constitutional crisis. Don't force the Congress to take the only remedy that Congress can take,'" Flake said on Tuesday, according to The Washington Post. "To remind the president of that is the best way to keep him from going down that road. To fire Mueller without cause, I don’t know if there is any other remedy left to the legislative branch."

Flake also pointed out that if Trump were to fire Mueller and halt the investigation, it would be no different than former President Richard Nixon's infamous Saturday night massacre. "He [Nixon] left before impeachment came, but that was the remedy then, and that would be the remedy now."

The remarks echoed that of Sen. Lindsey Graham's, R-S.C., who said Tuesday that if Trump fired Mueller "without cause" it would "probably" be an impeachable offense.

"The president needs to be reminded that while there is nothing the House and the Senate can do constitutionally to prevent the president from moving forward, our remedy is on the other side," Flake said, according to the Post. "And the firing of a special prosecutor without cause will, as Lindsey Graham said, prompt that remedy."

Flake was not the only one to compare Trump's actions to Nixon's as of late. John Dean, who served as the White House counsel under the 37th president, said Trump has already gone further than Nixon had.

"He's really much more intimately involved than Nixon ever was in the coverup," Dean said. "Nixon was behind closed doors, so everyone was surprised when there were recordings of it."

He added, "Trump is just right out front on it and he's doing it very publicly."

While it's certainly notable that prominent Senate Republicans such as Graham and Flake have warned they would take action, the party's leadership has taken a much softer stance so far. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters on Tuesday that he had "received assurances" from the White House that Mueller would not be fired.

Likewise, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stayed in lockstep with Trump's team of attorneys and agreed with "the president’s lawyers that Bob Mueller ought to be allowed to finish his job," the Post noted.

McConnell added, "I think he will go wherever the facts lead him, and I think he will have great credibility with the American people when he reaches the conclusion of his investigation."

The issue of impeachment has arisen once again after the president attacked Mueller on Twitter last weekend in the wake of the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Trump has yet to explicitly express that he would take action to remove Mueller, but the probe has taken on a wider scope and has appeared to delve deep into family finances, something Trump suggested was his red line.

By Charlie May

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