Trump lawyer calls for Rosenstein to shut down Mueller probe
President Trump’s personal attorney on Saturday called on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to shut down special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump campaign associates’ ties to Russia.
Trump lawyer John Dowd issued the call to “bring an end” the federal probe a day after Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, prompting firm pushback from Democrats.
“I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier,” Dowd said in a statement obtained by The Hill.
“Just end it on the merits in light of recent revelations,” he added.
Dowd had initially told The Daily Beast, which first reported his statement, that he was speaking as Trump’s counsel, but the lawyer later said he was speaking in a personal capacity. A clarification from Dowd was communicated to The Hill by another member of the president’s legal team.
Trump’s lawyer issued the statement after the president celebrated the firing of McCabe on Twitter late Friday night, calling it “a great day for Democracy.”
“Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!” Trump wrote.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned Trump and his legal team against any effort to shutter the special counsel investigation.
“Mr. Dowd’s comments are yet another indication that the first instinct of the president and his legal team is not to cooperate with Special Counsel Mueller, but to undermine him at every turn,” Schumer said in a statement Saturday.
“The president, the administration, and his legal team must not take any steps to curtail, interfere with, or end the special counsel’s investigation or there will be severe consequences from both Democrats and Republicans.”
Rosenstein has been overseeing the special counsel probe after Sessions recused himself last year over his contacts with Russians during his time as an adviser to the Trump campaign.
Sessions fired McCabe on Friday, two days before the No. 2 FBI official was set to retire, following an internal watchdog review. McCabe had stepped down from his position in January amid pressure from Trump and Republicans.
In firing McCabe, Sessions said the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility and Office of the Inspector General had found that the senior FBI official made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and “lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions.”
McCabe denied that charge, claiming he was fired in an effort to undermine Mueller’s probe, of which he is a potential witness.
“The idea that I was dishonest is just wrong. This is part of an effort to discredit me as a witness,” McCabe told The New York Times.
McCabe had faced months of criticism from Trump and other administration officials for his role in the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as secretary of State.
Trump repeatedly accused the official of being biased against him by citing his wife’s 2015 Democratic bid for office in Virginia and acceptance of donations from Clinton allies.
House Republicans also mentioned McCabe in a controversial memo alleging an improper surveillance authorization by the FBI and Justice Department on a Trump campaign aide, citing the use of a dossier of opposition research that was used in the warrant application.
Trump had reportedly ordered the firing of Mueller last year, but ultimately backed off when White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to resign.
The president’s lawyers were also reportedly trying to find instances supporting the president’s claims that Mueller had conflicts of interest in the case.
Trump’s lawyers are in talks with Mueller’s team to negotiate terms of a potential interview with the president as part of the sprawling probe.
Mueller’s team has secured guilty pleas from three former Trump campaign associates and has brought various charges against a fourth, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort.
As part of the probe, the special counsel has reportedly been interested in Trump’s decision last year to fire former FBI Director James Comey, who spearheaded the federal Russia probe before Mueller was appointed last year.
Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, noted that “it’s impossible to evaluate the merits” of McCabe’s firing since the Justice Department’s inspector general has not released the report that triggered the disciplinary process that resulted in the recommendation that he be fired.
However, he tweeted, “That it comes after the President urged the DOJ to deprive McCabe of his pension, and after his testimony, gives the action an odious taint.”
— Niall Stanage contributed to this report, which was updated at 2:40 p.m.