Trump has been sending private messages to Robert Mueller

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“Witch hunt!” That’s the term often used by President Trump when describing the federal investigation into whether collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign team took place before the 2016 election.

But comments from Trump’s legal team claim that President Trump has sent private messages of “appreciation” to the man who is leading the probe, Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

“He appreciates what Bob Mueller is doing,” Trump’s chief counsel John Dowd told USA Today in an interview Tuesday. “He asked me to share that with him and that’s what I’ve done.”

According to Dowd, Trump has told his legal team to contact Mueller’s office to express the president’s “appreciation and greetings.” Dowd said, “The president has sent messages back and forth.”

After weeks of widespread speculation that Trump will try to fire Mueller, the president’s private messages to the special counselor indicates that Trump will not try to rid Mueller and that Trump is prepared to fully cooperate with the investigation.

The sudden change of tone leaves many in D.C. debating the president’s motive, while some question whether his communications with Mueller are legal.

Dowd told USA Today that all communications with Mueller have been proper. “We get along well with Bob Mueller; our communications have been constructive,” the attorney said. “But it is important that our communications remain confidential. It’s important that there not be any breakdown in that trust.”

Former federal prosecutor Ron Woods told USA Today he saw nothing inappropriate about Trump’s communications to Mueller through his attorney. “I think it’s a smart play on Dowd’s part,” Woods said. “They’ve obviously taken the position that the best defense now is to cooperate.”

Contrary to the statement made by Woods, Preet Bharara, a former U.S. attorney who was fired by Trump earlier this year, tweeted, “This is peculiar.” Bharara continued, “It would be more helpful if he stopped undermining Mueller publicly and fomenting attacks on him by surrogates like Newt (Gingrich).”

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