[Note: This summary is very out of date; the timeline, however, is updated regularly]

There are currently four active investigations into Russia’s interference into the 2016 and the Trump campaign’s potential involvement: FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the House Intelligence Committee. There are three main components to Trump/Russia: Russia's use of social media, the hacking of the DNC and John Podesta's emails, and the Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia.

Executive Summary:

  1. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about conversations with the Russian ambassador last December during the presidential transition, bringing the special counsel’s investigation into the president’s inner circle.
  2. Former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his deputy have been charged with a 12 count indictment by special counsel Robert Mueller, which includes money laundering and conspiracy against the US. Both pled not guilty and are currently under house arrest.
  3. A former foreign policy advisor to Trump was arrested in July for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials during the campaign. He has pled guilty, confirming his contacts with Russia in doing so, and has been “proactively cooperating” with the special counsel investigations. This hits closest to the heart of the collusion component.
  4. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation has gone its partisan ways and will be pursued separately by Republicans and Democrats on the committee. The committee’s focus has been obstruction of justice in relation to possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, as it has oversight of the FBI.
  5. 126 million. This is the latest estimate of how many users were potentially reached by Russia’s disinformation and social media war. Facebook, Twitter, and Google have been cooperating with Congress and the special counsel, as well as working to implement safeguards for 2018 and beyond.

Robert Mueller submitted his full report on Trump and Russia to the attorney general. The Justice Department notified Congress that it had received Mueller's report, but did not describe its contents. William Barr is expected to summarize the findings for lawmakers in the coming days, deciding how much of the report to share with Congress. White House lawyers are prepared to argue some material is protected by executive privilege, especially if the report discusses whether Trump's interactions with his aides or legal advisers are evidence of obstruction of justice. Mueller's work has led to criminal charges against 34 people, including six former Trump associates and advisers. Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, and George Papadopoulos all pleaded guilty. Roger Stone was indicted in January and accused of lying to Congress, but has pleaded not guilty. More than 24 people charged by Mueller are Russians. No Americans charged by Mueller have been accused of conspiring with Russia to interfere in the election. No further indictments are expected. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / Bloomberg / USA Today / CNBC)

📌 Day 798: The Trump administration ignored the House Judiciary request for documents. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler had set a Monday deadline asking for documents related the firing of James Comey, internal discussions about the decision of Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the Russia probe, details about any talks to dismiss, as well as records about payments Trump made as part of a hush-money scheme to keep his alleged extramarital affairs from going public. (CNN / Politico)

poll/ 62% of Americans have confidence in the fairness of Mueller's investigation – with 33% very confident. 37%, however, are not very or not at all confident in a fair investigation. 63% are concerned about the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia. (Associated Press)

poll/ 48% of Americans approve of Mueller's handling of the investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election in 2016, while 37% disapprove. 56% say they consider Russia's efforts to influence the election a serious matter that should be fully investigated, while 38% consider an effort to discredit Trump's presidency. (CNN)

The prosecutor who handled Michael Flynn's guilty plea has left the special counsel's office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Zainab Ahmad is the third senior member of Mueller's team confirmed to leave the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts but hasn’t yet been sentenced. (Politico)

The Trump administration, however, ignored the House Judiciary request for documents. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler had set a Monday deadline asking for documents related the firing of James Comey, internal discussions about the decision of Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the Russia probe, details about any talks to dismiss, as well as records about payments Trump made as part of a hush-money scheme to keep his alleged extramarital affairs from going public. (CNN / Politico)

Trump attacked the late John McCain on Twitter for his involvement in sharing the dossier allegedly linking Trump to the Russian government. After the 2016 election, McCain turned the Steele dossier over to the FBI, which Trump called "unfortunately a very dark stain against John McCain." Trump incorrectly claimed that McCain had "sent the Fake Dossier to the FBI and Media hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election." He continued to complain about that longtime Republican lawmaker, who died last year, "had far worse 'stains'" than the dossier, "including thumbs down on repeal and replace after years of campaigning to repeal and replace!" Trump's statements about McCain were actually quotes from Ken Starr, who recently appeared on Fox News. (CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times)

poll/ 52% of Americans have little or no trust in Trump's denials that his 2016 campaign colluded with Russia. 28%, meanwhile, say they have a lot of trust in Robert Mueller's investigation to be fair and accurate. 50% agree that Trump is the victim of a "witch hunt" while 47% disagree. (USA Today)

Trump pulled Rudy Giuliani from doing TV interviews after the lawyer claimed the Trump Tower Moscow talks may have lasted up until November 2016. The Sunday, January 20th appearance was Giuliani's last – other than a March 8 comment, where he said Paul Manafort's short jail sentence was fair. (Axios)

The House voted 420-0 for the public release of Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump obstructed justice when he fired then-director of the FBI James Comey. While the resolution is non-binding and the House cannot force the Justice Department to take an action, the move is an attempt to "send a clear signal both to the American people and the Department of Justice" that lawmakers expect to see the full account of Mueller's work. The resolution will also put pressure on Attorney General William Barr, who did not commit to making Mueller's findings public during his Senate confirmation hearings. The Senate, however, is unlikely to take up a similar measure. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico / NBC News)

Adam Schiff suggested that Russians may have laundered money through the Trump Organization. While House Intelligence Committee is investigating the matter, Schiff said the committee is primarily concerned with whether or not Trump is "compromised by a foreign power." (Newsweek)

Michael Flynn has completed his cooperation agreement with the special counsel's Russia investigation, according to Robert Mueller. Flynn's lawyers, however, asked for a 90-day delay in sentencing because "there may be additional cooperation" with another federal probe: his former business partner's upcoming trial in Alexandria, Va. Flynn is expected to testify in the mid-July trial against Bijan Rafiekian, who faces charges of conspiracy and acting as an unregistered foreign government agent for Turkey. (Politico / Associated Press / Reuters / CNN)

Mike Pompeo accused Cuba and Russia of propping up Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro. Pompeo's statements came after the Treasury Department imposed new sanctions on a Russia-based bank that it accused of helping Maduro's government circumvent earlier American financial penalties. (New York Times)

Trump twisted Judge T. S. Ellis's remarks made while sentencing Manafort to falsely claim "there was no collusion with Russia." Judge Ellis said that Manafort was "not before this court for anything having to do with collusion with the Russian government to influence this election," because Manafort was not charged with or convicted of any crimes of collusion. Trump said that he was "very honored" by Judge Ellis's statement and that he feels "very badly" for Manafort after receiving his lenient sentence. (New York Times / Daily Beast)

Michael Cohen provided documents to the House Intelligence Committee showing edits to the 2017 false written statement he delivered to Congress about the Trump Organization's continued pursuit of the Trump Tower Moscow project during the 2016 campaign. It was Cohen's fourth appearance before Congress since last week. (CNN / ABC News / Washington Post)

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff hired a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York to lead the committee's investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia. Daniel Goldman has experience fighting Russian organized crime, and has served as the district's deputy chief of the organized crime unit and oversaw prosecutions into traditional organized crime, international organized crime and white collar crime. (Axios / New Yorker)

Robert Mueller notified a federal judge about Roger Stone's Instagram post that could be a violation of the judge's gag order. Mueller did not take a position on the post when notifying Judge Amy Berman of Stone's social media post suggesting that he'd been "framed" by the special counsel and ahead of the re-release of a book he co-wrote that explores the "myth of Russian collusion." If Jackson finds that Stone violated his gag order, she could have him jailed without bail pending his trial on charges of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing justice. (CNBC / Politico)

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff says there is "direct evidence" of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Schiff said the evidence can be found "in the emails from the Russians through their intermediary offering dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of what is described in writing as the Russian government effort to help elect Donald Trump." Schiff says the Russians offered dirt on Clinton and that "[t]here is an acceptance of that offer in writing from the president’s son, Don Jr., and there is overt acts and furtherance of that." (Fox News / CBS News)

The ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said lawmakers found "enormous amounts of evidence" that Trump colluded with the Russians during the 2016 campaign. Sen. Mark Warner said there is "no one that could factually say there's not plenty of evidence of collaboration or communications between Trump Organization and Russians." (Politico / Fox News)

poll/ 41% of voters say they would vote to re-elect Trump in 2020 while 48% say they would probably vote for the Democratic candidate. 58% don't think Trump's been honest and truthful regarding the Russia probe, and 60% disapprove of his recent national emergency declaration to build a border wall. (NBC News)

Roger Stone suggested he has been "framed" by Robert Mueller in an Instagram post, possibly violating the gag order barring him from criticizing the prosecutors in the criminal case against him. Stone published the post less than 48 hours after Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered his lawyers to explain why they didn't tell her about the planned publication of a book by Stone that could violate her gag order on him. On Feb. 15, Stone said on Instagram that his book, "The Myth of Russian Collusion: The Inside Story of How Trump Really Won," would be published March 1. Digital versions of the book have been on sale since Feb. 19, however. (CNBC / Washington Post)

Michael Cohen and Felix Sater will both testify before the House Intelligence Committee on March 14 to testify about Trump's effort to build a skyscraper in Russia. Cohen interviewed with the House Intelligence Committee for more than seven hours yesterday. Sater is a Russian-born Trump Organization executive who worked on the Trump Tower Moscow project with Cohen. (CNN / Associated Press)

The House Oversight Committee will seek to interview Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Weisselberg. Michael Cohen indicated to Congress that all three were involved in hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels, and that Trump Jr. and Weisselberg signed one of the $35,000 checks reimbursing him for the payment. Cohen also said that he briefed Trump Jr. and Ivanka about Trump Tower Moscow approximately 10 times, though Trump Jr. testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2017 that he was only "peripherally aware" of the project. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

Robert Mueller corrected part of a previous allegation that Paul Manafort lied about his contacts with his Russian business associate, Konstantin Kilimnik. Mueller cited new evidence obtained less than two weeks ago from Trump's former deputy campaign manager, Rick Gates, which appears to suggest that Mueller made a mistake with one of his accusations against Manafort. Mueller's recently revised court filing says the revision should not change the ruling by Judge Amy Berman Jackson that Manafort lied about his interactions with Kilimnik because they have presented enough additional evidence to support the underlying allegation. (New York Times)

📌 Day 678: Trump told Robert Mueller that Roger Stone did not tell him about WikiLeaks and that he was not told about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump Jr., campaign officials, and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. Trump added a caveat that his responses were to the best of his recollection. For comparison, Trump also does not “remember much” from the meeting with George Papadopoulos, where Papadopoulos offered to arrange a meeting with Putin. Trump, however, has previously claimed to have “one of the great memories of all time,” using it as justification for not using notes during his meeting with Kim Jong Un, and blaming Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow when he stumbled over the solider’s name during a condolence call. (CNN)

Cohen said he doesn't "know of direct evidence" that "Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia" during the 2016 election, "but I have my suspicions." Cohen said that he was in the room with Trump, "probably in early June 2016," when Trump Jr. "came into the room and walked behind his father's desk," leaned over "to his father and speaking in a low voice, which I could clearly hear, and saying: 'The meeting is all set.' I remember Mr. Trump saying, 'Ok good…let me know.'" Cohen added that "Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgment of anyone in the world." (Daily Beast)

📌 Day 172: Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer to acquire damaging information about Hillary Clinton in June 2016 at Trump Tower in New York City. On Saturday, Trump Jr. said the meeting was about the issue of US adoptions of Russian children and not the campaign. However, in March, Trump Jr. said he never met with any Russians while working in a campaign capacity. The meeting – attended by Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner – was disclosed when Kushner filed a revised form in order to obtain a security clearance. Manafort also recently disclosed the meeting, and Trump Jr.’s role in organizing it, to congressional investigators looking into his foreign contacts. (New York Times / Washington Post)

📌 Day 544: Michael Cohen says Trump knew in advance about Trump Jr.'s meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. Cohen doesn't have evidence to back up his claim, but he is reportedly willing to make the assertion as part of his testimony to Robert Mueller. Cohen claims that he, along with several others, were in the room when Trump Jr. told Trump about the Russian's offer. According to Cohen, Trump approved the meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Cohen's claim contradicts Trump, Trump Jr., their lawyers, and administration officials who have repeatedly said Trump didn't know about the meeting until he was asked about it in July 2017. Trump's response at the time was: "No. That I didn't know. Until a couple of days ago, when I heard about this. No I didn't know about that." A few days later, Trump was again asked whether he knew about the meeting. His response: "No, I didn't know anything about the meeting…. must have been a very unimportant meeting, because I never even heard about it … nobody told me."(CNN / NBC News / Washington Post)

📌 Day 554: Trump tweeted that he "did NOT know" in advance about Trump Jr.'s Trump Tower meeting , disputing Michael Cohen's assertion that he did and accusing him of "trying to make up stories." Cohen said he's willing to testify that then-candidate Trump knew in advance about the 2016 meeting in Trump Tower. In July 2017, it was reported that Trump personally dictated Trump Jr.'s statement about the latter's meeting with the Russian lawyer, claiming they had "primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children." (Washington Post / CNN)

📌 Day 707: Michael Cohen's cell phone was briefly activated near Prague around time of the Russia meeting described in the Steele dossier, which purports that Cohen and one or more Kremlin officials met in or around the Czech capital to plot ways to limit discovery of the close "liaison" between the Trump campaign and Russia. Additionally, around the same period of late August or early September 2016, electronic eavesdropping by an Eastern European intelligence agency picked up Russians remarking that Cohen was in Prague. The cell phone and eavesdropping evidence was shared with Robert Mueller. (McClatchy DC)

📌Day 450: Robert Mueller has evidence that Michael Cohen made a secret trip to Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign, entering through Germany in "August or early September." Confirmation of the trip corroborates part of the Christopher Steele dossier that Cohen met with an ally of Putin. Cohen has denied that he has ever been in Prague and that he colluded with Russia during the campaign. (McClatchy DC)

Cohen is expected to publicly accuse and present documents that implicate Trump of "criminal conduct" while in office during public testimony before the House Oversight Committee tomorrow. Cohen will reportedly provide lawmakers with information about Trump's financial statements, including documentation of his reimbursement for the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels. Cohen plans to share who signed the $35,000 monthly checks he received as reimbursement for his hush-money payments to Daniels. Cohen is also expected to detail how long Trump remained involved in discussions regarding a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, as well as to detail his "behind-the-scenes" experience of working for Trump for over a decade. Cohen testified behind closed doors before the Senate Intelligence Committee today, where he apologized for the lies he told during his 2017 testimony. (CNN / Axios / Daily Beast / NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Reuters)

U.S. Cyber Command "basically took the IRA offline" during the 2018 midterms. The Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll factory in St. Petersburg and underwritten by an oligarch close to Putin, was part of the cyber campaign to "influence" the 2016 election and undermine faith in U.S. democracy. (Washington Post)

House Democrats are planning to investigate Trump's personal finances to discover why Deutsche Bank was willing to lend to the Trump Organization when other banks wouldn't, and whether Russia was involved. (Politico)

Michael Cohen will be questioned by the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. Cohen will not be questioned about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election or about possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, but he is expected to be questioned about Trump's "debts and payments relating to efforts to influence the 2016 election" and his "compliance with campaign finance laws." (Washington Post / NBC News)

Russian state television aired a list of U.S. military facilities that Moscow would target in the event of a nuclear war and noted that Russia is developing hypersonic missiles that would be able to hit those targets in less than five minutes. The targets include the Pentagon and the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland. The unusually aggressive broadcast comes just days after Putin said Russia was ready for a "Cuban Missile"-style standoff with the United States if Washington deploys intermediate-range nuclear missiles in western Europe. (Reuters)

Robert Mueller's sentencing memorandum is due to today before midnight in the prosecution of Paul Manafort. In filings like these, prosecutors typically outline all of the defendant's crimes, convictions, and their cooperation, which could also shed more light on how Manafort fits into Mueller's larger Russian investigation. [Editor's note: I've basically been waiting all day for this to drop. I'll update the blog when this is filed to reflect the latest.] (CNN / Associated Press)

Mueller is not expected deliver a final report to the attorney general next week after all. It was previously reported that William Barr was preparing to announce the completion of the investigation into any links between Trump and Russia as soon as next week. Separately, the chairs of six House committees wrote Barr a letter suggesting that withholding evidence uncovered by Mueller could be the means for a "cover-up." 34 individuals and three companies so far have pleaded guilty, been indicted or been swept up in the inquiry. (CNBC / CNN / Reuters)

Sarah Sanders is confident that Mueller's report will not show collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, claiming that Trump had no reason to collude because he was an "infinitely better" candidate. (Washington Post)

Senate investigators want to question a Moscow-based American businessman with deep ties to Trump after witnesses told lawmakers that the man could provide information about Trump's commercial and personal activities in Russia dating all the way back to the 1990s. The Senate Intelligence Committee has been interested in speaking with David Geovanis for several months. Geovanis helped organize a 1996 trip to Moscow for Trump while he was in the early stages of pursuing what would become his long-held goal of building a Trump Tower in Russia's capital city. Years later, Geovanis worked for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. (CNN)

The Justice Department will potentially announce the completion of Robert Mueller's Russia investigation as early as next week. When that happens, Attorney General Bill Barr will likely submit a summary of Mueller's confidential report to Congress. Mueller is required to submit a "confidential" report to the attorney general, which is not required to be shared with Congress or the public. Barr suggested during his confirmation hearing last month that the report might not become public, and has made clear that the Justice Department generally guards against publicizing "derogatory" information about uncharged individuals. Trump, meanwhile, will travel overseas next week for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and Justice officials don't want to interfere with the White House's diplomatic efforts. Trump said "totally up to Bill Barr" as to whether Mueller's report comes out while he is overseas. (CNN / NBC News / Washington Post)

The FBI developed a backup plan to protect evidence in its Russia investigation after James Comey was fired in the event that other senior officials were also dismissed. (Associated Press)

Putin said he would respond to any deployment of new intermediate-range missiles placed in Europe by targeting the U.S. with Russia's own new field weapons that could reach U.S. decision-making centers. During his annual address to parliament, Putin said the U.S. has the right to think they can place missiles anywhere they want, "but can they count?" he asked. "I'm sure they can. Let them count the speed and the range of the weapons systems we are developing." Putin added that Russia is not looking for confrontation and would not take the first steps toward deploying missiles in the wake of Trump's decision to pull out of a landmark Cold War-era arms treaty. (CNBC / NBC News / Daily Beast)

Trump has publicly criticized the Russia investigation nearly 1,200 times. (New York Times)

Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe briefed congressional leaders in 2017 about the counterintelligence investigation he opened into Trump and that "no one objected," including Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. McCabe ordered the obstruction of justice and counterintelligence investigations after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May of 2017, which made McCabe acting director of the bureau at the time. The FBI wanted to know whether Trump had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests. "The purpose of the briefing was to let our congressional leadership know exactly what we'd been doing," McCabe said, and that nobody raised concerns, "not on legal grounds, not on constitutional grounds, and not based on the facts." Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein also attended the meeting, which is when the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation was first announced. Eight days after Comey was fired, Rosenstein appointed special counsel Robert Mueller. (NBC News / CNBC / Politico / Daily Beast / The Atlantic / CBS News)

McCabe: Trump is unwilling to accept intelligence on North Korea given to him by U.S. officials, telling them, "I don't care, I believe Putin." Trump said he didn't believe that North Korea has missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland because Putin told him the missiles didn't exist. (The Hill / 60 Minutes)

House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff said there is "evidence in plain sight" of collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia. Schiff rejected the conclusions of Senate Intelligence Chair Richard Burr, who said no such evidence exists. "You can see evidence in plain sight on the issue of collusion, pretty compelling evidence," Schiff said. "There is a difference between seeing evidence of collusion and being able to prove a criminal conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt." (Politico)

Maria Butina, a self-confessed Russian agent, "manipulated" a Russian spy agency when arranging the NRA's trip to Moscow, according to her boyfriend, Paul Erickson. In a Nov. 25, 2015, email sent to then-incoming NRA President Pete Brownell, Erickson wrote that "most of the FSB agents 'assigned' to her want to marry her," which is how she arranged a tour of a Russian arms factory for the NRA delegation. (Daily Beast)

A federal judge ruled that Paul Manafort violated the terms of his cooperation deal by repeatedly lying to Robert Mueller and a grand jury about "his interactions and communications with [Konstantin] Kilimnik," a longtime aide who the FBI assessed to have ties to Russian intelligence. Judge Amy Berman Jackson found that Manafort also intentionally lied about $125,000 he received for legal bills and about another unnamed Justice Department criminal investigation. Manafort will not be able to retract his guilty plea, but he will still be required to hold up his end of the plea deal. The ruling does free Mueller's office from having to comply with the obligations in Manafort's cooperation agreement, notably offering Manafort a reduced sentence for his cooperation. The breach of the cooperation deal after his guilty plea could add years to Manafort's prison sentence, having been convicted last year of eight felonies, including tax and bank fraud. Manafort later pleaded guilty to two additional conspiracy counts. (CNN / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Vox / Wall Street Journal)

The Senate confirmed William Barr as attorney general, putting him in command of the Justice Department and its ongoing investigation into links between Russia's interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign. Last year, Barr sent a 19-page, unsolicited memo to the Justice Department and Trump's lawyers, arguing that Trump has the power to "start or stop a law enforcement proceeding," and therefore he could prevent Mueller from investigating whether Trump committed obstruction of justice when he pressured James Comey to drop an investigation into Michael Flynn. Barr previously served as George H.W. Bush's attorney general in the 1990s. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

The former deputy F.B.I. director said Justice Department officials discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office after Trump fired Comey – his former boss – in May 2017. Andrew McCabe ordered the team investigating Russia's election interference to look into whether Trump had obstructed justice by firing Comey, and examine whether Trump had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests. McCabe's order came two days after Comey was fired in order "to put the Russia case on absolutely solid ground, in an indelible fashion" so the investigation "could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace". McCabe was fired last March and stripped of his pension days before his planned retirement, because he "lacked candor." (CBS News / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times)

📌 Day 110: Trump fired James Comey on the recommendation of Jeff Sessions. In a letter dated Tuesday to Comey, Trump concurred "with the judgment of the Department of Justice that [Comey is not] able to effectively lead the bureau." Earlier, the FBI notified Congress that Comey misstated key findings involving the Clinton email investigation during testimony, saying that only a "small number" of emails had been forwarded to disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner, not the "hundreds and thousands" he’d claimed in his testimony. The move sweeps away the man who is responsible for the investigation into whether members of Trump's campaign team colluded with Russia in its interference in last year's election. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein laid out the reasons for Comey's firing, arguing that the handling of his investigation into Clinton's private server, his decision not to recommend charges be filed, and the news conference he held to explain his reasoning were the cause of his dismissal. Democrats reacted with shock and alarm, accusing Trump of ousting the FBI director to escape scrutiny over his campaign’s Russia ties. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged deputy Rosenstein to appoint a special prosecutor for the federal probe into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russian officials — warning that failing to do so will lead the public to “rightly suspect” that Comey’s surprise firing “was part of a cover-up.” (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Politico)

📌 Day 725: The FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump had been working on behalf of Russia after he fired Comey in May 2017. Law enforcement officials became concerned that if Trump had fired Comey to stop the Russia investigation, his behavior would have constituted a threat to national security. Counterintelligence agents were also investigating why Trump was acting in ways that seemed to benefit Russia. No evidence has publicly emerged – yet – that Trump was secretly taking direction from Russian government officials. Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the report "absurd" and claimed that, compared to Obama, "Trump has actually been tough on Russia." (New York Times / CNN)

Trump is dramatically downsizing two teams of federal officials tasked with fighting election interference by foreign countries. The task forces are part of the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Agency and were assembled in response to Russian interference in the 2016 election. One of the task forces is half the size it was a few months ago, and there are no indications that senior political leadership plans to rebuild it. The other task force was reduced significantly after the 2018 midterms, before its staff could produce a full assessment of what happened during the election. DHS sources say "2020 is going to be the perfect storm." (Daily Beast)

Paul Manafort and Rick Gates met with a Russian political operative in August 2016. Prosecutors believe that Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik may have exchanged key information relevant to Russia and Trump's presidential bid, including a proposed resolution to the conflict over Ukraine and Manafort sharing internal polling data from Trump's presidential campaign to the Russian associate. (Washington Post)

📌 Day 753: Robert Mueller's lead prosecutors disclosed that the special counsel is continuing to pursue collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia based on the conversations between Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, who allegedly is linked to Russian intelligence. Prosecutors have been focused on discussions the two had about a "peace plan" to end the conflict following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014. The two repeatedly communicated about the plan for Ukraine starting in early August 2016, while Manafort was still running Trump's campaign, and continuing into 2018 – months after Manafort had been charged by Mueller's office related to his work in the country. (New York Times)

📌 Day 750: Mueller's team accused Paul Manafort of lying to them about "an extremely sensitive issue" in hopes of increasing "his chances for a pardon." Prosecutors allege that Manafort worked on Ukrainian political matters from August 2016 to December 2018 – after his first indictment by the special counsel in 2017 – and that he tried to avoid providing information that could be damaging to Konstantin Kilimnik, a Manafort business partner in Ukraine. Prosecutors believe Kilimnik is connected with Russian intelligence. Kilimnik also attended Trump's inauguration. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN)

📌 Day 727: Konstantin Kilimnik "appears to be at the heart of pieces of Mueller's investigation" into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Kilimnik is a Russian tied to Moscow's intelligence services and is connected to Manafort. Prosecutors filed a 31-page affidavit from an FBI agent, and another 406 blacked-out exhibits, after a federal judge ordered them to lay out the "factual and evidentiary basis" for their claims that Manafort repeatedly lied after his plea deal and as a result had breached his cooperation agreement. (CNN / Washington Post)

📌 Day 719: Paul Manafort gave 2016 polling data to a former employee with ties to Russian intelligence services. The exchange was inadvertently revealed when Manafort's lawyers failed to fully redact Manafort's interview with Robert Mueller in a court filing. Manafort's attorneys meant for Mueller's line of questioning to remain private, but the text in question was easily readable when opened with a word processor. (Washington Post / CNBC / Daily Beast)

House Democrats plan to launch their own probe into Trump's connections to Russia. Using their new subpoena power, Democrats plan to focus on potential money laundering by using the multiple committees they control to host hearings and public sessions that could stretch into 2020. Democratic members of Congress plan to interview new witnesses and go back to previous witnesses, who they believe "stonewalled" committees under the Republican majority. The House Intelligence Committee will lead the effort, with the House Financial Services Committee focusing on money laundering, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee looking into possible Russian connections. (Axios)

The Senate Intelligence Committee found "no direct evidence" of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. "We were never going to find a contract signed in blood saying, 'Hey Vlad, we're going to collude,'" one Democratic aide said. Democratic Senate investigators said that the more than 100 contacts between Trump's associates and various Russians show that the campaign was willing to accept help from a foreign adversary. Senate investigators also said they have uncovered facts yet to be made public. (NBC News)

Robert Mueller's lead prosecutors disclosed that the special counsel is continuing to pursue collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia based on the conversations between Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, who allegedly is linked to Russian intelligence. Prosecutors have been focused on discussions the two had about a "peace plan" to end the conflict following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014. The two repeatedly communicated about the plan for Ukraine starting in early August 2016, while Manafort was still running Trump's campaign, and continuing into 2018 – months after Manafort had been charged by Mueller's office related to his work in the country. (New York Times)

Mueller's team accused Paul Manafort of lying to them about "an extremely sensitive issue" in hopes of increasing "his chances for a pardon." Prosecutors allege that Manafort worked on Ukrainian political matters from August 2016 to December 2018 – after his first indictment by the special counsel in 2017 – and that he tried to avoid providing information that could be damaging to Konstantin Kilimnik, a Manafort business partner in Ukraine. Prosecutors believe Kilimnik is connected with Russian intelligence. Kilimnik also attended Trump's inauguration. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN)

Ivanka Trump has "zero concerns" about any of her "loved ones" being caught up in Mueller's Russia investigation. She also insisted that the Trump Tower project in Russia – pursued during the 2016 campaign – is overblown and "there's nothing there." (Politico / Washington Post)

The Republican Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said that "based on the evidence to date" the committee could not definitively say there was collusion between Trump and the Russians. Burr was Trump's national security adviser during the campaign. (CBS News / Politico)

📌Day 748: The House Intelligence Committee voted to send more than 50 witness interview transcripts from its Russia investigation to Robert Mueller, who could use them to then prosecute potential perjury or obstruction of justice by Trump associates. Among the transcripts are testimonies by Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner. Mueller has already prosecuted Michael Flynn for lying to both the House and Senate intelligence panels about the failed Trump Tower Moscow project. Mueller has also charged Roger Stone with lying to the House Intelligence Committee. (Politico / ABC News)

📌 Day 748: The House Intelligence Committee will also "investigate any credible allegation" into whether Trump's financial interests are driving his decision-making process. Chairman Adam Schiff announced that the committee would look "beyond Russia" and will examine "whether any foreign actor has sought to compromise or holds leverage, financial or otherwise, over Donald Trump, his family, his business, or his associates." (CNN)

poll/ 87% of Americans say Robert Mueller's investigators should produce a full, public report on their findings. 48% believe that Trump's campaign colluded with the Russian government to help get him elected. (CNN)

The boyfriend of Russian spy Maria Butina was indicted by a federal grand jury for wire fraud and money laundering. Paul Erickson was arrested and pled "not guilty" to charges that allege he used a chain of assisted living homes, called Compass Care, to run a criminal scheme from 1996 to 2018. He also allegedly defrauded his investors using a company called Investing with Dignity and claiming to be "in the business of developing a wheelchair that allowed people to go to the bathroom without being lifted out of the wheelchair." The indictment also alleges that Erickson fraudulently claimed to be building homes in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. His case is separate from the case against Butina in Washington, D.C. (Daily Beast)

The House Intelligence Committee voted to send more than 50 witness interview transcripts from its Russia investigation to Robert Mueller, who could use them to then prosecute potential perjury or obstruction of justice by Trump associates. Among the transcripts are testimonies by Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner. Mueller has already prosecuted Michael Flynn for lying to both the House and Senate intelligence panels about the failed Trump Tower Moscow project. Mueller has also charged Roger Stone with lying to the House Intelligence Committee. (Politico / ABC News)

The House Intelligence Committee will also "investigate any credible allegation" into whether Trump's financial interests are driving his decision-making process. Chairman Adam Schiff announced that the committee would look "beyond Russia" and will examine "whether any foreign actor has sought to compromise or holds leverage, financial or otherwise, over Donald Trump, his family, his business, or his associates." (CNN)

Trump has attended 17 intelligence briefings over the last 85 days and does not regularly read the Presidential Daily Brief prepared for him. From Nov. 7, 2018 to Feb. 1, 2019, Trump announced his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria and quit a nuclear arms treaty with Russia. (NBC News)

Russia is developing new hypersonic missiles that travel at more than five times the speed of sound and will be "invincible" in response to Trump's decision to pull out of the nuclear arms treaty. The new hypersonic missile is expected to be ready by 2021. (New York Times / NPR)

Archival footage shows Trump meeting with officials in Russia in the 1990s to discuss a potential building project in Russia. The video was allegedly aired by Russian state TV in 1995, and shows Trump meeting with members of the former mayor of Moscow's administration. "He had contacts," former mayor Yury Luzhkov said, "on matters related to the construction of the Okhotny Ryad underground mall on Manezh Square." The video was apparently discovered by someone who had been "going through the Russian TV archives." Trump has said on multiple occasions that "I have nothing to do with Russia. I don't have any jobs in Russia. I'm all over the world but we're not involved in Russia." (The Independent)

Trump wanted $20 million up front for the right to use the Trump name on a Moscow development in 2006. Trump was willing to accept a $4 million upfront branding fee and a cut of profits in his 2015 and 2016 efforts to build a Moscow tower. (Bloomberg)

SDNY prosecutors have been interviewing witnesses about foreign money flowing to three lobbying firms recruited by Paul Manafort to improve the image of the Russia-aligned president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, seven years ago. Mercury Public Affairs, the Podesta Group and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom are being scrutinized for representing foreign governments without registering as foreign agents. The case was originally referred by Mueller's investigation. (New York Times)

Trump won't commit to making Robert Mueller's final report public, and that he doesn't know if he wants the report made public at all, saying "it depends" on "what it's going to say." Trump did say that while he believes it's time to "get rid of the Russia witch hunt," he would leave the decision "totally up to the attorney general." William Barr, Trump's nominee for attorney general, said during his confirmation hearing that the public might see a summary report from the attorney general on Mueller's conclusions and not the full special counsel's report. (NBC News / New York Times / ABC News)

In late 2016, Deutsche Bank tried to shed a $600 million loan to VTB Group, a large Russian state-owned bank. The bank sold $300 million of the loan to another Russian financial institution, Alfa Bank, in December 2016. (Wall Street Journal)

A Russian-born lobbyist at the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 received half a million dollars in payments before and after the meeting. The large cash deposits to Rinat Akhmetshin were deemed suspicious transactions by bank investigators. (BuzzFeed News)

Putin ordered Russia's military to develop new medium-range missiles in response to the U.S. leaving a key Cold War nuclear arms treaty. (ABC News)

