White House downplays Trump tweet on Russia probe

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate GOP budget ignores Trump, cuts defense Trump says he'll nominate Stephen Moore to Fed White House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated MORE was not issuing a formal directive to Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump says 'people will not stand' for Mueller report Jeff Sessions returns to Justice Department to retrieve Cabinet chair Rosenstein still working at DOJ despite plans to leave in mid-March MORE when he tweeted the attorney general should bring the Russia probe to an end.

"It's not an order. It's the president's opinion," Sanders told reporters during a press briefing. 

Sanders called the special counsel's probe into ties between the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 "ridiculous" and said the president "wants to see it come to an end."


"The president is not obstructing. He is fighting back," she added.

Sessions has recused himself from the investigation into Moscow's election meddling, and Sanders said she was unaware of Trump making similar comments to Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinTrump says 'people will not stand' for Mueller report The Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game Jeff Sessions returns to Justice Department to retrieve Cabinet chair MORE, who is overseeing the special counsel.

Her comments echo those make by Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, who told The Washington Post the president "uses tweets to express his opinion." 

Multiple Republicans on Capitol Hill, however, pushed back on Trump's tweeted comments.

“I think it's highly inappropriate and intemperate. ...It would be far better if the president just refrained from commenting and Mr. Mueller proceeds with his investigation, which after all has already resulted in more than 30 indictments ... and has lead to a trial that is ongoing even as we speak,” Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate GOP poised to go 'nuclear' on Trump picks Overnight Health Care: CDC pushes for expanding HIV testing, treatment | Dem group launches ads attacking Trump on Medicare, Medicaid cuts | Hospitals, insurers spar over surprise bills | O'Rourke under pressure from left on Medicare for all Dem group launches ads attacking Trump's 'hypocrisy on Medicare and Medicaid cuts' MORE (R-Maine) told reporters.

Trump's has repeatedly denounced special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's "witch hunt" investigation, and has railed against Sessions for his recusal, publicly expressing his desire that he had selected a different attorney general.