File Photo: A participant dressed as both Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump attends a protest against Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, in Times Square, in New York City, New York, U.S., July 26, 2017. (Xinhua/REUTERS)
by Matthew Rusling
WASHINGTON, March 20 (Xinhua) -- While U.S. President Donald Trump ramps up his criticism of the investigation into his campaign team's alleged ties with Russia, legal experts warn Democrats may launch an impeachment effort should he try to end the probe.
The White House has for a year been battling suspicions that Trump colluded with Russia in order to win the presidential race. An investigation -- known as the Russia probe -- has been going on for months.
Recent weeks have seen Trump increasingly launching verbal attacks against those involved in the probe, especially special counsel Robert Mueller, who is heading the investigation.
Trump tweets on the Russia probe.
There is also some speculation in the media over whether Trump may move to halt the investigation after his personal lawyer John Dowd called for an end to the Russia probe on Saturday.
However, legal experts warn such an action would not be tolerated by most lawmakers, Democrats or Republicans. "All hell will break loose if Trump stops the investigation," Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.
"That would be obstruction of justice in the eyes of many people. Even Republicans have publicly said doing that would cross a red line of misconduct for them. Democrats would launch an impeachment effort and seek to remove Trump from the presidency. It is not clear if there are enough Republicans who would support that effort to actually remove him from office. But there would be a political uproar like Trump has never seen," West said.
"The same thing would happen if Trump fires Mueller. For many, that would represent serious interference in the investigation and lead to calls for Trump's impeachment. Such an action would further polarize the nation," West said.
Activists carrying placards with political points of view march to City Hall through downtown Los Angeles, California on June 3, 2017, in the March For Truth, part of a peaceful nationwide demonstration aimed at restoring faith in American democracy and the U.S. electoral system. (Xinhua/AFP)
Indeed, Trump has recently fired a number of senior officials related to the probe, including Andrew McCabe, deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who was one of the first FBI officials to scrutinize Trump's alleged ties with Russia.
"It is hard for me to see the Andrew McCabe firing as motivated by anything other than a desire to protect Trump from the Mueller investigation, to make the FBI look bad, and to intimidate civil servants who are critical of Trump," Christopher Galdieri, assistant professor at Saint Anselm College in the U.S. state of New Hampshire, told Xinhua.
File Photo: U.S. President Donald Trump arrives for a joint news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto (not in the picture) at the White House in Washington D.C., the United States, on Aug. 28, 2017. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that he hoped the U.S. could have good relations with Russia, which would be "good for world peace." (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)
Meanwhile, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle also expressed concern over Trump's increasing verbal attacks on the Russia investigation, with some siding with Mueller.
"If the president reaches out and stops this investigation, that is a constitutional crisis in this country," Democratic Senator Dick Durbin told "Fox News Sunday."
"If he (Trump) tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency because we are a rule of law nation," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Sunday on CNN's political talk show "State of the Union."
At the same time, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee claimed in a report earlier this month that there was no evidence of collusion between Trump and Moscow, acknowledging, though, that they could not interview every single witness when writing the report.
"If Trump were to stop the investigation or fire Mueller, there'd be a major political and constitutional crisis," Dan Mahaffee, senior vice president and director of policy at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, told Xinhua.
"Many in the GOP would have to decide whether they could stomach this move, and his presidency would be unlikely to recover. That said, some of the latest actions of the White House seem to be laying the groundwork for just such a move," Mahaffee said.
"As for Deputy Director McCabe ... Tweets of the president and other past statements appear to make the firing a political act," Mahaffee said.