In a wide-ranging interview in the Oval Office, Trump called negotiating with Congress over his border wall "a waste of time" (again), brushed off the Russia investigation and claimed that Rod Rosenstein told him he was not a target in the probe, dismissed the importance of the proposed Trump Tower his team was trying to build in Moscow during the 2016 campaign, denied he ever spoke with Roger Stone about WikiLeaks and the stolen Democratic emails, and insisted that he played no role in Jared Kushner receiving a security clearance despite concerns by both the FBI and CIA. The interview was arranged after Trump reached out to A. G. Sulzberger, the publisher of The New York Times, inviting him for an off-the-record dinner. Sulzberger initially declined, saying he would prefer an on-the-record interview that included two of his reporters. Trump agreed. During the interview, Trump told the Times "I love this job," but also complained that he's "lost massive amounts of money" since becoming president. He called the job of being president "one of the great losers of all time. You know, fortunately, I don't need money. This is one of the great losers of all time." [Editor's note: Just read the interview. Podcast and excerpt links below.] (New York Times)

🎧 LISTEN: Trump spoke with the New York Times about the Russia investigation, the government shutdown, and his plans for border security. Trump also spoke about the role of a free press. (New York Times)

Trump claimed that the Trump Tower Moscow development was "not important" and he was "not even sure they had a site." Hundreds of pages of business documents, emails, text messages, and architectural plans, however, show that the Trump Organization proposed building the skyscraper on an industrial complex near the Moscow River. Earlier this month, Rudy Giuliani also claimed that "No plans were ever made. There were no drafts. Nothing in the file." (BuzzFeed News)

Trump Jr.'s mysterious phone calls ahead of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting were not with his father, according to new evidence obtained by the Senate Intelligence Committee. The same day Trump Jr. spoke on the phone with Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, whose father set up the June 2016 meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower, he also talked to two business associates who used blocked numbers – Brian France, the chief executive of Nascar, and the investor Howard Lorber, who has made significant investments in Russia. Lorber also traveled to Moscow in 1996 with Trump as they considered building a Trump Tower there. A spokesman for Lorber said the real estate developer "does not recall conversations with Donald Trump Jr. in the summer of 2016," and that Lorber never discussed "any Russian matters" with Trump Jr. (CNN / ABC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

The U.S. will withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Russia has been violating the 1987 arms control treaty for more than five years, and the U.S. gave Russia 60 days to return to compliance in December. The treaty prohibits the U.S. and Russia from possessing any land-based cruise missiles with a range of 310 to 3,410 miles. (NBC News / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

Trump pinky-promised that he won't intervene with the Justice Department's decision-making process about whether to release Robert Mueller's report on possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. "They'll have to make their decision within the Justice Department," Trump said, insisting that he hasn't spoken with acting AG Matthew Whitaker about the inquiry. Trump cautioned, however, that he "could've gotten involved in this. I could've terminated everything. I could've ended everything." (New York Times / Politico)

poll/ 62% of Americans believe that Trump knew that people like Roger Stone, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort or others tried to conceal information from federal investigators. 50% believe that Trump personally asked people around him to provide misleading information about his businesses or Russian interference. (Monmouth University)

The Treasury Department pushed back against claims that Steve Mnuchin had a conflict of interest when he decided to lift sanctions against a Russian oligarch's businesses. The letter claimed that Mnuchin didn't sell his stake in RPDE (RatPac-Dune Entertainment) to Len Blavatnik, a Ukrainian-born oligarch, and that there was "no business conversations whatsoever" between Mnuchin and Blavatnik related to the Treasury Department's decision to lift the sanctions. (ABC News)

Trump attacked the U.S. intelligence community, claiming they're being "extremely passive and naive" and suggesting his intel chiefs need to "go back to school" because "they are wrong!" The outburst comes a day after senior American intelligence officials briefed Congress on their 2019 worldwide threat assessment, directly contradicted Trump on several of his foreign policy priorities, including Iran, North Korea, Syria, and ISIS. Trump, however, made no mention of Russia, which Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said was likely to target the 2020 elections. (Politico / New York Times / Reuters / CNN)

Trump met Putin at the G20 summit in November without a U.S. translator, notetaker, or staff member present. Melania Trump, however, was there, as well as Putin's own translator. The White House had previously said meeting was one of several "informal" talks, but didn't disclose that Trump did not have any official members of his team present. The Russian government said Trump and Putin spoke for roughly 15 minutes about various foreign policy issues, including an incident in the Azov Sea and the war in Syria. (Financial Times / Vox)

Trump Jr. met with a firm that gamed out how a foreign government could meddle in the U.S. political process. After Trump became the Republican nominee, Trump Jr. met with Wikistrat founder Joel Zamel to discuss simulations the firm conducted in 2015 about how illicit efforts could shape American politics. In April 2016, Rick Gates reviewed a plan by a company called Psy Group, which Zamel reportedly owns. The plan echoed both the real election interference by Russia as well as the scenario Wikistrat had gamed out. It's unclear if the Psy Group plans ever went forward, with some former employees saying Gates never pursued the campaign, while others said part of the plan was carried out. Wikistrat has been questioned by Robert Mueller's team. (Daily Beast)

Russians leaked more than 1,000 files Robert Mueller's office shared confidentially with indicted Russian hackers in an attempt to discredit the investigation into interference in the 2016 election. According to Mueller's court filing, the names and structure of folders containing the leaked files matched those used by the special counsel's office when it shared the data with Concord Management. The files appeared to have been uploaded to a filesharing site, which confirmed to the FBI that the account was registered in Russia. A pro-Russian Twitter account used the information as part of a disinformation campaign. (The Guardian / NBC News / CNN)

The NRA claimed "they played no official role" in a December 2015 trip to Moscow to meet with Russian nationals despite internal NRA emails and photos showing that the organization was significantly involved in the planning. Emails show that alleged Russian agent Maria Butina helped make travel arrangements for the NRA delegation, as well as organizing the meetings with senior Kremlin officials. One email suggested that the NRA would pay for travel expenses and provide "gifts" to their Russian hosts. In another, Butina told the delegation she'd meet them at the airport with "a big red sign saying Welcome NRA." The NRA met with Butina and her Russian handler, Alexander Torshin, who was Deputy Governor of the Russian Central Bank at the time and later sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury, Dmitry Rogozin, then-Russian Deputy Prime Minister who was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury in 2014, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, a member of Putin's inner circle. (ABC News)

Democrats in Congress raised ethical concerns that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin decision to lift sanctions on a Russian oligarch was a conflict of interest. The Treasury Department repeatedly postponed implementing sanctions against Oleg Deripaska's companies, and later lifted them entirely after striking a deal to restructure the companies. Len Blavatnik is a major investor in Deripaska's aluminum company, Rusal, as well as a major Republican National Committee donor, where Mnuchin served as finance chairman for Trump's 2016 campaign. (New York Times)

U.S. intelligence chiefs contradicted Trump's claims about North Korea, Iran, and ISIS. Trump previously claimed that "We have won against ISIS" as justification for withdrawing 2,000 troops from Syria, he pledged that North Korea is on the path to fully denuclearize, and withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, claiming the country posed a nuclear threat. The Worldwide Threat Assessment, released by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, however, outlines that North Korea is "unlikely to give up" its nuclear stockpiles because Kim Jong-un sees them as "critical to regime survival," and that Iran is not "currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activity" needed to make a bomb. Coats also said that ISIS "very likely will continue to pursue external attacks from Iraq and Syria against regional and Western adversaries, including the United States." The report also concluded that China is positioned to conduct cyberattacks against American infrastructure and that "Moscow is now staging cyberattack assets to allow it to disrupt or damage U.S. civilian and military infrastructure during a crisis." (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / The Guardian)

Russia, China, and Iran are "probably already are looking to the 2020 U.S. elections as an opportunity to advance their interests," according the Worldwide Threat Assessment report. Dan Coats warned that these countries "will use online influence operations to try to weaken democratic institutions, undermine U.S. alliances and partnerships and shape policy outcomes in the United States and elsewhere." (Politico)

Russia offered North Korea a nuclear power plant after negotiations with the Trump administration to denuclearize stalled. The plan called for Moscow to operate the plant and transfer all waste back to Russia, reducing the risk that North Korea could use the power plant to build nuclear weapons. (Washington Post)

Roger Stone pleaded not guilty to witness tampering, obstruction of justice and lying to Congress. Stone's indictment alleges that he was the conduit between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, which published Democratic National Committee emails in the summer of 2016, and that "a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information Organization 1 had regarding the Clinton campaign." Robert Mueller has previously accused 12 Russian intelligence officers of hacking those emails, and the U.S. intelligence community consensus is that those Russians "relayed material it acquired from the DNC and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks." (NPR / Washington Post / CNBC / ABC News / New York Times / Reuters)

The Trump administration has started making a new, low-yield nuclear weapon that the Department of Energy claims is designed to counter Russia. The W76-2 is believed to be about half as powerful as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The report claims that smaller nuclear warheads will help balance the threat from Russian forces. (NPR)

poll/ 57% of Americans support congressional Democrats investigating whether or not Trump's 2016 campaign colluded with Russia, 61% support investigating financial ties between Trump and foreign governments, and 59% support investigating Trump's relationship and communications with Putin. (Washington Post)

The Trump administration lifted sanctions against three companies owned by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. The Treasury Department originally sanctioned Deripaska, six other oligarchs, and their companies in April in response to Russia's "malign activity" around the world. The sanctions against Deripaska himself will remain in effect, but his companies launched a lobbying campaign to argue that the sanctions against aluminum giant Rusal would disrupt the aluminum market and damage U.S. companies. (Reuters / New York Times / Fox News / Bloomberg)

Trump and Jared Kushner thought firing Michael Flynn would end the "Russia thing," according to Chris Christie's forthcoming book, "Let Me Finish." Christie recalled that Trump told him "this Russia thing is all over now, because I fired Flynn." Trump went on to explain that "Flynn met with the Russians. That was the problem. I fired Flynn. It's over." Kushner added: "That's right, firing Flynn ends the whole Russia thing." (New York Times)

Roger Stone was arrested on seven counts of obstruction, lying to Congress and witness tampering as part of Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the election. Between June and July of 2016, Stone told a "senior Trump Campaign official" that he had information that WikiLeaks would release documents that would hurt the Clinton campaign. On July 22, 2016, WikiLeaks released its first batch of Democratic emails. After that the "senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information" that WikiLeaks had about the Clinton campaign. Then, in October of 2016, a "high-ranking Trump Campaign official" asked Stone about "future releases by" WikiLeaks. Stone replied that WikiLeaks would release "a load every week going forward." In total, Stone interacted with at least four people close to the Trump campaign about WikiLeaks. The indictment also accused Stone of attempting to intimidate Randy Credico, who was in contact with Julian Assange in 2016. Separately, FBI agents were seen carrying hard drives and other evidence from Stone's apartment in New York City. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC / The Guardian / Politico / CNN / NBC News / Washington Post / Department of Justice)

Stone was released on $250,000 bond, denied working with Russia, and declared he would not "bear false witness" by testifying against Trump. (CBS News)

The Trump administration hasn't imposed required sanctions on Moscow nearly three months after determining that Russia had violated the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act in connection with the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal. (NBC News)

Russia warned the U.S. against launching a military intervention in Venezuela after Juan Guaido declared himself interim president in a coup d'etat and Trump threatened to use the "full weight" of U.S. economic and diplomatic power to stabilize the country. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said a U.S. military intervention in Venezuela "would be a catastrophic scenario that would shake the foundations of the development model which we see in Latin America." (NBC News)

Rudy Giuliani claimed that "no plans were ever made" for Trump Tower Moscow, despite hundreds of pages of business documents, emails, text messages, and architectural plans proving otherwise. For instance, by September 2015, an architect had completed plans for a 100 story high tower, and when Trump signed a finalized letter of intent on Oct. 28 2015, the tower would have "approximately 250 first class, luxury residential condominiums" and "approximately 15 floors" and contain "not fewer than 150 hotel rooms." The Trump team also considered an option to open "The Spa By Ivanka Trump," as well as giving a "$50 million penthouse to Putin." Trump's lawyer characterized this by saying "the proposal was in the earliest stage" and later adding "There were no drafts. Nothing in the file." (BuzzFeed News)

Trump was reportedly "apoplectic" and "furious" with Giuliani after his lawyer claimed that he had been involved in discussions to build a Trump Tower in Moscow through the end of the 2016 campaign. Giuliani's statement contradicted Trump's own public statements about the project. Trump has been "screaming" and is "so mad at Rudy," because he felt that Giuliani had "changed the headlines" for the worse and had obscured what he believed was a public relations victory when Robert Mueller's office disputed portions of a report that Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. Trump is also being encouraged by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner – among others – to fire Giuliani before it's too late. Giuliani blamed journalists for his gaffs, saying they've taken his hypothetical arguments literally, adding that Trump is "not pissed. He just wants it clarified." Giuliani also admitted this week that he is worried that his legacy would be that "he lied for Trump" and has told people privately that he "hates the job." (Politico / Vanity Fair / Associated Press)

Robert Mueller's team is interested in the Trump campaign's relationship with the NRA during the 2016 campaign. Mueller wants to know more about how and when Trump and his campaign first established a relationship with the NRA, and how Trump ended up as a speaker at the organization's annual meeting in 2015. The NRA is under scrutiny from lawmakers for its spending in support of Trump in 2016 and its ties to Russian nationals. (CNN)

Rudy Giuliani walked back his comments about Trump's involvement in the Trump Tower Moscow project, calling the statements "hypothetical" and "not based on conversations" he had with Trump. Giuliani originally said that negotiations over the project continued up until the day Trump won, and that Trump remembered having "fleeting conversations" about the deal after the Trump Organization signed a letter of intent. At question is whether or not Trump was engaged in ongoing negotiations with an American adversary while seeking the presidency and advocating that Obama lift sanctions against Russia. (New York Times / ABC News)

Giuliani also claimed that it didn't matter if Trump engaged in conversations with Russia about the Moscow deal, because it's not a crime. He went on to say that "there are no tapes, there are no texts, there is no corroboration," because he's personally "been through all the tapes, I have been through all the texts, I have been through all the e-mails, and I knew none existed." A few moments later, Giuliani tried to clarify: "I shouldn't have said tapes." Moments after that, Giuliani added: "Well, I have listened to tapes." Giuliani also tried to revise his previous statement that Trump told him the Trump Tower Moscow "discussions were going on from the day I announced to the day I won," saying simply: "He didn't have the conversations." [Editor's note: This is a wild interview. Worth the read.] (New Yorker)

Trump Jr. blamed Michael Cohen for the Trump Tower Moscow project, claiming the family "[doesn't] know anything about it." Trump Jr. also claimed that there was never a deal, contradicting the fact that Trump signed a letter of intent in October 2015 and the team of developers were revealed in 2017. (Axios)

A U.S. banker with ties to the Kremlin tried to schedule a meeting with Trump nine days after he won the presidency in the hopes of securing a role in the Trump administration. A producer from "The Apprentice" contacted one of Trump's closest advisers to set up a meeting with Robert Foresman, who is now chairman of the Swiss bank UBS's investment arm. Foresman lived in Moscow for years and led a $3 billion Russian investment firm and was touted as someone with connections to Putin's inner circle. Foresman did not end up getting a seat in Trump's administration, but did secure a sit-down meeting with Tom Barrack, then-chair of Trump's $100 million inaugural fund. (ABC News)

A Russian singer linked to the Trump Tower meeting canceled an upcoming tour of North America over concerns about Mueller's Russia probe. Emin Agalarov is said to have helped to arrange the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya during the campaign. Agalarov's attorney confirmed that the cancellation is "most definitely" linked to Mueller's probe, saying "we don't want him to be subpoenaed or held under a material witness warrant or anything else." (NBC News)

The special counsel's office issued a rare statement disputing aspects of the BuzzFeed report that Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about Trump's involvement in a real-estate deal with Russia during the 2016 campaign. A statement from Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, called the report's "description of specific statements to the Special Counsel's Office" and the "characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office" as it related to Cohen's Congressional testimony "not accurate." In response, BuzzFeed News Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith tweeted: "We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he's disputing." BuzzFeed's story cited two anonymous law-enforcement sources. According to different anonymous people who claim to be familiar with the matter, "Mueller's denial […] aims to make clear that none of those statement in the story are accurate." And, another anonymous person claiming to be familiar with Cohen's testimony to Mueller's prosecutors said: "Cohen did not state that the president had pressured him to lie to Congress." The statement from the special counsel's office came nearly a day after the story was published. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian / Politico / CNN / Vox)

Trump was involved in negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow throughout the entire 2016 presidential campaign – several months longer than any administration official or Trump associate has previously admitted. Rudy Giuliani said conversations between Trump and Michael Cohen about building a Trump Tower in Moscow "went on throughout 2016 […] probably up to, could be up to as far as October, November." Giuliani later clarified, quoting Trump that the discussions were "going on from the day I announced to the day I won." The new timetable means that Trump, who repeatedly claimed during the campaign that he had "no business" in Russia, was in fact seeking a deal in Russia when he said in July 2016 that he had "nothing to do with Russia." The timeline also conflicts with Cohen's 2017 testimony that the Moscow project ended in January 2016 – before the Republican primaries began. Cohen later pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the deal, saying efforts continued through June 2016 before it fell apart – a month after Trump had secured the Republican Party's presidential nomination. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Politico / CNN / Bloomberg)

The Trump administration's deal to lift sanctions against a Russian oligarch contains provisions that will allow Oleg Deripaska to wipe out of hundreds of millions of dollars in debt while leaving him and his allies with majority ownership of his company. (New York Times)

Trump personally directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about his plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow in order to obscure his involvement in the deal. Cohen and Trump had at least 10 face-to-face meetings about the deal during the campaign. Cohen acknowledged to Robert Mueller's team that he had given false testimony to the Senate and House intelligence committees that the Moscow tower negotiations ended in January 2016 were an attempt to "minimize links between the Moscow Project" and Trump "in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations." Trump also approved a plan by Cohen to visit Russia during the presidential campaign and meet with Putin in order to kick off the negotiations for the Moscow project. "Make it happen," Trump told Cohen. Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. both regularly received "very detailed updates" about the project from Cohen. The revelation marks the first time Trump is known to have directly – and explicitly – ordered one of his subordinates to lie about his dealings with Russia. (BuzzFeed News)

Democrats in Congress vowed to investigate the report that Trump personally directed Cohen to lie to Congress, which could leave the president open to accusations of suborning perjury and obstruction of justice. House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff said "we will do what's necessary to find out if it's true" and that allegations that Trump "may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date." Rep. Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, tweeted that the panel's "job is to get to the bottom of it, and we will do that work," adding: "We know that the President has engaged in a long pattern of obstruction." (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / The Guardian / NBC News)

[Opinion] This may be the smoking gun in the Russia investigation. Why, if there was nothing worrisome or untoward about Trump's dealings with Russia, would he instruct Cohen to lie to about the depth and breadth of the conversations between the Trumps and the Russians regarding a potential construction project in Moscow? (CNN)

Rudy Giuliani claimed that "I never said there was no collusion" between the Trump campaign and Russia. In a remarkable interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Wednesday night, Giuliani argued that he had only ever said Trump himself had not colluded with Russia during the 2016 election, leaving open the possibility that campaign aides could have colluded. "There is not a single bit of evidence the president of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here, conspired with the Russians to hack the DNC." Trump has tweeted at least 13 times directly saying there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. (CNN / The Guardian / Washington Post)

More than 130 Republicans joined House Democrats in opposing a Treasury Department plan to lift sanctions against companies controlled by a Putin ally. Senate Republicans narrowly blocked a similar measure yesterday. Oleg Deripaska is a Russian oligarch with ties to Paul Manafort. (Washington Post)

A Belarusian woman who claimed to have 16 hours of audio recordings linking Russia to Trump's election will be deported after spending nearly a year behind bars in Thailand. Anastasia Vashukevich pleaded guilty to charges of solicitation and conspiracy in the Pattaya Provincial Court. Vashukevich requested asylum in the U.S. in exchange for her recordings, which she claimed contained evidence that could help shed light on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The audio evidence that Vashukevich claimed to have has never materialized. (New York Times)

Trump called a New York Times reporter and defended Russia against claims of election interference the day after he met privately with Putin in July 2017. Trump insisted that the call remain off the record while arguing that the Russians had been falsely accused of interfering in the 2016 election. Trump and Putin have met five times in private and the U.S. has no records or notes from any of their conversations. (New York Times)

Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic effort to enforce sanctions against Russian companies controlled by a Putin ally, despite a group of 11 GOP senators joining Democrats in the vote. The vote fell three votes shy of the 60-vote threshold, ensuring that the sanctions on the companies tied to Oleg Deripaska, including the world's second-largest aluminum company, Rusal, will be lifted as part of a deal negotiated by the Treasury Department. (New York Times / CNN / The Hill)

Konstantin Kilimnik "appears to be at the heart of pieces of Mueller's investigation" into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Kilimnik is a Russian tied to Moscow's intelligence services and is connected to Manafort. Prosecutors filed a 31-page affidavit from an FBI agent, and another 406 blacked-out exhibits, after a federal judge ordered them to lay out the "factual and evidentiary basis" for their claims that Manafort repeatedly lied after his plea deal and as a result had breached his cooperation agreement. (CNN / Washington Post)

The U.S. rejected a Russian offer to save the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, saying "we see no indication that Russia would choose compliance." The U.S. and its NATO allies want Russia to destroy its 9M729 nuclear-capable cruise missile system. Without a deal, a U.S. withdrawal over six months will start from Feb. 2. (Reuters)

Trump discussed withdrawing the U.S. from NATO with senior administration officials several times in 2018, saying he didn't see the point of the military alliance, which has been in place since 1949. National security officials believe that Russia is focused on undermining the alliance so Putin could have the freedom to behave as he wishes. (New York Times)

Michael Cohen's testimony before the House Oversight Committee next month is expected to be heavily restricted to avoid interfering with Mueller's Russia investigation. Cohen is scheduled to speak in a public hearing on Feb. 7 and won't be able to talk about topics that he has discussed with Mueller and may also be limited in what he can say about the on-going Manhattan U.S. attorney's office investigation. A person close to Cohen said "he's going to tell the story of what it's like to work for a madman, and why he did it for so long," adding that Cohen is "going to say things that will give you chills." (Wall Street Journal)

The FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump had been working on behalf of Russia after he fired Comey in May 2017. Law enforcement officials became concerned that if Trump had fired Comey to stop the Russia investigation, his behavior would have constituted a threat to national security. Counterintelligence agents were also investigating why Trump was acting in ways that seemed to benefit Russia. No evidence has publicly emerged – yet – that Trump was secretly taking direction from Russian government officials. Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the report "absurd" and claimed that, compared to Obama, "Trump has actually been tough on Russia." (New York Times / CNN)

Trump concealed details about his conversations with Putin from administration officials. On at least one occasion in 2017, Trump confiscated the notes from his interpreter and told the interpreter not to discuss the details of his Putin conversation with other administration officials. As a result, there is no record of Trump's face-to-face interactions with Putin at five locations from the past two years. U.S. officials only learned about Trump's actions when a White House adviser and a senior State Department official requested additional information about the meeting beyond what Rex Tillerson had provided. (Washington Post)

Fox News asked Trump if he is a Russian agent – he refused to directly answer. Instead, he called the question from Jeanine Pirro "the most insulting thing I've ever been asked." When asked about concealing the details of his private meetings with Putin, Trump replied: "We had a great conversation." Later, Trump said he "never worked for Russia" and called the report that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation "a whole big fat hoax" while labeling the FBI officials "known scoundrels" and "dirty cops." (New York Times / CNBC / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Washington Post)

Trump's nominee for attorney general said that "it is vitally important" that Robert Mueller be allowed to complete his Russia investigation. "On my watch, Bob will be allowed to complete his work," William Barr will tell senators at his confirmation hearing, and that Congress and the public should "be informed of the results of the special counsel's work." Barr added that his "goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law." (Associated Press / CNN / New York Times / The Guardian)

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed off on a plan by Alexander Torshin and Maria Butina to infiltrate the NRA and the American conservative movement. A U.S. intelligence report says Torshin, a Russian central bank official, courted NRA leaders for years and briefed the Kremlin on his efforts, recommending that they participate in the project. The report notes that the Kremlin was fine with Torshin and Butina's courtship of the NRA because those relationships would be valuable if a Republican was elected president in 2016. (Daily Beast)

Michael Cohen agreed to publicly testify in front of the House Oversight Committee before he goes to prison next month. Trump's former personal attorney said he appreciates the opportunity "to give a full and credible account" of the time he worked for Trump. Cohen will also answer questions from lawmakers about the Russia investigation during a closed-door session. (Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / ABC News / CNN / The Hill)

Robert Mueller requested information last year from a Trump campaign pollster and colleague of Paul Manafort. Tony Fabrizio was interviewed by Mueller's team in February 2018; the meeting went unreported until now. The interview is significant in light of recent revelations that Mueller has been investigating Manafort's sharing of polling data with an associate tied to Russian intelligence. (CNN)

Steven Mnuchin delivered a classified briefing to Congress on his decision to lift sanctions on companies linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. The briefing came after the chairs of seven House committees sent a letter to the Treasury Secretary and former Trump campaign finance chair demanding to know more about the decision. (NBC News)

A law firm that has represented both Russian interests and the Republican National Committee is involved in the subpoena case presumed to be between Mueller and "Company A." Alston & Bird previous represented Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, as well as the RNC in its efforts to obtain some of Hillary Clinton's emails. It is unclear whether the firm is currently representing "Company A," the country that owns "Company A," or the regulators of that country. (CNBC / CNN)

Paul Manafort gave 2016 polling data to a former employee with ties to Russian intelligence services. The exchange was inadvertently revealed when Manafort's lawyers failed to fully redact Manafort's interview with Robert Mueller in a court filing. Manafort's attorneys meant for Mueller's line of questioning to remain private, but the text in question was easily readable when opened with a word processor. (Washington Post / CNBC / Daily Beast)

Natalia Veselnitskaya worked secretly with the Russia prosecutor general to draft the Russian response to a U.S. money-laundering case. Veselnitskaya is the Russian lawyer who met with top Trump campaign officials at Trump Tower in 2016. The case in question isn't directly related to the Trump Tower meeting and instead involves a scheme to launder dirty money through New York real-estate purchases. The indictment says Veselnitskaya covertly drafted an "intentionally misleading" response, which constitutes obstruction of justice. (New York Times)

Shortly after being sworn in, freshman Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib told supporters: "We're gonna go in there and we're going to impeach the motherfucker." House Democratic leaders immediately tried to quell the impeachment talk, saying they should wait for Robert Mueller to file a report on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Republicans, meanwhile, seized on the comments, saying it's proof that Democrats are playing politics rather than pursuing oversight. Trump responded to Tlaib's call for impeachment, saying: "You can't impeach somebody who's doing a great job." (Politico / The Guardian / CNN / CNBC / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

The American man held on espionage charges in Moscow also has British, Canadian and Irish citizenship. Russia arrested Paul Whelan on Dec. 28th, and charged him with espionage. [Editor's note: Not in itself very newsworthy, but I wanted to pin this in the event Whelan turns out to be a player.] (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

Russia charged an American with espionage. Paul Whelan faces 20 years in Russia if convicted. Russia's Interfax news agency said Whelan was arrested on Dec. 28 "while on a spy mission." Another Russian news outlet, Rosbalt, claimed that Whelan, a former U.S. marine now detained in Moscow by Russia's Federal Security Service, was arrested minutes after receiving a USB drive that contained the names of people employed at a top secret state organization. Whelan's arrest comes weeks after Russian gun rights activist Maria Butina pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as an agent for the Kremlin from 2015 until her arrest in July. She agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors. (The Guardian / Washington Post / New York Times / USA Today / NPR / CNN)

A former Russian intelligence officer pressured Paul Manafort to pay back around $19 million he owed a Russian oligarch while he was running Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. Victor Boyarkin said Manafort "owed us a lot of money. And he was offering ways to pay it back." Less than two weeks before Trump accepted the Republican nomination, Manafort tried to offer "private briefings" about the presidential race to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska to "get whole." Manafort sent the messages through his former business associate Konstantin Kilimnik. Both Boyarkin and Deripaska have been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department. Boyarkin also said he was approached by Robert Mueller's office, which is investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, but he allegedly told investigators "to go dig a ditch." (Time / CNN)

An indicted Russian organization in a court filing referred to a "nude selfie" obtained by Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mueller has collected nearly four million pages of material from the email and social media accounts in the case against the Internet Research Agency, an alleged Russian state-controlled troll farm. The IRA's lawyer, Eric Dubelier, questioned how there could be any national security concerns related to a nude selfie. Dubelier also represents Concord Management and Consulting LLC, which prosecutors alleged is controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman close to Putin with key ties to Russia's military and political establishment. Prigozhin is also known as "Putin's Chef." Dubelier did not provide information about who is depicted in the photo, but asked the court to lift a protective order that bans him from sending the millions of pages of pre-trial discovery to Russia. (Daily Beast / CNN / HuffPost / Law & Crime)

Michael Cohen's cell phone was briefly activated near Prague around time of the Russia meeting described in the Steele dossier, which purports that Cohen and one or more Kremlin officials met in or around the Czech capital to plot ways to limit discovery of the close "liaison" between the Trump campaign and Russia. Additionally, around the same period of late August or early September 2016, electronic eavesdropping by an Eastern European intelligence agency picked up Russians remarking that Cohen was in Prague. The cell phone and eavesdropping evidence was shared with Robert Mueller. (McClatchy DC)

📌Day 224: Trump's lawyer "vehemently" denied working with Russia to disrupt the election. Michael Cohen gave Congress a point-by-point rebuttal of the 35-page dossier compiled by retired British spy Christopher Steele, which alleges he has deep ties to Russian officials. Cohen denied the dossier's claims, including that he had secret meetings in Prague with a Russian official last summer. (New York Times)

📌Day 450: Robert Mueller has evidence that Michael Cohen made a secret trip to Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign, entering through Germany in "August or early September." Confirmation of the trip corroborates part of the Christopher Steele dossier that Cohen met with an ally of Putin. Cohen has denied that he has ever been in Prague and that he colluded with Russia during the campaign. (McClatchy DC)

poll/ 58% of Americans believe Trump tried to obstruct the investigation into his campaign's ties to Russia. 38% believe Trump did something illegal, 34% believe he did something unethical, but not illegal, and 25% Americans believe Trump did nothing wrong. (Associated Press)

A U.S. intelligence report concludes that Russia, China, and Iran "conducted influence activities and messaging campaigns" targeting the midterm elections. Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, said they did not compromise the voting systems, however. (New York Times)

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker declined to recuse himself from the Russia investigation despite a Justice Department ethics official advising him to step aside out of an "abundance of caution." The ethics official said that while a recusal was "a close call," there was no actual legal conflict of interest that would require Whitaker to recuse himself. Members of Congress are concerned about Whitaker's previous criticism of Robert Mueller's investigation. (CNN / ABC News / Politico)

The House Intelligence Committee voted to send the transcript of its 2017 interview with Roger Stone to Mueller, suggesting that the special counsel is close to charging Stone with a crime. It's the first time Mueller has formally asked the committee to hand over material gathered related to the Russia investigation. Stone's relationship with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and whether he played a role in the release of stolen DNC emails has been a focus of the special counsel's investigation for months. (Washington Post / CNN / Politico)

Treasury Department officials exchanged messages using unsecured Gmail accounts set up by their Russian counterparts during the 2016 election. [Editor's note: I don't even know where to begin with summarizing this, but it's important. You should read it and send me a three to four sentence summary to update this entry with.] (BuzzFeed News)

Putin praised Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, calling it "correct." Trump, meanwhile, defended his surprise decision, despite mounting criticism from lawmakers in both parties, saying the U.S. doesn't "want to be the Policeman of the Middle East." (ABC News / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

Newly obtained document show Trump signed a letter of intent to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, contradicting Rudy Giuliani's claim that the document was never signed. The signed letter is dated Oct. 28, 2015. Trump Jr. testified on Sept. 7, 2017 that his father had signed a letter of intent for the Moscow project, which Michael Cohen worked on, but he knew "very little" about it. Cohen also told congressional committees investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election that Trump had signed the letter. On Sunday, Giuliani claimed: "It was a real estate project. There was a letter of intent to go forward, but no one signed it." During the 2016 campaign, Trump did not disclose that the Trump Organization explored the business deal with Russia. Instead, he repeatedly claimed he had "nothing to do with Russia." Read the signed letter of intent. (CNN)

Giuliani conceded that "of course" Trump signed the "bullshit" letter of intent to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. "I don't think I said nobody signed it," Giuliani claimed, despite telling CNN on Sunday that "no one signed" the letter. The deal would have given Trump's company $4 million upfront, plus a percentage on all sales, as well as marketing and design oversight. The hotel would have also named the spa after Ivanka Trump. (New York Daily News)

The Trump administration will lift sanctions on three Russian corporations controlled in part by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire who once loaned Paul Manafort $10 million. Deripaska agreed to cut his ownership stake in each company below 50%. In April, the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on Deripaska, Rusal, En+ Group Plc, and JSC EuroSibEnergo, citing "malign activities" by Russia. (Bloomberg / Reuters)

The Justice Department ordered an unnamed foreign company to comply with Robert Mueller's grand jury subpoena to turn over information about its commercial activities as part of a secret court case. Very little is known about the details of the case, but the company fighting the subpoena has been identified as a foreign government-owned company tied to Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Court officials have taken drastic steps to ensure the identity of the company remains unknown. The case, referred to in public dockets as 18-3071 with the title Sealed v Sealed, began in August. (CNN / Politico / The Guardian / Vox)

