What’s Going on in Washington This Morning May 17th 2018

Good Morning ! God has blessed us with another day……

The Hill has provided us with a report on Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference and “related matters” has hit the one-year mark. The Justice Department will drag this out as far as they can………..

Chances of Trump tweeting about the probe today are high, especially considering that a joint press conference planned this afternoon disappeared from his overnight schedule.

The New York Times has a look back at the early days of the investigation and can report that the probe is aptly named “Crossfire Hurricane.”

Mueller’s team has been tight-lipped but this much is certain: The Russians interfered in the 2016 election with the aim of sowing social unrest among Americans and to boost President Trump’s outsider campaign. That is the determination of the intelligence community. On Wednesday, the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee confirmed the finding.

We see no reason to dispute the conclusions.” — Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Whether Trump campaign officials participated in a criminal conspiracy on that front is still being investigated. One year in, there is no public evidence or official conclusion.

***BREAKING over the last 24 hours*** Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani tells multiple news outlets that Mueller’s team told Trump’s attorneys they will follow Justice Department guidance and will not indict the president (CNN) …The Senate Judiciary Committee released transcripts of its interview with Donald Trump Jr., offering the most thorough account yet of his 2016 meeting with the Russian lawyer at Trump Tower who offered dirt on Hillary Clinton (The Hill)… Missing files motivated leak by a law enforcement official of Michael Cohen’s financial records (The New Yorker)

*** MORE *** Democrats claim to have evidence that the Kremlin funneled money to boost Trump through the National Rifle Association (Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-Calif.]) … Mueller has subpoenaed the social media expert for longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone (Bloomberg) … Indicted Russian company says Mueller is refusing to hand over evidence (Reuters) … Partisan divisions over Russia probe deepen (The Hill) … Jonathan Turley: What the Trump Tower transcripts tell us.

What’s next

  • Expect Trump’s allies and attorneys to be out in force today marking the anniversary by demanding an end to the investigation. Giuliani: If Mueller subpoenas us, we’ll challenge it.
  • An interview between Mueller and Trump would likely be a final investigatory step. Giuliani says negotiations are in a holding pattern. There is a deep deficit of trust between Mueller’s team and Trump’s attorneys, who assert the special counsel wants to try to trick the president into lying.

INVESTIGATIONS: A rundown of the Mueller probe as we enter year two…

Individuals who have been charged

  • Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort has been charged with a litany of financial crimes pertaining to his business dealings and foreign lobbying work. He maintains his innocence.
  • Manafort’s former top deputy Richard Gates has been charged with many of the same crimes but has pleaded guilty to two charges and is cooperating with Mueller.
  • Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with Mueller.
  • Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with Mueller.
  • Attorney Alex van der Zwaan has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is serving a short prison term.
  • Thirteen Russian entities and three Russians have been indicted.

The sidebar investigations

  • Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey opened questions about whether the president sought to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation.
  • Mueller’s team referred an investigation of Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.
  • House conservatives are clashing with the Justice Department (DOJ), demanding documents that show how the investigation started and whether the Trump campaign had been infiltrated or illegally spied upon (The Hill).

The collateral damage

  • Trump is furious with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, blaming him for recusing himself from the Russia investigation and paving the way for the special counsel. The investigation is being overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who after a year is a target on the right.
  • FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were purged from the special counsel’s team, and are being investigated by some in Congress for sending disparaging texts about Trump.
  • Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was fired a day before he was set to retire for “lacking candor” in interviews with the DOJ and his bosses at the FBI over his handling of the investigation into Clinton’s emails and activities.

Players to watch

  • The investigation sparked an epic clash between the nation’s top current and former law enforcement officials and the White House. It has made media stars out of Comey and former spooks John Brennan and James Clapper, while turning Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) into the face of the collusion investigation on Capitol Hill.
  • House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has suffered reputational damage but maintains the support of GOP leaders and continues to target rogue actors at the FBI and DOJ, whom he believes mishandled the investigation.

The press and cable news feast on developments with around-the-clock coverage, but corrections and retractions also dinged some news outlets and cost a few journalists their jobs.

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