White House downplays Trump tweet on Russia probe

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that President Trump was not issuing a formal directive to Jeff Sessions 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 Rosenstein, 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 Collins (R-Maine) told reporters.

Trump’s has repeatedly denounced special counsel Robert Mueller’s “witch hunt” investigation, and has railed against Sessions for his recusal, publicly expressing his desire that he had selected a different attorney general.

Tags Donald Trump Jeff Sessions Robert Mueller Rod Rosenstein Susan Collins

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