Nunes memo could trigger constitutional crisis: Top Democrat

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Washington, Feb 5 (IANS) A top Democrat has warned that the Republicans may be setting the stage for a “constitutional crisis” if they use the Nunes memo to end the special counsel’s probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, the media reported.

“To say that that’s the end of the investigation, that this is all that (President) Donald Trump needs to fire (Deputy Attorney General Rod) Rosenstein or to fire (special counsel Robert) Mueller, I’ll just tell you, this could precipitate a constitutional crisis,” Senator Dick Durbin told CNN on Sunday.

On February 4, the Republicans released the four-page memo that alleges an abuse of power by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in its investigation into the Russian meddling, after Trump declassified the document and accused top officials of bias.

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The House Intelligence Committee chairman, Devin Nunes, published the memo minutes after the President’s approval, despite a warning from the Department of Justice that it would be a “reckless” act.

“If House Republicans believe that they’ve set the stage for this President to end this investigation, they are basically saying that in America, one man is above the law, and that’s not a fact,” Durbin told CNN.

Last month, The New York Times reported that Trump tried to fire Mueller in June 2017, though Trump denies this.

On February 4, Trump refused to say whether he would fire Rosenstein, who oversees the Russia investigation.

“You figure that one out,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office when asked about Rosenstein’s potential termination.

When asked about Rosenstein’s potential firing, White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah told CNN that “no changes are going to be made” at the Justice Department.

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White House spokesman Hogan Gidley made similar remarks.

When asked if there were conversations about possibly firing Rosenstein, Gidley said: “No, not to my knowledge.”

The firing of Mueller or Rosenstein would be “an extreme event” that “could lead to a confrontation we do not need in America”, Durbin told CNN on Sunday.

Durbin would not predict how Democrats would react if either official is fired, but stressed that Republicans would have to “stand up for the rule of law” in such a scenario.

“We understand what the Constitution says we must do, and that is hold everyone in the United States, including the President of the United States, accountable if they’ve violated the law,” the top Democrat added.

–IANS

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