President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he has no intention to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading a probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and alleged collusion by the Trump campaign.
When asked whether he planned to fire Mueller, Trump said, "No, I'm not ... Are you surprised?" The president had just returned to the White House from Camp David.
Trump's comment comes amid escalating tension between allies of the president and the special counsel's office, which has obtained tens of thousands of emails from the Trump transition team as part of the Russia probe.
A lawyer for the transition team, Kory Langhofer, sent a letter to congressional committees claiming that Mueller had obtained the emails unlawfully.
When asked whether the emails had been improperly obtained, Trump said it is "not looking good" and again rejected allegations that his campaign colluded with Russia.
"I can't imagine there's anything on them frankly, because, as we've said there's no collusion, there's no collusion whatsoever," Trump said.
Republican allies of Trump have accused Mueller's team of bias, after it was revealed that an FBI agent working on the Russia probe had sent text messages critical of Trump. Mueller removed the agent, Peter Strzok, from the probe over the summer after he became aware of the texts.
Trump's legal team has called for a second special counsel to investigate alleged conflicts of interest among Mueller's team.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defended the special counsel in testimony before Congress. When asked whether he had any cause to fire Mueller, Rosenstein said "no."
The deputy attorney general also said that he was "not aware" of any impropriety on the part of Mueller's team.
Rosenstein appointed Mueller special counsel, after taking over responsibilities from Attorney General Jeff Sessions in matters involving the Russia probe. Sessions recused himself due to his failure to disclose contacts with the Russian ambassador.