WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump’s lead lawyer for the special counsel investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election has resigned, US media report.

John Dowd, 77, is reported to have concluded that Mr Trump was increasingly ignoring his advice.

Other reports say Mr Trump had lost confidence in Mr Dowd’s ability to handle special counsel Robert Mueller. In an email to news outlets, Mr Dowd wrote: “I love the president and wish him well.”

The special counsel is investigating possible links between Mr Trump’s associates and Russia, as well as whether the president has obstructed the inquiry.

Last week, Mr Dowd called on the Department of Justice to immediately shut down Mr Mueller’s investigation - initially saying that he was speaking for the president. But he later clarified that he was speaking for himself and not on Mr Trump’s behalf.

Mr Dowd took over the president’s legal team last summer. Under his leadership, Mr Trump’s team of lawyers advised the president to co-operate with the special counsel.

Mr Trump has recently begun publicly criticising Mr Mueller by name, rather than just his inquiry. In response, several congressional Republicans warned Mr Trump not to consider firing Mr Mueller. Senator Lindsey Graham warned that “that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency”.

Mr Trump has also reportedly insisted he wants to be interviewed by the inquiry, a step Mr Dowd was said to oppose.

Last week Mr Trump added combative former US attorney Joe diGenova, who has been a pundit on Fox News, to his legal team.