The White House has insisted that Donald Trump has the power to fire special prosecutor Robert Mueller, stoking fears that the president may try to kill an investigation inching ever-closer to the Oval Office.
After months of denying Mueller's removal is under consideration, the change in tone came as Trump reacted furiously to an FBI raid of his private lawyer's offices on Monday.
Trump yesterday angrily blamed Mueller for bad relations with Russia, pillorying his probe as "Fake & Corrupt."
In a series of Twitter broadsides, Trump offered his toughest rhetoric on Russia to date, but also took aim at Mueller for preventing better ties.
"Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama," Trump claimed.
Special counsel Mueller was appointed in May to investigate Russian efforts to tip the 2016 presidential election in Trump's favor.
Over the last year, he has increasingly dug into evidence of alleged money laundering, fraud and obstruction of justice inside Trump's inner circle. Four Trump aides -- including his 2016 campaign chair Paul Manafort and former national security advisor Michael Flynn -- have already been indicted or pleaded guilty.
Now, Trump's longtime lawyer Michael Cohen -- who holds secrets about many of the president's personal and financial dealings -- is in the crosshairs.
"We have been advised that the president certainly has the power to make that decision," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said of the possibility to remove Mueller.
"I think that the president has been clear that he thinks that this has gone too far."
In Capitol Hill, Republican and Democratic lawmakers urged Trump to allow Mueller to do his work.
Democrats wanted to go one step further and pass legislation protecting the Republican former FBI director.
"If the president is thinking of using this raid to fire Special Counsel Mueller or otherwise interfere with the chain of command in the Russia probe, we Democrats have one simple message for him: don't," top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said.
Trump's fellow Republicans said that would not be necessary, with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley stating it would be "suicide" for the president to fire Mueller.