Michael Cohen dropped a pair of libel suits against BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS over the publication of the Steele dossier, which detailed alleged ties between Trump and Russia. (Politico)

Michael Flynn agreed to delay his sentencing after U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan told Trump's former national security adviser "you sold your country out," and because of that, "I cannot assure you, if you proceed today, you will not receive a sentence of incarceration." Robert Mueller recommended that Flynn serve no jail time for his crimes because of the "substantial help" he provided to the special counsel and other investigations. Flynn was supposed to be sentenced today for lying to the FBI and acting as an unregistered agent for Turkey. The judge also asked the special counsel's office whether Flynn could be charged with "treason" after he acted as "an unregistered agent of a foreign country, while serving as the national security adviser to the president of the United States." Flynn's sentencing has been delayed until March 13th and will allow him to continue cooperating with the Russia investigation. Sullivan's last words to the court were: "Happy holidays." (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / BuzzFeed News)

Mueller released a memo from 2017 that summarizes Michael Flynn's contemporaneous interview with the FBI. The interview was the catalyst that led to the high-profile case against Trump's former national security adviser and felon. According to the memo, Flynn lied during the interview about his contact with then-Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 presidential transition period. The memo includes clear examples of Flynn lying and claiming that he never made any policy requests of Russia as FBI agents prod him to provide fuller descriptions of his calls. (CNN)

Hours earlier, Trump wished Flynn – a confessed felon – "good luck" ahead of his sentencing hearing. "Will be interesting to see what he has to say," Trump tweeted, "despite tremendous pressure being put on him, about Russian Collusion in our great and, obviously, highly successful political campaign." Flynn will be the highest-ranking Trump administration aide to be sentenced as part of Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. (New York Times / CNBC)

Giuliani: Trump discussed a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow with Michael Cohen later than previously known. Trump previously claimed that discussions about the project ended in January 2016, but Giuliani indicated that the conversations could have been in June or July of 2016. (CNN)

The Russian disinformation campaign also targeted Mueller by falsely claiming that he was corrupt and that Russian interference in the 2016 election was just conspiracy theories. Russian operatives went after Mueller and his team via fake social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms. They also claimed that Mueller had a history of working with "radical Islamic groups." (Washington Post)

The Russian disinformation and influence campaign during the 2016 presidential election was more far-reaching than originally understood, according to the findings of two independent groups of researchers tasked by the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee. The report found that "active and ongoing interference operations remain on several platforms," including one campaign to support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and influence opinions on the Syrian Civil War. The Internet Research Agency created social media accounts under fake names and spread its messages across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and Google+, and other platforms. As attention was focused on Facebook and Twitter in 2017, the Russians shifted much of their activity to Instagram. The Internet Research Agency is owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an ally of Putin's. Prigozhin and a dozen Internet Research Agency employees were indicted last February as part of Robert Mueller's investigation. In particular, the campaigns urged the African-American community "to boycott the election and focus on other issues instead," while messaging to conservative and right-wing voters "patriotic and anti-immigrant slogans" designed to "elicit outrage […] about liberal appeasement of 'others' at the expense of U.S. citizens, and [to] encourage them to vote for Trump." The report concludes: "What is clear is that all of the messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party — and specifically Donald Trump." (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / Bloomberg)

poll/ 62% of Americans say Trump isn't telling the truth about the Russia investigation. 43% approve of the job Trump is doing as president compared with 54% who disapprove. (NBC News)

Mueller rejected Michael Flynn's suggestion that he was tricked into lying to FBI agents about his communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. "The interview was voluntary, and lacked any indicia of coercion," Mueller's team wrote in new court documents, referring to the Jan. 24, 2017 interview at the White House four days after Trump's inauguration. Neither Flynn nor his lawyers have explained why he lied. (New York Times / USA Today / NBC News / Washington Post)

George Papadopoulos is considering a run for Congress. The former Trump campaign foreign policy aide just spent 12 days in prison after pleading guilty to making false statements to the FBI about contacts with a professor, Joseph Mifsud, who claimed to know that Russia had thousands of emails connected to Hillary Clinton. (Politico)

Maria Butina pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as a foreign agent of the Kremlin and influence U.S. politics from 2015 until her arrest in July. Butina tried to establish "unofficial lines of communication" with influential Americans in the NRA and in the Republican Party "under direction of" a former Russian senator and deputy governor of Russia's central bank, who matches the description of sanctioned Russian central banker Alexander Torshin. Butina is also expected to provide evidence against Paul Erickson, who helped her with what she called her "Diplomacy Project." Butina faces up to five years in prison but is expected to only serve six months based on "the sentencing guidelines cited as part of the plea agreement." (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Politico) / NBC News)

Two Michael Flynn associates said he discussed a deal with Sergey Kislyak during the campaign about how Trump and Russia could work together if Trump won. According to Flynn's associates, the bargain he discussed with Russia's then-ambassador to the U.S. was that Moscow would cooperate with the Trump administration to resolve the Syrian conflict and in exchange the U.S. would end or ease sanctions imposed on Russia for its annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Ukraine. In mid-August 2016, Trump and Flynn received a briefing that noted the intelligence community had reached the preliminary conclusion that Moscow was behind the hacks of Democratic targets and the public disclosure of the stolen material. Flynn's "series of contacts" with Kislyak continued despite knowing Moscow was behind the efforts to subvert the U.S. election. (Mother Jones)

Trump claimed that Robert Mueller's prosecutors gave Michael Flynn "a great deal because they were embarrassed by the way he was treated." Mueller recommended Flynn serve no jail time due to his "substantial assistance" in the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election after the former national security adviser pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. last December. (The Hill)

📌 The Re-Up: Day 25: Michael Flynn resigned as National Security Adviser after it was revealed that he had misled Pence and other top White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Flynn served in the job for less than a month. (New York Times)

📌 Day 26: Trump knew Flynn misled officials on Russia calls for "weeks," the White House says. The comment contrasts the impression Trump gave aboard Air Force One that he was not familiar with a report that revealed Flynn had not told the truth about the calls. White House counsel Don McGahn told Trump in a January briefing that Flynn had discussed U.S. sanctions with Russia. (Washington Post)

📌 Day 22: Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials. Flynn's communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election. (Washington Post)

Michael Flynn asked to be spared jail time because of his "extensive cooperation" with Mueller. Flynn pleaded guilty last December to lying to the FBI during its counterintelligence investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. He blamed the FBI agents for tricking him into lying by not warning him "that it was a crime to lie during an FBI interview." Flynn asked to receive a year of probation and 200 hours of community service in light of his cooperation, long service in the U.S. military, and his lack of a criminal record. Mueller's office similarly recommended little to no jail time last week because he had provided "substantial assistance" in the investigation that "likely affected the decisions of related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming." (Politico / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / NBC News)

Trump continues to reject the assessment U.S. spy agencies lay out for him in daily briefings on world events. In particular, Trump has dismissed the intelligence community's assessments about Russia's interference in the 2016 election, North Korea's willingness to abandon its nuclear weapons program, Iran's nuclear and regional ambitions, the existence of climate change, and the role of the Saudi crown prince in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. (Washington Post)

poll/ 29% of Americans approve of the way Trump is handling the Russia investigation. 54%, meanwhile, think the things Trump has said publicly about the investigation have been false. (CNN)

Putin claimed "nobody" at Russia's spy agencies "knows anything about" Maria Butina, who agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and cooperate with federal, state and local authorities in any ongoing investigations. (CNBC / ABC News)

An alleged Russian spy appears to have reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors involving accusations that she was working as an agent for the Kremlin in the U.S. Maria Butina is accused of working with a Russian banking official to develop relationships with American politicians through the National Rifle Association in an effort to advance Russian interests. Butina previously pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and acting as an agent of a foreign government, but attorneys and prosecutors filed a request for a "change of plea" hearing since "the parties have resolved this matter." Butina's case was brought by federal prosecutors in D.C. – not by Robert Mueller. (CNN / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

Relevant: The NRA spent $30 million to support Trump in the 2016 election, and the two groups used the same consultants to execute complementary TV advertising strategies during the campaign. The FBI is also investigating whether a Russian banker – Alexander Torshin – illegally funneled money to the NRA in order to help Trump win the presidency.

📌 The Re-up: Day 543. The Justice Department charged a Russian national and accused her of acting as a Russian agent "for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian federation." Maria Butina tried to infiltrate the NRA and "create a back-channel line of communication" back to the Kremlin. Charging documents say Butina was directed by a "high-level official in the Russian government," who has been previously identified as Alexander Torshin, a senior official at the Russian central bank, who is also a longtime associate of the NRA. The charges were filed under seal the day after 12 Russian intelligence officers were indicted by the Justice Department for hacking Democratic computers. They were unsealed following Trump's press conference with Putin where he said he saw no reason the Russian leader would try to influence the presidential election. (Bloomberg / The Guardian / New York Times)

📌 Day 564. Maria Butina, the alleged Russian spy, socialized with a former Trump campaign aide weeks before the 2016 election. At the time, J.D. Gordon planned to join Trump's transition team, but ultimately never did. From March 2016 until August 2016, Gordon was the point person for an advisory group on foreign policy and national security for the Trump campaign. Paul Erickson, a GOP operative with whom Butina was in a romantic relationship, told her that Gordon was "playing a crucial role in the Trump transition effort and would be an excellent addition to any of the U.S./Russia friendship dinners" that might be held. (Washington Post / New York Times)

📌 Day 545. The Justice Department added a second charge against Russian national Maria Butina of acting as an unregistered foreign agent of the Kremlin since at least 2015. Butina was charged on Monday with conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government. Butina was arrested on Sunday because she appeared to have plans to flee the U.S. (Politico / Washington Post)

At least 16 Trump associates interacted with Russian nationals during the campaign and transition period, according to public records and interviews. After taking office, Trump and senior officials repeatedly lied about the campaign's contact with Russians, with Trump at one point claiming: "No. Nobody that I know of. I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does." Hope Hicks, then Trump's spokeswoman, also lied, saying: "It never happened. There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign." The contacts and communications occurred amidst "sustained efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the U.S. presidential election," according to Mueller's latest filing. The list of associates communicating with Russians includes Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Jeff Sessions, JD Gordon, Roger Stone, Michael Caputo, Erik Prince, Avi Berkowitz, Michael Cohen, Ivanka Trump, and Felix Sater. (CNN / Washington Post)

Trump tweeted there is no "smocking gun" tying his campaign to Russia, misspelling "smoking gun" twice in the same tweet. Trump suggested that the payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal were not illegal campaign contributions, as federal prosecutors claim, but instead a "simple private transaction" that are only being scrutinized because investigators have not been able to find evidence of collusion between his 2016 campaign and Russia. "No Smocking Gun…No Collusion." (Washington Post)

Paul Manafort told "multiple," "discernible lies" to the FBI and the special counsel's office concerning five different matters after agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors. Federal prosecutors accused Manafort of lying about his "contact with administration officials" and his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian tied to Moscow's intelligence services. Manafort met with Kilimnik twice during the campaign. Robert Mueller's team said Manafort made multiple false statements that were "not instances of mere memory lapses" over the course of 12 meetings with the FBI and the special counsel after signing a plea agreement in September. (NBC News / New York Times / The Guardian / Washington Post / CNN)

Federal Prosecutors with the Southern District of New York said that while Michael Cohen gave federal investigators "relevant and useful" information, he still deserves a "substantial" prison term of about four years for his "extensive" criminal conduct. Prosecutors said Cohen "repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends" and "repeatedly declined to provide full information about the scope of any additional criminal conduct in which he may have engaged or had knowledge." Mueller also revealed that Cohen told them that a well-connected Russian national offered Cohen "political synergy" with the Trump campaign in November 2015. The person claimed to be a "trusted person" in the Russian Federation offering the campaign "synergy on a government level." Federal prosecutors also implicated Trump in the illegal payments that violated campaign finance laws to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, saying Cohen "acted in coordination and at the direction of Individual-1," who we know as the person currently serving as president of the United States. (Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / The Guardian / ABC News / CNN / Bloomberg)

Mueller cited Trump's time in the White House as relevant to the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election, saying Cohen provided valuable information "concerning his contacts with persons connected to the White House during the 2017–2018 time period." Following Mueller's memos, Trump inexplicably tweeted: "Totally clears the President. Thank you!" While Trump did not explain his comment, federal prosecutors did say in the court filing that Cohen committed campaign finance crimes "in coordination with and at the direction of" Trump. [See item #2] (NBC News)

Trump also claimed that his lawyers are preparing a "major Counter Report" to rebut Mueller's findings in the investigation into possible coordination between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign. According to Trump, his lawyers have already completed 87 pages, adding, "obviously cannot complete until we the see the final Witch Hunt report." Trump's statement contradicts Rudy Giuliani, who said he hasn't had time to consider drafting a response plan, let alone work on a "counter report." Giuliani added that he spent the summer answering Mueller's questions, describing the process as "a nightmare" that took "about three weeks to do what would normally take two days." (Washington Post / The Atlantic)

poll/ 71% of Republicans believe Mueller's investigation is a "witch hunt," while 82% of Democrats and 55% of independents see the investigation as "fair." Overall, 54% of Americans believe the Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign is fair. (NPR)

George Papadopoulos was released from prison after serving 12 whole days for lying to investigators about his contact with individuals tied to Russia during the 2016 campaign. Papadopoulos will have 12 months of supervised release, serve 200 hours of community service, and pay a $9,500 fine. (CNN)

James Comey met behind closed doors with the House Judiciary and Oversight committees. Lawmakers are expected to question Comey on a range of topics, including his memos about interactions with Trump, the details of his firing, the origins of the FBI's Russia probe, and whether bias contributed to the decisions to focus on Trump and to conduct surveillance on Carter Page. (Washington Post)

Trump blamed Robert Mueller's Russia investigation for his low approval rating, claiming that "without the phony Russia Witch Hunt […] my approval rating would be at 75% rather than the 50% just reported by Rasmussen." Trump's average approval rating is 43.3%, according to Real Clear Politics. And, according to FiveThirtyEight, Trump's approval rating is 42.1%. (Politico)

Robert Mueller's office recommended that Michael Flynn serve no jail time because he provided "substantial assistance" with the Russian probe. A court filing submitted by the special counsel's office says Flynn provided "firsthand information about the content and context of interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials." Flynn gave 19 interviews to Mueller's team and other investigators and, as a result, Mueller asked a federal judge not to sentence Flynn to prison. Flynn also provided details about other criminal investigations, but those details were heavily redacted from the court filing in order to keep information about ongoing probes secret. The redactions suggest there is more to come in the probe into Russian election interference. (Reuters / New York Times / CNN / Axios / NBC News / Washington Post / CNBC)

Prosecutors in Manhattan are ramping up their investigation into foreign lobbying by two firms that did work for Paul Manafort. Mueller referred the case to authorities because it fell outside his mandate of determining whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia. (Associated Press)

Mueller is expected to make a sentencing recommendation for Michael Flynn today. The memo should describe the crimes the former national security adviser committed that led to his guilty plea after 24 days on the job and how he has helped the Russia probe. Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. He will be sentenced by a federal judge on Dec. 18. Flynn's sentencing was delayed four times after Mueller said he needed more time "due to the status of the investigation." (Reuters / CNN / ABC News / The Guardian)

📌 The Re-Up: Day 25. Michael Flynn resigned as National Security Adviser after it was revealed that he had misled Pence and other top White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Flynn served in the job for less than a month. (New York Times)

📌 Day 26. Trump knew Flynn misled officials on Russia calls for "weeks," the White House says. The comment contrasts the impression Trump gave aboard Air Force One that he was not familiar with a report that revealed Flynn had not told the truth about the calls. White House counsel Don McGahn told Trump in a January briefing that Flynn had discussed U.S. sanctions with Russia. (Washington Post)

📌 Day 22. Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials. Flynn's communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election. (Washington Post)

Paul Manafort tried to get Ecuador to hand over Julian Assange in exchange for debt relief from the U.S. Manafort originally flew to Ecuador in May 2017 to convince then-incoming President Lenín Moreno to let him broker an energy deal between China and Ecuador. But the talks shifted to Ecuador's desire to rid itself of Assange, who has been staying the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012. Manafort suggested that he could negotiate a deal to handover Assange, which fell apart once it became clear that Manafort was a major target of Mueller's Russia investigation. There is no evidence that Trump was aware of or involved in Manafort's dealings with Ecuador. (New York Times)

Trump complained about the cost of an "uncontrollable" arms race with Russia and China, despite previously bragging about his increase in military spending. (Associated Press)

Mike Pompeo said the U.S. would suspend its obligations to the 1987 Treaty on Intermediate-range Nuclear Force in 60 days unless Russia returns to compliance. If Russia fails to meet the deadline, the U.S. would be free to develop and test new ground-based missiles, Pompeo said. (Wall Street Journal)

Trump called for a "full and complete" sentence for Michael Cohen after his former lawyer asked to not be sent to prison. Cohen's lawyers argued that his cooperation with Robert Mueller warranted a sentence of "time-served." Cohen was also in "close and regular contact" with White House staff and Trump's legal team while preparing his statement to Congress about Trump's efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 campaign. In seeking leniency, Cohen's attorneys claim his false statement to Congress was based on Trump and his team's attempts to paint interactions with Russian representatives "as having effectively terminated before the Iowa caucuses of February 1, 2016." Cohen's attorneys, however, say he had a "lengthy substantive conversation with the personal assistant to a Kremlin official following his outreach in January 2016, engaged in additional communications concerning the project as late as June 2016, and kept [Trump] apprised of these communications." Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 12 after pleading guilty to tax evasion, making false statements to a bank, campaign finance violations, and lying to Congress. Trump tweeted that all of those charges were "unrelated to Trump." (Reuters /Politico / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said the committee has made "a number of referrals" to Mueller's office for prosecution. Sen. Mark Warner added that while he doesn't know whether Cohen was instructed to lie to Congress, Cohen's plea contradicts Trump's multiple denials during the campaign that he did not have any business links to Russia. Warner called it a "very relevant question that the American people need an answer to." (CBS News)

The incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee: Cohen's cooperation is proof that Russia had "leverage" over Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. "The fact that he was lying to the American people about doing business in Russia and the Kremlin knew he was lying gave the Kremlin a hold over him," Rep. Jerry Nadler said. "One question we have now is, does the Kremlin still have a hold over him because of other lies that they know about?"(NBC News)

The leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee: Cohen's cooperations confirms that "the president and his business are compromised." According to Rep. Adam Schiff, "there is now testimony, there is now a witness, who confirms that in the same way Michael Flynn was compromised, that the president and his business are compromised." Cohen admitted to misleading investigators about the Trump Organization's efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. "[W]hat the president was saying," Schiff added, "what Michael Cohen was saying and others were saying about when this business deal ended was not true. And what's more, the Russians knew it wasn’t true." He continued: "It means that the president, whether he won or lost, was hoping to make money from Russia, was seeking at the same time to enlist the support of the Kremlin to make that money." (ABC News)

James Comey agreed to testify to Congress about the FBI's investigations during the 2016 campaign as long as lawmakers release the full transcript of his testimony within 24 hours. Comey and his attorney filed a legal challenge last week to the Republican-led effort to compel him to testify. His attorney argued that the legal action was "to prevent the Joint Committee from using the pretext of a closed interview to peddle a distorted, partisan political narrative about the Clinton and Russian investigations through selective leaks." As part of the deal, Comey will be free to make all or part of his testimony available to the public. (NBC News / Reuters / ABC News / New York Times)

Trump and Putin had an "informal" meeting at the G20 Summit. "As is typical at multilateral events," said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, "President Trump and the First Lady had a number of informal conversations with world leaders at the dinner last night, including President Putin." Trump previously canceled a formal meeting with Putin over Russia's recent seizure of Ukrainian ships and the detention of their crews. "I answered his questions about the incident in the Black Sea," said Putin. "He has his position. I have my own. We stayed in our own positions." (The Hill / Fox News)

Trump Jr.'s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee conflicts with Michael Cohen's version of events regarding negotiations of a prospective Trump Tower in Moscow. In Cohen's version, he says the discussions with at least one Russian government official continued through June 2016. Trump Jr. testified in September 2017 that talks surrounding a Trump Tower in Moscow concluded without result "at the end" of 2014 and "certainly not [20]16. There was never a definitive end to it. It just died of deal fatigue." Trump Jr. told the Senate committee that he "wasn't involved," knew "very little," and was only "peripherally aware" of the deal other than a letter of intent was signed by Trump. He also said he didn't know that Cohen had sent an email to Putin's aide, Dmitry Peskov. In Cohen's guilty plea, he said he briefed Trump's family members about the continued negotiations. (NPR / USA Today)

📌 The Re-up: Day 223. The Senate Intelligence Committee wants Michael Cohen to testify as part of its investigation into Russia’s meddling. Cohen has been in the spotlight this week following new revelations about his outreach to Russian officials for help with a proposal for a Trump Tower in Moscow. Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort are also likely to appear for closed-door interviews. Trump Jr. agreed to testify privately before the Senate judiciary committee in the “next few weeks.” (Politico)

📌 Day 230. Trump Jr. will meet with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday to discuss the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia. It's the first time someone from Trump's inner circle will speak with the committee members about the campaign’s alleged attempts to engage with Kremlin surrogates. Committee members still hope to interview Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner about the meeting they held at Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer claiming to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Kushner and Manafort have already spoken to the Senate Intelligence Committee. (Washington Post)

📌 Day 482. Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee he never mentioned the Trump Tower meeting to his father or the offer of compromising information about Hillary Clinton. He also said he couldn't "recall" if he discussed the Russia investigation with his father. Trump Jr. told the committee he didn't think there was anything wrong with meeting a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower ahead of the 2016 presidential election, saying "I didn't think that listening to someone with information relevant to the fitness and character of a presidential candidate would be an issue, no." (Associated Press)

The Trump Organization wanted to give Putin a $50 million penthouse in the proposed Trump Tower Moscow as the company continued to negotiate the real estate development during the 2016 campaign. Michael Cohen discussed the idea with Dmitry Peskov, who serves as Putin's press secretary, hoping that giving the penthouse to Putin would encourage other wealthy buyers to purchase their own. The plan fizzled when the project failed to materialize, and it is not clear whether Trump knew about the plan to give the penthouse to Putin. (BuzzFeed News / CNN)

Ivanka and Trump Jr. are both under increased scrutiny for their roles in the proposed Moscow project. Trump Jr. and Ivanka were involved in the project at some point before Jan. 2016, but it is still unclear how deeply they were involved or how long they worked on the project after that. It is also unclear whether or not they worked with Michael Cohen on the deal. (CNN / Yahoo News)

Investigators have publicly cast Trump as a central figure in Robert Mueller's investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign. Trump even has his own legal code name: "Individual 1." Documents reveal that investigators have evidence that Trump was in close contact with his most trusted aides and advisers as they dealt with both Russia and WikiLeaks, as well as evidence that they tried to cover their tracks. (Washington Post)

Mueller is also bearing down on Roger Stone and his relationship with WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. Mueller is focusing on Stone's role as a potential go-between for the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, which published thousands of DNC emails that were stolen by Russian intelligence officers. Mueller's team has evidence that Stone may have known in advance about the release of the emails, and investigators may also be looking into potential witness intimidation by Stone. (Wall Street Journal)

Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress, admitting that he continued to engage in negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow well into the 2016 presidential campaign. Cohen previously said talks regarding the Moscow project stalled in January 2016, when in fact negotiations continued through June with Cohen traveling to Russia for meetings on the project. Cohen also told Congress that when the project allegedly stalled, he emailed Dmitry Peskov, a top aide to Putin, seeking help, but claimed he never received a response. That was also false. Cohen and Peskov discussed the project for 20 minutes by phone. Prosecutors also said that Cohen continued to have contact in 2016 with Felix Sater, a Russian developer assisting with the project. Cohen briefed Trump on the status of the project more than three times. In July 2016, Trump tweeted: "For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia." And, in January 2017, Trump told reporters that he had no deals in Russia because he had "stayed away." In exchange for pleading guilty and continuing to cooperate with Robert Mueller, he hopes to receive a lighter sentence. It's Cohen's second guilty plea in four months. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / ABC News / Politico / CNN / NBC News)

📌 The Re-up: Day 221. Trump's company was pursuing a plan to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow while he was running for president. Discussions about the Moscow project began in September 2015 until it was abandoned just before the presidential primaries began in January 2016, emails show. The details of the deal had not previously been disclosed. The Trump Organization has turned over the emails to the House Intelligence Committee, pointing to the likelihood of additional contacts between Russia and Trump associates during the campaign. (Washington Post)

📌 Day 221. Trump's business associate promised that Putin would help Trump win the presidency if he built a Trump Tower in Moscow. “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected,” Felix Sater, a Russian immigrant, wrote to Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, in 2015. “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater wrote in an email. “I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.” At the time, Sater was a broker for the Trump Organization and was paid to deliver real estate deals. (New York Times)

📌 Day 221. Trump discussed a proposal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow with his company’s lawyer three times. The project was abandoned in January 2016 “from solely a business standpoint” and had nothing to do with Trump’s campaign his attorney Michael Cohen told the House intelligence committee. "I made the decision to terminate further work on the proposal," Cohen said. “The Trump Tower Moscow proposal was not related in any way to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.” (Bloomberg)

📌 Day 221. Trump's attorney sent an email to Putin’s personal spokesman to ask for help advancing a stalled Trump Tower project in Moscow. Michael Cohen sent the email in January 2016 to Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s top press aide, at the recommendation of Felix Sater, a Russian-American businessman who was serving as a broker on the deal. "I respectfully request someone, preferably you, contact me so that I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals," Cohen wrote. "I thank you in advance for your assistance and look forward to hearing from you soon." The email marks the most direct documented interaction of a top Trump aide and a senior member of Putin’s government. (Washington Post)

📌 Day 221. Four months into the presidential campaign, Trump signed a “letter of intent” to pursue building a Trump Tower in Moscow. The involvement of then-candidate Trump in a proposed Russian development deal contradicts his repeated claims that his business had “no relationship to Russia whatsoever." The Trump Organization signed a non-binding letter of intent in October 2015. (ABC News)

📌 Day 222. Michael Cohen said he didn't inform Trump that he had sent the email to Putin’s top press official asking for "assistance" in arranging a licensing deal for a Trump Tower in Moscow. The Trump Organization attorney sent the email in January 2016 to Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s top press aide, at the recommendation of Felix Sater, a Russian-American businessman who was serving as a broker on the deal. Cohen said he never heard back from Peskov and the project never got off the ground. (Wall Street Journal / Politico)

📌 Day 223. The Kremlin confirmed that Trump’s personal lawyer reached out during the 2016 presidential campaign requesting assistance on a stalled Trump Tower real estate project in Moscow. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said they received Michael Cohen’s email, but the Kremlin didn't reply. Peskov said that he had seen the email but that it was not given to Putin. (Associated Press / Washington Post)

📌 Day 278. Trump's personal lawyer met with the House Intelligence Committee today. Michael Cohen emailed Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, during the presidential campaign seeking help getting a Trump Tower built in Moscow. Peskov said he never responded to the email. (NBC News)

Trump's written responses to Mueller about building a Trump Tower in Moscow during the campaign reportedly align with what Cohen said in court, according to Trump's lawyers. Rudy Giuliani attempted to explain why Trump would call Cohen a liar if they had the same understanding of the facts, saying: "Cohen has just told us he's a liar. Given the fact that he's a liar, I can't tell you what he's lying about." (New York Times)

Trump abruptly canceled a planned meeting with Putin shortly after Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court to lying to Congress about his efforts to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign. He cited Moscow's seizure of Ukrainian assets and personnel for the cancellation. (NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

Trump told Robert Mueller that Roger Stone did not tell him about WikiLeaks and that he was not told about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump Jr., campaign officials, and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. Trump added a caveat that his responses were to the best of his recollection. For comparison, Trump also does not "remember much" from the meeting with George Papadopoulos, where Papadopoulos offered to arrange a meeting with Putin. Trump, however, has previously claimed to have "one of the great memories of all time," using it as justification for not using notes during his meeting with Kim Jong Un, and blaming Sgt. La David Johnson's widow when he stumbled over the solider's name during a condolence call. (CNN)

Trump threatened to cancel his upcoming summit with Vladimir Putin over Russia's recent maritime skirmish with Ukraine. Trump said he is waiting for a full report on the incident, during which Putin captured three Ukrainian ships and their crews in the Black Sea on Sunday, before making a final decision on whether he will cancel the planned summit in Argentina this week. The report "will be very determinative," Trump said. "Maybe I won’t have the meeting. Maybe I won’t even have the meeting." Russia said that it still expects the meeting to go ahead as planned. (Washington Post / Associated Press)

Manafort allegedly held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadoran embassy in London. Manafort met with the WikiLeaks founder around March 2016 – about the same time he joined Trump's presidential campaign. Several months later, WikiLeaks published the Democratic emails stolen by Russia. Manafort also met with Assange in 2013 and 2015. It's unclear why Manafort met with Assange or what they discussed. Manafort and WikiLeak both denied that Manafort had met with Assange. [Editor's Note: Something about this story doesn't smell right.] (The Guardian / CNBC)

George Papadopoulos was ordered to start his 14-day prison sentence today for lying to federal investigators in the Russia probe, Papdopoulos has asked to delay the start of his sentence while a constitutional challenge to the special counsel's investigation of Russian election interference remains unresolved. (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)

The head of Russian military intelligence died "after a long and serious illness." In March, the Trump administration sanctioned Igor Korobov, citing the GRU's involvement "in interfering in the 2016 U.S. election through cyber-enabled activities." (Meduza / The Guardian)

The Office of Special Counsel is looking into whether acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from accepting political contributions. According to the Office of Special Counsel guidance, "penalties for Hatch Act violations range from reprimand or suspension to removal and debarment from federal employment and may include a civil fine." The office has no connection to the Robert Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. (CNN)

The House Intelligence Committee's incoming Democratic majority is looking to hire money-laundering and forensic accounting experts for the purposes of examining unanswered financial questions about Trump and Russia. (Daily Beast)

Robert Mueller still wants to question Trump about his actions in the White House, in addition to the written answers Trump submitted in response to questions about Russian interference in the 2016 election. Rudy Giuliani signaled that the Trump team would fight any questions they believe violate executive privilege – especially if they relate to potential obstruction of justice. (Politico / CNN)

Trump submitted his written answers to Robert Mueller's questions "regarding the Russia-related topics of the inquiry," according to Trump's attorney, Jay Sekulow. Mueller has not ruled out trying to compel Trump to sit for an interview after reviewing the written answers. (Bloomberg / CNBC / New York Times / Associated Press)

poll/ 70% of Americans think Trump should allow the Russia investigation to continue. 52% of Americans think Congress should pass legislation to protect Mueller from being fired, while 67% of Republicans disagree. 51% of Americans think the Russia investigation is politically motivated. (CBS News)

Trump won't stop Whitaker from curtailing Mueller's investigation into possible collusion by Trump campaign officials with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump said he would "not get involved" if Whitaker moved to restrict it. (Bloomberg / Reuters)

Trump said he answered Robert Mueller's written questions himself "very easily," but he hasn't submitted them because "you have to always be careful when you answer questions with people that probably have bad intentions." Rudy Giuliani said there are at least two dozen questions that relate to activities and episodes from before Trump's election. Trump spent more than five hours in meeting over three days this week with his attorneys working out written answers for Mueller about alleged collusion between his campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Despite telling reporters that "the questions were very routinely answered by me," Trump's temper boiled during all three meetings. Seemingly out of nowhere, Trump targeted Mueller on Twitter yesterday, calling the special counsel team "thugs" and the investigation a "witch hunt." (Associated Press / Reuters / CNN / Washington Post / The Guardian)

Trump made up an accusation that Robert Mueller was "horribly threatening" witnesses to force them to cooperate in the Russia probe. The renewed attack on the special counsel comes one day after Mitch McConnell blocked an effort to protect Mueller's work. Trump called Mueller's investigation "A TOTAL WITCH HUNT LIKE NO OTHER IN AMERICAN HISTORY!" and "a total mess" that has "gone absolutely nuts." Trump also defended his administration, saying it "is running very smoothly" and not "in chaos" or having a "meltdown," but rather the U.S. under his presidency has become "the envy of the world." He provided no evidence to support his claim. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / Bloomberg / HuffPost)

A federal judge denied a Russian firm's motion to dismiss charges filed by Mueller's team. The special counsel has accused Concord Management and Consulting of funding a propaganda operation to sway the 2016 presidential election in Trump's favor. Concord was charged with conspiring to defraud the U.S. government by hiding its election-related activities and failing to register as a foreign agent trying to influence the U.S. political process. Concord is controlled by Russian businessman Evgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch with close ties to Putin. (Reuters / Politico / CNN)

A man started shouting "Heil Hitler, Heil Trump" during intermission at a performance of "Fiddler on the Roof." The play is based on Yiddish stories and tells the tale of a Jewish family in Russia during the early 1900s. (Baltimore Sun / Talking Points Memo)

Trump claimed that he did not discuss Robert Mueller's Russia probe with Matthew Whitaker before appointing him acting attorney general. Trump defended Whitaker, calling him a "highly respected man," but also said "I don't know Matt Whitaker." Trump has been in more than a dozen meetings with Whitaker in the Oval Office. (Washington Post / Politico / CNBC / NBC News)

