1/ Rod Rosenstein is prepared to be fired by Trump, telling confidants he has done his job with integrity and repeating the phrase "Here I stand." In recent private conversations, Rosenstein said history will prove he did the right thing by firing James Comey in May 2017, adding that Americans don't have all the facts about what led to his decision to write the memo that led to Comey's dismissal. If Rosenstein is fired, the next in line to oversee Mueller's probe is Solicitor General Noel Francisco. Trump, however, could choose to replace Rosenstein with anyone who has been confirmed by the Senate. (NBC News)

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  • Rosenstein has consulted with a career ethics adviser at the Justice Department throughout the Russia probe on whether he needs to recuse himself from the investigation. He's followed their advice, which legal experts say legitimizes his decision to stay on. (CNN)

2/ James Comey called Trump an "unethical" man "untethered to truth and institutional values" in his new book, "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership." Comey describes Trump and his advisers as being unconcerned with whether Russia meddled in the election, but rather "debat[ing] how to position these findings for maximum political advantage." Trump, as president-elect, disputed the Steele dossier allegations that he watched sex workers urinate on each other. Comey writes that Trump insisted that "there's no way I would let people pee on each other around me" because he is a self-professed germaphobe. "I don't know," Comey told ABC News, if Trump "was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013." (NBC News / New York Times / CNN)

  • New York Times Book Review: James Comey Has a Story to Tell. It’s Very Persuasive. (New York Times)

  • 📚 Get your copy of "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership."

3/ Trump tweets that Comey is a "weak and untruthful slime ball" who deserved to be fired "for the terrible job he did." He added that Comey is a "proven LEAKER and LIAR" and that "it was my great honor to fire James Comey!" The pair of tweets are Trump's first remarks since advance copies of "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership" surfaced. ABC's "20/20" will air an interview with Comey on Sunday morning, while Fox News will air a special called "The Trial of James Comey" on Sunday night. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News)

4/ The Republican National Committee launched a "Lyin' Comey" website aimed at discrediting the former FBI chief. The GOP plans to fact check James Comey's book and use "rapid response" to highlight any "misstatements" or "contradictions" in it. (Fox News)

5/ Trump's allies are worried that the FBI may have seized recordings of conversations between Michael Cohen and his associates. "We heard he had some proclivity to make tapes," said one Trump adviser. "Now we are wondering, who did he tape?" Cohen is known to record some of his conversations and store them as digital files. On Monday, FBI agents seized Cohen’s computers and phones. (Washington Post)

6/ Trump's advisers believe the investigation into Michael Cohen poses a greater and more imminent threat to his presidency than Robert Mueller's investigation. Cohen and Trump, through their lawyers, argue that the seized records were protected by attorney-client privilege. Trump called Cohen to "check in" as lawyers for the two men went to court to block the Justice Department from reading the seized documents. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, meanwhile, said she wasn't sure if Cohen was still Trump's personal attorney. (New York Times / Bloomberg)

7/ Cohen and a lawyer for Trump requested an emergency temporary restraining order to prevent prosecutors from looking at the materials seized in the FBI raids on Cohen's office, home, and hotel room earlier this week. Cohen and the lawyer argued that the president has "an acute interest in this matter" because some of the materials are protected by attorney-client privilege. (CNBC / Reuters / NBC News)

8/ Cohen has been "under criminal investigation" for months in New York for his business dealings, federal prosecutors said in court documents. The revelation came as Cohen and Trump sought a court order barring federal prosecutors from accessing the records they took during raids on Cohen's home and office Monday morning. (ABC News / NPR / CNN)

  • FBI agents who raided Cohen's office sought information about taxi owners who had financial dealings with Trump's personal attorney. The warrant specifically identified two Ukrainian immigrants who own a large taxi operation in Chicago. Cohen repeatedly loaned money to Semyon and Yasya Shatayner within the past 10 years. (CNN)

9/ Cohen negotiated a deal in late 2017 to pay $1.6 million to a former Playboy model who said she was impregnated by a top Republican fundraiser. Cohen arranged the payments to the woman on behalf of Elliott Broidy, a deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee with ties to Trump. In a statement, Broidy acknowledged that he "had a consensual relationship with a Playboy Playmate" who got pregnant. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

10/ Elliott Broidy resigned as Republican National Committee deputy finance chair following reports that Trump's attorney, Michael Cohen, had negotiated a $1.6 million payment on his behalf to a Playboy Playmate who said that Broidy had impregnated her. (Politico / Wall Street Journal)

11/ The Justice Department inspector general found that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe "lacked candor" on four occasions when discussing the alleged improper authorization of information to a newspaper reporter and then misleading investigators about it. Trump tweeted that the report "is a total disaster. He LIED! LIED! LIED! McCabe was totally controlled by Comey - McCabe is Comey!! No collusion, all made up by this den of thieves and lowlifes!" McCabe was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions just hours before his retirement and the FBI officially filled McCabe's roll with Associate Deputy Director David Bowdich today. (CNN / New York Times / Politico)

  • McCabe's lawyer may file a defamation lawsuit against Trump and his "colleagues" in response to a Trump tweet that claimed McCabe had "LIED! LIED! LIED." (ABC News)

  • [PDF] Inspector General Report of allegations relating to former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. (New York Times)

poll/ 69% of Americans support Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. 64% support Mueller investigating Trump's business activities, and 58% support looking at allegations that Trump’s associates paid hush money to women who say they had affairs with him. (ABC News)

poll/ 48% to 32% see Comey as more believable than Trump. 47% disapprove of Trump's decision to fire Comey, compared to 44% who approve. (Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. Trump pardoned Scooter Libby for lying to investigators probing the leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity. Libby served as the former chief of staff for Dick Cheney during the George W. Bush administration. Bush commuted Libby’s 30-month prison sentence while leaving the 2007 conviction intact. (ABC News / Bloomberg)

  2. A Health and Human Services appointee shared an image in 2017 that said "our forefathers would have hung" Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for treason. (CNN)

  3. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai rejected a request from a dozen senators to investigate Sinclair Broadcast Group for "distorting news" coverage, saying an investigation would conflict with the First Amendment and freedom of the press. Sinclair forced anchors to read a scripted promo warning of "fake news" and media bias. (The Hill)

  4. The U.S. accused Syrian of using banned chemical arms at least 50 times since Syria’s civil war began seven years ago. (New York Times)

  5. Trump has been pushing for an attack on Syria that would punish the Syrian regime, Russia, and Iran. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, meanwhile, is warning that retaliation must be balanced against the threat of a wider war in order to "keep this from escalating." (New York Times / Wall Street Journal)