1/ Trump marked Robert Mueller's one-year anniversary as special counsel by offering "congratulations" to America on "the greatest Witch Hunt in American History." Trump charged that the FBI had "SPIED" on his campaign with an "EMBEDDED INFORMANT," which makes the Russia investigation "bigger than Watergate!" Trump claimed he's had the "most successful first 17 month Administration in U.S. history," overcome a "disgusting, illegal and unwarranted Witch Hunt," and noted there is "still No Collusion and No Obstruction." He added that "the only Collusion was that done by Democrats who were unable to win an Election despite the spending of far more money!" (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / NBC News)
Congratulations America, we are now into the second year of the greatest Witch Hunt in American History...and there is still No Collusion and No Obstruction. The only Collusion was that done by Democrats who were unable to win an Election despite the spending of far more money!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 17, 2018
Despite the disgusting, illegal and unwarranted Witch Hunt, we have had the most successful first 17 month Administration in U.S. history - by far! Sorry to the Fake News Media and “Haters,” but that’s the way it is!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 17, 2018
The Secret Origins of the Trump Investigation. Days after the F.B.I. closed its investigation into Hillary Clinton in 2016, agents began scrutinizing the presidential campaign of her Republican rival, Donald J. Trump. (New York Times)
Inside year one of the Mueller investigation. As the Mueller probe hits its one-year anniversary, the special counsel's team has brought charges against 22 people and companies, notched five guilty pleas and seen one person sentenced. While a number of those charges were related to Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election, so far none of them has extended to potential collusion between the Russian government and Trump associates. (CNN)
Is Trump's rhetoric about an informant in his campaign warranted? On the first anniversary of the appointment of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to take over the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and any overlap with Donald Trump’s campaign, now-President Trump used his preferred political superlatives to disparage that inquiry on Twitter. (Washington Post)
✨ Last Year Today: Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Bob Mueller to oversee the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. (WTF Just Happened Today)
2/ Mueller's office filed under seal an unredacted memorandum that outlines the scope of his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The filing was made as part of Mueller's criminal case against Paul Manafort, and was requested by the judge overseeing the case. (Reuters)
Manafort's former son-in-law cut a plea deal with the Justice Department, requiring him cooperate with other criminal probes. Jeffrey Yohai, a former business partner of Manafort, divorced Manafort's daughter last August. (Reuters)
Mueller's team is examining a series of meetings that took place in the Seychelles, which have been characterized as an attempt by the U.S. to set up a backchannel with Russia. A Russian plane, owned by Andrei Skoch, a Russian billionaire and deputy in the Russian State Duma, the country's legislative body, flew into the Seychelles a day prior to the 2017 meeting. (NJ.com)
3/ Trump referred to some undocumented immigrants as "animals," saying "these aren't people. These are animals." Trump also suggested that the mayor of Oakland, California, should be charged with obstruction of justice for warning her constituents about ICE raids in February. "You talk about obstruction of justice," said Trump. "I would recommend that you look into obstruction of justice for the mayor of Oakland." (New York Times / Washington Post)
Kellyanne Conway: Trump is owed an apology from those who criticized him for calling undocumented immigrants "animals," because he was referring to gang members. (The Hill)
4/ Michael Avenatti: Two more women claim they have agreements with either Trump or Michael Cohen to stay quiet about an affair with the president. Avenatti said he is in talks with the two women, but has not confirmed the allegations and is working to substantiate their claims. (The Hill)
- A New York appeals court rejected Trump's request to stay proceedings in a defamation suit filed by a former contestant on "The Apprentice" who claimed he sexually harassed her. (Washington Post)
5/ The unnamed law enforcement official who leaked confidential financial records about Michael Cohen and his shell company last week did so because the official was worried that information was being withheld from law enforcement. Two suspicious activity reports filed by Cohen's bank were missing from the database managed by the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. "I have never seen something pulled off the system," the official said. "That system is a safeguard for the bank. It's a stockpile of information. When something's not there that should be, I immediately became concerned." The official continued: "That's why I came forward." (New Yorker)
6/ Michael Cohen solicited a payment of at least $1 million from the Qatari government in late 2016. Cohen offered to provide access and advice about the then-incoming Trump administration in exchange. Qatar declined the offer, which came following a Dec. 12, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower between Qatar's foreign minister and Michael Flynn. Cohen didn't attend the meeting, but did speak separately to Ahmed al-Rumaihi, who was head of the Qatari sovereign wealth fund at the time. (Washington Post / Reuters)
- Jared Kushner's family company is close to a deal with the Qatar government to bailout the family's financially troubled tower in New York City. The building generates about half its annual mortgage payment, and 30% of the 41-story tower is vacant. (New York Times)
7/ The Cambridge Analytica whistleblower testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the data company offered services intended to discourage voting and suppress voter turnout. Christopher Wylie didn't provide specifics about the services offered by Cambridge Analytica, but he did allege that African-American communities were particular targets of the company's "voter disengagement tactics." He also said that political action committees requested such voter suppression services from Cambridge Analytica. (CNN)
- Paul Ryan postponed a congressional briefing on election security. Democrats pressed GOP leadership to make the briefing classified so that officials could go into sufficient detail about the scope of the threat and the Trump administration's efforts to protect digital election systems from hackers. (The Hill)
poll/ 13% of Americans consider Trump honest and trustworthy – down 3 points since February 2017. (The Hill)
The Senate confirmed Gina Haspel as the next CIA director, approving her nomination in a 54 to 45 vote despite bipartisan concerns about her role in the agency's detention and interrogation programs. (Washington Post / New York Times)
North Korea called the South Korean government "ignorant and incompetent" and threatened to break off peace talks with the South if they don't halt U.S.-South Korean air combat drills. (Reuters)
Scott Pruitt hired a white-collar defense lawyer to help him navigate a dozen federal investigations into his activity and behavior as EPA administrator. (Politico)
Trump blamed Democrats for immigration laws that force federal immigration agents to break up families, saying "we have to break up families. The Democrats gave us that law. It's a horrible thing, we have to break up families. That Democrats gave us that law and they don't want to do anything about it." (CNN)
The White House canceled its daily communications morning meeting in response to the leak of a joke about John McCain being close to death. (New York Times)
A Republican lawmaker suggested that rocks falling in the ocean are causing sea levels to rise. Representative Mo Brooks from Alabama: "Every time you have that soil or rock or whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise, because now you have less space in those oceans, because the bottom is moving up." (Science)
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