President Donald Trump has sent private messages of "appreciation" through his lawyer to chief Russia investigator special counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump's legal team has passed on messages of "appreciation and greetings," USA Today reports, and has "sent messages back and forth" with Mueller's office.
Trump has a history of critical statements of the special counsel, attacking him on Twitter for his friendship with fired FBI Director James Comey and for the probity of his investigation into ties between Russia and Trump's presidential campaign, which Trump has repeatedly called a "witch hunt."
In spite of how critical he has been of Mueller in public, however, Trump's lawyers maintain that he has been nothing but positive in private.
"He appreciates what Bob Mueller is doing," Trump's chief counsel John Dowd told USA Today. "He asked me to share that with him and that's what I've done."
Trump came under fire previously for a conversation with Comey in which he asked him to end his investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. But, Trump's lawyer said, all communication with Mueller have been strictly above board.
"We get along well with Bob Mueller; our communications have been constructive," he said. "But it is important that our communications remain confidential. It’s important that there not be any breakdown in that trust.’"
Dowd also rejected the idea, boosted by some in the media, that Trump was considering firing Mueller.
"That's never been on the table, never,"’ he said. "It's a manifestation of the media. My dealings with Bob Mueller have always been cordial, respectful — the way it should be."