Trump provoked a ferocious reaction when he tweeted that Sessions "should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further". He also called it a "a disgrace to USA". While the White House has said the president's tweets amount to official statements, the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani later Wednesday issued a statement to ABC News describing the tweet merely as Trump's "opinion". Trump has been more frustrated since headlines about his former attorney Michael Cohen emerged last week. Prosecutors say between 2010 and 2014, Manafort made $60 million working for the Ukrainian government, hiding millions in foreign accounts so he didn't have to report his earnings to the IRS, and in 2015, Manafort's major client, former president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, left for Russian Federation amid protests against the governor.
On Tuesday night, Trump flew back from Florida with former aides who have stoked his anger and impulses in the past: current campaign manager Brad Parscale and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
Though Trump has previously called for an end to Mueller's probe, yesterday's tweets were the most direct aimed at Sessions - and they drew sharp criticism, including from some members of Trump's own party.
U.S. intelligence agencies concluded past year that Moscow meddled in the 2016 presidential campaign to try to tip the vote in Trump's favor.
Giuliani is ready for Mueller to "put up or shut up", he told CNN on Wednesday. "Now, if only it was actually backed up by anything the president has said or done on Russian Federation". When asked about the president's comments during Wednesday's White House press briefing, press secretary Sarah Sanders reiterated that president was "stating his opinion".
She added, "The President is not obstructing". He told his lawyers he wanted to clear up any questions Mueller had and believed he could put to rest questions about whether his campaign coordinated with Russian Federation in the 2016 election.
Mueller's team responded earlier this week to a proposal Trump's lawyers submitted some 11 days ago that suggested the president would only answer questions about whether his 2016 campaign colluded with Russian Federation, not whether Trump obstructed justice, said Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
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But Trump's top spokeswoman rejected the idea that the president directed his attorney general to do anything - if he even could as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is overseeing Mueller's work since Sessions recused himself due to contacts with a senior Russian diplomat he had as a GOP Alabama senator who was advising the Trump campaign.
Mueller's team included Trump's past public attacks on Sessions in a list of topics they would like to cover in questioning the president, suggesting that the special counsel is examining whether they were meant to influence the investigation and possibly obstruct justice. That is what Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and other Democrats have asserted. "This is an attempt to obstruct justice hiding in plain sight. America must never accept it", he wrote. "Congress must protect Mueller".
Sanders said Trump wants Mueller's investigation concluded swiftly without intervention, though Trump has publicly mused as recently as May about interfering in the Department of Justice's oversight of the probe.
But Manafort's involvement in the Trump campaign spanned six months, and he helped lead efforts to secure the GOP nomination for Trump in 2016.
"Paul Manafort worked for Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other highly prominent and respected political leaders".
And with the midterms only three months away, critics have called on Trump to take a stronger stand. Both Giuliani and Trump have maintained there was no collusion.