A lawyer for President Donald Trump said the Justice Department should immediately shut down Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Attorney John Dowd made the statement after the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe in what represents a sharp shift in strategy for Trump’s inner circle. The president’s team has long urged Trump and those close to him to avoid any public criticism of Mueller or his investigation.
“I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the F.B.I. Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt dossier,” Dowd said in a statement to the Daily Beast.
The publication had reached out to Dowd for comment on McCabe’s firing and the lawyer partly responded with the text of Trump’s tweet in which he praised the move. “Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI,” Trump wrote. “A great day for Democracy.”
Whether Dowd’s words Saturday were a planned change in strategy or merely a personal outburst remains to be seen. For now, it appears Dowd may have quickly realized he spoke out of turn. When he first made the statement to the Daily Beast, Dowd claimed he was speaking on behalf of the president. But he later backtracked, and said he had been “speaking for myself, not the president.”
When the Washington Post asked Dowd to explain whether he thought the Russia investigation was flawed because of the most recent findings or due to broader issues of how the FBI handled the probe, the president’s lawyer declined to elaborate. “Just end it on the merits in light of recent revelations,” he said. “My statement is clear.”
Some, however, were quick to say that Dowd’s statement was part of a larger story. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Dowd’s remarks illustrated how Trump’s team is looking “not to cooperate with Special Counsel Mueller, but to undermine him at every turn.” Schumer also warned that “the president, the administration, and his legal team must not take any steps to curtail, interfere with, or end the special counsel’s investigation or there will be severe consequences.”