WASHINGTON — A lawyer for President Donald Trump called on the Justice Department on Saturday to end the special counsel investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, shifting abruptly to a more adversarial stance as the inquiry appeared to be intensifying.
The comments by the lawyer, John Dowd, were prompted by the firing late Friday of the former deputy FBI director, Andrew McCabe. Dowd exhorted Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who oversees the special counsel, to end the inquiry and accused the former FBI director, James Comey, of concocting a baseless investigation.
“I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt dossier,” Dowd told The Daily Beast.
His remarks capped another round of revelations in recent days that reinvigorated or displayed Trump’s frustrations with the investigation that has cast a shadow over his presidency. He was said to be angered over a New York Times report
that records from the Trump Organization were subpoenaed, and he celebrated the firing of McCabe, who was among the first FBI officials to scrutinize possible links between Russia and the Trump team, calling his dismissal a “great day for Democracy” on Twitter.
On Saturday evening, Trump for the first time posted a tweet that specifically mentioned the special counsel, Robert Mueller. The president again denounced the inquiry he is conducting as a “witch hunt.”
“The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime,” he wrote. “It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign.”
Dowd, by contrast, did not name the special counsel in his statement, but the implication that he believed Mueller should be fired was unmistakable.
People close to the president were skeptical Dowd was acting on his own. Trump has a history of using advisers to publicly test a message, giving him some distance from it.
Hours later, the president echoed Dowd’s accusations of corruption in the theoretical “deep state” that Trump has long cast as a boogeyman working to undermine him.
The comments by both Trump and Dowd lent credence to McCabe’s assertion that the president sees his firing as directly tied into Mueller’s case. McCabe, who is a potential witness in the investigation, declared his dismissal was an attempt to undermine it.