Giuliani: Trump issued opinion to Sessions, not order

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCummings says Ivanka Trump not preserving all official communications Property is a fundamental right that is now being threatened 25 states could see severe flooding in coming weeks, scientists say 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 SessionsRosenstein still working at DOJ despite plans to leave in mid-March Juan Williams: Don't rule out impeaching Trump O'Rourke on impeachment: 2020 vote may be best way to 'resolve' Trump 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."

ADVERTISEMENT

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 RosensteinThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump steps up attacks on McCain Rosenstein still working at DOJ despite plans to leave in mid-March Graham says he'll probe Rosenstein's 25th Amendment remarks 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 ManafortAs Russia collusion fades, Ukrainian plot to help Clinton emerges Senior Ukrainian official says he's opened probe into US election interference Mueller team asks court for delay, citing 'press of other work' 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.