Whitaker will not recuse himself from overseeing Mueller's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. It's also unlikely that Whitaker would approve any subpoena of Trump as part of the investigation. (Washington Post)

Progressive groups are calling for nationwide protests today at 5 p.m. local time to demand protection for Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. The protests will be held under the banner, "Nobody is Above the Law," and will be led by the activist group MoveOn. The protests were triggered by Trump's decision to fire Jeff Sessions and replace him with Matthew Whitaker, who will now have authority over the Russia investigation. Sessions recused himself after he was first appointed in 2016, giving Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein oversight of the probe. Whitaker has publicly called for Mueller's probe to be reigned in. (Reuters)

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, the pro-Russia Republican incumbent, lost to Democrat Harley Rouda in California's 48th House district. (Daily Beast / New York Times)

Jeff Sessions resigned at Trump's request. Matthew Whitaker – Sessions's chief of staff – will take over as acting attorney general and assume oversight of Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and possible collusion by Trump's campaign. Rod Rosenstein was overseeing the probe because Sessions had recused himself from any involvement with the special counsel. A DOJ spokesperson indicated that Whitaker would take over "all matters under the purview of the Department of Justice" – including the Mueller probe. Trump has repeatedly attacked Sessions for recusing himself from oversight of the probe in 2017 after it was revealed that he had met more than once with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. during the 2016 campaign despite saying he had not met with any Russians during his confirmation hearing. Mueller, meanwhile, has been looking into Trump's previous statements about wanting to fire Sessions or force his resignation to determine whether those acts are part of a pattern of attempted obstruction of justice. Whitaker by law can serve as acting attorney general for a maximum of 210 days. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

House Democrats are prepared to open multiple investigations of Trump when they take control in January. The House Judiciary Committee is expected to focus on health care, beginning with an investigation of Sessions's refusal to defend the Affordable Care Act against a lawsuit from Republican-led states. The House Intelligence Committee is expected to revisit Russian election meddling. The Education and Workforce Committee will likely examine Betsy DeVos's efforts to relax regulations for for-profit colleges and limit student loan forgiveness, and the Ways and Means Committee could use a 1924 law to request Trump's tax returns and then make them public with a simple majority vote. (Washington Post / Politico)

Trump Jr. told friends he expects to be indicted by Mueller soon. One former West Wing official who testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, said "I'm very worried about Don Jr.," fearing that Mueller could demonstrate that Trump Jr. perjured himself after he testified that he never told his father beforehand about the June 2016 Trump Tower with Russian officials promising "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. Mueller is expected to submit his final report to the Justice Department in the coming months. John Kelly and former White House counsel McGahn urged Trump to wait until Mueller issues his report to fire Sessions. (New York Magazine / Politico / Vanity Fair)

41% approve of Robert Mueller's handling of the Russian investigation into interference in the 2016 election. 46% disapprove. 41% think the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election is mostly while 54% think it's politically motivated. (NBC News)

Trump will meet with Putin this weekend in Paris. The French had asked the Americans and Russians not to hold the meeting for fear that it would overshadow an event to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. (New York Times)

Facebook suspended 115 accounts believed to be engaged in "coordinated inauthentic behavior." Law enforcement believes the accounts may be linked to foreign entities. Almost all the Facebook pages appear to be in French or Russian. (USA Today / Politico)

A Navy reconnaissance plane in international airspace over the Black Sea was intercepted by a Russian fighter jet in an unsafe manner. (CNN)

U.S. intelligence agencies and the Pentagon are prepared to launch a cyber attack against Russia if the country is caught interfering in the 2018 midterm elections. The effort is one of the first major cyber battle plans organized under the new government policy that allows offensive cyber operations to be worked out in advance among key agencies. (Center for Public Integrity)

Jerome Corsi met with Mueller's investigators and is scheduled to appear before the federal grand jury probing Russia interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Friday. Corsi is one of at least 11 individuals associated with Stone who have been contacted by the special counsel. (ABC News)

poll/ 47% of American believe that Russia will try to influence the midterm elections. 48% believe Russians would try to help Republicans, while 15% say Russia would try to help Democrats. (Politico)

National security adviser John Bolton said Putin has been invited to visit Washington, D.C., early next year. It would be Putin's first visit to the White House since September 2005. (Politico)

Trump dismissed a report that Chinese and Russian spies were eavesdropping on his cellphone conversations, calling the report "boring" and "soooo wrong!" Trump's aides have repeatedly warned him that his calls from his personal iPhone are not secure and that Chinese and Russian spies are listening, but Trump refuses to give up his iPhone. U.S. officials said they have been concerned for months that Trump discusses sensitive information on an unsecured cellphone with informal advisers, including Sean Hannity of Fox News. "I only use Government Phones," Trump tweeted in response to the reports, "and have only one seldom used government cell phone." (New York Times / NBC News)

📌 Chinese and Russian spies are routinely eavesdropping on Trump's cellphone calls, despite aides repeatedly warning him that his personal iPhone is not secure. (Day 643)

Chinese and Russian spies are routinely eavesdropping on Trump's cellphone calls, despite aides repeatedly warning him that his personal iPhone is not secure. Trump has two official iPhones that have been secured by the National Security Agency, but he uses a personal iPhone because it can store contacts on it. As a presidential candidate, Trump regularly attacked Hillary Clinton for her use of an unsecured email server while she was secretary state. (New York Times)

Putin wants to hold direct discussions with Trump, suggesting they meet in Paris next month, where they'll both be to mark the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. National Security Advisor John Bolton held firm that the U.S. would withdraw from the 31-year-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. (CNBC / Washington Post / Reuters / CNN)

Trump vowed to outspend Russia and China in building up its nuclear arsenal "until they come to their senses." Trump added: "We have more money than anybody else, by far." (Bloomberg / CNN)

The U.S. Cyber Command took its first countermeasure against Russian operatives to stop them from interfering in the upcoming midterm elections. The campaign attempts to deter Russian operatives from spreading disinformation by telling them that American agents know who they are and what they're doing. (New York Times)

Mikhail Gorbachev: The U.S. withdrawing from the nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia is not the work of "a great mind." Trump said the U.S. would withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty because Russia has violated the agreement. (New York Times / Reuters / Politico)

The Justice Department charged a Russian national with conspiracy for her role in an "information warfare" campaign designed to interfere with the midterm elections. Elena Khusyaynova managed the finances of an operation the Justice Department identified as "Project Lakhta," which was designed "to sow discord in the U.S. political system" and interfere in the 2016 and 2018 elections. The operation was "a Russian umbrella effort funded by Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and two companies he controls, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, and Concord Catering," the Justice Department said, which pushed arguments and misinformation online about immigration, the Confederate flag, gun control, the NFL national anthem protests, among other things. Prigozhin, known as "Putin's chef," and 12 other Russians were indicted by Robert Mueller in February on charges of interfering in the 2016 presidential election. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / New York Times / Wall Street Journal) / NBC News)

Top U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies warned that they're concerned about "ongoing campaigns" by Russia, China and Iran to interfere with the midterm elections and 2020 race. The joint statement by the Justice Department, FBI, Homeland Security Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence said there is no "evidence of a compromise or disruption of infrastructure that would enable adversaries to prevent voting, change vote counts or disrupt our ability to tally votes in the midterm elections." (Bloomberg / Washington Post)

Trump plans to tell Russia the U.S. will exit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The U.S. argues that Russia is in violation of the treaty for deploying nuclear weapons to intimidate former Soviet states and that the treaty constrains the United States from deploying weapons to counter the intermediate-range weapons that China has deployed. (New York Times)

Aras Agalarov formed a U.S. shell company a month before the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump Jr. and Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Kremlin-linked Russian attorney offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton. The Russian billionaire moved almost $20 million to a U.S. bank account 11 days after the meeting using a company he formed anonymously with the help of an accountant who has had clients accused of money laundering and embezzlement. (The Guardian)

Robert Mueller is expected to issue findings after the midterm elections on whether Trump's 2016 campaign colluded with Russia and if Trump obstructed justice during the probe. Rod Rosenstein has indicated that he wants Mueller's probe to conclude as soon as possible. The findings may not be made public since Mueller can only present the findings to Rosenstein, who can then decide what is shared with Congress and what is publicly released. Trump, meanwhile, has signaled that he may replace Jeff Sessions and there are rumors that Rosenstein could resign or also be fired by Trump after the election. (Bloomberg)

Rosenstein defended Mueller's investigation as "appropriate and independent," contrasting Trump's description of the probe as a "witch hunt" and "rigged." Rosenstein added that the investigation has revealed a widespread effort by Russians to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. (Wall Street Journal)

A senior Treasury Department employee was charged with leaking confidential government reports about suspicious financial transactions related to Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, the Russian embassy and accused Russian agent Maria Butina. Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards disclosed suspicious activity reports related to Mueller's investigation of possible collusion between Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia. SARs are submitted by banks to alert law enforcement to potentially illegal transactions. (Reuters / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

📌 The Re-Up: Day 601. Federal investigators are looking into a series of suspicious financial transactions involving people who attended the 2016 Trump Tower meeting. The transfers reveal how Aras Agalarov, a Russian billionaire with strong ties to Trump and Putin, used overseas accounts to distribute money through a web of banks to himself, his son, and at least two people who attended the meeting. Investigators are focusing on two bursts of activity: one occurring shortly before the Trump Tower meeting and one immediately after the 2016 election. (BuzzFeed News / The Hill)

A Trump campaign donor and Mar-a-Lago member gave $150,000 to help current and former Trump aides caught up in Robert Mueller's Russia probe. (Politico)

Trump's legal team is preparing written answers to questions provided by Robert Mueller related to the investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians. The two sides have still not agreed on whether Trump will be interviewed in person regarding obstruction of justice related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey. (CNN)

Trump accused Hillary Clinton of colluding with Russia during the 2016 election campaign. "There was collusion between Hillary, the Democrats and Russia," Trump claimed during a campaign rally in Erie, Pennsylvania. His supporters chanted "lock her up." (NBC News)

The Trump campaign argued that it can't be held legally responsible for the WikiLeaks publication of DNC emails because the First Amendment protects the campaign's "right to disclose information – even stolen information." The lawsuit, filed by two Democratic donors and a former employee of the Democratic National Committee, alleges that the Trump campaign and Roger Stone coordinated release and exploitation of the hacked emails with Russia and WikiLeaks, thereby violating the plaintiffs' privacy. (The Atlantic)

A federal judge sentenced Richard Pinedo to six months in prison and six months of home confinement after he pleaded guilty to a felony identity fraud tied to Russian trolls. It's the most severe penalty handed down yet in Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling. (Politico)

The infamous Russian troll factory was set on fire by an unknown suspect wielding a Molotov cocktail. The troll farm, run by Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as Putin's "cook," rebranded itself as a media company last year with 16 news websites generating more than 30 million pageviews every month. (Moscow Times)

Trump won't fire Rod Rosenstein after all, saying they have a "very good relationship." Trump and Rosenstein met following reports that Rosenstein wanted to wiretap the president and using the 25th Amendment to remove him from office. Rosenstein oversees the Russia probe led by Robert Mueller, whose work Trump has labeled a "witch hunt." (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / Politico)

A Republican operative raised at least $100,000 in an effort to obtain Hillary Clinton's stolen emails just weeks before the 2016 election. In an email, Peter W. Smith sent wire instructions to "fund the Washington Scholarship Fund for the Russian students" with the donations days after WikiLeaks and DCLeaks began releasing emails damaging to Clinton's campaign. Robert Mueller's office has been investigating Smith's activities. He killed himself in May 2017 – 10 days after describing his efforts to a reporter. (Wall Street Journal)

Federal officials froze all of Oleg Deripaska's U.S.-based assets, including his mansions in Washington, D.C. and New York City. Deripaska is close with Putin and is allegedly involved in murder, money-laundering, bribery and racketeering. (New York Post)

🇷🇺 What We Learned Last Week in the Russia Probe: GOP operative and anti-Trumper, Cheri Jacobus, said the investigation of an email hacking/catfishing scheme that targeted her has been forwarded to Robert Mueller; Russia's Deputy Attorney General, who allegedly directed the foreign operations of Natalia Veselnitskaya, died last week in a mysterious helicopter crash in Russia; the pilot of the helicopter had two bullet wounds; the Russian sovereign wealth fund leader with whom Erik Prince met in the Seychelles, Kirill Dmitriev, "reached out to at least three additional individuals in close contact with the Trump transition team" in the days before Trump's inauguration; GOP operative Peter Smith, who killed himself in an alleged suicide, solicited and raised at least $100k in his search for Clinton's emails; Randy Credico told the Senate Intelligence Committee he would plead the 5th in response to a subpoena; Reddit's CEO admitted that "suspicious" Russian accounts have been active within the past month on the platform; Russian state TV and Russian trolls supported Kavanaugh and condemned what they call "malignant feminism"; Representative Eric Swalwell wrote an op-ed for the Fresno Bee accusing Devin Nunes of burying evidence on Russian meddling to protect Trump and endorsing his opponent, Andrew Janz; a coalition of voting rights activists announced they are filing a federal lawsuit against Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp for "using a racially-biased methodology" to remove roughly 700,000 voters from the state's voter rolls; and California's Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Friday banning companies from secretly using automated social media accounts to sell products or influence elections. (WTF Just Happened Today)

The Justice Department indicted seven Russian military intelligence officials for trying to hack anti-doping agencies in the U.S., Canada and Europe. The agencies exposed Russia's state-sponsored doping scheme that resulted in the country's athletes being banned from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil and the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. (New York Times / CNBC / CNN / Reuters)

A Russian official linked to the lawyer who met senior Trump campaign officials at Trump Tower in 2016 died in a helicopter crash outside of Moscow. Russian Deputy Attorney General Saak Albertovich Karapetyan was linked to Natalia Veselnitskaya in a Swiss court case earlier this year for running a foreign recruitment operation that involved bribery, corruption, and double agents. It's unclear why Karapetyan and two others took off after nightfall in adverse conditions. (Daily Beast)

Robert Mueller's team gained possession of radio interviews between Roger Stone and radio host Randy Credico, who Stone claimed was his back channel to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The radio interviews took place between August 2016 and April 2017 on local New York station WBAI. Credico has denied Stone's claim that he was the intermediary between Stone and Assange. Mueller is investigating Stone's possible involvement in Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. (CNN)

The U.S. accused Russia of developing a banned cruise missile system that could allow Russia to launch a nuclear strike capable of hitting Europe or Alaska. The U.S. ambassador to NATO said Washington is committed to a diplomatic solution but would consider a military strike if Russian continues development of the medium-range system. (Reuters)

A Trump Victory Committee donor claimed to be "actively involved" in the presidential campaign and offered to brief a high-ranking Russian official in the final months of the campaign. A series of emails reveal that Simon Kukes, a Russian-born American businessman, requested a face-to-face meeting with Vyacheslav Pavlovsky, vice president of the state-owned Russian Railways. (NBC News)

A cooperating witness in Robert Mueller's probe said he "lives in a constant state of fear" after providing testimony that led to Russian nationals being indicted. Richard Pinedo pleaded guilty to charges of identity fraud in February for his role in unwittingly selling bank accounts to Russians. (ABC News)

The House Intelligence Committee voted to release the transcripts of interviews it conducted as part of its Russia investigation. The 53 transcripts could be released as soon as next week, provided the intelligence community doesn't take issue with releasing the information. (Washington Post / Reuters)

The House Intelligence Committee will vote on Friday to release dozens of interview transcripts from its now-defunct Russia investigation. The transcripts are from interviews that were conducted between June 2017 and March 2018, and will include testimony from Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Hope Hicks, Roger Stone, and other people who have been close to Trump. The committee is expected to refer the transcripts to the intelligence community for assessment and redaction, which could lead to a rolling release schedule that continues through October. Republicans have called for the documents to be released before the November election. (Politico / Reuters)

Rod Rosenstein did not resign, but "offered to resign" in discussions with John Kelly. Rosenstein and Trump will meet on Thursday to discuss the deputy attorney general's future at the Justice Department. Rosenstein went to the White House this morning for a meeting where he "expect[ed] to be fired." The news follows reports that Rosenstein discussed the idea of wearing a wire last year to secretly record Trump in order to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove the President from office. Rosenstein has been overseeing Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates conspired with those efforts. Noel Francisco, the solicitor general, would take on oversight of Mueller's investigation and could fire or limit the investigation. (Axios / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

Rob Goldstone said he believes the Trump Tower meeting could have been a set-up by Russian intelligence. Goldstone said Trump Jr. was willing to accept "opposition research" he believed was coming from the Russian government. (NBC News)

Trump reversed his demand to immediately declassify documents related to the Russia investigation, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court application to wiretap Carter Page. Less than a week later, Trump tweeted that the Justice Department inspector general would instead review the documents, adding that he "can always declassify if it proves necessary." Trump said that while DOJ officials told him the "declassification" of documents "may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe," he received calls from "key Allies," who asked him not to release the documents. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN)

Robert Mueller is investigating $3.3 million in bank transactions between two of the men who orchestrated the Trump Tower meeting. On June 3, 2016, the money was moved from Aras Agalarov, a billionaire real estate developer close to both Putin and Trump, to Irakly "Ike" Kaveladze, a longtime Agalarov employee who was once investigated for money laundering – the same day that Trump Jr. received an email from Rob Goldstone offering dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government's "support for Mr. Trump." In that email, Goldstone told Trump Jr. he was writing on behalf of a mutual friend, Emin Agalarov – Aras' son. The Trump Tower meeting occurred six days later. (BuzzFeed News)

Russian diplomats tried to help Julian Assange escape the U.K. The plan called for the WikiLeaks founder to be smuggled out of Ecuador's London embassy in a diplomatic vehicle and transported to another country – possibly Russia, where he wouldn't be extradited to the U.S. (The Guardian)

The Trump administration imposed sanctions against the Chinese military for purchasing fighter jets and missile systems from Russia. The purchases breach U.S. sanctions designed to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Chinese government has demanded that the sanctions be withdrawn. (Reuters)

Michael Cohen met with Robert Mueller's team multiple times over the last month for interview sessions lasting several hours. The special counsel has focused on Trump's dealings with Russia, including the investigation into collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Mueller's team is also interested in knowing whether Trump discussed the possibility of a pardon with Cohen, who is voluntarily participating in the meetings without any guarantee of leniency from prosecutors. (ABC News)

The Russia story so far: What we know and what it means. (New York Times)

What We've Learned in the Russia Probe: Week of Sept 9 - 15. (WTF Just Happened Today)

The Trump Russia Investigation. Everything we've learned so far. (WTF Just Happened Today)

Trump again lashed out at Jeff Sessions. He criticized the Attorney General on a wide range of issues, including immigration and Sessions' 2017 decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. "I don’t have an Attorney General," Trump said. "It’s very sad." (The Hill)

Trump ordered the declassification of the FISA application targeting Carter Page and the release of James Comey's text messages related to the Russia investigation. Trump also called for the release of a senior Justice official's notes from the investigation, as well as unredacted text messages from Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page. (Politico / CNN)

Trump has made 5,000 false or misleading claims during his time in office. His 5,000th claim came yesterday in the form of a tweet about Robert Mueller: "Russian ‘collusion’ was just an excuse by the Democrats for having lost the Election!" (Washington Post)

Federal investigators are looking into a series of suspicious financial transactions involving people who attended the 2016 Trump Tower meeting. The transfers reveal how Aras Agalarov, a Russian billionaire with strong ties to Trump and Putin, used overseas accounts to distribute money through a web of banks to himself, his son, and at least two people who attended the meeting. Investigators are focusing on two bursts of activity: one occurring shortly before the Trump Tower meeting and one immediately after the 2016 election. (BuzzFeed News / The Hill)

Trump began the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks by tweeting a defense of himself in the Russia investigation while also attacking the FBI. In a string of tweets that appeared to quote from a segment on Fox News, Trump blamed FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page for employing a "media leak strategy" to undermine his administration. He then blamed the FBI and Justice Department for doing "NOTHING" about it. Almost two hours later, Trump tweeted: "17 years since September 11th!" (NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)

Officials consider Russia to be the main suspect behind the mysterious "attacks" on U.S. personnel in Cuba and China. The U.S. believes sophisticated microwaves or other electromagnetic weapons were used against government employees, which led to brain injuries. There is not enough conclusive evidence, however, for the U.S. to officially blame Moscow for the alleged attacks. (NBC News)

The Trump campaign team was "fully aware" of George Papadopoulos' efforts to set up a Trump-Putin meeting. "I actively sought to leverage my contacts with the professor to host this meeting," Papadopoulos said. "The campaign was fully aware what I was doing" and Trump was "open to this idea," but deferred to Jeff Sessions, who was "quite enthusiastic." (ABC News / NBC News)

Trump is expected to declassify documents about the government's surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and the investigative actions taken by Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr. Republicans on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees allege that Ohr was an improper intermediary between the Justice Department, Christopher Steele, and Fusion GPS — the opposition research firm that created the Trump-Russia dossier. (Axios)

Federal prosecutors admitted that they wrongly accused Maria Butina of trading sex for influence with high-level Republicans on behalf of the Russian government. Butina is a Russian citizen who is currently in custody and facing charges of conspiracy and illegally acting as a foreign agent. Prosecutors acknowledged in court filings that they were "mistaken" in their interpretation of what were apparently joke text messages between Butina and a friend. (New York Times)

Omarosa Manigault Newman released a recording of Trump discussing Hillary Clinton and the Russia investigation. In the October 2017 meeting with the White House communications and press teams, Trump claimed that the "real Russia story is Hillary and collusion." He alleged that the Clinton campaign paid $9 million for an unidentified "phony report." Manigault Newman added that Trump frequently crashed meetings at the White House, "rambling from topic to topic," because he got bored "very often." (NBC News / The Hill / Daily Beast)

Pence said he would take a lie-detector test "in a heartbeat" in order to prove that he wasn't the anonymous author of the New York Times op-ed. He also said he is "more than willing" to sit down for an interview with Robert Mueller's team as part of their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. (Washington Post / The Hill)

George Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in jail, having pled guilty in October 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians. In asking for leniency, Papadopoulos said he made "a terrible mistake, for which I have paid a terrible price, and am deeply ashamed," and that he was motivated to lie to the FBI try to "create distance between the issue, myself, and the president." Papadopoulos was the first campaign adviser to be arrested in connection with Mueller's investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election. He was also ordered to pay a $9,500 fine and perform community service. His attorney said Trump "hindered this investigation more than George Papadopoulos ever did." (Bloomberg / Washington Post / CNN / New York Times)

Papadopoulos "can't guarantee" that he didn't tell anyone on the Trump campaign that Russia had damaging emails about Hillary Clinton. "I might have," Papadopoulos said, "but I have no recollection of doing so." (CNN)

Robert Mueller's office agreed to accept some written answers from Trump, according to a letter from the special counsel's office to Trump's lawyers. The questions would focus on whether his campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Mueller still intends to interview Trump in person about questions relating to obstruction of justice at a later date. Editor's note: I added this at the last minute yesterday, but wanted to include more information today. (New York Times / NPR / Washington Post)

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen called out Putin for interfering in the 2016 election, saying it was a "direct attack" on U.S. democracy. (CNN)

The U.K. charged two officers in Russia's military intelligence with attempted murder for poisoning a former Russian spy in England in March. Prosecutors did not request the extradition of the men from Russia, which does not send its nationals abroad for prosecution. (New York Times)

Putin claimed he doesn't know the two suspects behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Putin's foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said the names of the suspects "do not mean anything to me." (Associated Press)

Robert Mueller will accept some written answers from Trump about whether his campaign conspired with Russia to interfere in U.S. elections interference, according to a letter from the special counsel's office to Trump's lawyers. Mueller's investigation will also continue despite Giuliani's claims that the probe should have ended on Sept. 1, based on an informal Justice Department guideline that encourages investigators to avoid affecting elections. The midterm elections will be held on Nov. 6. (New York Times / Bloomberg)

Giuliani: The White House will likely attempt to block a full public release of Mueller's final report on his Russia investigation. Giuliani once again described the special counsel's investigation as a "witch hunt," and said that the White House would "object to the public disclosure of information that might be covered by executive privilege." When asked whether the White House would raise objections to the publication of the full report, Giuliani said, "I'm sure we will," and noted that Trump would be the one who "would make the final call." (HuffPost / New Yorker)

The Kremlin dismissed Trump's warning to the Syrian government not to attack a rebel-held stronghold in Idlib province. Trump warned Bashar al-Assad and his allies in Iran and Russia on Monday not to "recklessly attack" Syria's northwestern province, saying that hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. The Kremlin responded by claiming that the province was a "nest of terrorism" and saying that the presence of militants in Idlib was undermining the Syrian peace process. Russian forces resumed air strikes against insurgents in Idlib on Tuesday after a hiatus that lasted a few weeks. (Reuters / CNN)

A former associate of Paul Manafort and a Cambridge Analytica employee struck a plea deal and agreed to cooperate with Mueller's office. Sam Patten pleaded guilty to failing to register as a foreign lobbyist while working on behalf of a Ukrainian political party and to lying to a Senate committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. Patten was a business partner of Konstantin Kilimnik, who was indicted along with Manafort on witness tampering charges. In previous court documents, Mueller's team said they believe Kilimnik was a Russian intelligence operative in 2016, when he was communicating with Manafort and Rick Gates as they worked for Trump's presidential campaign. (Politico / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Vox)

A senior Justice Department lawyer said Christopher Steele told him two years ago that Russian intelligence believed "they had Trump over a barrel," according to multiple people familiar with the previously unreported details. Bruce Ohr, who testified behind closed doors this week to the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, also said Trump campaign aide Carter Page had met with more-senior Russian officials than previously acknowledged. Ohr's meeting with Steele occurred on July 30, 2016, and the FBI opened its counterintelligence investigation the next day, but for entirely different reasons: the report that Russian hackers had penetrated Democratic email accounts, and George Papadopoulos' contacts with Russians who said they had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of emails. Earlier this month, Trump proposed stripping Ohr of his security clearance and has asked "how the hell" he remains employed. (Associated Press / CNN)

George Papadopoulos accepted a plea deal from Robert Mueller and pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts during the campaign with a professor who had "substantial connections to Russian government officials." Papadopoulos was strongly considering backing away from the deal earlier this month, but decided to accept the deal and cooperate with Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. (ABC News)

Trump accused NBC of "fudging" his May 2017 interview where he admitted that the decision to fire James Comey was related to the Russia investigation. Comey was the FBI director at the time and was in charge of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. During the NBC interview, Trump admitted that he had "this Russia thing" in mind when he decided to fire Comey. On Thursday, Trump accused NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt on Twitter of "fudging my tape on Russia," but provided no evidence to support the accusation. (Reuters)

Trump also lashed out at top NBC and CNN executives on Twitter and called on AT&T to fire CNN chief Jeff Zucker. "The hatred and extreme bias of me by @CNN has clouded their thinking and made them unable to function," Trump tweeted. "But actually, as I have always said, this has been going on for a long time. Little Jeff Z has done a terrible job, his ratings suck, & AT&T should fire him to save credibility!" He also predicted that NBC News chairman Andrew Lackey will be fired. "What's going on at @CNN," Trump tweeted, "is happening, to different degrees, at other networks - with @NBCNews being the worst. The good news is that Andy Lack(y) is about to be fired(?) for incompetence, and much worse. When Lester Holt got caught fudging my tape on Russia, they were hurt badly!" (Politico)

Trump called on the U.S. Supreme Court chief justice to tell the head of the FISA Court to question FBI and Justice Department officials about the use of the Steele dossier in the Russia probe. "This is a fraud on the court," Trump tweeted. "The Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court is in charge of the FISA court. He should direct the Presiding Judge, Rosemary Collier [sic], to hold a hearing, haul all of these people from the DOJ & FBI in there, & if she finds there were crimes committed, and there were, there should be a criminal referral by her." Judge Rosemary Collyer presides over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court, which oversees electronic surveillance and search warrant requests from federal authorities. (Reuters)

Trump accused China of hacking Hillary Clinton's emails during the 2016 presidential campaign. "Hillary Clinton's Emails, many of which are Classified Information, got hacked by China," Trump tweeted. "Next move better be by the FBI & DOJ or, after all of their other missteps (Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Ohr, FISA, Dirty Dossier etc.), their credibility will be forever gone!" In an earlier tweet, Trump joked that Russia might be the culprit: "China hacked Hillary Clinton's private Email Server. Are they sure it wasn't Russia (just kidding!)? What are the odds that the FBI and DOJ are right on top of this? Actually, a very big story. Much classified information!" Trump offered no evidence to support his claims. (Reuters)

NATO is considering naming its new headquarters after the late Sen. John McCain, who made frequent visits to NATO member countries throughout his political career. McCain also criticized Russia's efforts to undermine the alliance, and voiced disappointment with Trump's handling of the U.S. relationship with NATO partners. (CNBC)

poll/ 63% of voters think Trump should voluntarily agree to an interview with Robert Mueller. 55% say they believe Mueller's investigation will be fair and accurate, compared to only 35% who say they believe Trump's denials of collusion with Russia during his campaign. (The Hill)

Lanny Davis says he was an anonymous source for a CNN story published in July that claimed his client, Michael Cohen, privately said that Trump knew in advance about the infamous Trump Tower meeting between Trump Jr. and Russians. The story said Cohen claimed to have personally witnessed Trump Jr. informing his father about the June 2016 meeting. Davis admitted that he served as an anonymous source for multiple news outlets seeking to confirm the story after CNN published it. Now, Davis says he is not certain that the claim is accurate and he regrets his role as anonymous source and his subsequent denial of his involvement in the reporting. Other news outlets that originally confirmed CNN's reporting have since retracted their own stories, but CNN has not. "We stand by our story," CNN said in a statement, "and are confident in our reporting of it." (BuzzFeed News / The Intercept)

Trump privately revived the idea of firing Jeff Sessions earlier this month. Trump's attorneys believe they have persuaded him — for now — not to fire Sessions while Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign is ongoing. (Washington Post)

After Jeff Sessions said he would not be influenced by politics, Trump tweeted that Sessions must "look into all of the corruption on the 'other side,'" adding: "Come on Jeff, you can do it, the country is waiting!" On Thursday, Trump criticized Sessions in a Fox News interview for failing to control the Justice Department, after which Sessions said the Department of Justice "will not be improperly influenced by political considerations." Trump mocked Sessions' response, tweeting, "Jeff, this is GREAT, what everyone wants." In particular, Trump wants Sessions to investigate "deleted Emails, Comey lies and leaks, Mueller conflicts, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Ohr, FISA abuse, Christopher Steele and his phony and corrupt Dossier, the Clinton Foundation, illegal surveillance of Trump Campaign, Russian collusion by Dems - and so much more." Nearly all which Sessions has recused himself from. (Associated Press / New York Times)

CIA informants close to the Kremlin have largely gone silent ahead of November's midterms, leaving the spy agency in the dark about what Putin's plans for the upcoming elections. Officials said the expulsion of American intelligence officers from Moscow and the outing of an FBI informant has had a chilling effect on intelligence collection. Putin has also said he is intent on killing spies, like the poisoning in March in Britain of a former Russian intelligence. Earlier this year, Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, demanded that the full House and Senate Intelligence Committees be given access to documents about the FBI informant's role in the Trump campaign. Trump and the White House encouraged the FBI to make the classified information available. (New York Times)

The former Air Force contractor who leaked a top-secret government report in 2017 on Russian hacking efforts was sentenced to five years and three months in federal prison. Reality Winner pleaded guilty in June, and is the first person to be sentenced under the Espionage Act since Trump became president. She received the longest sentence ever imposed by a federal court for the unauthorized released of classified information to the media. Trump tweeted about Winner's sentence, comparing her actions to Hillary Clinton's. (New York Times / Gizmodo / Time)

Trump "would consider" pardoning Paul Manafort, according to Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt, who interviewed Trump. "I think he feels bad for Manafort," Earhardt said. "They were friends." Manafort was convicted on eight counts bank and tax fraud. While the White House maintains that Trump is not currently looking to pardon Manafort, Rudy Giuliani said Trump asked his lawyers several weeks ago for their advice on the possibility of pardoning Manafort and former aides under investigation. Trump's personal lawyers cautioned him against considering pardons until Robert Mueller's probe concludes to see if the special counsel's report accuses the president of trying to block the federal probe of his campaign's contacts with Russians. Giuliani said Trump agreed with their advice. (Reuters / Washington Post / New York Times / Mediaite / Politico)

👮 Everyone who's been charged as a result of the Mueller investigation. Between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, Mueller has issued more than 100 criminal counts against 32 people and three companies. (New York Times)

Trump complained that "flipping" and cooperating with prosecutors is "not fair" and should "almost be outlawed" during an interview with Fox News. "It's called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal." Trump continued: "It almost ought to be outlawed. It's not fair." Trump also attacked Jeff Sessions, questioning his character for recusing himself in the Russia investigation, and asking "What kind of man is this?" and that the "only reason I gave him the job" was because he felt "loyalty" to Sessions for signing on to the campaign. "I put in an attorney general who never took control of the Justice Department." (CNN / Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 59% of registered voters approve of Mueller's investigation – an 11 percentage point jump since July. 37% disapprove of Muller's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and possible obstruction of justice charges against Trump and members of his administration. (The Hill / Fox News)

Democrats, meanwhile, have drafted contingency plans should Mueller be fired or Trump tries to end the Russia investigation by firing Rod Rosenstein or pardoning key witnesses. (NBC News)

