Republican congressmen must defy President Donald Trump if he tries to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, The New York Times editorial board wrote on Sunday.
"If the president does move against the investigators, it will be up to Congress to reaffirm the rule of law, the separation of powers and the American constitutional order," the editorial board wrote, adding that "The miserable polarization and partisan anger that have been rising in American life for decades will hit a new crescendo, and that will present congressional Republicans with a heavy burden indeed."
The opinion piece was written after Trump recently upped his attacks against Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
The editorial board warned that if Trump tries to cripple or shut down the investigation, he would "be striking at the foundation of the American government, attempting to set a precedent that a president, alone among American citizens, is above the law. What can seem now like a political sideshow will instantly become a constitutional crisis."
The article stressed that Republicans must resist the temptation to protect Trump on the premise they can carry out their party's agenda, saying that "it's when overriding your principles is the easy thing to do that you have an urgent responsibility, and opportunity, to demonstrate that you have some."
The board said it must be made clear that "The president is not a king but a citizen, deserving of the presumption of innocence and other protections, yet also vulnerable to lawful scrutiny. We hope Mr. Trump recognizes this. If he doesn't, how Republican lawmakers respond will shape the future not only of this presidency and of one of the country's great political parties, but of the American experiment itself.
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