WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Friday that he has answered written questions from special counsel Robert Mueller but hasn't yet submitted them.
Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that he answered the questions "very easily" this week about the special counsel's ongoing probe into 2016 election interference and possible ties between Russia and the president's campaign.
"You have to always be careful when you answer questions with people that probably have bad intentions," said Trump in his latest swipe at the integrity of the probe. "But no, the questions were very routinely answered by me."
The president did not say when he would turn over the answers to Mueller. The special counsel had signaled a willingness to accept written answers on matters of collusion but Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has said repeatedly that president would not answer Mueller's questions on possible obstruction of justice.
Trump had huddled with lawyers at the White House this week but made clear: "My lawyers don't write answers, I write answers."
The president continued to maintain his innocence while launching a fresh round of attacks on the probe, saying "there should have never been any Mueller investigation" while claiming it was a waste of millions of dollars.
But he denied being "agitated" by the probe despite his outburst of critical tweets the day before.
"The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess," Trump tweeted Thursday as part of a series of overheated morning posts. The investigators don't care "how many lives they can ruin," he wrote.
While the special counsel was publicly quiet in the run-up to last week's midterm elections, his investigation has suddenly returned to the forefront of Washington conversation and cable news chyrons.
Rumors are reverberating that Mueller may be preparing more indictments and there has been widespread media coverage of two Trump allies — Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi — who say they expect to be charged.
Trump's flurry of attacks came despite repeated warnings from his aides to refrain from targeting the special counsel.
AP source: Mueller probe to go on, Whitaker tells Graham
MARY CLARE JALONICK and MIKE BALSAMO, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker has told Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham in a meeting that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation will proceed, according to a person familiar with the meeting.
The meeting with Graham and Whitaker Thursday comes as a bipartisan group of senators is pushing legislation to protect Mueller's job. The senators are concerned about Whitaker's past criticism of the Mueller probe, which is looking at Russian interference in the 2016 election and ties to President Donald Trump's campaign. Trump appointed Whitaker acting attorney general last week.
Whitaker told Graham the investigation would be allowed to proceed, the person said. The person wasn't authorized to speak publicly about the meeting and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats have called for Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation.
A Justice Department spokeswoman said earlier this week that Whitaker will follow Justice Department protocols and consult with senior ethics officials "on his oversight responsibilities and matters that may warrant recusal."
Democrats have also called for the special counsel bill to be added to a year-end spending bill that must pass in December to avoid a partial government shutdown. The bipartisan legislation, introduced more than a year ago, would give any special counsel a 10-day window to seek expedited judicial review of a firing and put into law existing Justice Department regulations that a special counsel can only be fired for good cause.
On Wednesday, Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said he would not vote to confirm judicial nominees unless GOP leaders hold a vote on the Mueller protection legislation.
Whitaker is now overseeing the Mueller probe, which had previously been overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein told Congress that he saw no reason to fire Mueller.
Recently ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from overseeing Mueller because he had worked on Trump's Republican campaign — a decision that infuriated Trump and led to Sessions resigning at the president's request.
Trump has repeatedly criticized Mueller and called the investigation a hoax.
He tweeted Thursday that the probe is "A TOTAL WITCH HUNT LIKE NO OTHER IN AMERICAN HISTORY!"