Despite his criticisms of the ongoing Russia investigation, President Trump has reportedly "sent private messages of 'appreciation' to special counsel Robert Mueller."
USA Today, which broke the story, adds that Trump's chief counsel John Dowd confirmed in a recent interview, "The president has sent messages back and forth."
Though Dowd didn't specify the contents of the communications, he indicated they included "appreciation and greetings."
The lawyer also told the news outlet, "[The president] appreciates what Bob Mueller is doing. He asked me to share that with him and that's what I've done."
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The contact and positive feedback are somewhat surprising, as Trump has regularly blasted the investigation into possible ties between his campaign and Russia as a "witch hunt."
The New York Times also reported last month that insiders have said the president's team has been "looking for conflicts of interest they could use to discredit the investigation — or even build a case to fire Mr. Mueller or get some members of his team recused..."
However, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway recently downplayed the speculation, saying, "[The president has] not discussed firing Bob Mueller."
She continued, "We will continue to cooperate with Bob Mueller and his investigation, even though he just hired the 16th person, many of them are Democratic donors, but we'll continue to cooperate and comply."
Conway was alluding to a claim Trump himself has previously made—that Mueller's probe is staffed with Hillary Clinton supporters.
However, Dowd dismissed the rumors about a possible dismissal, telling USA Today, "That's never been on the table, never. It's a manifestation of the media. My dealings with Bob Mueller have always been cordial, respectful — the way it should be."
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