President Trump on Wednesday publicly called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to immediately end the “rigged witch hunt,” a phrase he uses to refer to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
“This is a terrible situation,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further.”
Trump accuse Mueller of being “totally conflicted” as head of the investigation, though he did not detail in the tweet what he thinks are Mueller’s alleged conflicts. Over the weekend, in another tweet, Trump called on Mueller to release his “conflicts of interest” in regards to the “very nasty” and “contentious” business relationship Trump claimed the two had.
Trump’s tweet comes as Mueller is reportedly investigating whether the president obstructed the probe into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is on trial in Alexandria, Va., for tax evasion and bank fraud. Manafort has pleaded not guilty. The case is being prosecuted by the special counsel. Prosecutors allege Manafort failed to pay taxes on millions he made working for a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party. He then lied to secure loans when his cash flow dried up, prosecutors say. Manafort also faces related charges in Washington, D.C. In neither case does Manafort face charges relating to possible collusion with Russia.
Trump defended hiring Manafort, questioning why the federal government had not alerted him that he was under investigation.
“These charges have nothing to do with Collusion — a Hoax!” Trump wrote.
It’s not the first time Trump has targeted Sessions in regard to the Russia investigation. Trump has repeatedly heaped blame on his attorney general for recusing himself from the probe. Trump admitted in June he would have nominated someone other than Sessions for the top job at the Department of Justice if he knew the former Alabama senator would step aside. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has also endured public attacks from the president, is in charge of oversight of the Mueller investigation.
Sessions’ recusal put Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has also endured public attacks from the president, in charge of oversight of the Mueller investigation, meaning Sessions would be violating the recusal to end the probe.
The Department of Justice declined to comment. Just weeks ago, Sessions asserted the Justice Department and Trump were “in sync” on what the department should be focused.
According to a recent New York Times report, Mueller is looking through tweets and statements made by Trump about his own attorney general and former FBI Director James Comey and whether the messages were intended to obstruct justice.
Among those criticizing Trump for his tweet about Sessions was Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. The California Democrat aid Trump had just made “an attempt to obstruct justice hiding in plain sight.”
Putting more pressure on the president, Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen is no longer shielding his longtime client against accusations of collusion. According to a CNN report Cohen plans to tell Mueller that Trump knew about a Trump Tower meeting between Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, met with Don Jr., former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner, predicated on the promise of dirt on Trump’s 2016 rival Hillary Clinton. Trump and other White House officials have denied the president was aware of the meeting until after it took place. In response, Giuliani has branded Cohen a “pathological, manipulator, liar.”