WASHINGTON – 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.
Trump has come under fire for his prior contacts with former FBI Director James Comey, whom he abruptly fired in May because of his handling of the Russia matter. In a break with longstanding precedent to avoid even the appearance of influencing the nonpolitical law enforcement agency's investigations, Trump spoke privately with Comey on several occasions.
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