If Donald Trump fires the special prosecutor investigating his team’s ties to alleged Russian meddling in the US election, it could mark “the beginning of the end” of the billionaire’s presidency, a senior Republican lawmaker warned Thursday.
Senator Lindsey Graham, who briefly ran against Trump in the Republican presidential primary, also insisted there would be “holy hell to pay” if Trump were to sack his embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The fiery remarks signal that members of Trump’s own party have grown increasingly irritated by possible efforts by the president to tamp down the Russia investigations.
Trump and his team have spent weeks seeking to publicly discredit special prosecutor Robert Mueller and his circle of legal aides investigating Moscow’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, and the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia
But Graham sent a sharp warning to the White House, saying that “any effort to go after Mueller could be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency unless Mueller did something wrong.”
Lawmakers have found no evidence that the Mueller team is compromised, and Graham said any move by Trump to oust the independent prosecutor would be seen as crossing a “red line.”
The lawmaker from South Carolina, who has largely been a thorn in the president’s side, also said his fellow Republican senators were circling the wagons to defend their former colleague Sessions.
“This effort to basically marginalize and humiliate the attorney general is not going over well in the Senate” or among conservatives, Graham said, in extended remarks with reporters in a US Capitol hallway broadcast by CNN.
“If Jeff Sessions is fired, there will be holy hell to pay.”
Sessions was the first US senator to announce his support for Trump’s candidacy last year.
But Trump has turned on his early ally, voicing anger that Sessions recused himself in the Russia investigation and accusing Sessions of being “very weak” on pursuing charges against former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Several Senate Republicans have rushed to Sessions’ defense.
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley said Wednesday in a tweet that the panel’s agenda for 2017 was already set, and there would be “no way” to confirm a new attorney general this year.