President Donald Trump called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions Wednesday to end special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether he or any of his 2016 campaign aides colluded with Russia to influence the election results.
“This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further,” Trump said in a tweet. “Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA.”
Trump sent the message encouraging Sessions (pictured above right) to act following two earlier tweets about FBI agent Peter Strzok. Mueller recruited Strzok for the investigation.
Strzok was removed from the investigation only a few weeks later, when Mueller learned that he and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page had exchanged thousands of virulently anti-Trump text messages during and after the campaign.
Trump, in his earlier tweets, cited constitutional lawyer and pundit Alan Dershowitz, who said Strzok should have recused himself from the Mueller investigation and should not still be employed by the FBI.
It’s not clear why Trump called on Sessions to end the Mueller probe, as the attorney general recused himself in 2017 from all matters related to Russia collusion questions, leaving Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint Mueller. As the appointing official, Rosenstein has direct authority over Mueller.
Strzok and Page, who were formerly lovers, drew the attention of congressional investigators when their texts became public in December 2017. Strzok testified during two closed-door hearings that went late into the night June 27. He returned to face questions during his first public hearing July 12.
Strzok refused to answer numerous questions throughout his public hearing by citing FBI counsel’s advice that he not talk about ongoing investigations. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) even threatened Strzok with contempt proceedings if he continued to refuse to cooperate.
By contrast, Page has been much more cooperative in her closed-door testimony.
Sessions has not commented on Trump’s tweet.