Donald Trump has attacked special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the US presidential election he won in 2016.
He tweeted that the inquiry was unfair – and reiterated there had been “no collusion” between his election campaign and Russia.
He added that it was dominated by “hardened Democrats” and supporters of his defeated opponent Hillary Clinton.
Mr Mueller, a highly regarded former head of the FBI, is a Republican.
The president’s comments came a day after his lawyer, John Dowd, said it was time for the special counsel’s investigation to end. Initially Mr Dowd said he was speaking for the president but later clarified he was “speaking for myself”.
Mr Trump’s latest tweet drew warnings from fellow Republicans about interfering with the investigation.
In earlier tweets, the president also berated former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, who was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday just two days before he was due to retire, and former FBI director James Comey, whom Mr Trump sacked last year. The latter firing led to the Mueller investigation being set up.
Mr Trump accused Mr Comey of lying under oath before Congress, and described the contemporaneous notes that Mr McCabe and Mr Comey took following discussions with him as “fake memos”.
Mr McCabe has given memos about conversations he had with President Trump to the Mueller inquiry, US media say.
The memos could support claims that Mr Trump sought to obstruct justice.
Mr Mueller has so far indicted 19 people.
But Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Mr Mueller should be allowed to proceed without interference, and that many Republicans shared his view.
He also warned Mr Trump against any attempt to dismiss Mr Mueller.
“If he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency, because we’re a rule of law nation,” Mr Graham said.
Republican Senator Jeff Flake, a frequent Trump critic, said it appeared the president’s latest comments seemed to be preparing the ground for the firing of Mr Mueller.
“I don’t know what the designs are on Mueller, but it seems to be building toward that, and I just hope it doesn’t go there, because it can’t. We can’t in Congress accept that,” he told CNN.
“I’m just puzzled by why the White House is going so hard at this, other than that they’re very afraid of what might come out.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer accused Mr Trump of “floating trial balloons about derailing” the investigation.
“Our Republican colleagues, particularly the leadership, have an obligation to our country to stand up now and make it clear that firing Mueller is a red line for our democracy that cannot be crossed,” the Democrat said in a statement. BBC