Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Forty-four former senators -- 32 Democrats, 10 Republicans and two indendepents -- warned the United States is "entering a dangerous period," and urged the current Senate to defend national interests rather than political ideologies.
"We are on the eve of the conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation and the House's commencement of investigations of the president and his administration," the ex-lawmakers wrote in an op-ed published by The Washington Post. "The likely convergence of these two events will occur at a time when simmering regional conflicts and global power confrontations continue to threaten our security, economy and geopolitical stability."
Mueller is investigating Russian election interference and possible collusion between President Donald Trump's campaign and the Kremlin.
"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 op-ed 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."
Trump, who is not mentioned by name in the opinion piece, frequently has called Mueller's investigation a "witch hunt" and said there was no collusion between his campaign and Russians.
"At other critical moments in our history, when constitutional crises have threatened our foundations, it has been the Senate that has stood in defense of our democracy," the senators wrote. "Today is once again such a time."
The former senators urged the current members of the upper chamber to cast aside party differences.
"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," they wrote.
House Democrats, who will become the majority party in January, have vowed to investigate the president. The House "shall have the sole Power of Impeachment," according to the U.S. Constitution and "the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments." It takes a two-thirds vote in the Senate to remove the president.
In January, the Republicans will have a 53-47 edge.
Former Republicans who signed the letter were: Ben Brighthouse Campbell of Colorado, William Cohen of Maine, Al D'Amato of New York, John C. Danforth of Missouri, David Durenberger of Minnesota, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Richard Lugar of Indiana, Larry Pressler of South Dakoka, Alan Simpson of Wyoming and John W. Warner of Virginia.