Washington: Democrats on Sunday cautioned US president Donald Trump that firing top law enforcement officials over the investigation into his campaign's links to Russia could spark a dangerous "confrontation," as Republican lawmakers broke ranks to say the probe should go on unhindered.
The warnings came two days after the Republican-led House intelligence committee released a declassified memo that claims Democrat-funded research prompted the FBI to spy on a former Trump campaign aide, Carter Page.
Democrats stoutly resisted the memo's release, saying it was "deliberately misleading" and possibly intended to lay the groundwork for Trump to fire senior officials and subvert the Russia election meddling investigation led by Robert Mueller.
In a sign of an emerging split in the president's party, four Republican members of the intelligence committee — Representatives Trey Gowdy, Chris Stewart, Will Hurd and Brad Wenstrup — said on Sunday that the memo should not be allowed to undermine Mueller's investigation.
Dick Durbin, the number two Senate Democrat, warned that any move by Trump against senior law enforcement officials involved in the inquiry could have grave consequences.
"The question at that moment is whether or not the majority Republicans in the House and the Senate will stand up for the rule of law and the Constitution if the president takes that extreme position," Durbin said on CNN's State of the Union.
"If the president takes this extreme action, I'm afraid that it could lead to a confrontation we do not need in America."
Durbin contested the suggestion that the FBI's application to a special court for authority to surveil Page failed to note that the request was based partly on a dossier funded by Democrats.
The senior Democrat on the intelligence committee, Representative Adam Schiff, insisted that "the court was notified there was a political actor involved."
Updated Date: Feb 05, 2018 07:12:22 IST