The Latest: McConnell hails Mueller’s ‘great credibility’

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the special counsel investigation into contacts between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says special counsel Robert Mueller should be allowed to finish his job as he investigates contacts between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia.

McConnell calls Mueller “an excellent appointment” who will “go wherever the facts lead him.” McConnell said Tuesday that Mueller, a former FBI director, “will have great credibility with the American people when he reaches a conclusion of this investigation. So I have a lot of confidence in him.”

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer is calling McConnell’s comments “a shot across the bow” aimed at the president and says Trump should heed McConnell’s words.

Schumer says Mueller should be allowed to continue his investigation and warns that Trump will “create havoc, disaster, constitutional crisis” if he tries to fire Mueller.

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12:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s lawyers have reached out to high-profile Washington lawyer Ted Olson about becoming part of Trump’s legal team in the Russia investigation, but a person familiar with the matter says Olson will not be joining the group.

The person wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the conversations and spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press.

Olson’s firm, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, is already entangled in the Russia investigation and represents Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that produced a dossier of allegations about ties between Russia and Trump and several associates.

Trump’s legal team added a new lawyer Monday, former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova.

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said Tuesday he would not comment on lawyers the team may be speaking to.

The Washington Post first reported the overture to Olson.

—By Eric Tucker

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12:39 a.m.

Republican Party leaders have yet to take any action to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired, though more Republicans are telling President Donald Trump to quit criticizing Mueller.

Trump has stepped up his condemnation of the Russia election meddling probe by citing Mueller as he tweets his objections to the investigation. He continues to deride the probe as a “witch hunt” riddled with conflicts of interest.

Among the notable Republicans saying Trump should dial it back is the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, congressman Trey Gowdy. Two senators, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker and Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, have also weighed in against Trump’s tack. Hatch called firing Mueller “the stupidest thing the president could do.”

Still, bills to protect Mueller have stalled in Congress.

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