President Trump did not confirm that the special counsel appointed to investigate allegations of Russian collusion had expanded his probe to include obstruction of justice claims levied at the president, a source close to Trump's legal team said on Friday.
"The president was not confirming the investigation," the source told the Washington Examiner when asked about Trump's tweet. "He was referencing the Washington Post story from Wednesday night based on anonymous, illegal leaks."
I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2017
Trump's claim that investigators had closed in on his firing of former FBI Director James Comey quickly stoked speculation that the president had inadvertently confirmed the existence of an obstruction probe.
His tweet came a day after the Post published an anonymously-sourced story that detailed the special counsel's decision to examine obstruction allegations. Comey accused the president in a June 8 congressional hearing of encouraging him to drop the FBI's investigation of a close associate, former national security adviser Mike Flynn.
Trump's outside counsel, Marc Kasowitz, has denied that the president pushed Comey to abandon the Flynn probe.
Neither the White House nor Trump's legal team has disputed the veracity of the Post report about obstruction.
However, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein issued a statement Thursday evening that reminded the public to use "skepticism" when reading news reports based on unnamed sources. His statement was widely thought to have been a response to a separate Post report published hours earlier that claimed investigators had begun probing the financial transactions of Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser.
Trump and his allies have frequently turned their attention to the leakers who expose unflattering developments to the media rather than the developments themselves. The president has referred to leaks as the "real story" of the Russia investigation.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.