Excerpted From USA Today: President Trump has publicly called the widening federal investigation into Russia’s election meddling a “witch hunt.” But through his lawyer, Trump has sent private messages of “appreciation” to special counsel Robert Mueller.
“He appreciates what Bob Mueller is doing,” Trump’s chief counsel John Dowd told USA TODAY in an interview Tuesday. “He asked me to share that with him and that’s what I’ve done.”
Trump’s legal team has been in contact with Mueller’s office, and Dowd says he has passed along the president’s messages expressing “appreciation and greetings’’ to the special counsel.
“The president has sent messages back and forth,’’ Dowd said, declining to elaborate further.
Washington political circles for weeks have been on high alert for the possibility the president could try to get rid of Mueller or otherwise wrest control of the federal Russia probe he frequently denounces as a “hoax.”
Yet the Trump legal camp cast the communications as a sign that the president is willing to cooperate with Mueller, whose office declined to comment, and former federal prosecutors say there are no rules that would prevent a president from passing along messages to the special counsel through an attorney.
Even so, Trump’s private communications represent a “striking” contradiction with his public condemnations of the Russia investigation, said Jimmy Gurule, a former assistant attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration.
“It’s an extreme position to go from hateful statements to this,” Gurule said. “What would cause him to change his mind?” Keep reading