Russian hackers have been targeting conservative American think tanks critical of Trump's interactions with Putin. Microsoft also identified attempts by the Kremlin-linked hacking group Fancy Bear to infiltrate U.S. candidates, campaigns, and political groups by using malicious websites that mimicked the login pages of the United States Senate to try to trick people into handing over their passwords. Microsoft says it has no evidence that the group was successful, but it remains "concerned that these latest attempts pose security threats to a broadening array of groups connected with both American political parties in the run-up to the 2018 elections." (New York Times / Politico)

Christopher Steel won his libel case in the U.S. against three Russian oligarchs who sued him over allegations made in his dossier about the Trump campaign and its links with Moscow. The judge concluded that the dossier was covered by the first amendment, ruling that the oligarchs had failed to prove that Steele knew that some information in the dossier was inaccurate and acted "with reckless disregard as to its falsity." (The Guardian)

Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are questioning whether John Bolton's ties to Russia were properly vetted before he joined the White House this year. The national security adviser worked with a Russian woman who was charged last month for failing to register as an agent of a foreign power in the U.S. (Politico)

Trump plans to revoke more security clearances from officials who have been critical of him or played a role in Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Over the past 19 months, Trump has fired or threatened nearly a dozen current and former officials associated with the probe, which he calls a "rigged witch hunt." According to his aides, Trump believes he came out looking strong after he revoked former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance, adding that Trump shows visible disdain for Brennan when he sees him on TV. (Washington Post)

Trump called a career Justice Department official "a disgrace" and threatened to revoke his security clearance "very soon." Bruce Ohr has no involvement in Mueller's investigation, but conspiracy theorists claim he helped start the investigation into Russian election interference. (New York Times / Washington Post)

poll/ 57% of Americans think Trump is too friendly with Russia. Overall, 41% consider Russia an enemy of the U.S. (CNN)

Trump admitted that he revoked John Brennan's security clearance because of his role in the Russia investigation. "I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham," Trump said. "And these people led it. So I think it’s something that had to be done." Brennan called Trump's claims of "no collusion" with Russia to influence the 2016 election "hogwash" and that Trump "clearly has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him, which is why he made the politically motivated decision to revoke my security clearance in an attempt to scare into silence others who might dare to challenge him." (ABC News / New York Times)

Trump has fired or threatened most senior officials related to the Russia investigation. Sally Yates was fired for refusing to defend Trump's travel ban and her security clearance threatened. Trump has repeatedly threatened to fire Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein. James Comey, Andrew McCabe, and Peter Strzok were fired and their security clearances threatened. Trump has twice threatened to fire Robert Mueller. James Clapper and Susan Rice's security clearances were threatened and John Brennan's security clearance was revoked. (Washington Post)

The FBI has investigated several cyberattacks over the past year targeted at the Democratic opponent of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. The 15-term incumbent is widely seen as the most pro-Russia and pro-Putin member of Congress, who has voted against Russian sanctions and was warned by the FBI that Moscow was trying to recruit him as an asset. Last month, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said the warning lights for future cyberattacks aimed at the U.S. were "blinking red" and last week Sen. Bill Nelson said that Russian hackers had "penetrated" county voting systems in Florida. (Rolling Stone)

The Treasury Department has delayed turning over financial records related to the Russia probe and has refused to provide an expert to make sense of the money trail. Some of the department's personnel have questioned whether the Treasury is intentionally impeding the investigation. At one point, the Treasury went at least four months before responding to a Senate Intelligence Committee request for sensitive financial documents. (BuzzFeed News)

Trump called Trump Jr. "a fuckup" after he released his emails about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer, according to Omarosa's forthcoming book. The book says Trump erupted in anger after Omarosa mentioned that Trump Jr. had released screenshots of his email exchanges with Rob Goldstone on Twitter. "He is such a fuckup," Omarosa claims Trump said. "He screwed up again, but this time, he’s screwing us all, big-time!" (New York Daily News)

poll/ 66% of Americans think Robert Mueller should try to complete his investigation before the midterm elections. 70% believe Trump should testify under oath in Mueller's investigation and 34% approve of Trump's handling of the Russia investigation, compared to 55% who disapprove. 56% say Trump has interfered with the investigation. (CNN)

The FBI fired Peter Strzok for violating bureau policies. Strzok is the FBI senior counterintelligence agent who sent text messages critical of Trump to a former FBI lawyer, Lisa Page. Strzok helped lead the bureau's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election until officials discovered his text messages. FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich ordered Strzok fired even though the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility concluded he should be suspended for 60 days and demoted. (New York Times / Washington Post)

A federal judge appointed by Trump ruled that Robert Mueller's investigation is constitutional and legitimate, rejecting an effort by a Russian company to invalidate the ongoing investigation. Concord Management is accused of financing a massive political influence operation in the U.S. The ruling marks the fourth time a federal judge has ruled that the Mueller investigation is constitutional. (Politico / Axios)

The federal judge overseeing the Paul Manafort trial granted Robert Mueller's team a request to seal the transcript of a private discussion in front of his bench after prosecutors argued that they needed to protect an "ongoing investigation." Defense attorney Kevin Downing had asked Rick Gates, "Were you interviewed on several occasions about your time at the Trump campaign?" Prosecutors objected, arguing that they needed to protect the secrecy of their investigation and limit the "disclosure of new information," suggesting that Gates may also be helping Mueller in the Russia investigation. The judge, T. S. Ellis III, ruled in their favor. (New York Times / CNN)

The Russian Embassy mocked Trump's Space Force, tweeting "Good Morning, Space Forces!" along with a graphic of a rocket being launched and features the Russian flag. Trump's 2020 reelection campaign asked supporters to vote on one of six logos that could be displayed on future Space Force merchandise, including one the resembles the NASA logo. (Politico)

Russia threatened to cut off a supply of rocket engines crucial to the U.S. space program in response to new sanctions stemming from the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in March. The U.S. announced new sanctions against Russia after determining that Moscow used a nerve agent against the former MI6 spy and his daughter. (Daily Beast / Times of London)

The Trump administration will sanction Russia for its use of a chemical weapon against a former Russian spy living in England. Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a rare and toxic nerve agent on March 4th. British authorities accused Russia of being behind the attempt, a charge Moscow has denied. The new sanctions are expected to go into effect on Aug. 22. (NBC / New York Times)

Putin lobbied Trump on nuclear arms control, banning weapons in space, and several other issues during their private two-hour meeting in Helsinki last month, according to a leaked Russian document. Putin shared the document of proposed topics for negotiation with Trump during their two-hour conversation, which Trump's top advisers were not privy to at the time. Among the priorities, Putin wanted to extend an Obama-era nuclear-reduction treaty to ensure the "non-placement of weapons in space," which would hamper Trump's ability of establishing a Space Force. (Politico)

Rand Paul delivered a letter from Trump to Putin during his trip to Moscow earlier this week. Paul said he was "honored" to share the letter from Trump, which "emphasized the importance of further engagement in various areas including countering terrorism, enhancing legislative dialogue and resuming cultural exchange." Rand also said members of the Russian Federation agreed to visit Washington at his invitation despite the White House recently announcing that Trump would delay any meeting with Putin until the Russia investigation concludes. (NBC News)

Russians have "penetrated" some of Florida's election systems ahead of the 2018 midterms, according to Sen. Bill Nelson, "and they now have free rein to move about." Florida's primary is Aug. 28. (Tampa Bay Times)

Trump admitted that the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between top campaign aides and a Russian lawyer was to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. "This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics - and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!" Trump's tweet contradicted Trump Jr.'s original statement about the meeting – which was dictated by Trump – that the meeting was to discuss the adoption of Russian children. (New York Times / New Yorker / NBC News / NPR)

Trump told confidants that he is worried about how the Robert Mueller probe could impact Trump Jr.'s life. Mueller is investigating Trump Jr.'s role in organizing the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. One adviser said Trump doesn't believe his son intentionally broke the law, but that Trump Jr. may have inadvertently wandered into legal ­jeopardy. Trump tweeted that his concern about Trump Jr.'s potential legal exposure from the meeting was "Fake News reporting" and "a complete fabrication." (Washington Post / ABC News)

Marco Rubio said he'd consider altering bipartisan legislation to automatically sanction Russia for any future election meddling in order to get the DETER Act passed. The measure would bar foreign governments from buying ads to influence U.S. elections and would give the director of national intelligence the ability to deploy "national security tools," such as sanctions. (Politico)

Maria Butina, the alleged Russian spy, socialized with a former Trump campaign aide weeks before the 2016 election. At the time, J.D. Gordon planned to join Trump's transition team, but ultimately never did. From March 2016 until August 2016, Gordon was the point person for an advisory group on foreign policy and national security for the Trump campaign. Paul Erickson, a GOP operative with whom Butina was in a romantic relationship, told her that Gordon was "playing a crucial role in the Trump transition effort and would be an excellent addition to any of the U.S./Russia friendship dinners" that might be held. (Washington Post / New York Times)

Rand Paul invited Russian lawmakers to Washington after meeting Russian members of parliament in Moscow. Paul is also expected to meet with Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov and State Duma Foreign Affairs committee head Leonid Slutsky during his visit. (CNN)

The Russian Foreign Ministry tapped Steve Segal to help improve "relations between Russia and the United States in the humanitarian field, including cooperation in culture, arts, public and youth exchanges." (New York Times)

Kristin Davis, the "Manhattan Madam," is scheduled to testify before Robert Mueller's grand jury in Washington this week. Last week an investigator on Mueller’s team questioned Davis, an associate of former Trump adviser Roger Stone, about Russian collusion. (NBC News)

Trump's national security team said Russia is behind "pervasive" and "ongoing" attempts to interfere in upcoming U.S. elections. "The threat is real. It is continuing," said Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence. Hours later, Trump defended his "great meeting with Putin," saying "the Russian hoax" is getting in the way of improved relations with the world's second-ranked nuclear power. (Reuters / CNBC / CNN)

Robert Mueller has requested an interview with the Russian pop star who helped set up the 2016 Trump Tower meeting. Emin Agalarov's lawyer said the "conversations are ongoing" but that it's "unclear how this will play out." Agalarov's father, Aras Agalarov, is a billionaire with ties to Putin; he partnered with the Trump Organization to bring the 2013 Miss Universe pageant to Moscow. (NBC News)

A federal judge ruled that a former Roger Stone aide must testify before Robert Mueller's grand jury. Andrew Miller tried to challenge the legitimacy of Mueller's appointment in an effort to block subpoenas from the special counsel related to the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. (Washington Post / Politico)

Hours after his lawyers updated him on the Mueller investigation, Trump called on Jeff Sessions to end the special counsel's investigation into Russian election interference. On Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, Trump's lawyers updated him on the latest developments, including Mueller's proposal to limit obstruction-related questions. Shortly thereafter, Trump tweeted that Sessions should end the Mueller investigation "right now," calling it a "terrible situation" and a "disgrace to USA!" (CNN)

The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimously approved the release of documents related to the arrest and prosecution of alleged Russian agent Maria Butina. The documents contain records of the committee's interviews with Butina, who is accused of working as an unregistered Russian agent while attending American University in Washington from 2015 to 2017. (Politico)

A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation to "impose crushing sanctions" on Russia meant to stop Putin from "meddling in the U.S. electoral process." The measure also would impose new sanctions on oligarchs who aid corrupt activities on Putin's behalf, and require the State Department to determine whether Russia should be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called it a "sanctions bill from hell." (Bloomberg / Reuters)

Two senators say Trump "hasn't been paying attention" to Russia's threat to the 2018 elections. Republican senator James Lankford contended that nearly every senator has been a target of Russian hackers, calling it a "pretty regular thing around here." (CNN)

A Russian spy worked for the Secret Service at the U.S. embassy in Moscow for more than a decade. She was having regular, unauthorized meetings with members of the FSB, Russia's security agency, and is believed to have had full access to the agency's intranet and email systems. The Secret Service waited months to let her go and didn't launch a full inquiry after the State Department's Regional Security Office flagged the suspected spy in January 2017. (The Guardian)

Trump urged Jeff Sessions to end the Mueller investigation and "stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now." In a morning tweetstorm, Trump called Mueller's probe "a terrible situation" that should be stopped "before it continues to stain our country any further." Rod Rosenstein has been overseeing the probe since Sessions recused himself last March – before Mueller was appointed. Trump has said he would have never hired Sessions had he known he would recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Mueller, meanwhile, has been scrutinizing Trump's tweets and statements about Sessions and James Comey as potential evidence in an obstruction of justice case. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Trump's lawyers claimed that the message was not a formal order, but rather just the President of United States expressing his opinion. (New York Times / CNBC / CNN / Washington Post)

A scammer called a U.S. senator and pretended to represent a Latvian official in an attempt to get information about U.S. sanctions on Russia. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was contacted by "Arturs Vaiders," who claimed to be working for the Latvian foreign ministry and needed to discuss the "prolongation of anti-Russian sanctions" and "general security with Kaspersky laboratory case." Shaheen contacted the Latvian government to confirm the caller's credentials, but the embassy responded that the outreach attempt was fake. (Daily Beast)

Facebook identified a coordinated political influence campaign involving 32 "inauthentic" pages and profiles engaging in divisive messaging ahead of the midterm elections. While the social media company said it couldn't directly link the activity to Russia, company officials told Capitol Hill that Russia was possibly involved. "It's clear that whoever set up these accounts went to much greater lengths to obscure their true identities than the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) has in the past," Facebook wrote. The company removed 32 pages and accounts. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

Trump repeated Rudy Giuliani's defense that "Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn't matter because there was No Collusion." For months, Trump has repeatedly denied that there was collusion between his campaign and Russia. In December, Trump said that "collusion is not a crime," but legal experts believe that anyone found collaborating with Russia could be charged with other crimes, such as conspiracy, fraud and computer hacking. (CNN / Politico)

[Developing] Paul Manafort's tax and bank fraud trial started today. The trial is the first in connection with Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Collusion and Russia, however, are not likely to come up during the trial. Mueller is expected to focus on Manafort's business dealings and his lobbying work on behalf of the pro-Kremlin Ukrainian government. It is unclear whether Manafort will take the stand at any point during the trial. The jury was selected and sworn in. The prosecution's opening statements began with "Paul Manafort lied." (Politico / NPR / ABC News / Reuters)

Russia's top diplomat claimed his country has access to insider information about U.S. military plans. Sergey Lavrov said Moscow would be "provided with information about the schemes harbored by the militaries of both the U.S. and other Western countries against the Russian Federation." (Newsweek)

🇷🇺 What We Learned in the Russia Probe last week.

Rudy Giuliani: "Collusion is not a crime." Trump's lawyer told Fox and Friends "I don't even know if that's a crime, colluding about Russians," and that he's been "looking in the federal code trying to find collusion as a crime." Giuliani asserted that "the hacking is the crime. The president didn't hack. He didn't pay them for hacking," suggesting that Trump would have had to pay for Russia to interfere on his behalf. Trump has argued for more than a year that there was "no collusion" – not that collusion wasn't a crime. On Sunday, Trump tweeted that "There is No Collusion!" and that "the Witch Hunt is an illegal Scam!" (The Hill / Washington Post / CNN)

GOP Rep. Darrell Issa: "Nobody is going to be surprised" if Trump lied about Russia. "If he's proven to have not told the whole truth about the fact that campaigns look for dirt, and if someone offers it, you listen to them, nobody's going to be surprised," Issa said. "Businessmen listen to almost everyone who might be helpful." (Mediate / Think Progress)

Giuliani called Cohen a "pathological manipulator" and "a liar" following reports that Cohen is prepared to allege Trump knew about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting. Last week, Trump claimed that he had no prior knowledge of the meeting with a Russian lawyer, which Trump Jr. had attended in the hope of collecting negative information about Hillary Clinton. (Wall Street Journal)

The Treasury Department is considering lifting sanctions on a Russian company founded by one of Putin's closest allies. Rusal's former owner, oligarch Oleg Deripaska, was sanctioned this year by the U.S. in an attempt to punish the Kremlin for interfering in the 2016 election. Rusal was also sanctioned in April because of its ties to Deripaska. (CNN)

Michael Cohen says Trump knew in advance about Trump Jr.'s meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. Cohen doesn't have evidence to back up his claim, but he is reportedly willing to make the assertion as part of his testimony to Robert Mueller. Cohen claims that he, along with several others, were in the room when Trump Jr. told Trump about the Russian's offer. According to Cohen, Trump approved the meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Cohen's claim contradicts Trump, Trump Jr., their lawyers, and administration officials who have repeatedly said Trump didn't know about the meeting until he was asked about it in July 2017. Trump's response at the time was: "No. That I didn't know. Until a couple of days ago, when I heard about this. No I didn't know about that." A few days later, Trump was again asked whether he knew about the meeting. His response: "No, I didn't know anything about the meeting…. must have been a very unimportant meeting, because I never even heard about it … nobody told me."(CNN / NBC News / Washington Post)

Trump tweeted that he "did NOT know" in advance about Trump Jr.'s Trump Tower meeting, disputing Michael Cohen's assertion that he did and accusing him of "trying to make up stories." Cohen said he's willing to testify that then-candidate Trump knew in advance about the 2016 meeting in Trump Tower. In July 2017, it was reported that Trump personally dictated Trump Jr.'s statement about the latter's meeting with the Russian lawyer, claiming they had "primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children." (Washington Post / CNN)

Russians unsuccessfully hacked Sen. Claire McCaskill as she began her 2018 re-election campaign, making her the first known target of the Kremlin's 2018 election interference campaign. There is no evidence that the attempt to penetrate her campaign or staff systems was successful. (Daily Beast / NPR)

Accused Russian spy Maria Butina had dinner last year with Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican congressman on the House Foreign Relations Committee. Two years earlier, Butina arranged a meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, that included Rohrabacher and her mentor Alexander Torshin, who is one of Putin's closest allies. Rohrabacher also met Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya during an official trip he made to Moscow in April 2016. Later that summer, Rohrabacher traveled to London to meet with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. WikiLeaks released Hillary Clinton's hacked emails on July 22, 2016. (ABC News)

Nineteen months into the Trump presidency, there is no single person or agency in charge of combatting foreign election interference. This afternoon Trump presided over the first National Security Council meeting devoted to defending American democracy from foreign manipulation. Trump has called Russian election interference a hoax and its investigation a witch hunt. (NBC News)

Putin invited Trump to Moscow days after the White House postponed its plans to host the Russian president. Sarah Sanders said Trump is "open to visiting Moscow" and that "Trump looks forward to having President Putin to Washington after the first of the year." Putin said he was ready to meet either in Washington or Moscow. (New York Times / CNN / Reuters)

Trump again attacked NATO and Germany and complained about the news coverage of his recent trip to Europe. He told the crowd he was tough on Russia. "One thing I know about NATO, for sure," Trump said, "is that it's better for Europe than it is for us." (Independent)

Paul Ryan rejected the efforts by House conservatives to impeach Rosenstein, saying "I don't think we should be cavalier with this process or with this term." 11 of the 236 Republicans in the House accused Rosenstein of withholding documents and being insufficiently transparent in his handling of the Russia probe led by Robert Mueller. Ryan added that the House Republicans document request doesn't rise to the level of "high crimes and misdemeanors" that warrant impeachment under the Constitution. (Associated Press / Vox / Washington Post / Politico)

The lawyer Trump Jr. met with at Trump Tower during the campaign had worked more closely with Russian government officials than she previously let on. Natalia Veselnitskaya, who previously denied acting as a representative of Russian authorities, served as a ghostwriter for top Russian government lawyers and received assistance from senior Interior Ministry personnel. [This story is developing…] (Associated Press)

Mike Pompeo refused to provide details about what Trump discussed with Putin last week. The Secretary of State took exception to questions by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about Trump's private one-on-one with Putin, but claimed he is "very confident that I received a comprehensive debriefing from President Trump." (New York Times / Washington Post)

The White House corrected the official transcript of Trump's press conference with Putin in Helsinki to include a previously omitted question about whether Putin wanted Trump to win in 2016. Ten days after the press conference, the transcript has been updated to include the full question. (The Hill / CNN)

The White House deleted a key exchange between a reporter and Putin from the official transcript and video of Trump's recent summit with Putin in Helsinki. During the press conference in Helsinki, a Reuters reporter asks Putin, "Did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?" Putin then responds, "Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal." The White House omitted the first part of the question, leaving only the second part in the official transcript and video. The Russian government removed the entire exchange from their official record. [Editor's note: Apparently this was due to the audio feed switching between only the right channel and both channels. Regardless, it's unclear why the feed switched. White House transcripts are considered the official record of the president's comments.] (The Atlantic / MSNBC / HuffPost)

poll/ 64% of Americans don't think Trump has been tough enough on Russia. 47% of Republicans and 82% of Democrats surveyed also said Trump hasn't been tough enough on Russia. (NPR)

Two Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee want to examine whether NRA officials knew about Russia's attempts to contribute money to the Trump campaign through the gun rights group. The request from Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse come after federal authorities indicted Maria Butina last week for allegedly acting as a Kremlin agent. (The Hill)

Trump wants to delay his planned follow-up meeting with Putin until after the Robert Mueller investigation concludes. Yesterday, the Kremlin said it wanted the "dust to settle" on a follow-up meeting given the current "atmosphere" in Washington. (New York Times / Washington Post)

Trump claimed in a tweet that he is "concerned" Russia "will be pushing very hard for the Democrats" in the midterm elections, because "no President has been tougher on Russia than me." Last week, Trump cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia tried to help him get elected. Trump also told reporters "no," he doesn't believe Russia was still a threat. Trump capped his tweet off with "They definitely don't want Trump!" He offered no evidence to support his claims. (Reuters / The Hill / Washington Post)

Trump would agree to an interview with Robert Mueller as long as there were no questions about obstruction of justice, according to Rudy Giuliani. The only questions Trump would be willing to answer, according to Giuliani, are about potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Mueller has not responded to Giuliani's proposal. (Bloomberg)

poll/ 51% of Americans believe that Russia has compromising information on Trump. 35% of voters don't believe Moscow has compromising information on the president. Among Republicans, 70% don't believe there is compromising information. 52% of voters say Trump's summit with Putin in Helsinki was a failure for the U.S., with 73% saying it was a success for Russia. (Quinnipiac)

The Justice Department released a previously classified application to wiretap Carter Page, which shows that "the FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government" to "undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election." According to the October 2016 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act application, the FBI believed "the Russian government's efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated" with the Trump campaign to establish "relationships with Russian government officials, including Russian intelligence officers." The application says that Page "has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government." (New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News)

Trump tweeted that Russia's interference in the 2016 election was "all a big hoax," again reversing his position on whether he believes the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia interfered in the election. Instead, Trump deflected and placed blame on Obama, asking: "Why didn't he do something about it? Why didn't he tell our campaign?" Answering his own questions, Trump posited that it was because Obama "thought Crooked Hillary was going to win!!!" (Washington Post)

Trump renewed his call to end the Robert Mueller investigation, tweet-claiming that it's "totally conflicted and discredited." Trump cited the release of the FISA application to wiretap Carter Page, who was under suspicion by the FBI of being a Russian agent, as evidence that the investigation is both "a fraud and a hoax." (Politico / Washington Post)

Carter Page acknowledged working as "an informal adviser to the staff of the Kremlin" in a 2013 letter. On Sunday, Page said "there may have been a loose conversation" with Russian officials," but dismissed allegations that he was a Russian agent as "spin," a "ridiculous smear campaign" and "literally a complete joke." (Politico)

Russia's foreign minister told Mike Pompeo that the charges against Maria Butina were "fabricated" and she should be released. Butina was charged in federal court last week of acting as a Russian agent "for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian federation." Butina told the Senate Intelligence Committee in April that she received financial support from Konstantin Nikolaev, a Russian billionaire "with deep ties to the Russian Presidential Administration." While Nikolaev has never met Trump, his son, who is studying in the U.S., volunteered for Trump's 2016 campaign and was spotted at the Trump International Hotel in Washington during the inauguration. (New York Times / Washington Post)

poll/ 50% of Americans disapprove of Trump's handling of his meeting with Putin, while 33% approve. (Washington Post)

poll/ 56% of voters disapprove of Trump's doubting the U.S. intelligence community's conclusions that Russia tried to influence the 2016 election. 29% approve. (ABC News)

Trump is considering revoking the security clearances of James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and other Obama-era national security officials who have criticized him. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump believed that the former officials "politicized" their positions by accusing him of inappropriate contact with Russia. (Bloomberg / Politico)

The FBI reopened the Hillary Clinton email investigation 11 days before the election because they were focused on investigating the Trump campaign's connections to Russia, according to the report of the Justice Department's inspector general. In late September 2016, FBI agents learned about a new batch of Clinton emails from the laptop of former congressman Anthony Weiner, who was under investigation for sexting a minor and was married at the time to Clinton aide Huma Abedin. The bureau was evidently overwhelmed with the urgency of the Trump-Russia investigation so that management lapses and communication breakdowns caused a monthlong delay in looking into the new Clinton emails. Nine days after announcing he was reopening the probe, James Comey said the FBI found nothing in the new emails to change the original July decision against bringing charges. (The Intercept)

A Russian company cited a decision by Trump's Supreme Court nominee arguing that the charges against the firm should be thrown out. The ruling by Brett Kavanaugh prohibited foreigners from contributing to candidates or political parties, but it did not rule out donations or expenditures on independent advocacy campaigns. Concord Management and Consulting is one of 16 Russian individuals or companies indicted by Robert Mueller. It is charged with paying $1.25 million a month to the Internet Research Agency to interfere with the 2016 election. (Washington Post)

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein revealed indictments against 12 Russians for the hacks of the Democratic National Committee, and we learned that Russian hackers went after Hillary Clinton's private office for the first time on the very day Trump said, "Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing." At the NATO summit in Brussels, Trump attacked a close European ally—Germany—and generally questioned the value of the alliance. Next, he visited the United Kingdom and trashed Prime Minister Theresa May. Then, in Helsinki, he met with Vladimir Putin privately for two hours, with no U.S. officials present other than a translator. After this suspicious meeting, he sang the Russian strongman's praises at a news conference at which he said he viewed Putin’s denials on a par with the unanimous and unchallenged conclusions of America’s intelligence agencies. (Politico)

Two weeks before his inauguration, Trump was briefed that Putin had personally ordered the cyberattacks to influence the 2016 election. The intelligence briefing included texts and emails from Russian military officers, as well as evidence from a source close to Putin, who had described how the Kremlin executed the hacking and disinformation campaign. After flip-flopping on whether he believed Putin's denial that Russia interfered in the election, Trump indirectly blamed Putin for meddling, "because he's in charge of the country." (New York Times)

Trump now "disagrees" with Putin's "incredible offer" to allow Moscow to interrogate 11 Americans in exchange for access to the 12 Russian military intelligence officers indicted for their role in trying to sabotage the 2016 election, according to Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Yesterday, the White House said Trump was entertaining Putin's proposal to swap officials for questioning, calling it "an interesting idea," which prompted a backlash from both Republicans and Democrats. It took Trump three days to come this conclusion. (Washington Post / New York Times / Reuters)

Russia's ambassador to the U.S. claimed Trump and Putin had reached several "important verbal agreements" on issues in the Middle East and nuclear proliferation. Senior U.S. military leaders, however, have little to no information about what the two leaders discussed or agreed to. (Washington Post / The Guardian)

Trump invited Putin to visit the White House this fall for a second summit despite his advisers struggling to ascertain what Trump and Putin agreed to. Earlier in the day, Trump tweeted that he is already looking "forward to our second meeting so we can start implementing some of the many things discussed." Sarah Huckabee Sanders then tweeted that Trump had asked National Security Adviser John Bolton to invite Putin, adding, the "discussions are already underway." (New York Times / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee blocked an attempt to subpoena the interpreter who sat in on Trump's one-on-one meeting with Putin. Chairman Devin Nunes ruled that Adam Schiff's motion was out of order. (Politico / ABC News / The Hill)

FBI Director Christopher Wray: Russia is the "most aggressive actor" in election interference and is "very active" at "sowing discord and divisiveness in this country." Wray added: "My view has not changed, which is that Russia attempted to interfere with the last election and that it continues to engage in malign influence operations to this day." (CNN / NBC News / The Hill)

Sean Spicer contradicted Trump's claim that the Robert Mueller investigation is a witch hunt, saying that "I see no evidence that it is" and that "I think it's very important to be clear that Russia meddled in our election and there's no evidence of collusion." (NBC News)

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen claimed she hasn't "seen evidence" that Russia tried to swing the 2016 election in Trump's favor. DHS later clarified her comments, saying she "agrees with" the U.S. intelligence agencies' conclusions that Russia tampered with the election. (HuffPost)

poll/ 79% of Republicans approve of the way Trump handled his press conference with Putin while 7% of Democrats of approve. Overall, 40% of Americans approve of Trump's performance. (Axios)

poll/ 70% of Americans believe the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections. And 61% are very or somewhat concerned about Russia interfering in the 2018 elections. (CBS News)

Robert Mueller released an itemized list of more than 500 pieces of evidence prosecutors are considering using against Paul Manafort, who has been charged with a number of financial crimes, including bank fraud and money laundering. Prosecutors are using the items to demonstrate expensive purchases Manafort made with money he attempted to hide from U.S. authorities after working for pro-Russia political parties in Ukraine. (Politico / The Hill)

Trump said "no," he does not believe Russia is still targeting the U.S. with efforts to undermine American democracy, contradicting his director of national intelligence. Last week, Dan Coats said that "the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack." And, in particular, Russia is the "most aggressive foreign actor, no question. And they continue their efforts to undermine our democracy." Coats described Russia as one of the "worst offenders." Sarah Sanders said the Russian "threat still exists" and that Trump was saying "no" to answering more questions. Intelligence officials in the U.S. and U.K. also believe Russia is planning to ramp up digital operations targeting western countries now that the World Cup and the Trump-Putin Helsinki summit have ended. (Reuters / CNN / New York Times / Los Angeles Times)

Trump defended his summit with Putin, tweeting that "people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki." The claim comes less than 24 hours after Trump attempted to backtrack and spin his statements that he mispoke and meant to say "I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia" that interfered in the election. Trump promised "big results" and "many positive things." (Washington Post / New York Times)

Trump crossed out a line about bringing those responsible for election hacking to justice in his statement correcting his remarks during his press conference with Putin. Trump prepared four pages of handwritten notes for his meeting with congressional leaders yesterday, part of which read "I have on numerous occasions noted our intelligence findings that Russians attempted to interfere in our elections. A̶n̶y̶o̶n̶e̶ ̶i̶n̶v̶o̶l̶v̶e̶d̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶m̶e̶d̶d̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶j̶u̶s̶t̶i̶c̶e̶." Trump used a black marker to cross out the part about bringing the hackers to justice. (Washington Post)

European newspapers described Trump as "weak," a "poodle," and a "stooge" following his summit with Putin. (ABC News)

Putin also claimed he misspoke about his claim that Hillary Clinton’s campaign had received $400 million in donations from investors accused of tax evasion in Russia. According to the Russian government, Putin "meant" to say that U.S.-born investor William Browder had donated $400,000 to Clinton’s campaign, which also appears to be inflated. (The Intercept)

The woman charged with secretly acting as a Russian intelligence official offered "sex in exchange" for influence at "a special interest organization" the FBI referred to as a "gun rights organization." Prosecutors argue that Butina "engaged in a yearslong conspiracy to work covertly in the U.S. as an undeclared agent of the Russian federation to advance the interests of her home country." Her actions are believed to have been directed by Alexander Torshin, one of Putin's closest allies, who the U.S. sanctioned in April. Butina and Torshin were also frequent attendees at NRA conventions. Butina is believed to have "cohabited and been involved in a personal relationship" with an unnamed U.S. person for the purpose of developing an influence operation. Her partner is believed to be Paul Erickson, a conservative activist and NRA member from South Dakota. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / ABC News / Washington Post)

A federal magistrate judge ordered that Maria Butina must be jailed ahead of her trial after prosecutors argued she was "an extreme risk of flight" and should be held without bond during her appearance in federal court. Prosecutors said she was ready to move out out of the country, had her boxes packed, terminated her lease, and wired money from her bank account back to Russia. (NPR / New York Times)

The Justice Department added a second charge against Russian national Maria Butina of acting as an unregistered foreign agent of the Kremlin since at least 2015. Butina was charged on Monday with conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government. Butina was arrested on Sunday because she appeared to have plans to flee the U.S. (Politico / Washington Post)

Democrats want the interpreter from Trump's private meeting with Putin to testify before Congress. "I'm calling for a hearing with the U.S. interpreter who was present during President Trump's meeting with Putin to uncover what they discussed privately," Sen. Jeanne Shaheen tweeted. Rep. Joe Kennedy echoed Shaheen's calls: "And that was only what we saw on live TV. @realDonaldTrump's translator should come before Congress and testify as to what was said privately immediately." (CNN / HuffPost)

poll/ 71% of Republicans approve of Trump's handling of Russia following his Helsinki summit with Putin, compared to 14% of Democrats. Overall, 55% of voters disapproved of Trump's handling of relations with Russia while 37% approved. (Reuters)

poll/ 68% of Americans consider Russia either unfriendly or an enemy of the U.S., a 9% increase from last year (59%). (NBC News / SurveyMonkey)

