Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., unleashed a blistering message in response to President Trump’s early morning Twitter tirade in which he both dismissed the Russia probe as a “witch hunt” and appeared to confirm he was being investigated as part of that inquiry.
Feinstein raised the possibility that Trump would try to dismiss Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller, the special counsel Rosenstein appointed to oversee the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.
“I’m growing increasingly concerned that the president will attempt to fire not only Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible obstruction of justice, but also Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein who appointed Mueller,” said Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee
She went on to slam the commander in chief and specifically cited his errant tweets as the source of her suspicion. Feinstein also warned that Trump would be “in for a rude awakening” should he attempt to fire either Rosenstein or Mueller and excoriated him for “embark[ing] on an effort to undermine anyone with the ability to bring any misdeeds to light.”
Trump has repeatedly attacked the investigation as a “witch hunt,” and earlier in the day Friday he confirmed a Washington Post report that Mueller was investigating him for possible obstruction of justice. The Post said Mueller was looking into whether Trump attempted to obstruct justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey or by allegedly asking Comey to ease up an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Here’s Feinstein’s full statement:
“The message the president is sending through his tweets is that he believes the rule of law doesn’t apply to him and that anyone who thinks otherwise will be fired. That’s undemocratic on its face and a blatant violation of the president’s oath of office.
First of all, the president has no authority to fire Robert Mueller. That authority clearly lies with the attorney general—or in this case, because the attorney general has recused himself, with the deputy attorney general. Rosenstein testified under oath this week that he would not fire Mueller without good cause and that none exists.
And second, if the president thinks he can fire Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and replace him with someone who will shut down the investigation, he’s in for a rude awakening. Even his staunchest supporters will balk at such a blatant effort to subvert the law.
It’s become clear to me that the president has embarked on an effort to undermine anyone with the ability to bring any misdeeds to light, be that Congress, the media or the Justice Department. The Senate should not let that happen. We’re a nation of laws that apply equally to everyone, a lesson the president would be wise to learn.”
Feinstein was one of the senators on the Senate intelligence committee who last week questioned ousted FBI director James Comey about his interactions with Trump prior to being fired and the possibility that he was dismissed in order to impede the Russia investigation.