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A slate of bipartisan former lawmakers have signed an open letter addressed to the US Senate warning of a constitutional crisis under Donald Trump.

By Tuesday, 44 former Democratic and Republican senators put their names to the letter, published in the Washington Post, which argued the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election could arrive “at a time when simmering regional conflicts and global power confrontations continue to threaten our security, economy and geopolitical stability.”

“It is a time, like other critical junctures in our history, when our nation must engage at every level with strategic precision and the hand of both the president and the Senate,” the letter continued. “We are at an inflection point in which the foundational principles of our democracy and our national security interests are at stake, and the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld.”

Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican senator who is not running for re-election and has become a frequent critic of the president, tweeted a link to the letter Monday with a caption reading, “Important words from a bipartisan group of former senators.”

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Democratic Senator Michael Bennet also posted a link to the letter on Twitter, writing, “For those of us fortunate enough to be serving now, history will judge our response.”

“No one is above the law,” he added. “It’s time to put country and Constitution above all else.”

The former senators go on to suggest the country may already be in the state of a constitutional crisis, writing, “At other critical moments in our history, when constitutional crises have threatened our foundations, it has been the Senate that has stood in defence of our democracy. Today is once again such a time.”

The letter concludes, “Regardless of party affiliation, ideological leanings or geography, as former members of this great body, we urge current and future senators to be steadfast and zealous guardians of our democracy by ensuring that partisanship or self-interest not replace national interest.”

Its publication arrived in the midst of explosive new developments surrounding the special counsel’s investigation, including a sentencing memorandum released by New York prosecutors which suggested the president’s longtime former lawyer Michael Cohen had not been entirely cooperative throughout their probes into his alleged financial crimes that occurred throughout the 2016 election.

This week also yielded controversial news for Michael Flynn, the president’s former National Security Adviser, with Mr Mueller’s office saying he gave “firsthand” details about Mr Trump’s transition team having multiple contacts with the Russians.

Mr Trump has frequently railed against the federal investigation online, calling it a “witch hunt” and vowing to release a counter-report to Mr Mueller’s findings.

“Without the phony Russia Witch Hunt, and with all that we have accomplished in the last almost two years (Tax & Regulation Cuts, Judge’s, Military, Vets, etc.) my approval rating would be at 75% rather than the 50% just reported by Rasmussen,” the president claimed in a tweet last week. “It’s called Presidential Harassment!”

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