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Trump calls Manafort prosecution 'a hoax,' says Sessions should stop Mueller investigation

President Donald Trump during a “Make America Great Again” rally at a fairground auditorium in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. 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. Trump made the overture in a series of Twitter posts. (Doug Mills/Copyright 2018 The New York Times)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday, August 1, called the prosecution of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort "a hoax" and urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to terminate the investigation into Russian election interference.

In several tweets, Trump escalated his attacks on the investigation, led by special counsel Robert Mueller, that includes examining whether Trump's campaign coordinated with Russia and whether Trump has obstructed the probe.

His tweets come at a particularly sensitive time in the investigation, as a federal jury in Virginia is hearing evidence in Manafort's trial on tax evasion.

Trump called Mueller's probe "a terrible situation" that should be stopped "before it continues to stain our country any further."

U.S. attorneys are prosecuting Manafort for allegedly failing to pay taxes on millions he made from his work for a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party and then lying to get loans when the cash stopped coming in. The Mueller investigation turned up evidence being used in the trail, but the charges are not related to Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Writing on Twitter, Trump dismissed the charges against Manafort as "old charges (that) have nothing to do with Collusion" and questioned why the government didn't tell him Manafort was under investigation before he hired him to be part of his 2016 campaign.

Mueller was appointed special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after Sessions recused himself from the probe, citing his work on Trump's 2016 campaign.

Trump has privately pressed Sessions to end his recusal and take control of the Mueller probe, but those efforts have not been successful.

In June, Trump's 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale called for Sessions to be fired and "end the Mueller investigation."

This article was written by John Wagner and Devlin Barrett, a reporter for The Washington Post.