Trump urges AG to end Russia probe 'right now'

by Garry Watts August 4, 2018, 2:54
Trump urges AG to end Russia probe 'right now'

"This is a bad situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further".

"Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to the U.S.!"

"Russian Collusion with the Trump Campaign, one of the most successful in history, is a TOTAL HOAX", the president said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said negotiations are continuing to have Trump sit down for questions from Mueller, although the lawyer said "I'm not going to give you a lot of hope that it's going to happen".

Earlier this summer, Trump's legal team sought to set specific conditions on an interview and make central topics off limits - conditions they believed would be dealbreakers for the special counsel.

Donald Trump and his political and legal teams are mounting an extraordinary escalation of his attacks against the special counsel's investigation, an apparent sign of increased worry among his allies that Robert Mueller's findings could potentially be deeply damaging to the President. It's unclear which topic or topics would be left out.

Jens David Ohlin, a law professor at Cornell University, said the tweets would likely not be seen as an order to Sessions, but as "Trump venting his continued frustration with the fact that he can't control the Russian Federation investigation".

Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel's office, declined to comment.

It is not clear exactly what brought on Trump's latest volcanic intervention in the Mueller drama. "This is an attempt to obstruct justice hiding in plain sight". "It's an attempt to infringe on his First Amendment right and ability to communicate with the American people".

Their comments during a White House briefing came after Trump publicly undermined the conclusions of US intelligence agencies regarding Russian interference. A Justice Department spokeswoman said the department had no comment.

It was Trump's most direct call for his top USA law enforcement officer to shut down Special Counsel Robert Mueller's criminal investigation and Democrats promptly accused the president of trying to obstruct justice.

Last year, Sessions recused himself from any investigation related to the 2016 presidential campaigns soon after it came to light that he had failed to disclose during his Senate confirmation hearing contacts with Russia's ambassador to Washington.

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For the first time the president publicly called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end the Russian Federation probe, tweeting "Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this rigged witch hunt right now".

To end the investigation, Sessions would either have to violate his recusal or announce that he is ending it. "It is part and parcel with the other 94 things the man has done that show obstruction of justice", said Paul Rosenzweig, a former prosecutor who was part of a team that investigated President Bill Clinton.

"It seems even more vivid and serious evidence of criminal intent to obstruct justice - whether it is obstruction itself or not, it certainly indicated intent", Blumenthal said.

Giuliani added the president may be within his legal rights to obstruct justice if he wishes.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Trump's tweets indicated to her that he's "very worried" about Mueller's investigation. Gingrich said, "If Manafort wins this, and there's a good chance he will, I think Mueller is gonna look like a fool and I think the whole country is going to shrug off everything else Mueller does at that point".

Sekulow said the president has been making similar statements for months, as have his lawyers.

In the past, Trump has privately pressed Sessions to end his recusal and take control of the Mueller probe, according to people familiar with the discussions.

In any case, Sessions recused himself from the investigation in March 2017 and does not have the power to stop it.

Manafort served as Trump's campaign chief from May to August 2016 and the president asked Wednesday: "why didn't government tell me that he was under investigation".

Manafort's trial opened Tuesday with prosecutors accusing him of hiding from U.S. tax authorities millions of dollars from past lobbying work for the pro-Russia president of Ukraine, and failing to report his foreign bank accounts.

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers in both parties have pushed election security toward the top of the fall agenda amid heightened concerns about interference by Russians and others in the midterm elections. Moscow has denied such interference, and Trump has denied any collusion by his campaign or any obstruction of justice. "Where is the Russian Collusion?" "It's us - meaning the team of lawyers, including me - that have the most reservations about that".

This article was written by Felicia Sonmez and Shane Harris, reporters for The Washington Post.

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