GOP leaders have yet to move to protect special counsel

Republicans Warn Trump to Back Off After Weekend of Tweets Threaten Mueller Investigation

More Republicans are telling President Donald Trump in ever blunter terms to lay off his escalating criticism of special counsel Robert Mueller and the Russian Federation probe. And Arizona Republican Jeff Flake, a frequent Trump critic, said, "If you don't pick this fight, then we might as well not be here".

"Spent very little time with Andrew McCabe, but he never took notes when he was with me", Trump said.

Tillis and Graham also joined with Grassley last week to call for a second special counsel to investigate alleged abuses by the FBI and the Justice Department's handling of the Trump-Russia investigation up until the appointment of Mueller - a move that backs up complaints made by Trump about the Justice Department.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said through a spokeswoman that "Mr. Mueller and his team should be able to do their job".

Still, bills to protect Mueller have stalled in Congress.

South Carolina GOP Sen.

Multiple White House officials said Monday that they believe Trump is now acutely aware of the political - and even legal - consequences of taking action against Mueller.

"If he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency", Graham told CNN.

He went on to pledge to do his part to maintain the independence of Mueller's investigation.

Trump also drew criticism from fellow Republicans on Sunday over the firing of McCabe, who said he believed he was targeted because he corroborated Comey's claims that Trump tried to pressure Comey into killing the Russian Federation probe.

"I think we owe it to the average American to have a hearing in the Judiciary Committee where Mr. Sessions, Attorney General Sessions, comes forward with whatever documentation he has about the firing, and give Mr. McCabe a chance to defend himself", Graham said.

"The committee will be in a good position to hear testimony from witnesses once that independent review is published", the statement read.

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The lawyer's assurance wasn't likely to assuage concerns that the president would act against the special counsel, however.

"The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime", he said in a late Saturday tweet.

"I think the President's attorney frankly does him a disservice when he says that, and when he frames the investigation that way", Gowdy said on "Fox News Sunday".

"When you are innocent".

Mr Sessions said he dismissed Mr McCabe on the recommendation of FBI disciplinary officials who said Mr McCabe was not candid with a watchdog office investigation.

Their comments potentially signal stepped up action by Congress as lawmakers return this week to the most serious threat they've faced of possible action by the White House against Mueller.

He also said he had not discussed with Mr Rosenstein the idea of dismissing Mr Mueller or ending the probe.

Just a day after news that Mueller had interviewed McCabe and asked him about Comey's firing, Trump attacked the special counsel's team, seeming to suggest it has a partisan bias. "He should've been allowed to finish through the weekend", Senator Marco Rubio said on NBC's Meet the Press. Another Dem recently added...does anyone think this is fair? White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Trump has "some well-established frustration" about the probe but insisted there is no internal discussion about removing Mueller.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff both called on their Republican colleagues to temper the President. Trump had said Mueller would cross a red line with such a step.

Schiff, on ABC's "This Week," said he would hope if Trump tries to oust Mueller, then the House would pass a law reinstating the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director as an independent counsel. The Senate's second-ranking Democrat, Dick Durbin of IL, said Trump could trigger a "constitutional crisis" and called for passing the legislation.

McCabe denies wrongdoing, and Democrats point to Trump's repeated attacks on McCabe as showing a "vindictive" motive.

Also, Trump added a new lawyer.

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