White House Backs Off Attacks Against Mueller

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President Trump’s options are limited for ending the Russia probe he wants to see over, Politico reports. Firing special counsel Robert Mueller? That might open up the president to an obstruction of justice charge. Defunding the Russia investigation? Influential Republicans are warning the White House to avoid such a direct attack. Setting up a dueling probe to dig into Democratic scandals? That might distract attention, but it won’t stop Mueller’s wide-ranging probe, which took its first major public step this week with criminal charges against three former Trump campaign aides. “The legal process is working. Just let it work,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Tuesday. “Let Mueller do his job. If he gets off in a ditch and he does something he shouldn’t be doing, then we’ll all comment on it when that happens.”

Despite Trump’s desire to cut the Russia investigations short — and pressure from some allies to do so — the president and his advisers are coming to the realization there isn’t much he can do to derail it. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave reporters a flat “no” when asked whether the president would take aim at Mueller’s budget, as former White House strategist Steve Bannon has suggested. Trump attorneys Ty Cobb, John Dowd and Jay Sekulow and White House chief of staff John Kelly have coached the president to pull back from making explicit attacks against Mueller. “I don’t support any kind of retaliatory action,” Sekulow said. “That’s not the position we’re advocating. We’re cooperating with the special counsel.” Bannon has complained to Trump about that cooperative approach. Describing the White House as being caught by surprise by Monday’s indictments, Bannon suggested it may be time to replace Cobb and Dowd or add another layer of lawyers on top of them.

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