GOP leaders give Trump a pass on Mueller attacks

GOP congressional leaders are expected to refrain from criticizing the president at Tuesday press conferences, even as they say they support an independent probe. Above, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, joined from left by Sens. John Barrasso, John Thune, and John Cornyn, are pictured speaking to reporters

As far as Republican leaders on Capitol Hill are concerned, Donald Trump can say whatever he wants about Robert Mueller and his Russia probe — as long as he doesn’t fire him.

The president’s decision to go after the special counsel by name for the first time — and hire a lawyer who’s accused the FBI of conspiring against the president — has been met with a collective shrug by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

And there’s little to suggest that posture will change. Beyond Ryan’s spokeswoman reiterating on Sunday that Mueller’s investigators should “be able to do their job,” Republican leaders have remained silent as Trump escalated his attacks on the Russia investigation. The issue didn’t even surface at a House Republican Conference meeting or the Senate GOP leadership huddle on Monday evening.

And the leaders are expected to refrain from criticizing the president Tuesday at news conferences, even as they say they support an independent probe.

The muted reaction showed yet again that if Trump is trying to test the boundaries of his opposition to the Russia probe — some critics fretted during Trump’s weekend tweetstorm that a Saturday Night Massacre-like housecleaning might be in the offing — he’s unlikely to get much resistance from congressional Republicans until the deed is done.

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