With President Donald Trump suggesting he may move to shut down Mueller's investigation, critics are saying the US is again close to a constitutional crisis.
With President Donald Trump again suggesting he may move to shut down the special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, some leading critics are saying the nation is once more dangerously close to a constitutional crisis.
Trump lashed out at reports that the FBI raid centering on his longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, on Monday, telling reporters at the White House that it was a "disgraceful situation" and "an attack on our country" and "what we all stand for."
The agency took records related to several topics, including the $130,000 hush-money payment to the porn star Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 presidential election, as well as emails, tax documents, and business records, The Times reported. Federal prosecutors obtained a search warrant after Mueller sent a referral, said Stephen Ryan, Cohen's lawyer.
The Washington Post reported that investigators were looking into whether Cohen committed bank fraud or violated campaign finance election law. Meanwhile, The Times said the raid did not appear to be directly connected to Mueller's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 US election, but that the information he provided was most likely uncovered as part of it.
Observers, lawmakers, and former officials have indicated that Trump's latest Mueller threat — and the episode as a whole — has created another "constitutional crisis."
"We're in serious territory," said Walter Shaub, who was the head of the Office of Government Ethics under Trump and President Barack Obama.
"The President of the United States made remarks today that challenge the rule of law," Shaub continued. "That he seems to think he's above the law puts us potentially on a collision course with a constitutional crisis. What alarms me most is people who aren't alarmed."
Ben Rhodes, who was a top foreign-policy adviser to Obama, noted that a "constitutional crisis at home" may converge with escalating tensions abroad in Syria.
Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia tweeted that the FBI raid on Cohen "brings criminal investigation to the very doorstep of the Oval Office."
He argued that regardless of what Trump does to Mueller's investigation, "the constitutional crisis is here."
Another Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota, called for legislation to protect Mueller's investigation.
"Anything less sends the message that Congressional Republicans will let Trump plunge our country into a Constitutional crisis," she tweeted.
Some of Trump's allies mentioned a "constitutional crisis," but for somewhat different reasons.
The Fox News pundit Geraldo Rivera tweeted that the seizure of documents from Cohen created an "all-out legal/constitutional crisis."
Trump "must put together extraordinary dream team to challenge every aspect of #DOJ action-beginning w lawyer/client privilege & what purported crime justified search warrant?" Rivera added.
It's not the first time people have warned of such a crisis during Trump's presidency — for example, Democrats did so in July when Trump was toying with firing his attorney general, Jeff Sessions.