John Dowd, the leading attorney on President Donald Trump’s legal team, resigned on Thursday because the president “was increasingly ignoring his advice” on how to respond to the special counsel’s probe into Russia and possible collusion with members of Trump’s team.
Dowd quit days after Trump directly tagged Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt,” raising questions about whether the president had interfered with the probe.
Dowd confirmed his departure to AFP, in an e-mail saying “I love the president and wish him well.”
Dowd, 77, who was the lead attorney for Trump’s team dealing with Mueller, whose investigation is into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians during the 2016 presidential election.
Therefore, Mueller is also investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, and his team of investigators has been in talks on arranging an interview with the president.
The White House legal team, however, has reportedly split over how much to cooperate with Mueller’s investigators and how much to fight them.
On Friday, in a statement to a reporter that he said was in Trump’s name, Dowd called for Mueller “bring an end to alleged Russia collusion investigation.”
He charged that the investigation “manufactured” and based on “fraudulent and corrupt” evidence.
Hours later, Dowd reversed the statement, stating he was speaking in his personal capacity and not for the president.
Over the weekend, on Twitter Trump took direct aim at Mueller, a former FBI director whose nine-month-old collusion investigation increasingly focuses on the president, his family and top aides.
“The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime,” Trump wrote.
He accused Mueller’s team of being staffed by “hardened Democrats” and as having “massive conflicts of interest.”
In response, several top legislators warned Trump against firing Mueller, with Senator Lindsey Graham warning that “that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency.”