The head of the Democratic National Committee said Thursday that President Trump’s “firing” of Attorney General Jeff Sessions doesn’t pass the “smell test” and said that it conjures up memories of former President Richard Nixon’s “Saturday massacre.”
But DNC Chairman Tom Perez shied away from saying he would support the liberal calls for impeachment of Mr. Trump if acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker ends special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
“What happened yesterday doesn’t pass the smell test,” Mr. Perez said at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
“It is not hard to figure out what is going on,” he said. “I hope Republicans like [South Carolina Sen.] Lindsey Graham who once said there will be heck to pay if they were to do anything to Mueller — this will be a test if they are going to live up to that.”
Mr. Perez said the situation is in many ways worse than the “Saturday Massacre” in 1973 when Nixon ordered the firing of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox, leading to a series of resignations that eventually ended with Cox’s dismissal.
Mr. Perez said the appointment of Mr. Whitaker amounted to an “end around” of decades of precedent in which the Senate confirms the head of the Justice Department.
“Bob Mueller needs to complete his investigation, and we need to ensure, using the oversight process, that he is given the opportunity to complete his investigation, and I hope that will be a bipartisan call,” Mr. Perez said.