The Democratic National Committee has been trying and failing for months to notify Jared Kushner that it is suing him and others for allegedly colluding with the Russians to meddle in the 2016 election. The Secret Service has turned away DNC lawyers. (Bloomberg / Talking Points Memo)

A federal judge denied Paul Manafort's request to suppress evidence seized by the FBI from his home as part of Robert Mueller's ongoing Russia probe. Manafort's lawyers claimed the search warrant was overly broad and unconstitutional. (Reuters)

Cambridge Analytica's Facebook data set was accessed from Russia. Cambridge Analytica had gathered data on tens of millions of Americans. (CNN Money)

Trump backtracked and tried to spin his Helsinki summit comments. Reading from prepared remarks, Trump claimed he misspoke yesterday and meant to say "I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia" that interfered in the election. Trump also said "I accept" the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, but it "could be other people also." Trump asserted that "Russia's actions had no impact at all" on the election outcome. During yesterday's news conference, Trump said he doesn't "see any reason" why Russia would have meddled during the last election. Prior to that, Trump blamed the U.S. for acting with "foolishness and stupidity" toward Russia in the past. Trump also rejected the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Instead, Trump said he believed Putin's denial. (Bloomberg / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post)

Trump tweeted that his meeting with Putin was "even better" than his "great meeting with NATO" allies while blaming the media for being "rude" and "going Crazy!" (Washington Post / Bloomberg / Reuters)

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer called on Republicans to "immediately" convene a public hearing and "demand testimony" from Trump's national security team "to assess what President Trump might have committed to President Putin in secret." (CNN / The Hill)

Mitch McConnell suggested the Senate might move forward on new sanctions against Russia following Trump's meeting with Putin. (Politico)

Paul Ryan would consider additional sanctions on Russia, saying that "Russia is a menacing government that does not share our interests and it does not share our values." (Reuters)

A Southeast Ohio county GOP chairman resigned in protest over Trump's meeting and press conference with Putin. Chris Gagin announced his resignation on Twitter: "I remain a proud conservative and Republican, but I resigned today as Belmont Co Ohio GOP Chairman. I did so as a matter of conscience, and my sense of duty." (Newsweek)

Trump rejected the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, saying he doesn't "see any reason why" Russia would have interfered, and that Putin "was extremely strong and powerful" in denying it during their summit in Helsinki. Trump's refusal to condemn Moscow clashed with the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies, and comes days after the Justice Department indicted 12 Russian intelligence agents for hacking the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in an attempt to help Trump. Putin confirmed the he wanted Trump to win the election. Prior to the summit, Trump blamed "U.S. foolishness and stupidity" for poor Russian relations. The Russian foreign ministry responded to Trump's tweet with "We agree." (New York Times / Washington Post / Reuters / Politico)

Trump said he never thought of asking Putin to extradite the 12 Russian intelligence agents charged with hacking Democratic emails. Instead, he blamed blaming Democrats for "bad defenses" and for getting hacked during the 2016 campaign. (Washington Post)

Shortly before the summit with Putin began, Trump removed a senior official who is hawkish on Russia and supportive of NATO from his National Security Council. The circumstances surrounding retired Army Col. Richard Hooker's departure from the NSC on June 29 remain in dispute. It's not clear whether he was fired or whether his term was simply over. (Daily Beast)

Hannity will interview Trump following his summit with Putin, and their discussion will air Monday night of Fox News. Trump will also sit down with Tucker Carlson, which will air on his show Tuesday night. (The Hill / Fox News)

Dan Coats: "We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election," saying the intelligence community "will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security." The comment from the director of national intelligence came following Trump's refusal to back the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Russia meddled in the U.S. 2016 election. Aboard Air Force One, Trump tweeted that he had confidence in his own intelligence officials, saying "I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people," but "the world's two largest nuclear powers, we must get along!" (Axios / CNN)

GOP senators called the Trump-Putin press conference "tragic," "bizarre," "flat-out wrong," "shameful" and a "missed opportunity" to hold Russia accountable for 2016 election meddling. Jeff Flake tweeted: "I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression." Lindsey Graham tweeted that Trump's response "will be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves." Ben Sasse added that "the United States is not to blame […] When the President plays these moral equivalence games, he gives Putin a propaganda win he desperately needs." And, John McCain called Trump's appearance "tragic" and "one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory." (CNN / ABC News / Politico)

Paul Ryan: "Russia is not our ally" and the U.S. must be "focused on holding Russia accountable." (The Guardian)

Mitch McConnell: "The Russians are not our friends. And I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community." (The Hill)

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer called Trump's comments "thoughtless, dangerous, and weak." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, called on Americans to "vote out the sell-outs" in the GOP and asserted that "the Russians have something on the president." (Associated Press / Reuters / The Hill)

Former U.S. intelligence chiefs condemned Trump's comments during his news conference with Putin. Former C.I.A. director John Brennan called Trump's performance "nothing short of treasonous." (CNN)

Trump called Robert Mueller's probe "ridiculous" and "a disaster for our country" during his press conference with Putin. "Getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing," Trump said. "I think the world wants to see us get along." Prior to meeting with Putin, Trump called Mueller's probe a "rigged witch hunt." On Friday, Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, said that "the warning lights are blinking red again" from cyberattacks by Russia and other nations" and that "the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack." White House National Security Adviser John Bolton added that he finds it "hard to believe" Putin didn't know about top Russian intelligence officials' efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. (NBC News / New York Times / ABC News)

Mueller has charged 32 people, including 26 Russians, since his May 2017 appointment. It's unlikely that 25 of the Russians will be arrested anytime soon. (Washington Post)

Twitter suspended Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks – two accounts that Robert Mueller has linked to a Russian intelligence operation to disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (Washington Post)

Maryland's voter registration system runs on software owned by a Russian-financed firm. There is no evidence there has been any breach or fraud in voter registration or voting, but state officials are concerned about the Russian connection to sensitive systems. (WBAL)

The Justice Department charged a Russian national and accused her of acting as a Russian agent "for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian federation." Maria Butina tried to infiltrate the NRA and "create a back-channel line of communication" back to the Kremlin. Charging documents say Butina was directed by a "high-level official in the Russian government," who has been previously identified as Alexander Torshin, a senior official at the Russian central bank, who is also a longtime associate of the NRA. The charges were filed under seal the day after 12 Russian intelligence officers were indicted by the Justice Department for hacking Democratic computers. They were unsealed following Trump's press conference with Putin where he said he saw no reason the Russian leader would try to influence the presidential election. (Bloomberg / The Guardian / New York Times)

Trump: "I think the European Union is a foe." Days before his meeting with Putin, Trump capped off a contentious NATO summit in the U.K. by naming the European Union when asked to identify his "biggest foe globally right now." Speaking at his golf course in Turnberry, Scotland, Trump added: "Well, I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn't think of the European Union, but they're a foe." (CBS News / CNN)

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that a grand jury returned indictments against 12 Russian intelligence officials on charges of hacking into the DNC, DCCC, and state election offices to steal and release documents in an attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election. The defendants worked for the Russian intelligence service known as the GRU. They used a tactic called "spearphishing" to trick users into revealing their account information. They used keystroke loggers and other malicious software to obtain account information and access sensitive U.S. computer systems and email accounts, which they later released to the public. (Washington Post / New York Times / Daily Beast / BuzzFeed News / USA Today / Law & Crime / ABC News / Politico)

Russian hackers went after Hillary Clinton's servers for the first time on the same day Trump said, "Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing." (New York Times)

Top Democrats are calling on Trump to cancel his planned one-on-one meeting with Putin next week in the wake of the indictments against 12 Russian intelligence officials. “President Trump should cancel his meeting with Vladimir Putin until Russia takes demonstrable and transparent steps to prove that they won’t interfere in future elections,” said Chuck Schumer. Mark Warner, Jack Reed, Dina Titus and others called on Trump to cancel the July 16 summit. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi did not echo their calls for cancellation, and instead called on Trump to "demand and secure a real, concrete and comprehensive agreement that the Russians will cease their ongoing attacks on our democracy." (NBC News / The Hill)

Trump said he won't rule out ceasing NATO military exercises in the Baltic States if Putin requests it during their upcoming meeting in Helsinki. Joint exercises involving 17 nations, including hundreds of U.S. troops and several warships, are currently underway in the Black Sea. If Trump chooses to pull the U.S. out of the military exercises, NATO allies could still conduct them on their own, but they would likely be forced to carry them out under a different banner since the U.S. can veto labeling them as NATO exercises. (CNN)

The White House ordered the FBI to give lawmakers more access to classified information about the informant used in 2016 to investigate possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The director of national intelligence and the director of the FBI have tried to keep access to the classified documents tightly limited, but the files will now be made available to all members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. (New York Times)

FBI agent Peter Strzok rejected accusations that he let his personal political views bias his actions in the Hillary Clinton email and Russia investigations during a joint House Judiciary and Oversight Committee hearing. Strzok labeled the Republican attacks against him "another victory notch in Putin's belt and another milestone in our enemies' campaign to tear America apart." Republicans threatened Strzok with contempt after the committee devolved into partisan, chaotic arguments about what questions he could answer about the ongoing Russia investigation. Strzok has come under scrutiny after the Justice Department's inspector general discovered text messages critical of Trump that he exchanged during the 2016 campaign with Lisa Page, a senior FBI lawyer he was having an affair with. Republicans and Trump charge that Strzok's text messages undermine the integrity of Robert Mueller's investigation. Strzok was immediately removed from Mueller's probe when the text messages came to light. Page declined to comply with a subpoena from Republican lawmakers to appear for an interview on July 11. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / NBC News / CNBC)

Trump called recognizing Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea "an interesting question." Congress, however, has legislated that it is U.S. policy "to never recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Government of the Russian Federation." Trump will meet with Putin on July 16. (Bloomberg)

Trump accused Germany of being "totally controlled" and "a captive of Russia" because it pays "billions and billions of dollars a year" to Russia for energy. Germany doesn't meet its NATO spending commitments, but has started construction on a second natural gas pipeline to Russia. Germany argues that it has increased its contributions to NATO and plans to spend even more on the alliance in the coming years. A few hours later, Trump told reporters that the United States has a "tremendous relationship" with Germany. (Washington Post / NBC News / Politico)

This is the Russian pipeline to Germany that Trump is mad about: an 800-mile-long, planned pipeline beneath the Baltic Sea. The project would roughly double Russia's gas export volume via the Baltic route. (Washington Post)

The Senate confirmed Brian Benczkowski to lead the Justice Department's Criminal Division despite concerns about his ties to a Russian bank run by oligarchs with close ties to Putin, which was also referenced in the Steele dossier. The 51-48 vote ended an 18-month delay in which the criminal division operated without a permanent leader. (NPR / Washington Post / CNN)

Trump said his sit-down with Putin will probably be easier than his meeting with NATO allies. "I have NATO. I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil. And I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all," Trump said. "Who would think?" He added that he sees Putin as a "competitor." (Politico / CNN / Axios)

During their trip to Moscow last week, an all-Republican delegation of U.S. lawmakers met with at least two Russian individuals who are currently sanctioned by the United States. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama spoke with Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, who has been sanctioned since 2014 for Russia's "illegitimate and unlawful" activities in Ukraine. The group also heard from Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Konstantin Kosachev, who complained about the latest round of U.S. sanctions against Russian individuals. Kosachev was sanctioned in April over Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election and other "malign activity." (BuzzFeed News)

Two Republican senators are downplaying Russian election interference after their July 4th trip to Moscow. Sen. Ron Johnson suggested that Congress went too far in punishing Russia for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, calling the meddling "unacceptable," but "not the greatest threat to our democracy" and that "we've blown it way out of proportion." Rep. Kay Granger, meanwhile, said she met with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and said the U.S. and Russia "can be competitors without being adversaries." (Roll Call / Law and Crime)

One Republican told Russian government officials to "stop screwing with our election." Sen. John Kennedy said he warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Congress will "double down on sanctions … if you screw with the elections this fall." (CNN)

The U.S. opposed a United Nations resolution encouraging breast-feeding, siding with manufacturers of infant formula and stunning public health officials and foreign diplomats in the process this past spring. American officials wanted to soften the resolution by removing language that called on governments to "protect, promote and support breast-feeding." When the effort failed, the United States threatened to withdraw military aid and hit Ecuador and other countries with punitive trade measures if they didn't drop support for the resolution. The U.S., however, backed off when Russia introduced the resolution. (New York Times)

White House communications director Bill Shine will attend Trump's meeting with Putin in Helsinki on July 16. The West Wing delegation also includes John Kelly, deputy chief of staff Zach Fuentes, national security adviser John Bolton, Stephen Miller, social media director Dan Scavino, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Melania Trump, and other high-level staffers and their aides. (Politico)

Trump mocked the #MeToo movement in a speech in Montana on Thursday, repeatedly attacked Elizabeth Warren over her heritage, suggested Maxine Waters had an I.Q. in the "mid-60s," derided both John McCain and George H.W. Bush, and vouched for Putin. "You know what? Putin's fine," Trump told the crowd, referring to his upcoming meeting with the Russian leader. "He's fine. We're all fine. We're people. Will I be prepared? Totally prepared. I've been preparing for this stuff my whole life." (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)

The Senate Intelligence Committee backed the intelligence community's assessment that Putin was trying to help Trump when Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, breaking with their House Republican counterparts. (Politico / CNN)

Trump plans to meet one-on-one with Putin during their July 16 summit in Helsinki, Finland. Some US officials expressed concern that without aides present, the meeting will be without an official record — making it difficult to determine whether they reached any agreements. (CNN)

Konstantin Kilimnik helped strategize Paul Manafort's lobbying to clients in Russia and Ukraine. Robert Mueller's team has alleged that Kilimnik's ties to Russian intelligence remained active through the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, which Kilimnik has denied. Among Manafort's clients was Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and other wealthy Russians with close ties to Putin. (Associated Press)

Robert Mueller's team has likely already gained access to the NRA's tax filings and so-called "dark money" donors list, who financed $21 million of the group's $30 million-plus pro-Trump spending. The NRA's nonprofit status allowed it to hide those donors' names from the public, but not the IRS. Mueller's team is reportedly looking into NRA donors with links to Russia and whether they used the organization to illegally funnel foreign money to Trump's campaign. (McClatchy DC)

Justice Anthony Kennedy's son, Justin, worked at Deutsche Bank for more than a decade, helping loan Trump more than $1 billion at a time when other banks wouldn't. Since 1998, Deutsche has helped loan Trump at least $2.5 billion, of which at least $130 million is still owed to the bank. In 2017, Deutsche Bank AG agreed to pay $425 million to New York's banking regulator over a money laundering scheme that helped Russian investors move $10 billion out of Russia. Trump later waived the fines for the bank after Robert Mueller issued a subpoena to Deutsche for the banking records of people affiliated with him. Following Trump's first address to Congress in February 2017, he stopped to tell Justice Kennedy: "Say hello to your boy. Special guy." (New York Times)

Trump wants to make a deal with Putin on Syria that would allow the US to "get out ASAP." Trump's plan would let the Russians help Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad take back a region where the US-led coalition is experiencing increased opposition from "an unidentified hostile force" despite a previous ceasefire. (CNN)

Paul Manafort owed $10 million to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who was sanctioned by the U.S. in April 2018. The unsealed search warrant application from July 2017 shows that Deripaska financially backed Manafort's consulting work in Ukraine when it started in 2005-06. Robert Mueller also indicted Konstantin Kilimnik, a political operative who served as an intermediary between Manafort and Deripaska, as well as allegedly having ties to Russian spy agencies. The search warrant also confirmed that Mueller has been investigating Manafort's role in the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer. (Reuters)

Trump and Putin will meet on July 16 in Helsinki to discuss a "range of national security issues," as well as "further development of Russian-American relations." Before the summit meeting was announced, Trump reported via Twitter that "Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!" He added: "Why isn't Hillary/Russia being looked at?" The Helsinki talks will follow a NATO meeting in Brussels on July 11 and 12. Trump told leaders at the recent G7 summit in Canada that "NATO is as bad as NAFTA," stoking fears that Trump plans to undercut the alliance's values and commitments. (New York Times / Washington Post / Axios)

The House passed a resolution demanding that the Justice Department turn over documents related to the Russia investigation, potentially setting up Rod Rosenstein for impeachment if he doesn't comply within seven days. During a separate House Judiciary Committee meeting, Republicans accused Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray of withholding details about surveillance tactics during the Russia investigation. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News)

Trump will meet Putin in the next few weeks, according to national security adviser John Bolton. The meeting is expected to take place in mid-July, when Trump will be in Europe for a previously scheduled NATO summit in Brussels on July 11-12. America's European allies are worried that Trump's meeting with Putin will undermine the NATO summit in the same way Trump clashed with allies at the G7 summit and then praised dictator Kim Jong-un. Asked why the meeting was taking place, Bolton replied: "I'd like to hear someone say this is a bad idea." (New York Times / CNN / Axios / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

Robert Mueller's team plans to produce conclusions and possible indictments related to the Trump-Russia investigation by fall. Mueller and investigators will then determine whether there is sufficient evidence to conclude that Trump attempted to obstruct justice. At least 13 people associated with Trump's presidential campaign had suspicious contacts with Russians. (Bloomberg)

Robert Mueller's team plans to produce conclusions and possible indictments related to the Trump-Russia investigation by fall. Mueller and investigators will then determine whether there is sufficient evidence to conclude that Trump attempted to obstruct justice. At least 13 people associated with Trump's presidential campaign had suspicious contacts with Russians. (Bloomberg)

Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Oath, Snap and Twitter met with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to discuss the upcoming midterm elections in an effort to ensure there is not a repeat of Russian interference. The eight tech companies shared details about disinformation campaigns they were witnessing on their platforms. However, neither the FBI nor the DHS provided the tech companies with information about specific threats, prompting frustration from Silicon Valley that intelligence officials weren't preparing them for the midterm elections. (New York Times / Washington Post)

Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Oath, Snap and Twitter met with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to discuss the upcoming midterm elections in an effort to ensure there is not a repeat of Russian interference. The eight tech companies shared details about disinformation campaigns they were witnessing on their platforms. However, neither the FBI nor the DHS provided the tech companies with information about specific threats, prompting frustration from Silicon Valley that intelligence officials weren't preparing them for the midterm elections. (New York Times / Washington Post)

Trump ally and Blackwater founder Erik Prince provided Robert Mueller with "total access to his phone and computer." Mueller's team has been scrutinizing allegations that Prince tried to establish a backchannel between the Trump administration and the Kremlin during a January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles. In April 2017, it was reported that the United Arab Emirates had arranged the meeting between Prince and a Russian close to Putin. The two-day meeting took place about nine days before Trump's inauguration. Last week, Prince said he had "spoken voluntarily to Congress" and has "cooperated with the special counsel." (ABC News)

The FBI turned over to House Republicans classified documents related to the Russia investigation, including the details about the FBI's justification to obtain a court-authorized warrant to spy on a former Trump campaign aide in October 2016. Lawmakers had threatened to hold Justice Department officials in contempt of Congress or impeach them if they didn't comply with the document request. (Politico / Associated Press)

Robert Mueller wants George Papadopoulos to be sentenced in September on the false-statement felony charge he pleaded guilty to last fall. Papadopoulos could be the second defendant sentenced in the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. (Politico)

poll/ 41% of Americans approve of the way Robert Mueller is handling the Russia investigation, down from 48% in March. 55% of Americans, however, believe Mueller's investigation is a serious matter that he should continue to investigate. 35% think the investigation is an effort to discredit Trump's presidency. (CNN)

Trump will meet with Putin next month in Vienna, either before the NATO summit in Brussels on July 11 or after Trump's visit to the U.K. on July 13. Both the White House and the Kremlin declined to comment, but Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, will visit Moscow next week. (Bloomberg / New York Times)

Trump will meet with Putin next month in Vienna, either before the NATO summit in Brussels on July 11 or after Trump's visit to the U.K. on July 13. Both the White House and the Kremlin declined to comment, but Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, will visit Moscow next week. (Bloomberg / New York Times)

A lobbyist for the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska visited Julian Assange nine times at the Ecuadorian embassy in London last year. Adam Waldman had more meetings with Assange in 2017 than almost anyone else. Deripaska is currently subject to U.S. sanctions. (The Guardian)

Erik Prince has "spoken voluntarily to Congress" and has "cooperated with the special counsel" as part of the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia during the 2016 election. Prince reportedly met with Trump Jr., George Nader, and Israeli social media specialist Joel Zamel at a secret meeting in the Seychelles during the campaign. He also met with Russian sovereign wealth fund manager Kirill Dmitriev during the transition period to set up a backchannel between the Trump administration and Russia. (Daily Beast)

Peter Strzok said he would be willing to testify without immunity and without invoking the 5th Amendment before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee. Strzok was removed from Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts. Strzok's lawyer said: "He thinks that his position, character and actions have all been misrepresented and caricatured, and he wants an opportunity to remedy that." Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that Strzok was a "sick loser." (Washington Post / CNN)

Roger Stone met during the 2016 campaign with a Russian national who wanted Trump to pay $2 million for the political dirt on Hillary Clinton. Stone failed to disclose the May 2016 meeting with Henry Greenberg, who also goes by the name Henry Oknyansky, to congressional investigators. The meeting was set up by Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo. Stone rejected the offer, and soon after Caputo texted Stone asking if anything interesting came of the meeting. Stone replied: "waste of time." Both Stone and Caputo did not disclose the Greenberg meeting during testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Caputo said he failed to disclose the encounter because he had "simply forgotten" about the meeting. Mueller is now investigating the previously undisclosed meeting. (Washington Post / NBC News)

Rudy Giuliani on Mueller's investigation: "When the whole thing is over, things might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons." The comment came shortly after Manafort was sent to jail and his bail revoked following an attempt to tamper with two witnesses in the Russia investigation. Giuliani claimed he had seen no evidence to warrant Manafort being sent to jail. (New York Daily News / Axios)

Trump held an interview with "Fox and Friends" on the White House lawn after musing on Twitter that "maybe I'll have to make an unannounced trip down to see them" and live-tweeting segments from the show. Trump called James Comey a criminal, said the FBI is a "den of thieves," blamed Democrats for the separation of families at the US border, said it's "great to give" Kim Jong-un credibility, and again blamed Obama for Russia's annexation of Crimea. (New York Times / CNN / Vox / The Hill)

A U.S. District Court judge ruled that a Russian company is not entitled to review grand jury materials. Concord Management and Consulting LLC has been charged with meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (Reuters)

White House Counsel Don McGahn recused his entire staff from Robert Mueller's investigation last summer because many staffers "had been significant participants" in the firings of Michael Flynn and James Comey. Former White House lawyer Ty Cobb said McGahn's recusal was a key reason why he was hired last summer to manage Trump's response to the Russia investigation. (Politico)

Trump told G7 leaders that Crimea is Russian because everyone who lives there speaks Russian. In 2014, Russia invaded and annexed Crimea from Ukraine, leading to international condemnation and sanctions, and directly leading to Russia being kicked out of the then-G8. (BuzzFeed News)

Mueller's office claimed that Russian intelligence agencies are trying to meddle in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections. Prosecutors are trying to block foreign intelligence agencies and defendants from seeing evidence in the investigation of interference in the 2016 election, lest this "result in the release of information that would assist foreign intelligence services" and others in future operations against the U.S. Last February, Mueller obtained a grand jury indictment of three Russian companies and 13 Russian individuals on charges they sought to influence the 2016 presidential race. The only defendant in that case is the Russian firm Concord Management and Consulting, which is controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessman known as Putin's chef. The pretrial process entitles a defendant the material assembled during the investigation. (Politico)

Michael Cohen told friends he believes he will soon be indicted and arrested as part of Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump's campaign and Russia. Investigators are probing Cohen for bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations. (NY Daily News)

Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee want to interview Ivanka Trump as part of the investigation into Russian election interference. The committee wants to interview Ivanka about "two separate national security questions." Sen. Ron Wyden said investigators should ask about her role in connecting a Russian weightlifter, Dmitry Klokov, with Michael Cohen. Klokov offered to connect her father to Putin in order to facilitate building a Trump Tower in Moscow1. The other issue Wyden said investigators should ask about is China's decision to grant Ivanka trademarks around the same time her father promised to help Chinese telecom manufacturer ZTE stay in business. (BuzzFeed News)

Day 503: Obsessed. Ivanka Trump connected Michael Cohen with a Russian who offered to introduce Trump to Putin during the campaign in 2015 in order to facilitate a 100-story Trump Tower in Moscow.

The millionaire businessman who bankrolled the Brexit campaign "met Russian officials multiple times before Brexit vote." Arron Banks gave about $16 million to the campaign, becoming the biggest donor in UK history. (The Guardian)

Several prominent Russians, including some in Putin's inner circle, met with NRA officials during the 2016 U.S. election campaign. The contacts have emerged as the Justice Department investigates whether Russian banker and lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin illegally channeled money through the gun rights group to help Trump's 2016 presidential bid. (McClatchy DC)

The Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on five Russian entities and three individuals, saying they worked with Moscow's intelligence service on ways to conduct cyber attacks against the U.S. and its allies. (Reuters / CNN)

Robert Mueller filed witness tampering criminal charges against Paul Manafort and Russian national Konstantin Kilimnik. The superseding indictment charges the two men with obstructing justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and witness tampering. Kilimnik was indicted as part of the existing money laundering case against Manafort, who is also accused of illegal foreign lobbying and lying to federal officials. It's the first time Kilimnik was named, who was referred to as "Person A" and described as having links to Russian spy agencies in previous court filings. (CNBC / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Reuters)

Trump called on the G7 to reinstate Russia after it was kicked out for annexing Crimea four years ago, putting him at odds with world leaders who have insisted that Moscow remain ostracized. "Russia should be in this meeting," Trump said. "Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting? … Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run." Trump also threatened to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, and is now engaged in a series of trade wars with numerous countries in Europe, North America and Asia. Trump will leave the G7 summit early. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico)

The Justice Department will brief lawmakers next week about the FBI's use of an informant in connection with its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The new offer is a concession to Republican demands for more information about the probe. The Justice Department and FBI "are prepared to brief members on certain questions specifically raised by the speaker and other members" and allow lawmakers "to review certain supporting documents that were made available during the prior briefing." Democrats are concerned that the briefings could allow Trump's legal team access to sensitive details of the investigation. (Washington Post / CNBC)

Paul Ryan insisted that there was "no evidence of collusion" between Trump's campaign and Russia, but that there is "more digging to do." (Associated Press)

Adam Schiff called on Republicans to release the House Intelligence Committee interview transcripts related to the Russia investigation, saying they could shed "additional light on the issues of collusion and obstruction of justice." Schiff said some witnesses "may have testified untruthfully" and that Robert Mueller and his team "should consider whether perjury charges are warranted." (NBC News)

Ivanka Trump connected Michael Cohen with a Russian who offered to introduce Trump to Putin during the campaign in 2015 in order to facilitate a 100-story Trump Tower in Moscow. Mueller's team and congressional investigators have reviewed emails and questioned witnesses about the interaction. There is no evidence that Ivanka's contact with former Olympic weightlifter Dmitry Klokov was illegal or election related. (BuzzFeed News)

Giuliani claimed Mueller's team is "trying very, very hard to frame [Trump] to get him in trouble when he hasn't done anything wrong." He added that Mueller's team "can't emotionally come to grips with the fact that this whole thing with Russian collusion didn't happen. They are trying to invent theories of obstruction of justice." Giuliani also reiterated the claim that Trump has the power to pardon himself, but won't do so because "he's innocent" and "he hasn't done anything wrong." (Associated Press)

Paul Ryan agreed that there is "no evidence" to support claims that the FBI spied on Trump's 2016 campaign for political purposes by using a confidential informant to contact members of the campaign while investigating its ties to Russia. Ryan added that Trump should not try to pardon himself, saying, "I don't know the technical answer to that question, but I think obviously the answer is he shouldn't. And no one is above the law." (New York Times / Politico)

Trump blamed Jeff Sessions for the ongoing Russia investigation into possible collusion, lamented asking Sessions to lead the Justice Department, and suggested that the probe would have been shut down by now if Sessions had not recused himself. In a tweet, Trump said the "Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn't tell me he was going to recuse himself." (Washington Post / Reuters / Politico)

George Papadopoulos' wife asked Trump to pardon her husband, who pleaded guilty last year to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians. (The Hill)

Putin claimed that he and Trump have a close working relationship and "regularly talk over the phone." When asked why there has not been a bilateral summit between Putin and the Trump administration, he said "this is the result of the ongoing acute political struggle in the United States." Putin continued: "Indeed, Donald Trump and I have, firstly, met more than once at various international venues and secondly, we regularly talk over the phone." (Axios / Kremlin Presidential Executive Office)

Sarah Huckabee Sanders called herself "an honest person" while refusing to correct her August 2017 statement that Trump wasn't involved in drafting a misleading statement about Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower. (Politico / CNN)

Trump's lawyers sent a 20-page letter to Mueller's office asserting that Trump cannot be compelled to testify. The letter also argues that it's impossible for Trump to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation because the U.S. Constitution empowers the president to, "if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon." Giuliani responded to news of the leaked letter, saying that "if Mueller tries to subpoena us, we're going to court" and that "our recollection keeps changing" about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting and that "this is the reason you don't let this president testify in the special counsel's Russia investigation." The letter confirms that Trump dictated a "short but accurate" statement issued by Trump Jr. about his 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer who an intermediary claimed had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. (New York Times / ABC News)

Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to answers about her August 2017 claim that Trump "certainly didn't dictate" the Trump Tower statement. At the time, Sanders said Trump only "weighed in" on Trump Jr.'s statement about the Russia meeting, saying "the statement that Don Jr. issued is true, there's no inaccuracy in the statement." (The Hill)

Jared Kushner's close friend Andrew Gerson has come under scrutiny from Robert Mueller's team. Mueller is interested in Gerson's supposed knowledge of meetings in January 2017 between Trump associates and foreign officials in the Seychelles. Gerson was in the Seychelles around the same time that Erik Prince secretly met with Russian and UAE officials, including Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, also known as MBZ. Gerson met with MBZ and Lebanese-American businessman George Nader, who organized the meeting with Erik Prince. (NBC News / Daily Beast)

Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe wrote a confidential memo about a May 2017 conversation he had with Rod Rosenstein regarding the firing of James Comey. The memo says Trump originally asked Rosenstein to reference Russia in the public memo used to justify firing Comey. McCabe thought that seemed like evidence that Comey's firing was actually about the Russia investigation and that Rosenstein was helping to provide a cover story by writing about the Clinton investigation. (New York Times)

Trump repeatedly pressured Jeff Sessions to reclaim control over the Russia investigation on at least four separate occasions. Three of those occasions were in-person, and the fourth was over the phone. The constant pressure made several other officials uncomfortable at the time, because they felt it was improper and could present its own legal and political problems. Two sources familiar with the conversations said Trump never directly ordered Sessions to reinsert himself into the investigation, but would instead ask Sessions whether he had "thought about" stepping back in. (Axios)

Robert Mueller is investigating Trump's request to Jeff Sessions that he reverse his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation in March 2017. Trump berated Sessions in public and in private over his decision to step away, but Sessions refused Trump's request. Mueller is investigating the previously unreported confrontation as part of the ongoing obstruction of justice probe. Mueller's interest in Sessions suggests the investigation may be even more broad than Trump's interactions with and subsequent firing of James Comey. (New York Times / Washington Post)

Trump bragged about a classified battle between U.S. forces and Russian mercenaries in Syria while speaking to donors at a closed-door fundraiser. Trump said he was amazed by the actions of American F-18 pilots, suggested that the strikes lasted "10 minutes," and claimed they killed up to 300 Russians. The details of the battle remain classified. (Politico)

The Russian journalist who was believed to have been killed yesterday in Kiev showed up at a press conference today, very much alive. Arkady Babchenko apologized to friends and family who believed he was dead. "I'm still alive," he said. Babchenko's death was faked as part of a sting operation by the Ukrainian Security Service. (NPR / Associated Press)

Trump claimed that Robert Mueller's team will meddle in the 2018 midterm elections in favor of Democrats. "The 13 Angry Democrats (plus people who worked 8 years for Obama) working on the rigged Russia Witch Hunt," Trump tweeted, "will be MEDDLING with the mid-term elections, especially now that Republicans (stay tough!) are taking the lead in Polls. There was no Collusion, except by the Democrats!" (CNN / Washington Post)

Mitch McConnell said he supports the Mueller investigation and that nothing in Thursday's secret briefing on the Russia probe changed his mind. "The two investigations going on that I think will give us the answers to the questions that you raise — the [inspector general] investigation in the Justice Department and the Mueller investigation," McConnell said. "I support both of them, and I don't really have anything to add to this subject based upon the Gang of Eight briefing that we had today, which was classified." (NPR / NBC News)

Mueller's team has been investigating Roger Stone's finances as part of the probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians during the 2016 election. Mueller has questioned Stone's associates about his finances, including his tax returns. Stone claims he has not been contacted by the special counsel's office, and that he played no role in colluding with Russia. (CNN)

A Russian billionaire with ties to the Kremlin met with Michael Cohen at Trump Tower 11 days before Trump's inauguration. Viktor Vekselberg met with Cohen to discuss their mutual desire to improve Russia's relationship with the U.S. under the incoming Trump administration, according to Andrew Intrater. Intrater is an American businessman who invests money on behalf of Vekselberg and was present at the meeting in question. A few days after Trump's inauguration, Intrater’s private equity firm, Columbus Nova, signed a $1 million consulting contract with Cohen. (New York Times)

