WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller knew President Trump had to beat him up publicly and notified the White House “in code” about erroneous press reports about his investigation, Trump’s former lawyer said.

“Bob was a big boy about the political side,” Trump’s ex-attorney John Dowd said in a podcast interview with the Washington Examiner. “He understood the president had to address the politics of it. He couldn’t just say nothing because people … were pounding him about this thing every day, both privately and publicly, so he had to take it on and his view was that it was a nothing. It was a waste of time and a waste of money.”

For months, while Mueller’s team was scrutinizing the Russian connections to the president’s 2016 campaign, Trump was calling the investigation a hoax and a witch hunt.

Behind the scenes, however, things were more amicable, Dowd said.

“Early on, when the president started teeing off on Mueller, Mueller indicated to me that he was worried that some people might not cooperate, and I said, ‘Well, we’ve encouraged everyone to cooperate and if you want me to say something publicly about that, and the president, we’re happy to do it.’ And we did,” Dowd said, adding that the conversation happened during the summer of 2017.

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