'Red alert time': Trump's personal attorney is now calling for Robert Mueller to be fired

  • President Donald Trump's personal defense lawyer, John Dowd, reportedly said it's time for the special counsel Robert Mueller to be fired.
  • Dowd initially said he was making the statement in his official capacity as Trump's attorney and representative.
  • He later walked back his comments in a major way, saying he was speaking in his own personal capacity and not as Trump's lawyer. 
  • One legal expert said Dowd's statement could be an "unintentional tell" that investigators are close to uncovering bombshell evidence in the Russia investigation.

President Donald Trump's personal lawyer thinks it's time Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein fire the special counsel Robert Mueller. 

John Dowd, one of the attorneys leading the president's defense team in the Russia investigation and the primary point of contact between Trump and Mueller, told The Daily Beast that Rosenstein should shut down Mueller's investigation. 

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Former FBI Director Robert Mueller
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Former FBI Director Robert Mueller
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: Former FBI director Robert Mueller attends the ceremonial swearing-in of FBI Director James Comey at the FBI Headquarters October 28, 2013 in Washington, DC. Comey was officially sworn in as director of FBI on September 4 to succeed Mueller who had served as director for 12 years. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama applauds outgoing Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) director Robert Mueller (L) in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington on June 21, 2013 as he nominates Jim Comey to be the next FBI director. Comey, a deputy attorney general under George W. Bush, would replace Mueller, who is stepping down from the agency he has led since the week before the September 11, 2001 attacks. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller applauds key staff members during a farewell ceremony held for him at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW HEADSHOT)
391489 03: U.S. President George W. Bush speaks during a conference as he stands with Justice Department veteran Robert Mueller, left, who he has nominated to head the FBI, and Attorney General John Ashcroft July 5, 2001 the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller stands for the national anthem during a farewell ceremony for him at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller (L) reacts to a standing ovation from the audience, Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole (C) and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (R) during Mueller's farewell ceremony at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller gestures during his remarks at a farewell ceremony held for him at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
FILE PHOTO -- U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft (R) and FBI Director Robert Mueller speak about possible terrorist threats against the United States, in Washington, May 26, 2004. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller reacts to applause from the audience during his farewell ceremony at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 19: Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., right, and FBI Director Robert Mueller make their way to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on oversight of the FBI. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller (C) delivers remarks at a farewell ceremony for him at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Also onstage with Mueller are Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole (FROM L), U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, former CIA Director George Tenet and TSA Administrator John Pistole. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 15: (L-R) Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton attend the National Peace Officers' Memorial Service at the U.S. Capitol May 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. Holder and other members of the Obama administration are being criticized over reports of the Internal Revenue Services' scrutiny of conservative organization's tax exemption requests and the subpoena of two months worth of Associated Press journalists' phone records. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Federal Bureau of Investigation oversight on Capitol Hill in Washington June 13, 2013. Mueller said on Thursday that the U.S. government is doing everything it can to hold confessed leaker Edward Snowden accountable for splashing surveillance secrets across the pages of newspapers worldwide. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (L) welcomes FBI Director Robert Mueller during their meeting in Kiev June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Efrem Lukatsky/Pool (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS)
FBI Director Robert Mueller (L) arrives for the Obama presidential inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol January 21, 2013 in Washington. President Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term as President of the United States. Woman at right is unidentified. REUTERS/Win McNamee-POOL (UNITED STATES)
WASHINGTON, : FBI Director Robert Mueller answers questions before Congress 17 October 2002 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Mueller was testifying before the House and Senate Select Intelligence committees' final open hearing investigating events leading up to the September 11, 2001. AFP Photos/Stephen JAFFE (Photo credit should read STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP/Getty Images)
(L-R) CIA Director Leon Panetta, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and FBI Director Robert Mueller testify at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 16, 2011. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
399994 02: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller visits the American military compound at Kandahar Airport January 23, 2002 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Mueller had lunch with FBI officials and Haji Gulali, commander of the Kandahar region. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller (L) stand during the National Anthem alongside Attorney General Eric Holder (R) and Deputy Attorney General James Cole (C) during a farewell ceremony in Mueller's honor at the Department of Justice on August 1, 2013. Mueller is retiring from the FBI after 12-years as Director. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
399994 01: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller greets American forces on the American military compound at Kandahar Airport January 23, 2002 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Mueller had lunch with FBI officials and Haji Gulali, commander of the Kandahar region. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 19: FBI Director Robert Mueller, center, talks with Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., right, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, talk before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on oversight of the FBI. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 06: OVERSIGHT HEARING ON COUNTERTERRORISM--Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, and Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, before the hearing. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
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"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 [former FBI deputy director Andrew] McCabe's boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier," Dowd said in a text message, according to the report. 