The FBI seized control of a key server in Russia's global botnet of 500,000 hacked routers. One of the goals of the operation was to use the information from the seized server to build a comprehensive list of victims in order to short-circuit the Kremlin's ability to reinfect targets. The FBI went after a complicated malware program called "VPN Filter" that has been linked to the Russian hacking group responsible for the breach of the DNC and the Clinton campaign during the 2016 election. (Daily Beast)

An ally of Vladimir Putin suggested that the meeting in the Seychelles with Blackwater founder Erik Prince was more than a simple chance encounter "over a beer," as Prince told Congress. Kirill Dmitriev, a Russian fund manager who was present at the January 2017 meeting, said he had wanted to meet with Prince in order to improve relations between the U.S and Russia. (ABC News)

Newly obtained documents and interviews provide the first public on-the-ground accounting of a battle between American forces and around 500 pro-Syrian government forces and Russian mercenaries. The incident was one of the single-bloodiest battles the American military has faced in Syria since deploying to the country to fight the Islamic State. (New York Times)

Newly obtained documents and interviews provide the first public on-the-ground accounting of a battle between American forces and around 500 pro-Syrian government forces and Russian mercenaries. The incident was one of the single-bloodiest battles the American military has faced in Syria since deploying to the country to fight the Islamic State. (New York Times)

Democrats will be allowed to join Republicans at today's White House briefing on the secret FBI source who aided Mueller's Russia probe. After a day of negotiations, the White House reversed its earlier decision to only invite Republican lawmakers the briefing. (Washington Post)

Michael Cohen's business partner took a plea deal that requires him to cooperate with the government as a potential witness in state and federal investigations. Evgeny Freidman is a Russian immigrant known as the "Taxi King," and he specifically agreed to assist government prosecutors in state or federal investigations, according to a person briefed on the matter. Freidman was disbarred earlier this month, has been accused of failing to pay $5 million in taxes, and is facing multiple counts of criminal tax fraud and one of grand larceny. Freidman's cooperation is seen as potential leverage to pressure Cohen into working with Mueller's team on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNBC / Vox)

Who is Evgeny Freidman? Michael Cohen's "Taxi King" business partner may be key to Russia investigation. (Newsweek)

The White House did not invite Democrats to a private briefing on the FBI informant involved in the investigation into the Trump campaign's contacts with Russians during and after the 2016 election. Two senior House Republicans were invited to the briefing, which was coordinated by John Kelly and will be held on Thursday. Democrats are demanding that Democratic lawmakers be included in the briefing. Sarah Huckabee-Sanders said Democrats weren't invited because they didn't specifically ask for details about the informant. (Politico)

poll/ A majority of Americans — 59% — don't think Mueller's investigation into Russia and the 2016 presidential campaign has uncovered evidence of any crimes, even though the special counsel has already secured five guilty pleas and issued 17 criminal indictments. (Vox / Navigator Research)

Mike Pompeo says the U.S. will fight back against what he called "continued efforts" by Russia to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections. Pompeo did not provide any details as to what the "appropriate measures" would entail, but he said the U.S. has so far been unable to establish "effective deterrence" to halt Russia's efforts. (Associated Press)

James Clapper said the FBI did not spy on the Trump campaign at any point. "They were not," Clapper told The View. "They were spying — a term I don't particularly like — on what the Russians were doing." (Politico / The Hill)

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pushed back on the intelligence community's assessment that Vladimir Putin intervened in the 2016 presidential elections in an attempt to help Trump and hurt Clinton. "I don't believe that I have seen that conclusion … that the specific intent was to help President Trump win," Nielsen said. (CNN)

Trump demanded that the Justice Department investigate whether the FBI "infiltrated or surveilled" his presidential campaign under Obama's orders. After accusing the FBI on Friday of sending a "spy" to infiltrate his campaign, Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon: "I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes, and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!" The FBI opened its counterintelligence investigation into Russia's efforts to influence the 2016 campaign on July 31, 2016. They sent an informant, a retired American professor, to talk to George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, and Sam Clovis after receiving evidence that the pair had contacts linked to Russia during the campaign. (New York Times / Washington Post)

Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats met with Trump at the White House. The meeting comes a day after Trump tweeted that he would "demand" the Justice Department investigate whether his campaign was improperly "infiltrated or surveilled" for political purposes. Rosenstein agreed that John Kelly would set up a meeting where congressional leaders can review "highly classified and other information they have requested" related to the Russia probe. (ABC News / CBS News / CNN / Bloomberg)

The RNC paid roughly half a million dollars to a law firm representing former White House communications director Hope Hicks and others involved in the Russia probe. Trout Cacheris & Janis received $451,780 from the RNC after Hicks hired the firm's founder as her personal attorney in September. The money used to pay the firm was originally meant to be used for election recounts and other legal matters, but RNC officials concluded that the money could be used to pay for the president's legal fees. (Washington Post)

Trump Jr. called a blocked number before and after the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. On June 6, Trump Jr. was in contact with a blocked number for three to four minutes. Immediately after ending that call, Trump Jr. called Emin Agalarov, the pop star son of Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov. Two hours after the Trump Tower meeting occurred on June 9th, Trump Jr. placed another call to a blocked number that lasted three minutes. Then-candidate Trump spent that day at Trump Tower, where the private residence has a blocked number, and held no public events. (CNN / Washington Post)

Giuliani said Robert Mueller agreed to limit the scope of a potential interview with Trump to two topics instead of five. Mueller, according to Giuliani, is not interested in Michael Cohen or his business dealings. "The main focus we want is Russia," Giuliani said, adding: "The President would testify tomorrow if it was about the truth. The truth is he had nothing to do with Russia. The President is not going to lie." (CNN / Associated Press)

Senate Democrats called for a multi-agency inspector general investigation into the Trump administration's failure to implement mandated sanctions against Russia. In a letter addressed to the inspectors general of the State Department, Treasury Department and Intelligence Community, Democratic lawmakers said the administration has not complied with the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. (Daily Beast)

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)

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)

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)

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)

The Senate Intelligence Committee endorsed the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election in order to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. The Senate committee's bipartisan conclusion contradicts Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, who dispute the intelligence community's findings that Putin was trying to help Trump. "We see no reason to dispute the conclusions," the Senate committee's chairman, Richard Burr, said. "There is no doubt that Russia undertook an unprecedented effort to interfere with our 2016 elections." (Washington Post / Politico / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

Senate Judiciary Democrats say the evidence is clear that the Trump campaign "was willing to accept Russia's assistance." The committee's preliminary findings on the Trump Tower meeting also suggest they found "evidence of multiple contacts" between the Trump campaign and Russia, including "offers of assistance and purported overtures from Vladimir Putin." The committee also found that Trump Jr. and the White House misled the public about the June 9, 2016, meeting with Russians at Trump Tower, and that Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner were frustrated "that more damaging information was not produced" at the meeting. (Feinstein / Senate.gov)

The Senate Judiciary Committee released more than 2,500 pages of testimony related to their investigation into the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, a self-described Kremlin informant. Trump Jr. was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton, but testimony largely confirms that Veselnitskaya did not provide dirt that could be used in the campaign. (New York Times / Washington Post)

Trump Jr. testified that his father signed a letter of intent to build a Trump Tower in Moscow in 2015. (Senate Judiciary Committee)

Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee he never mentioned the Trump Tower meeting to his father or the offer of compromising information about Hillary Clinton. He also said he couldn't "recall" if he discussed the Russia investigation with his father. Trump Jr. told the committee he didn't think there was anything wrong with meeting a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower ahead of the 2016 presidential election, saying "I didn't think that listening to someone with information relevant to the fitness and character of a presidential candidate would be an issue, no." (Associated Press)

Robert Mueller issued two subpoenas to Roger Stone's social media consultant. Mueller has been probing whether anyone associated with the Trump campaign may have helped WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange or the Russians with the release of the hacked DNC emails. In particular, Mueller wants to know if Stone had advance knowledge of the hacked emails. Mueller has also been requesting interviews with former employees and friends of Stone in recent weeks, asking them about Stone's ties to Russia and Assange. (Reuters / Bloomberg)

Michael Cohen claimed in a January 2017 interview that the Trump Organization had no recent relationship or business dealings with Russia. Cohen, however, sent emails during Trump's 2016 presidential campaign seeking the assistance of the Kremlin in an effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Trump launched his presidential campaign on June 16, 2015. The Moscow project was dropped in January 2016. (CNN)

A Ukrainian politician involved in the controversial plan to resolve Ukraine's conflict with Russian-backed rebels has been called to testify before a grand jury as part of the special counsel's investigation. Andrii Artemenko did not give any details about his upcoming grand jury appearance, but he said he assumes he will be asked about his communications with Michael Cohen from early 2017. Artemenko said he plans to cooperate with the subpoena and appear in person. (Politico)

A former senior Trump campaign and transition aide is helping a Russian oligarch's company shed US sanctions. Bryan Lanza is lobbying on behalf of the chairman of EN+ Group, an energy and aluminum firm controlled by Oleg Deripaska, who was the target of US sanctions imposed last month. The company wants to reduce Deripaska's ownership in the company enough to be freed from US sanctions. (CNN)

A Russian company indicted by Robert Mueller accused the special counsel of inventing a "make-believe crime" in order "to justify his own existence." Concord Management is challenging the legal basis of Mueller's charge that the company funded Moscow's effort to disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Concord is one of three Russian businesses and 13 Russian individuals indicted in February for funding for a Russian troll farm that directed a social media campaign aimed at sowing discord among Americans and at favoring Trump over Hillary Clinton. Concord is owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a wealthy businessman who is known as Putin's chef. (New York Times / Politico)

In 2014, the FBI warned that Viktor Vekselberg might be acting on behalf of Russia's intelligence services, saying a foundation he controlled "may be a means for the Russian government to access our nation's sensitive or classified research, development facilities and dual-use technologies with military and commercial applications." Earlier this week Michael Avenatti released a dossier that claims Columbus Nova, a Vekselberg company, made more than eight payments to Essential Consultants, totaling more than $1 million in payments between 2016 and 2017. Essential Consultants is owned by Michael Cohen, who is Trump's personal lawyer. Avenatti suggested that the Columbus Nova funds could have been used to reimburse Cohen for the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence about her alleged affair with Trump. (NPR)

In 2014, the FBI warned that Viktor Vekselberg might be acting on behalf of Russia's intelligence services, saying a foundation he controlled "may be a means for the Russian government to access our nation's sensitive or classified research, development facilities and dual-use technologies with military and commercial applications." Earlier this week Michael Avenatti released a dossier that claims Columbus Nova, a Vekselberg company, made more than eight payments to Essential Consultants, totaling more than $1 million in payments between 2016 and 2017. Essential Consultants is owned by Michael Cohen, who is Trump's personal lawyer. Avenatti suggested that the Columbus Nova funds could have been used to reimburse Cohen for the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence about her alleged affair with Trump. (NPR)

Robert Mueller's team is investigating several Trump inauguration donors, including Andrew Intrater and Leonard Blavatnik, a dual U.S. and British citizen with business ties to Russia. Intrater is the CEO of Columbus Nova, a U.S.-based affiliate of the the Renova Group, which is controlled by Viktor Vekselberg. In particular, Intrater made a $250,000 donation to the Trump inauguration committee in early January 2017, and later made two more donations: a $35,000 to the Trump Victory fundraising committee and $29,600 to the Republican National Committee. Blavatnik gave $1 million to Trump's inaugural fund through his company, Access Industries. Mueller's team also questioned Thomas Barrack, a longtime Trump friend and confidant who oversaw the $107 million inaugural fundraising effort. (ABC News)

The Russia-linked company that hired Michael Cohen registered a number of alt-right websites during the 2016 elections. Columbus Nova is listed as the registrant behind a handful of website domains named after the alt-right movement, including Alt-right.co, Alternate-right.com, Alternate-rt.com, Alt-rite.com, and others. The brother of Andrew Intrater, Columbus Nova's U.S. CEO, is named in the registration databases for the websites. Columbus Nova said Frederick Intrater was not acting on behalf of the company, even though he had used his work email address and listed the organization. Columbus Nova gave $500,000 to Cohen in the first half of 2017. (Washington Post)

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released 3,500 Facebook ads purchased by a Russian troll farm from mid-2015 to mid-2017. The ads, from the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency, reached at least 146 million people on Facebook and Instagram, spreading inflammatory and divisive messages on immigration, race, gun control, Islam, LGBT-centric topics, and more, in an attempt to polarize Americans. Facebook's targeting tools allowed the Russian agents to deliver their disinformation to groups of users according to their location, age, gender, and interests. (NBC News / USA Today / Washington Post)

"They sought to harness Americans' very real frustrations and anger over sensitive political matters in order to influence American thinking, voting and behavior," Rep. Adam B. Schiff said in a statement. "The only way we can begin to inoculate ourselves against a future attack is to see first-hand the types of messages, themes and imagery the Russians used to divide us."

A report from the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that Russia conducted an "unprecedented, coordinated cyber campaign" in order to undermine confidence in U.S. voting systems starting as early as 2014 and continuing through Election Day 2016. Senators report that the Russians targeted at least 18 states looking for vulnerabilities, and in six states they tried to gain access to voting websites. In "a small number of states" they actually breached election computer defenses. The committee said it found no evidence that vote tallies or voter registration information were changed, but that Russian hackers were "in a position to, at a minimum, alter or delete voter registration data." (New York Times / The Hill)

Top White House officials withheld information sought by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, siding with senior FBI and national intelligence officials that the information could endanger a top-secret intelligence source. The Justice Department, however, invited Devin Nunes and Trey Gowdy for a classified briefing about their document request related to the Russia investigation after Nunes publicly suggested that he may try to hold Jeff Sessions in contempt for refusing to comply. Some administration officials worry that Trump will change his mind and support Nunes' argument that "Congress has a right and a duty to get this information." (Washington Post / CNN)

Robert Mueller's team interviewed Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who attended a meeting with the head of Russia's sovereign wealth fund in the Seychelles Islands on Jan. 11, 2017. The meeting is understood to have been an effort to establish a back channel between the incoming Trump administration and the Kremlin. (Daily Beast)

Let's try to untangle the latest news surrounding Michael Cohen, Russian oligarchs, and Stormy Daniels…

Michael Avenatti released an "executive summary" yesterday of material he says connects Trump's payment to Stormy Daniels to a Russian oligarch. Avenatti represents Daniels in her lawsuit against Trump and Michael Cohen. (NPR)

The Avenatti dossier claims that a company connected to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg made eight payments to Essential Consultants, one of Cohen's shell companies, between January 2017 and August 2017. Avenatti suggested that the funds from Columbus Nova may have been used to reimburse Cohen for the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence about her alleged affair with Trump. (Daily Beast)

Robert Mueller's investigators questioned Vekselberg about a $500,000 payment from Columbus Nova to Essential Consultants that was made shortly after the 2016 election. Vekselberg was placed on a list of sanctioned Russians for election interference and other activities last month by the Trump administration. The purpose of the payments and the nature of the business relationship between Vekselberg and Cohen is still unclear. (CNN)

The shell company Michael Cohen used to pay Stormy Daniels received more than $1 million in payments from an American company linked to a Russian oligarch and Fortune 500 companies with business before the Trump administration. At least $4.4 million flowed through the shell company Cohen used, Essential Consultants, starting shortly before Trump was elected president and continuing to this January. Essential Consultants received about $500,000 from Columbus Nova, an investment firm in New York whose biggest client is a company controlled by Viktor Vekselberg, the Russian oligarch. (New York Times)

Mueller's investigators questioned a Russian oligarch about $500,000 in payments made to Michael Cohen after the election. Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels, alleges that Cohen received about $500,000 from Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin who was placed on a list of sanctioned Russians related to election interference. According to a dossier published by Avenatti, "Vekselberg and his cousin Mr. Andrew Intrater routed eight payments to Mr. Cohen through a company named Columbus Nova LLC beginning in January 2017 and continuing until at least August 2017." Vekselberg is also one of two Russian oligarchs the FBI stopped earlier this year after their private jets landed in New York-area airports. (CNN / Daily Beast / NBC News)

Alex van der Zwaan turned himself in after being sentenced for lying to investigators as part of Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. van der Zwaan is the first person sentenced to prison as part of Mueller's investigation and will serve a 30-day sentence. (Politico)

poll/ 53% of Americans think Robert Mueller's investigation is politically motivated, while 44% think the Russia investigation is justified. 73% think Trump should cooperate and be interviewed by Mueller. (CBS News)

Trump: There is no obstruction of justice, "it's called Fighting Back." Trump attacked Robert Mueller's team, tweeting that "The Russia Witch Hunt is rapidly losing credibility." He added: "The 13 Angry Democrats in charge of the Russian Witch Hunt are starting to find out that there is a Court System in place that actually protects people from injustice…and just wait 'till the Courts get to see your unrevealed Conflicts of Interest!" (NPR / NBC News / The Hill / CNN)

Robert Mueller interviewed Tom Barrack, one of Trump's closest friends and confidants. The special counsel interviewed Barrack as part of the investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election campaign and afterwards. The questioning focused on Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, financial issues related to the campaign, the transition and Trump's inauguration in January 2017. The interview was "months ago." (Associated Press)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes threatened to hold Jeff Sessions in contempt of Congress for failing to hand over classified materials related to the Russia investigation. On Friday, the Justice Department informed Nunes that providing the information on a "specific individual" could harm national security. Nunes has previously threatened on several occasions to hold Justice Department officials in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over documents, only to not read the materials once they were made available to him. (CNN)

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee plan to release a trove of 3,000 Russian-linked Facebook ads later this week. The release of the ads would offer a broad picture of how the social network was used by the pro-Russian Internet Research Agency during and after the 2016 presidential election. (Wall Street Journal)

Devin Nunes opted not to read Justice Department records after publicly demanding a fully uncensored version of the documents that explain how the Russia investigation began in 2016. Nunes threatened Rod Rosenstein with contempt of Congress if he didn't comply. (CNN)

Giuliani: The special counsel's request for an interview is an effort to "trap" Trump "into perjury, and we're not suckers." Giuliani added that Robert Mueller's "silly deposition is about a case in which he supposedly colluded with the Russians but there's no evidence." He called on Jeff Sessions to "step in and close it and say enough is enough." (Washington Post)

Former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo said it's clear that Mueller's team is "still really focused on Russia collusion," adding that Mueller's team knows "more about the Trump campaign than anyone who ever worked there." Caputo was interviewed this week behind closed doors by the Senate Intelligence Committee. (CNN)

Robert Mueller warned Trump's legal team that he could subpoena the president to appear before a grand jury if he refuses to speak to federal investigators involved in the Russia probe. Mueller raised the possibility of a subpoena during a tense meeting in March after Trump's attorneys insisted that Trump was under no obligation to speak with investigators. Unlike an interview with the special counsel, Trump would not be allowed to bring his lawyers to a grand jury hearing. (Washington Post)

Ukraine stopped cooperating with Mueller regarding Paul Manafort at the same time the Trump administration was finalizing plans to sell the country anti-tank missiles. Ukrainian law enforcement also allowed Konstantin Kilimnika, a potential witness to possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, to leave for Russia, putting him out of reach for questioning. (New York Times)

Robert Mueller has at least 49 questions he wants to ask Trump regarding his ties to Russia and alleged obstruction of justice. The questions deal primarily with Trump's firing of James Comey and Michael Flynn, as well as his treatment of Jeff Sessions and the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russians who claimed to have damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Other topics of inquiry include Trump's conversations with Michael Cohen about a real estate deal in Moscow, Jared Kushner's attempts to set up a backchannel to Russia, contacts Trump had with Roger Stone, and Trump's 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant. (New York Times)

Trump tweeted that it was "So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were 'leaked' to the media." The leak didn't come from Mueller's office, but were provided to the New York Times by a person outside of Trump's legal team. "No questions on Collusion," Trump added. "Oh, I see…you have a made up, phony crime, Collusion, that never existed, and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information. Nice!" The list includes 13 questions related to possible cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump followed up with another tweet 45 minutes later: "It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened! Witch Hunt!"(Washington Post / Politico)

Former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo met with the Senate Intelligence Committee investigators as part of the panel's probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. (ABC News)

The FBI questioned a Russian mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter linked to Putin, Trump, and Michael Cohen. The FBI showed up unannounced at Fedor Emelianenko's hotel room in Chicago. "All I can say is that, yeah, they showed up unannounced, knocking on our doors," Emelianenko's manager Jerry Millen said. Trump announced a joint venture involving MMA and Emelianenko in 2008. Cohen was the project's chief operating officer. (Associated Press / The Telegraph / NY Daily News)

The House Intelligence Committee found "no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government" in the 2016 election. The 253-page report criticized both the Trump and Hillary Clinton campaigns for "poor judgment and ill-considered actions" in their dealings with Russia-related figures. Democrats on the committee accused the Republicans of prematurely closing the investigation in "a systematic effort to muddy the waters and to deflect attention away from the President," asserting that Trump associates' willingness to accept Russian assistance suggests "a consciousness of wrongfulness, if not illegality." The report accused the intelligence community of "significant intelligence tradecraft failings," suggesting that Russia's main goal was to sow discord in the United States and not to help Trump win the election. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)

Minutes after the committee's report was released, Trump tweeted "Wow!" the Russia investigation is "A total Witch Hunt!" and "MUST END NOW." (The Hill)

Minutes after the committee's report was released, Trump tweeted "Wow!" the Russia investigation is "A total Witch Hunt!" and "MUST END NOW." (The Hill)

Natalya Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Trump campaign officials at Trump Tower in 2016, was an informant for Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika. "I am a lawyer, and I am an informant," she said in newly released emails. "Since 2013, I have been actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general." Veselnitskaya insists that she met with Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and others in a private capacity – not as a representative of the Russian government – despite an intermediary promising that Veselnitskaya had documents that would incriminate Clinton. (New York Times)

A federal judge dismissed Paul Manafort's civil suit challenging Robert Mueller's authority. Manafort's attorneys asked the judge to throw out all charges against Manafort, arguing that Mueller had exceeded his authority by bringing charges unrelated to Russian election interference. (CBS News / Politico)

Trump confirmed that he spent the night in Moscow during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant and accused James Comey of putting "a lot of phony stuff" in his memos, which were released last week. "Of course I stayed there," Trump said. The admission contradicts statements Trump made to Comey on two separate occasions that he never stayed the night at the Ritz-Carlton during the trip, which is why – he claims – there is no way the "golden showers thing" happened. Flight records also confirm that Trump stayed overnight in Moscow. (The Hill / Bloomberg)

Trump on his presidency: "I would give myself an A-plus." Asked during a "Fox and Friends" interview how he would grade his presidency, Trump answered by first complaining that the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election is a "hoax" and a "witch hunt" orchestrated by Democrats before eventually replying: "I would give myself an A-plus." (The Hill)

poll/ 58% of voters approve of Robert Mueller's conduct so far, saying they believe he has "stayed within the boundaries of the Russia investigation." (The Hill)

Mueller's raid on Paul Manafort's condo and storage locker last July was to gather documents related to the Trump Tower meeting between Russian lobbyists and Manafort, Trump Jr., and Jared Kushner. A new court filing by the special counsel confirmed that Mueller's team raided Manafort's home in July 2017 to recover "Communications, records, documents, and other files involving any of the attendees of the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, as well as Aras and Amin Agalorov." Manafort has been indicted on five counts, including conspiracy against the U.S., money laundering, and acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government, and is fighting to suppress evidence collected in the raid. (Newsweek / Politico / Bloomberg / Law and Crime)

Russian hackers likely targeted more than 21 states before the 2016 election, a top Department of Homeland Security official said. (The Hill)

Flight records contradict Trump's claim he never spent the night in Moscow during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant. According to James Comey's memos, Trump twice told the now-former FBI director that there is no way the "golden showers thing" happened because he claims he arrived on the morning of the event and left shortly after it ended in the early hours of the next morning. Christopher Steele's dossier alleges that Trump had prostitutes perform "golden showers" on the bed in the Ritz-Carlton's presidential suite in 2013 during the Miss Universe pageant. Flights records show Trump arrived in Moscow on November 8th, 2013, and left at 3:58am on November 10th, 2013. (Bloomberg)

Flight records contradict Trump's claim he never spent the night in Moscow during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant. According to James Comey's memos, Trump twice told the now-former FBI director that there is no way the "golden showers thing" happened because he claims he arrived on the morning of the event and left shortly after it ended in the early hours of the next morning. Christopher Steele's dossier alleges that Trump had prostitutes perform "golden showers" on the bed in the Ritz-Carlton's presidential suite in 2013 during the Miss Universe pageant. Flights records show Trump arrived in Moscow on November 8th, 2013, and left at 3:58am on November 10th, 2013. (Bloomberg)

Trump's false claims to Comey about Moscow stay could aid Mueller. James Comey says the president told him that he never spent the night in Moscow in 2013, but flight records, social media and his bodyguard's testimony show otherwise. (Politico)

TIMELINE: An hour-by-hour recap of Trump's 2013 visit to Moscow. (Bloomberg)

Trump flew to Moscow on November 7th, 2013, landing Friday, November 8th.

The next day, Trump was at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, did a tour of Moscow, and attended the Miss Universe pageant, followed by an afterparty that started at 1am.

Keith Schiller, Trump's bodyguard, testified before Congress that "a Russian participant" offered to send five women to Trump's hotel room on November 9th. Schiller reportedly rejected the offer and stood outside Trump's hotel room until he went to bed for the night.

The jet Trump took to Moscow left at 3:58am on the night of November 9th, 2013, landing in New Jersey at 4:11am local time.

Trump's new national security adviser chaired a nonprofit that promoted misleading and anti-Muslim news. Bolton was chairman of the Gatestone Institute from 2013 until last month. The advocacy group claims that a "jihadist takeover" of Europe is leading to a "Great White Death," which was amplified by a Russian troll factory that sought to portray Western society as at risk of "Islamization." (NBC News)

Trump's legislative affairs director won't rule out Trump firing Robert Mueller or Rod Rosenstein, saying the special counsel has moved outside his original mandate. Marc Short said: "We believe the scope has gone well beyond what was intended to be Russian meddling in the election," adding, "We don't know how far off the investigation is going to veer." (Politico)

The Treasury Department eased sanctions on a Russian aluminum producer tied to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who is close to Putin. (Politico)

The Democratic National Committee filed a lawsuit against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks alleging a conspiracy to help Trump win the 2016 election. The 66-page lawsuit claims that Russian hacking, the Trump associates' contacts with Russia, and the public cheerleading by the campaign of the hacks amounted to conspiracy to interfere in the election and cause damage to the Democratic Party. DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement: "This constituted an act of unprecedented treachery: the campaign of a nominee for President of the United States in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the presidency." If the lawsuit proceeds, Trump and his campaign aides could be forced to submit to depositions that require them to answer questions under oath. (Washington Post / Reuters / New York Times / CNN)

Trump invited Putin to the U.S. during a phone call on March 20. Trump reportedly said he "would be glad to see [Putin] in the White House," according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (Reuters)

Trump was annoyed with Michael Flynn for making Putin wait six days for a return congratulatory phone call. Trump complained that Flynn "has serious judgment issues" as a result. Days before Michael Flynn was fired, then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked Comey if Flynn's communications were being monitored under a FISA surveillance warrant. (Reuters / The Guardian)

Trump tweeted that Michael Flynn's life is now "totally destroyed" while "Shadey James Comey can Leak and Lie and make lots of money from a third rate book." Flynn pleaded guilty in December to lying to federal agents and is cooperating with Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and whether the Trump campaign was involved. (Bloomberg)

Putin once told Trump that Russia has "some of the most beautiful hookers in the world," according to Comey. In a memo dated Feb. 8, 2017, Comey writes that Trump "brought up the 'Golden Showers thing,'" saying that "'the hookers thing' is nonsense." (The Hill)

Comey explained why he thinks "it's possible" that Russia has compromising information on Trump. First, he says, is that "the President is constantly bringing it up with me to deny it." And, second, Trump "wouldn't criticize Vladimir Putin even in private, which struck me as odd." (CNN)

Comey explained why he thinks "it's possible" that Russia has compromising information on Trump. First, he says, is that "the President is constantly bringing it up with me to deny it." And, second, Trump "wouldn't criticize Vladimir Putin even in private, which struck me as odd." (CNN)

Strzok helped oversee the probe of Hillary Clinton's email use and the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump's congressional allies threatened to impeach Rod Rosenstein if he didn't provide them with documents about the FBI's conduct related to the Russia probe and the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server. Representatives Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan said Rosenstein could also be held in contempt of Congress if he doesn't satisfy their demands for documents. Critics say the two Republicans are attempting to build a case against Rosenstein in hopes of closing the Mueller investigation. (Washington Post)

The special counsel suspects that Paul Manafort served as a "back channel" between the Trump campaign and Russians intent on meddling in the presidential election. Manafort "had long-standing ties to Russia-backed politicians," Justice Department attorney Michael Dreeben said. "Did they provide back channels to Russia? Investigators will naturally look at those things." Manafort's lawyers argued that Robert Mueller exceeded his authority when he indicted Manafort on charges of laundering millions of dollars while acting as an unregistered agent of the Ukrainian government. (Bloomberg)

Trump: We'll put sanctions on Russia "as soon as they very much deserve it," adding that "there has been nobody tougher on Russia than Donald Trump." The third-person comment capped a four-day stretch of confusion over whether the Trump administration would punish Moscow for its role in a recent chemical attack in Syria. (The Hill)

Michael Cohen dropped a pair of libel suits against BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS over the publication of the dossier that details alleged ties between Trump and Russia. The dossier claims Cohen met with Russian operatives somewhere in Europe to "clean up the mess" created by the public disclosures of Trump associates' ties to Russia. Pursuing the suit would require Cohen to "face a discovery process that would have forced him to defend his reputation and address the allegations of the Steele dossier under penalty of perjury." (Politico / Washington Post)

Defense Secretary James Mattis wanted to get Congressional approval before bombing Syria last week. Trump overruled him because he wanted his tweets to be supported by action, despite warnings that an overly aggressive strike could spark a larger dispute with Russia. A limited airstrike on three targets was the compromise. (New York Times)

Nikki Haley: "I don't get confused." The comment by the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations comes in response to a White House official attributing her statement that Trump would impose sanctions on Russia to "momentary confusion." Larry Kudlow, the president's national economics adviser, said Haley "got ahead of the curve." Later, Kudlow called Haley to apologize, saying "she was certainly not confused." He added: "She was basically following what she thought was policy. The policy was changed and she wasn't told about it, so she was in a box." The White House sent out a document – titled "White House talking points" – to surrogates on Saturday letting them know that Trump had decided to take punitive action against Moscow. (New York Times / Politico / CNN)

Trump denied that he fired James Comey because of the Russia investigation, directly contradicting his own comments on Comey's dismissal. In May 2017, Trump told NBC's Lester Holt that his decision to fire Comey was "this Russia thing," which he called "a made up story" and "an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won." Today, Trump tweeted that "Slippery James Comey, the worst FBI Director in history, was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation," adding the requisite all-caps "NO COLLUSION (except by the Dems)!" (CNN / Washington Post / Axios)

Trump rejected a new round of sanctions that would have been imposed against Russia on Monday. Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that "a decision will be made in the near future," and Trump has now decided to not move forward with the sanctions. She added that Trump "has been clear that he's going to be tough on Russia, but at the same time he'd still like to have a good relationship with them." (New York Times)

Trump's National Economic Council chairman said Nikki Haley "got ahead" of herself in announcing new sanctions on Russia. Larry Kudlow insisted there was no confusion within the administration about the sanctions. Trump signed off on the sanctions package, but changed his mind following the airstrikes in Syria. "Russia sanctions were a part of the agreed-upon plan going into the strike and going into the weekend," said a senior administration official. "As recently as Saturday that was reconfirmed as part of the plan." (CNN / Politico)

The Trump campaign paid $66,000 to Keith Schiller's lawyer, Trump's former longtime bodyguard. Schiller's lawyers, Schertler & Onorato LLP, received a single payment in January, despite having left his White House job in September. Schiller testified to the House Intelligence Committee in November that someone made an offer to send five women to Trump's hotel room in Moscow during to the 2013 Miss Universe pageant. Schiller said he turned down the offer on Trump's behalf and that no women ever came, as far as he was aware. Federal election law allows the use of campaign money for legal fees, but only if the fees are related to a matter connected to the campaign. (NBC News)

poll/ Roughly 7 in 10 Americans support tougher U.S. sanctions on Russia, while nearly half say Trump has done "too little" to address Russia's alleged violations of international law. Meanwhile, 52% say Trump should invite Putin to the White House in order to help improve U.S.-Russia relations; 42% oppose the invitation because they feel it would give Putin legitimacy. (Washington Post-ABC News poll)

James Comey called Trump "morally unfit to be president" and likened "the loyalty oaths" to a mob boss at "the dominant center of everything" who is doing "tremendous damage" to institutional and cultural norms. In his Sunday interview with George Stephanopoulos, Comey said that it is "possible, but I don't know" if Russia has compromising information on Trump. (ABC News / Reuters)

The Pentagon said there has been a "2,000% increase in Russian trolls in the last 24 hours," following the airstrikes against Syria on Friday night. (Axios)

The Trump administration walked back Nikki Haley's announcement that the U.S. Treasury plans to issue additional sanctions on Russia following the chemical weapons attack in Syria last week. "We are considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future," Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. (The Hill)

