Trump's lawyer is reportedly buttering up special counsel Robert Mueller at Trump's request

Donald trump rallyJustin Merriman/Getty ImagesPresident Donald J. Trump listens as the crowd cheers at a campaign rally at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena on August 3, 2017 in Huntington, West Virginia.

One of President Donald Trump’s lawyers in the Russia investigation has been sending messages of “appreciation” to FBI special counsel Robert Mueller’s office on Trump’s behalf, according to USA Today.

Trump’s chief counsel John Dowd told the publication that Trump “appreciates what Bob Mueller is doing” and noted that the president has asked him “to share that” with Mueller, who is investigating whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to undermine Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.

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

Dowd’s comments about Mueller stand in contrast to Trump’s characterization of the Russia probe as a politically motivated “witch hunt.” They also come less than one month after The Washington Post reported that Trump and his legal team were searching for ways to discredit Mueller, and laying the groundwork to fire him.

“You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history – led by some very bad and conflicted people!” Trump tweeted on June 15. He later told Fox News that Mueller is “very, very good friends with Comey, which is very bothersome.”

Trump was referring to former FBI Director James Comey, whom he fired in May. Mueller and Comey worked closely together when they served as FBI Director and Deputy Attorney General, respectively, under President George W. Bush. But there is no evidence that they were ever “very good friends.”

In any case, Dowd’s comments also appear to contradict the messaging from Trump’s other attorney, Jay Sekulow, who told Fox News in June that “witch hunt” might be too tame a term to describe Mueller’s probe.

“I’m not sure that’s fair to witch hunts,” Sekulow said. “It’s beyond that.”

Dowd, a veteran Washington lawyer, was brought on to the team shortly before Trump’s chief counsel Marc Kasowitz was phased out last month.

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