White House officials tamp down speculation about firing special counsel Robert Mueller

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Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian contacts with President Donald Trump's campaign has gained access to thousands of emails sent and received by Trump officials before the start of his administration.

The letter says this was a violation of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

Trump for America counsel Kory Langhofer told Senate and House lawmakers in a letter Saturday that a General Services Administration staffer "unlawfully produced" the records for Mueller's Russian Federation probe, according to the memo obtained by Axios and Buzzfeed.

Langhofer detailed his claims in a seven-page letter sent to Congressional oversight committees over the weekend.

According to Mr Langhofer, the assurance was made by then-GSA general counsel Richard Beckler, who was in hospital in August and has since died. Claims of illegal behavior by Mueller might be used as a pretext for the Trump administration to attempt to fire him, the New York Times reported, though the White House publicly denies that is under consideration. Spokespeople for GSA didn't immediately respond to AP's emailed requests for comment.

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Mueller's office said his team has obtained all the evidence it's using in its investigation properly.

Late Saturday, Mueller's spokesman, Peter Carr, said the special counsel's office has followed the law when it has obtained documents during its investigation. Trump's legal team has reacted with outraged claims of unconstitutional and illegal tactics, while Fox News hosts have begun wildly accusing the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Mueller of a "coup". Trump has called the allegation a "witch hunt" by Democrats. But GSA Deputy Counsel Lenny Loewentritt told the site in a statement that the transition team officials were explicitly told that "in using our devices", any materials stored therein "would not be held back in any law enforcement" requests. Republicans have increasingly urged Trump to fire Mueller regardless of the political consequences. A source speaking on the condition of anonymity told CNN that Trump lawyers are planning a meeting with the special counsel as soon as next week. Both men have pleaded not guilty and a trial is expected next year.

"I'm increasingly anxious Republicans will shut down the House intelligence committee investigation at the end of the month", Adam Schiff, the leading Democrat on the House intelligence committee said prior to reports of the letter this weekend.

The letter added that a warrant should have been obtained for such materials, and said it violated the Presidential Transition Act. "The president's lawyers have said they want to fully comply with special counsel Mueller's investigation, so it is odd that they now suggest they would have withheld key documents from federal investigators".

He claimed that Mueller's office asked the GSA for "copies of the emails, laptops, cell phones, and other materials" of 13 members of Trump's transition, four of whom Langhofer claimed were senior members.