US President Donald Trump on Wednesday called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end the wide-ranging probe into Russian election meddling and possible ties between his campaign and Moscow, slamming it as "a disgrace" to the country.
The president's latest tweet on the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller came on the second day of the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on unrelated bank and tax fraud charges that nevertheless stemmed from the probe.
"This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further," Trump said.
He claimed Mueller was "totally conflicted" and denounced his probe as "a disgrace to USA."
It was Trump's most direct demand yet that Sessions, who infuriated the president by recusing himself from the investigation, intervene to end the probe.
It comes amid mounting pressure as Mueller delves into whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia's attempt to sway the election in the Republican's favour -- and if the president sought to obstruct justice during the investigation by firing former FBI director James Comey.
"Russian Collusion with the Trump Campaign, one of the most successful in history, is a TOTAL HOAX," Trump said on Wednesday on Twitter.
The first trial arising from the investigation opened on Tuesday with prosecutors accusing Manafort of hiding from US tax authorities millions of dollars from past lobbying work for the pro-Russia president of Ukraine, and failing to report his foreign bank accounts.
In a tweet, Trump portrayed his former campaign chief as a respected adviser to prominent US political leaders like Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole.
"He worked for me for a very short time. Why didn't government tell me that he was under investigation. These old charges have nothing to do with Collusion - a Hoax!" Trump fumed.