Sessions fired McCabe on Friday amid an internal Department of Justice investigation into his handling of the FBI's investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server to conduct government business. Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation last year. He also said before becoming Attorney General that if he was confirmed to the position, he would recuse himself from any investigations related to Clinton. 

Dowd told The Daily Beast on Saturday that he was responding on behalf of Trump and in his capacity as Trump's personal lawyer.  

He also emailed the outlet a version of a line from the 20th-century play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: 

"What's that smell in this room[Bureau}? Didn't you notice it, Brick [Jim]? Didn't you notice a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room[Bureau}?... There ain't nothin' more powerful than the odor of mendacity[corruption]... You can smell it. It smells like death.” Tennessee Williams — ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." 

Dowd later walked back his comment in a major way, telling CNN that he was acting in his personal capacity and not as Trump's lawyer.

'Targets always squeal louder when investigators get closer to the truth'

Dowd's comments to The Daily Beast mark the first time a member of the president's legal team has publicly called for the special counsel's firing. 

The statement "basically confirms McCabe's statement from last night: that McCabe's 11th hour termination from the FBI was directly tied to the Russia investigation, for which McCabe is a crucial witness," said Jens David Ohlin, a vice dean at Cornell Law School and an expert on criminal law.

"Dowd just confirmed it by connecting the two events and saying that Rosenstein should shut down the Russia investigation and 'follow the brilliant and courageous example' of AG Sessions," he added. 

Matthew Miller, a former spokesman for the Department of Justice under former President Barack Obama, tweeted, "Here it is, the point all of the attacks on law enforcement by Trump, Nunes, Fox News and the rest have been inevitably building to. Red alert time."

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People reportedly interviewed in Robert Mueller's Russia probe
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People reportedly interviewed in Robert Mueller's Russia probe

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions 

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Former FBI Director James Comey

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Trump advisor Stephen Miller

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

President Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner 

(bBRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Don McGahn, general counsel for the Trump transition team

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who compiled the reported Trump dossier 

(Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)

Sam Clovis, a former member of the Trump campaign

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

CIA Director Mike Pompeo
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Dowd's comment also came following reports this week that Mueller has subpoenaed the Trump Organization for documents related to its business dealings, including its push to build a Trump Tower in Moscow at the height of the presidential election.

Felix Sater, a Russian-born businessman and one of the individuals involved in the deal, said Friday that at the time, the Trump Organization was actively negotiating with VTB Bank, a sanctioned Russian bank to secure financing for the building. 

VTB was initially added to the US's Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN) in July 2014, which froze its assets in the country and restricted US citizens and companies from doing business with VTB and its subsidiaries. The US later imposed additional sanctions on VTB in December 2015.

Asked by The New York Times' Michael Schmidt and Haberman last year about whether an investigation into his finances would breach that red line, Trump answered, "I would say yeah."

"I don't make money from Russia. In fact, I put out a letter saying that I don't make — from one of the most highly respected law firms, accounting firms," he said. "I don't have buildings in Russia. They said I own buildings in Russia. I don't. They said I made money from Russia; I don't." 

The comments stand in contrast to those made by Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., in a 2008 New York Times op-ed. The younger Trump wrote, "In terms of high-end product influx into the US, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets."

"Say, in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo, and anywhere in New York," he added. "We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia."

Former federal prosecutor Patrick Cotter said Dowd's statement Saturday could be "an "unintentional 'tell' that the Mueller investigation is getting close to sensitive evidence of a crime."

"If I were Mueller I would be encouraged by the statement," Cotter said. "Targets always squeal louder when the investigators get closer to the truth."

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