WASHINGTON: The White House on Wednesday sought to walk back a tweet from President Donald Trump calling for an end to the Russia election meddling probe, saying he was expressing an opinion, and not giving an order to the Justice Department.
In a series of tweets that quickly sparked accusations that Trump is publicly attempting to pervert justice, the Republican leader decried the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller as "a disgrace" to the country.
"This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further," Trump said on Twitter.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders later told reporters: "It's not an order, it's the president's opinion."
She noted that Trump wants the probe to "come to an end."
But she dismissed accusations of any legal wrongdoing, saying: "The president is not obstructing. He's fighting back. The president is stating his opinion. He's stating it clearly."
Just ahead of the White House press briefing, Trump's personal attorneys also sought to walk back the comment, insisting the president was not ordering Sessions to do anything.
"The president has issued no order or direction to the Department of Justice on this," lawyer Jay Sekulow told The Washington Post.
Rudy Giuliani added: "He very carefully used the word 'should.'"
Sessions has recused himself from the investigation, meaning that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is overseeing Mueller's probe.