Trump fumes Mueller probe is ‘going to choke the life out of’ his presidency
Trump's planned tariffs on steel and aluminium have triggered fears of a trade war. (AFP / MANDEL NGAN)

President Donald Trump is privately fuming and publicly lashing out over special counsel Robert Mueller and his sprawling probe of the president's ties to Russia.

Republican lawmakers have bluntly told Trump to tone down his escalating criticism of Mueller, the former FBI director, and his investigation, but GOP leaders have taken no action to protect the special counsel and instead are hoping to wait out the storm, reported the Associated Press.

The president has griped to confidants that the Mueller probe was "going to choke the life out of" his presidency if allowed to continue indefinitely," one outside adviser told the AP.

The Washington Post reported Monday night that Trump was not consulting with top advisers, such as chief of staff John Kelly or White House counsel Donald McGahn, on the Russia probe but was instead "watching television and calling friends," according to a source who apparently receives those calls.

He added attorney Joe diGenova, who floats "deep state" conspiracy theories on Fox News and other TV networks, to his legal team this week.

Trump tweeted Mueller's name for the first time over the weekend, after his legal team received some questions the special counsel might ask during a face-to-face interview with the president.

White House lawyer Ty Cobb issued a statement Sunday insisting that the president was not considering Mueller's removal, a day after Trump attorney John Dowd called for an end to the special counsel probe.

"Multiple White House officials said Monday that they believe Trump is now acutely aware of the political — and even legal — consequences of taking action against Mueller," the AP reported. "For now, they predicted, Trump will snipe at Mueller from the outside."