Tensions between the White House and Robert Mueller's investigative team appear to be on the rise, so much so that reporters asked President Trump on Sunday night whether he's considering firing the special counsel. "No, I'm not," he said, per CNN. But Trump added that his legal team is "very upset" with how Mueller obtained thousands of emails from the Trump transition team—the president's lawyers think it was unlawful, but Mueller says it was all above-board. Either way, Trump says the emails will show nothing damning because there was "no collusion whatsoever" with Russia. Details and developments:
- Cooperation wanes: The New York Times has a front-page look at the situation, observing that the "image of cooperation has begun to fracture" between Trump's lawyers and Mueller as the inquiry digs ever deeper into Trump's circle. The story notes that GOP Sen. John Cornyn over the weekend became the latest prominent Republican to suggest that Mueller's team might be biased, thanks to now-public text messages.
- Allegations of a 'coup': Fox News host Jesse Watters drew attention over the weekend by suggesting that those texts may be "proof the investigation was weaponized to destroy (Trump's) presidency," adding, "Now, if that’s true, we have a coup on our hands in America," per Mediaite. Guest Kellyanne Conway, appearing with a chyron of "A Coup in America?" declared that "the fix was in against Donald Trump from the beginning."
- Charged language: The Washington Post looks at how Fox News hosts and guests have been leading the charge against Mueller with similar language. Another common theme is to compare his tactics to those of the KGB. The story also notes that GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida said on the House floor that "we are at risk of a coup d'etat in this country."
- It might be working: At Axios, Mike Allen suggests that the "rising conservative drumbeat" against Mueller is gaining more and more converts. As one source close to the White House puts it, "You're starting to win over mainstream conservatives to the backlash over overreach."
- 'Feedback loop': An analysis at CNN by media writer Brian Stelter sees a "vicious circle" at play. "The TV hosts encourage Trump, then Trump supplies sound bites for their shows, and then the hosts are even more emboldened."
- Risky Mueller move? Mueller's office has defended how it obtained the Trump transition emails from the General Services Administration, but Georgetown law professor Jonathan Turley argues in the Hill that it was "legally unprecedented and strategically reckless." Turley warns that the move could come back to haunt Mueller in any later trial, if the investigation is found to have relied on contaminated evidence. (In the Times story cited earlier, legal experts disagree with the assertion that Mueller, who has wide leeway to obtain documents, did anything improper.)
- Feeling confident: Trump is privately telling people that he expects to be exonerated relatively soon, reports CNN. The story, based on interviews with three dozen mostly anonymous sources, says Trump predicts he will have a letter from Mueller in a matter of weeks clearing him of any collusion. One person warned of a Trump "meltdown" if that doesn't happen, which could lead to him firing Mueller.
- Holder warning: Former Attorney General Eric Holder warned over the weekend that the president would be crossing an "ABSOLUTE RED LINE" by firing the special counsel. He called for mass protests if that happens, per the Hill.
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