President Trump called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday to end the special counsel investigation, an extraordinary appeal to the nation’s top law enforcement official to end an inquiry directly in to the president.
Mr. Trump made the overture in a series of Twitter posts, some of which contained quotations the president attributed to a staunch supporter, the lawyer Alan Dershowitz.
Mr. Sessions recused himself from overseeing the investigation early in 2017 in part to avoid the kind of conflicts like what Mr. Trump proposed. Later, a special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was appointed to carry out the investigation.
Mr. Trump’s blunt direction to Mr. Sessions came on the second day of the trial of Paul Manafort, the president’s former campaign chairman and the first person charged in the special counsel investigation to go to trial. Mr. Manafort is accused of bank and tax crimes.
Mr. Trump also tweeted on Wednesday that Mr. Manafort did not work for his campaign long, a defense he has used repeatedly to distance himself from his former campaign chairman.
Presidents typically do not weigh in on ongoing Justice Department investigations, but Mr. Trump has been outspoken about his anger and frustration with the Russia investigation, which predates his presidency and was later taken over by Mr. Mueller. Mr. Trump has also said that he never would have made Mr. Sessions his attorney general if he knew Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia inquiry.
The special counsel is also looking into some of Mr. Trump’s tweets about Mr. Sessions and the former F.B.I. Director James B. Comey and whether the messages were intended to obstruct justice.