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John Dowd resigns as Trump's personal lawyer in Mueller probe

The lawyer's departure comes at a sensitive time as Trump's legal team is in talks with Mueller about a potential interview of the president.

President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, the lead outside attorney providing advice to the president on the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, said Thursday that he has resigned.

In a brief statement to NBC News, attorney John Dowd confirmed his move and said, "I love the president and wish him very well."

News of Dowd's resignation was first reported by The New York Times.

NBC News' Kristen Welker reported on MSNBC on Thursday that the decision behind the departure was "mutual" between Trump and Dowd and came amid "a lot of discussion about a potential shake-up with the president's legal team."

Trump is looking to add to his team, Welker reported.

The departure also came amid "very sensitive negotiations" between the president's legal team and the special counsel about a potential interview of Trump. The president said Thursday that he would like to talk to Mueller.

Dowd's exit, coming just days after Trump hired Joseph diGenova — a longtime Washington lawyer and former U.S. attorney who has promoted a conspiracy theory that officials in the FBI and Justice Department are plotting to frame the president with a "false crime" — also signals that the president could be entering a more combative phase with the Mueller probe.

It also follows Trump's most direct — and explicit — criticism of Mueller's Russia investigation, when he tweeted on Saturday that the "Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime."

"It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!" he wrote.

On Saturday, Dowd also called for an end to Mueller's probe, citing "recent revelations" and the late-night firing of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe as a basis to end the probe. Dowd went on to clarify that he was not pushing for Mueller to be fired, but that he wants the investigation to end in light of "revelations" after McCabe's termination.

Just days earlier, Trump had publicly praised Dowd after a report that the president was looking to add to his legal team, with the president writing on Twitter that he was "VERY happy with my lawyers, John Dowd, Ty Cobb and Jay Sekulow."

Sekulow, for his part, said Thursday after news of Dowd's resignation broke that the lawyer "is a friend and has been a valuable member of our legal team."

"We will continue our ongoing representation of the president and our cooperation with the Office of Special Counsel," Sekulow said.

Adam Edelman reported from New York, and Kristen Welker from Washington.