Giuliani: Trump issued opinion to Sessions, not order

President TrumpDonald John TrumpComey responds to Trump with Mariah Carey gif: 'Why are you so obsessed with me?' Congress to get election security briefing next month amid Intel drama New York man accused of making death threats against Schumer, Schiff MORE's attorneys in the Russia investigation and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders disputed on Wednesday that Trump was directing Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOn the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Trump looms as flashpoint in Alabama Senate battle Trump tweets test Attorney General Barr MORE to end special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's investigation in a tweet earlier in the day.

As part of a barrage of attacks on the Mueller investigation on Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted that Sessions "should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further."

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However, Trump lawyers Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani argued to The Washington Post that Trump was merely expressing an opinion.

“The president has issued no order or direction to the Department of Justice on this,” Sekulow told the Post.

Giuliani pointed to Trump's use of the word "should" and added that the president "uses tweets to express his opinion."

And at Wednesday's press briefing, Sanders said the tweet was "not an order. It's the president's opinion."

Trump's call for Sessions to end the Mueller investigation marked an escalation in his long-running criticism of the special counsel.

He has periodically chastised Sessions for recusing himself from overseeing the probe but had previously refrained from outright asking the attorney general to put a stop to it.

Sessions, the former Alabama senator who served as a top Trump campaign adviser, recused himself in March 2017 from the Russia probe after it was revealed he failed to disclose a conversation he had with Russia's U.S. ambassador during the 2016 race.

As a result, Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinAttorney General Barr is in a mess — and has no one to blame but himself Graham requests interviews with DOJ, FBI officials as part of probe into Russia investigation DOJ won't charge former FBI Deputy Director McCabe MORE is overseeing the investigation. Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel in May 2017, after Trump fired Comey as FBI director.

Trump's tweet comes one day after his former campaign chairman, Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortFree Roger Stone Trump tweets test Attorney General Barr Maxine Waters blasts Trump as 'mafia boss' over Stone case MORE, went on trial for alleged tax, financial and bank fraud crimes, the biggest test yet for the Mueller probe.

It also adds to a growing list of tweets that Mueller is reportedly looking at as part of an investigation into whether the president obstructed justice.

Updated at 1:48 p.m.