Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy said he's concerned by President Donald Trump's increasing criticism of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Audio from this story will be posted.
Over the weekend, the president tweeted that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation "should never have been started" and it was a "WITCH HUNT!"
The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2018
Trump's tweets came after Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, a frequent target of the president's frustrations over the FBI's examination of the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia.
Leahy says more Republicans need to support legislation barring the president from firing Mueller.
“The president has the ability to fire him — I think we should pass legislation to make that difficult," Leahy told reporters at a press conference he held Monday at Burlington International Airport before flying back to Washington. “Remember, when Richard Nixon did that to the special counsel, it ended up with impeachment.”
Leahy would not say if Trump had committed any impeachable offenses.
“You know, I was a prosecutor. I like to get all of the evidence in first,” Leahy said.
Leahy did not specifically say how he would respond if Trump fires Mueller, but said he would "make some very strong stands."
In a written statement, Rep. Peter Welch said the efforts to discredit the Mueller investigation were concerning:
“I am deeply concerned about the transparent effort underway to discredit and disrupt the Mueller investigation. President Trump is not above the law. He cannot and will not evade accountability. The Mueller investigation is credible and will not be stopped. The world is watching.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders did not respond to VPR's request for comment Monday.
Correction 5:18 p.m. This post text was amended to clarify McCabe as former FBI deputy director.