Giuliani: Trump issued opinion to Sessions, not order

President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration 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 SessionsDems seize on Times bombshell to push allegations of Trump obstruction Mueller report may be 'anti-climactic,' says ex-intelligence director CNN ripped for hiring former Republican operative as political editor: 'WTF?!?!' MORE to end special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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 Jay RosensteinDems seize on Times bombshell to push allegations of Trump obstruction Trump calls Andrew McCabe a 'poor man's J. Edgar Hoover' CNN: DOJ preparing to announce end of Mueller probe as soon as next week 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 ManafortJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Five things to know about Trump confidant Tom Barrack Trump has publicly criticized Russia probe more than 1,100 times: NY Times 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.