Trump was "furious" that his administration was being portrayed in the media for taking the toughest stance on Russia following the announcement that the U.S. planned to expel 60 Russian diplomats and suspected spies. Trump believed that France and Germany would match the United States' response. Instead, they each expelled four Russian officials. (Washington Post)

The U.S., France, and Britain launched airstrikes targeting three Syrian chemical weapons facilities as Trump attempted to punish Bashar al-Assad for a chemical attack near Damascus last weekend that killed more than 40 people. The strikes targeted a scientific research center, a chemical weapons storage facility, and a command post. "We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents," Trump said from the White House, adding that the U.S. and its allies had "marshaled their righteous power." Putin called the airstrikes an "act of aggression against a sovereign state" and called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations' Security Council. (New York Times / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

Nikki Haley: Trump is "locked and loaded" to strike again if Syria uses chemical weapons again. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations' comment came during an emergency Security Council meeting called by Russia. (Washington Post)

Russian military claimed that Syrian air defenses shot down 71 of the 103 missiles fired by the US and its allies. The Pentagon denied the claim. (The Guardian)

Robert Mueller has evidence that Michael Cohen made a secret trip to Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign, entering through Germany in "August or early September." Confirmation of the trip corroborates part of the Christopher Steele dossier that Cohen met with an ally of Putin. Cohen has denied that he has ever been in Prague and that he colluded with Russia during the campaign. (McClatchy DC)

A former Russian spy worked on the Moscow Trump tower deal during the 2016 presidential campaign. The former agent, who had served in the GRU, negotiated for financing for a Trump-branded tower in Moscow from a Russian state-owned bank that was under US sanctions at the time. The former Russian spy also passed intelligence to the US on key national security matters, including al-Qaeda's weapons caches and North Korea's attempts to develop nuclear weapons. (BuzzFeed News)

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)

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)

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)

A Trump interview with Robert Mueller is now unlikely to take place following Monday's FBI raid of Michael Cohen's home, office, and hotel room, which has "significantly complicated" negotiations for a presidential interview, according to a person familiar with the discussions. Trump's lawyers wanted a potential interview to last only a few hours, as well as force Mueller to release his report within three or four months. An interview was considered one of the last steps Mueller needed before closing the obstruction of justice portion of his Russia investigation. (NBC News)

Trump asked James Comey to investigate "the golden showers thing" and "prove it was a lie" in January 2017 so he could "lift the cloud" because it upset Melania Trump. The infamous dossier, compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, alleges that Trump watched sex workers urinate on themselves in the same Moscow suite that the Obamas had stayed in previously "as a way of soiling the bed." Comey said Trump was obsessed with the sex workers portion of the dossier, asking about it at least four times. (Washington Post)

The White House is preparing talking points designed to undermine Rod Rosenstein's credibility and cast the deputy attorney general as too conflicted to fairly oversee the Russia investigation. The White House is hoping that Trump's defenders will paint Rosenstein and Comey as close colleagues and argue that Rosenstein is approving an expanding investigation as "payback for the President firing one of his best friends." (CNN)

Trump tweeted that an attack on Syria "could be very soon or not soon at all!" Trump, trying to clarify his tweet yesterday that U.S. missiles "will be coming," claimed that he "never said when an attack on Syria would take place." In response, Syria moved its military aircraft to the Russian base near Latakia yesterday. (New York Times / Washington Post)

poll/ Obama is more admired than Trump in every country except one: Russia. Obama ranked first in 19 of 35 countries, including the U.S. Trump, meanwhile, ranked 2nd in the U.S. and 11th in Russia. Obama ranked 12th. (YouGov)

Trump tweets that "smart" missiles "will be coming" toward Syria in response to a chemical attack, taunting Russia to "get ready." Russia's ambassador to Lebanon said any U.S. missiles fired at Syria would be shot down and the launch sites targeted. Trump also condemned Moscow's backing of Bashar al-Assad, saying: "You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!" In a pair of subsequent tweets, Trump said relations between the U.S. and Russia are "worse now than it has ever been" and the "Fake and Corrupt Russia Investigation," Democrats, and everybody that worked for Obama are to blame. (New York Times / Washington Post)

The NRA said it accepted contributions from about 23 Russians, or Americans living in Russia, since 2015. (NPR)

Mueller is using the Paul Manafort investigation to probe Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, search warrant documents reveal. Mueller is seeking information from Manafort about foreign political donations and the meeting between top Trump campaign officials and Russian operatives in Trump Tower, in addition to Manafort's interactions with a Russian real estate magnate and possible campaign finance violations. (CNN / Associated Press)

The Russian military has been jamming the GPS systems of U.S. military drones operating in Syria. The Defense Department did not say whether the jamming is causing drones to crash. (NBC News)

Trump vowed to make "major decisions" in the next 24 to 48 hours about how to respond to a suspected chemical attack in Syria that killed dozens of people. Trump said there will be a "big price to pay" for the "atrocious," "horrible," and "barbaric act." Trump directly criticized Putin, Russia, and Iran for backing "Animal Assad" in a tweet. Later, Trump said "Everybody's going to pay a price. [Putin] will, everybody will." (New York Times / Washington Post / Reuters)

Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook should have done more to prevent third-party apps from collecting users' data without their permission and for being "too slow to spot and respond to Russian interference" during the U.S. election. In written testimony, Zuckerberg said that "It's clear now that we didn't do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well" and that Facebook "didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake." Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify before the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees on Tuesday, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday. The social network said it would form an independent commission of academic researchers to study social media's impact on elections. (Reuters / Washington Post / New York Times)

Robert Mueller has evidence that questions Erik Prince's congressional testimony about a chance meeting last year in the Seychelles with Kirill Dmitriev, the manager of a state-run Russian investment fund close to Putin. George Nader, a cooperating witness with limited immunity, told investigators that he facilitated and personally attended a meeting between Prince and Dmitriev days before Trump was inaugurated. The goal of the meeting was to discuss foreign policy and to establish a line of communication between the Russian government and the incoming Trump administration. Prince told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in November that "I didn't fly there to meet any Russian guy," and the meeting with Dmitriev was unexpected. Prince founded the private military contractor Blackwater USA and is the brother of Betsy DeVos, who serves as Trump's secretary of education. As of late March, Mueller's team has not asked Prince to appear before the grand jury. (ABC News)

Mueller's investigators questioned a Trump Organization associate about Michael Cohen's involvement in business deals in Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Russia. The special counsel's team showed up unannounced at the home of the business associate this week with a subpoena seeking information about the efforts by Trump's personal attorney and a former Trump Organization employee to expand the Trump brand abroad. (McClatchy DC)

The Trump administration imposed new sanctions on 17 Russian government officials, a state-owned weapons company, and seven oligarchs and 12 companies affiliated with them. "The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. "Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government's destabilizing activities." The sanctions were in response to the "totality of the Russian government's ongoing and increasingly malign activities in the world," including interfering in the 2016 election and aggressions in Crimea, Ukraine, and Syria. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / NBC News)

Trump considered replacing Jeff Sessions with Scott Pruitt as recently as this week. "He was 100% still trying to protect Pruitt because Pruitt is his fill-in for Sessions," a person familiar with Trump's thinking said. Trump remains frustrated that Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation more than a year ago. (CNN)

A cooperating witness in Robert Mueller's investigation may have information linking the United Arab Emirates to Russia. George Nader has received at least partial immunity for his cooperation. Nader's international connections helped him arrange several meetings that have drawn the attention of the special counsel, including a meeting in the Seychelles between Kirill Dmitriev, the manager of a state-run Russian investment fund, and a Trump adviser days before Trump took office. (New York Times)

Robert Mueller: Trump is not currently a criminal target in the Russia probe, but he remains under investigation. The special counsel also told Trump's lawyers during negotiations in early March regarding a possible Trump interview that he is preparing a report about Trump's actions and potential obstruction of justice. Mueller is required to report his conclusions confidentially to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who has the authority to decide whether to release the information publicly. Mueller's investigators plan to report on their findings in stages, starting with the obstruction issue. Trump has privately expressed relief at his legal status and has repeatedly told allies that he is not a target of the probe and believes an interview will help him put the matter behind him. (Washington Post)

Analysis: Mueller told Trump he's not a criminal target in the Russia probe. That may not mean what you think. (Washington Post)

Mueller's team has been questioning Russian oligarchs who travel to the US. Investigators want to know if wealthy Russians illegally funneled money directly or indirectly into Trump's presidential campaign and inauguration. Foreign nationals are prohibited under campaign finance laws from donating to US political campaigns. Mueller's team has stopped at least three Russian oligarchs for questioning in recent weeks. (CNN)

H. R. McMaster denounced Russia and said "we have failed to impose sufficient costs" in his last public remarks as Trump's national security adviser. "Russia has used old and new forms of aggression to undermine our open societies and the foundations of international peace and stability," McMaster said. Hours earlier, Trump claimed that "nobody has been tougher on Russia than I have." (Washington Post)

Trump is expected this week to impose additional sanctions against Russia, which are designed to target oligarchs with ties to Putin. The United States is expected to target individuals on a list of influential Russian political and business leaders that the Treasury Department released in January. (Washington Post)

Rod Rosenstein authorized Robert Mueller to investigate Paul Manafort for allegedly "colluding with Russian government officials" in a classified August 2017 memo. Mueller was also given authority to probe Manafort's work for the Ukrainian government. The memo was disclosed in a court filing as Mueller's prosecutors seek to counter arguments by Manafort's lawyers that his indictment should be thrown out. (CNN / Wall Street Journal)

A senior leader in Russia's spy agency has agreed to plead partially guilty to sharing information with foreign intelligence. Dmitry Dokuchaev is wanted by the FBI and suspected to be linked to Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. (McClatchy DC)

Trump invited Putin to the White House, according to Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov. "When our presidents spoke on the phone, Trump suggested having the meeting in Washington at the White House," Ushakov said. "This is quite an interesting, positive idea." During a March 20 phone call, Trump congratulated Putin for his reelection victory and discussed a possible meeting. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that "a number of potential venues, including the White House," were discussed during the phone call. (Washington Post / Bloomberg)

Trump told White House aides not to publicly discuss a plan to provide new U.S. weapons to Ukraine to help the country fight back against Russian-backed separatists. Officials said Trump was concerned that doing so might agitate Putin. "He doesn't want us to bring it up," said one White House official. "It is not something he wants to talk about." (NBC News)

Russia's ambassador to the U.S. can't remember a period of worse relations between Washington and Moscow. Anatoly Antonov also said it's "impossible to imagine" that the Kremlin was responsible for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, adding that "there is great mistrust between the United States and Russia" at present. (NBC News)

The FBI detained Ted Malloch and issued him a subpoena to testify before Robert Mueller about potential collusion between Trump's campaign and the Russian government. FBI asked Malloch about his relationship with Roger Stone and if he had ever visited the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange resides. Malloch is reportedly close to Trump, Steve Bannon, UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, and Stone. (The Guardian / NBC News)

Czech officials have extradited a Russian hacker to the U.S. to face charges that he hacked into LinkedIn, Dropbox, and other American companies. Yevgeniy Nikulin, who denies that he is a hacker, was arrested by Czech officials in Prague in cooperation with the FBI in October 2016. (Associated Press)

Congress is investigating an August 2016 flight from Moscow to New Jersey in connection with a meeting between Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik. The jet, which is linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties with the Kremlin, landed in the U.S. shortly before Manafort and Kilimnik met in Manhattan. Kilimnik is the unnamed person with "ties to Russian intelligence" in Robert Mueller's indictment of Rick Gates. (Vice News)

Robert Mueller's team pushed Rick Gates last year to help them connect the Trump campaign to the Russians. Mueller's team plans to use information from Gates to tie Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, directly to a Russian intelligence agency. As part of Gates' agreement to cooperate with the special counsel last month, he earned a reduced potential sentence and had several charges against him dropped. (CNN)

Mueller's team has also been questioning witnesses about an event attended by both Jeff Sessions and Sergei Kislyak during the 2016 Republican National Convention. The team also has been asking if Sessions had private discussions with the now former Russian Ambassador to the United States on the sidelines of a Trump campaign speech at the Washington Mayflower Hotel in April 2016. (Reuters)

Jeff Sessions said he will not name a second special counsel at this time. Instead, Sessions revealed that Utah's top federal prosecutor, John Huber, is investigating allegations that the FBI abused its powers in surveilling Carter Page, and that more should have been done to investigate Hillary Clinton's ties to a Russian nuclear energy agency. (CNN / Washington Post)

The FBI investigated Trump's plans to build a hotel in Latvia following Latvia's request for assistance with an anti-corruption investigation. The investigation targeted Igor Krutoy, a wealthy Putin supporter who was in on the plans and with whom Trump and daughter Ivanka met for several hours at Trump Tower in 2010. The hotel plan was abandoned after the investigation began. (The Guardian)

Russia will close the American consulate in St. Petersburg and kick out 60 U.S. diplomats. The move comes in response to the coordinated expulsion of Russian diplomats from the U.S. and several European countries. (Washington Post)

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is raising funds to help cover costs defending against ongoing government probes. McCabe was fired by Jeff Sessions but says he was terminated because he is a witness in the Russia investigation. (Reuters)

Rick Gates knowingly communicated with "a former Russian Intelligence Officer" during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to documents filed by Robert Mueller's investigators. Gates was in frequent contact with "Person A" – who has been identified as Konstantin Kilimnik – during the time he worked for Trump's campaign, including September and October 2016. The documents Mueller filed indicate that the communications between Gates and Kilimnik are "pertinent to the investigation." Kilimnik worked with Paul Manafort for four years on behalf of a Kremlin-aligned Ukrainian political party. (New York Times / Washington Post)

Gates told Alexander van der Zwaan that Kilimnik was a former intelligence officer with Russia's foreign intelligence service. The London-based lawyer, who previously worked with Gates and Manafort, pleaded guilty last month to lying to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators about his interactions with Gates and Kilimnik. Gates communicated with Kilimnik and van der Zwaan in a "series of calls" in September and October 2016. (CNN / Politico / The Hill)

poll/ 58% of Americans want to see the investigation into Russian interference fully investigated, compared to 36% who think it's an effort to discredit Trump's presidency. 55% of Americans don't think Trump is doing enough to cooperate with the investigation. (CNN)

The NRA confirmed that it accepts foreign donations but denied that it uses the money for election purposes. The Federal Election Commission is investigating whether a top Russian banker with Kremlin ties illegally funneled money to the NRA to aid Trump's campaign for president. (NPR)

The author of the Trump dossier provided a report to the FBI asserting that Putin's former media czar was beaten to death by hired thugs in Washington, DC. The assertion contradicts the US government's official finding that RT founder Mikhail Lesin died by accident. (BuzzFeed News)

Trump's personal legal team is down to one member as he struggles to find lawyers willing to represent him. Jay Sekulow is the only personal lawyer for Trump working full time on Robert Mueller's investigation. He is assisted by Ty Cobb, a White House lawyer paid by taxpayers to represent the institution of the presidency rather than Trump personally. John Dowd, who had been leading the team handling the Russia inquiry, resigned last week after strategy disputes with Trump, while Marc Kasowitz's role was reduced after a series of clashes with Trump over the summer. Emmet Flood, the lawyer who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment process, said he will not represent Trump if Kasowitz has any role on the team, and another, Theodore Olson, declined to represent Trump. (New York Times / Washington Post)

The U.S. will expel 60 Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy on British soil. The Russian consulate in Seattle will also be closed as part of the response. (NBC News)

George Papadopoulos was encouraged to improve relations with Russia because it was a top foreign policy goal of the campaign. Emails turned over to investigators, show Papadopoulos had more contact with key Trump campaign and transition officials than has been publicly acknowledged. (Washington Post)

The "lone hacker" known as Guccifer 2.0 is actually a Russian intelligence officer. Guccifer claimed responsibility for the breach of the Democratic National Committee and the data dump of the stolen DNC emails. He publicly portrayed himself as the "lone hacker" who was able to penetrate the DNC, but a team of investigators identified him as an officer of Russia's military intelligence directorate, or GRU, after he failed to turn on the virtual private network (VPN) that he used to disguise his IP address. As a result, he left a real, Moscow-based IP address in the server logs of an American social media company. (The Daily Beast)

Mueller's team has discussed four main topics with Trump's lawyers for a potential Trump interview. Specifically, the special counsel wants to know about Trump's role in crafting a statement aboard Air Force One about Trump Jr.'s June 2016 meeting with Russians at Trump Tower; the circumstances surrounding the Trump Tower meeting; and the firings of James Comey and Michael Flynn. Mueller's team is also looking at connections between Trump's campaign and Cambridge Analytica and how the data firm collected and utilized voter data in battleground states. (CNN / Associated Press)

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to end their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, concluding that the evidence failed to amount to collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. (Politico)

The Senate Intelligence Committee recommended that states buy voting machines that produce paper ballots and that they secure voter databases ahead of November's midterm elections. Senators, concerned about Russian meddling in the midterms, called on Congress to "urgently" make funds available for states to update their voting systems, institute vote audits, and hire staff focused on cybersecurity. (New York Times)

Senators criticized the Trump administration for not doing enough to prepare for the 2018 midterms. "I hear no sense of urgency to really get on top of this issue," Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, said. Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testified before the committee, saying the 2018 midterms and future elections are "clearly potential targets for Russian hacking attempts." (CNN)

Trump ignored specific warnings from his national security advisers not to congratulate Putin on his recent election win. Instead, Trump called Putin and opened by congratulating him. A section in Trump's briefing materials was titled "DO NOT CONGRATULATE" in all-capital letters. (Washington Post)

Trump and John Kelly are reportedly furious over the leak that Trump congratulated Putin despite warnings from multiple national security advisers and briefing materials that said "DO NOT CONGRATULATE." It's still unclear if Trump read the guidance that was given to him by his advisers, but Trump defended his congratulatory call, tweeting that "Getting along with Russia… is a good thing," and that his "energy and chemistry" with Putin will be constructive. He capped off his second tweet with an all-caps: "PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH!" (CNN / Axios)

The former director of the CIA suggested that Russia may have compromising information on Trump "that they could always roll out and make his life more difficult." John Brennan, the CIA director under Obama, said the fact that Trump "had this fawning attitude toward Mr. Putin, has not said anything negative about him, I think continues to say to me that he does have something to fear and something very serious to fear." Brennan was the CIA director in 2016 when the dossier surfaced that claimed the Russians had compromising information on Trump. (CNN / New York Times)

Andrew McCabe oversaw a federal criminal investigation into whether Jeff Sessions lacked candor when testifying before Congress about contacts with Russians. McCabe authorized the investigation nearly a year before he was fired by Sessions for a "lack of candor." (ABC News)

Facebook's chief information security officer, Alex Stamos, is leaving the company following disagreements among top Facebook executives over their response to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections and potential interference in the 2018 midterms. The issue is rooted in how much Facebook should publicly share about the ways in which their platform was misused in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections. Stamos oversaw Facebook's security team, which was once 120 people, but is currently down to three people. Stamos plans to leave the company by August. (New York Times)

Trump called Putin to congratulate him on his recent re-election. The call comes days after the White House imposed sanctions on Russia for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and "malicious cyberattacks." The Trump administration has also recently criticized Russia for its apparent role in a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in the U.K. (New York Times)

Three sources contradicted Jeff Sessions' claims that he "pushed back" against a George Papadopoulos proposal for Trump's campaign to meet with Russians in 2016. Some Democrats think the discrepancies in Sessions' testimony suggest the attorney general may have committed perjury. (Reuters)

Trump's personal lawyer wants Rod Rosenstein to end Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. "I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe's boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier," John Dowd wrote in an email comment about McCabe's firing. Dowd initially said he was speaking on behalf of Trump "as his counsel," but later said he was not speaking on the president's behalf. (The Daily Beast)

Trump's personal lawyer wants Rod Rosenstein to end Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. "I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe's boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier," John Dowd wrote in an email comment about McCabe's firing. Dowd initially said he was speaking on behalf of Trump "as his counsel," but later said he was not speaking on the president's behalf. (The Daily Beast)

Robert Mueller subpoenaed the Trump Organization to turn over documents related to Russia and other topics he's investigating. The subpoena was delivered in "recent weeks" and is the first known order directly related to Trump's businesses. (New York Times)

BuzzFeed wants to use Michael Cohen's libel suit against them to demand that Stormy Daniels preserve all records related to her relationship with Trump, including all negotiations, agreements, and payments involving Cohen and the $130,000 payment she received before the 2016 election as part of a nondisclosure agreement she is now trying to void. Cohen filed a libel suit in January against BuzzFeed and four staffers over the publication of the dossier of allegations about Trump's relationship with Russia.(Politico)

Trump imposed sanctions on Russian organizations and individuals in retaliation for interference in the 2016 presidential election and other "malicious" cyberattacks. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called the cyberattacks "the most destructive and costly cyberattack in history," having caused billions of dollars in damage in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

The Trump administration accused Moscow of a deliberate, ongoing hacking operation to penetrate the U.S. energy grid, aviation systems, and other infrastructure. "Since at least March 2016, Russian government cyber actors" have targeted "government entities and multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors," including those of energy, nuclear, water and aviation, according to an alert issued by the Department of Homeland Security and F.BI. (Associated Press / Bloomberg / Politico)

Trey Gowdy contradicted his own Republican-led House Intelligence Committee's findings in the Russia probe. Gowdy said Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election was motivated in part "by a desire" to hurt Hillary Clinton's candidacy. The committee disagreed with the intelligence community's assessment "with respect to Putin's supposed preference for candidate Trump." (CNBC)

British Prime Minister Theresa May expelled 23 Russian "undeclared intelligence officers" following the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. May said there is "no alternative conclusion" other than Russia being responsible for their attempted murder. (Sky News)

Nikki Haley said U.S. believes Russia was responsible for the attempted assassination of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain. Haley told the U.N. Security Council it should hold the Kremlin "accountable." (NBC News)

Hours before being fired, Rex Tillerson called the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter an "egregious act" that "clearly" came from Russia. He added that Russia is "an irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the life of their citizens." On Monday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said it is "highly likely" Russia is responsible for the poisoning, either directly or because it lost control of the nerve agent. The two were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent in the U.K. and were found unconscious. (NBC News)

Trump: "As soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them, we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be." (Reuters)

Russian exile Nikolai Glushkov was found dead at his home in London. The Metropolitan police said there was no evidence at present to suggest a link to the incident in Salisbury, where Sergei and Yulia Skripal remain in a critical condition. (The Guardian)

House Intelligence Committee Republicans said their investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. The committee agreed with the findings of the intelligence community that Russia had interfered, but they disagreed that the Russians favored Trump. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, said the Republican decision to end the investigation was "another tragic milestone for this Congress, and represents yet another capitulation to the executive branch," adding: "By ending its oversight role in the only authorized investigation in the House, the Majority has placed the interests of protecting the President over protecting the country, and history will judge its actions harshly." (New York Times / CNN)

In the spring of 2016, Roger Stone said he learned from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that the organization had obtained the emails of John Podesta and of the Democratic National Committee. WikiLeaks released the documents in late July and October. U.S. intelligence concluded the hackers who obtained the emails were working for Russia. Stone has since denied any communication with Assange or knowledge of the document dumps by WikiLeaks. Assange and WikiLeaks have also said they never communicated with Stone. (Washington Post)

Putin suggested that Jews were responsible for the cyberattacks during the 2016 election when asked about 13 Russian citizens charged by the special counsel Robert Mueller. "Maybe they are not even Russians," Putin mused, "but Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with Russian citizenship, which should also be checked. Maybe they have dual citizenship or a Green Card. Maybe the U.S. paid them for this. How can you know that? I do not know either." Top Democratic leaders in the House and Senate urged Trump to employ "all resources available" to extradite the 13 Russians. (New York Times / NBC News)

More than two-thirds of House Democrats have signed a letter "strongly urging" Trump to enact sanctions on Russia and adhere to the law he signed last summer. At least 137 of the Democrats in the House have signed the letter, which urges Trump to "reverse course, follow the letter and spirit of the law, and demonstrate that the security of our country and integrity of elections are sacrosanct." (Reuters)

The House Intelligence Committee has finished interviewing witnesses in its probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The Republican-run committee is preparing a report based on witness testimony and thousands of pages of documents. The panel is unlikely to come to a bipartisan conclusion on some of the central questions in the probe. (Wall Street Journal)

Theresa May said it was "highly likely" that Russia was responsible for poisoning a former Russian double agent and his daughter last week in the U.K. The British leader said the poison was identified as a "military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia" and that Russia either engaged in an "indiscriminate and reckless" attack against Britain or it lost control of the nerve agent it developed. Russian officials called May's remarks "a provocation" and "circus show." (The Guardian / BBC / Washington Post)

Trump will meet with Kim Jong-un to negotiate "permanent denuclearization" of North Korea, which will cease all missile testing while the negotiations are being held. The two leaders are expected to meet in the next 60 days. News of a potential meeting has been met with positive reactions from China, Russia, and South Korea. (New York Times / Fox News)

Trump's lawyers want to trade a Trump interview with Robert Mueller in exchange for ending the Trump-related portion of the special counsel's Russia investigation. Trump's legal team wants Mueller to commit to ending the probe 60 days after the interview, as well as limiting the scope of the questioning. (Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty to an 18-count indictment as part of Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The judge set the trial to begin July 10. Last week Manafort pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to launder money and failing to register as a foreign agent. (ABC News / Reuters)

Robert Mueller has evidence about an effort to establish a back-channel between the incoming Trump administration and the Kremlin. Erik Prince, the founder of the private military company Blackwater, met with a Russian official close to Putin in January, 2017. Prince described the meeting to congressional investigators as a chance encounter. A cooperating witness told Mueller's investigators that the meeting was set up in advance so that a representative of the Trump transition could meet with an emissary from Moscow to discuss future relations between the two countries. (Washington Post)

Trump's personal attorney received leaked witness testimony from within the House Intelligence Committee. The lawyer representing Michael Cohen contacted the lawyer of a former John McCain staffer after someone from the House Committee told Cohen's lawyer that the former staffer had information about the Steele dossier that could help Cohen. The information came from closed-door, committee-sensitive testimony. The dossier alleges that Cohen met with Kremlin officials, which Cohen denies. The conversation was reported to the House Intelligence Committee. Robert Mueller, meanwhile, has requested documents and interviewed witnesses about two or more episodes involving Russian interests and Cohen's involvement. (The Daily Beast / Washington Post)

Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act on two occasions, the Office of Special Counsel said as it referred its findings to Trump "for appropriate disciplinary action." In her official capacity, Conway endorsed and advocated against political candidates during two television appearances in 2017. The Hatch Act prohibits government employees from engaging in political activities. The OSC is not affiliated with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. (The Hill / ABC News)

The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee wants to interview Nunberg as part of its Russia investigation. Adam Schiff said Nunberg's assertion that Trump knew about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting before it occurred is an area that the committee needs to explore. Nunberg said he would be willing to testify. "I would go there, sure." (CNN / The Hill)

Sarah Huckabee Sanders refuted Nunberg's suggestion that the campaign colluded with Russia, saying "I definitely think he doesn't know that for sure, because he's incorrect. He hasn't worked at the White House, so I can't speak to him or the lack of knowledge he clearly has. As we've said many times before, there's been no collusion."

A Belarusian escort claims to have more than 16 hours of audio recordings that prove Russia meddled in the U.S. elections. Anastasia Vashukevich, who is close to a Russian oligarch, said she would hand over the recordings if the U.S. granted her asylum. (New York Times)

The author of the Trump dossier told Mueller's team that Russia asked Trump not to hire Mitt Romney as secretary of state. Instead Russia advised Trump to pick someone who would ease sanctions against Moscow for its actions in Ukraine. Christopher Steele spoke with the special counsel's investigators last September. In his 2012 presidential run, Romney called Russia "our No. 1 geopolitical foe." (The New Yorker)

The State Department has spent $0 of the $120 million it has been budgeted for combatting foreign interference in U.S. elections. None of the 23 analysts speak Russian at the Global Engagement Center, which is tasked with countering Moscow's disinformation campaigns. A hiring freeze has prevented the department from recruiting the kind of computer experts needed to track foreign efforts to meddle in the U.S. election process. (New York Times)

A Kremlin-linked Russian politician spent six years building leverage and connections in order to influence the NRA and gain access to American politics. Alexander Torshin, a Putin ally, also claimed that his ties to the NRA afforded him access to Trump. Robert Mueller's team is investigating whether Torshin, who serves as the deputy governor of the Bank of Russia, illegally funneled money to the NRA in order to help the Trump campaign in the 2016 presidential election. (NPR)

A large cache of internal documents from a Russian troll farm were leaked and put up for auction on a Russian "information exchange" in February 2017. The auction received no bids for the Internet Research Agency documents, which promised "working data from the department focused on the United States." The listing revealed details about the Kremlin-backed troll farm's efforts to push propaganda and disinformation in the U.S. (The Daily Beast)

Former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates canceled a planned trip after an online commenter invoked the Russian mafia. Gates told a federal court that he and his wife believe it's "not prudent" to travel with their four children to Boston for spring break. (CNN)

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee were behind the leak of text messages between the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and a Russian-connected lawyer. The text messages between Senator Mark Warner and Adam Waldman, a Washington lawyer with Russian connections, were leaked to Fox News. They show that the senator tried to arrange a meeting with Christopher Steele, author of the so-called Trump dossier. Warner and Richard Burr, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, were so "perturbed" by the leak that they met with Paul Ryan to raise their concerns about House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and the Republicans willingness to leak classified text messages. (New York Times)

Putin warned that Russia has developed nuclear weapons that can't be intercepted by missile-defense systems and that they're planning to add nuclear-powered cruise missiles to their arsenal, which would allow them to strike any target on the globe. Putin added that Russia would consider any nuclear attack against itself or any of its allies an attack on Russia, warning that such an incident would lead to immediate retaliation. "No one listened to us," Putin warned. "Listen to us now." (Associated Press / Washington Post)

Robert Mueller's team is looking into Trump's attempts to fire Jeff Sessions last July, in order to determine whether those alleged efforts to oust Sessions were part of a larger pattern of attempted obstruction of justice by Trump and the administration. Mueller wants to know if Trump attempted to remove Sessions in order to install a loyal attorney general who would exercise control over the special counsel investigation into possible coordination between Trump associates and Russia during the 2016 presidential election campaign. (Washington Post)

Hope Hicks told the House Intelligence Committee that she sometimes has to lie for Trump. After an extended conversation with her lawyers, however, the White House communications director insisted that she has never lied about matters related to Russian interference or possible collusion with Trump associates. (New York Times)

Robert Mueller's investigators have been asking witnesses about Trump's business activities in Russia prior to the 2016 campaign. Mueller's team has been asking about the timing of Trump's decision to run, any potentially compromising information the Russians may have, and why a deal for a Trump Tower in Moscow fell through. (CNN)

Mueller's team is also asking witnesses whether Trump knew about the hacked Democratic emails before they were publicly released, and whether he was involved or aware of WikiLeaks' plan to publish the emails. Investigators have also asked about the relationship between GOP operative Roger Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and why Trump took policy positions favorable to Russia. (NBC News)

Hope Hicks refused to answer questions under instructions from the White House during a closed-door House Intelligence Committee session today on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. "We got Bannoned," a member of the House intelligence committee said, in reference Steve Bannon's earlier refusal to answer committee questions. The White House communications director is one of Trump's closest confidants and advisers. She was originally expected to appear before the committee in January, but her interview was cancelled due to concerns about the scope of questioning and conflicts over the White House's assertions of executive privilege. (Bloomberg / CNN / Washington Post)

Russian operatives "compromised" election systems in seven states prior to 2016 election, from hacking state websites to penetrating voter registration databases, according to a top-secret intelligence reported requested by Obama during his last weeks in office. Three senior intelligence officials said the intelligence community believed the states were Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas, and Wisconsin. Several of those states were notified that foreign entities were probing their systems, but none were told the Russian government was behind it. (NBC News)

The NSA director told lawmakers that he has not received orders from Trump to stop Russian hacking targeting U.S. elections. US Cyber Command chief Adm. Mike Rogers told the Senate Armed Services Committee: "I haven't been granted any additional authorities," adding, "I need a policy decision that indicates there is specific direction to [disrupt Russian election hacking]. The president ultimately would make this decision in accordance with a recommendation from the secretary of Defense." (The Hill / CNN)

poll/ 58% of Americans don't think Trump is taking the Russia investigation seriously enough, and 60% say they are not confident Trump is doing enough to prevent foreign countries from influencing future American elections. Meanwhile, 55% believe Trump attempted to interfere with the Russia investigation, up from 51% in January. (CNN)

poll/ 48% of Americans believe it is likely or very likely that Russia will meddle in the upcoming midterm elections – a seven-point increase from earlier this month. (The Hill / Marist)

The Justice Department is investigating allegations from the House Republican memo that a FISA court was misled by prosecutors and FBI agents when applying for warrants to surveil a Trump campaign adviser with ties to Moscow. (Politico)

poll/ 58% of Americans say they trust Robert Mueller's investigation, while 57% say they don't trust Trump's denials, and 76% believe Russian will continue to meddle in American elections. (USA Today)

Rick Gates pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making false statements and will cooperate with Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election, according to a letter Gates gave to family and close friends. Gates admitted to taking part in a conspiracy to hide tens of millions of dollars he and Paul Manafort obtained for their lobbying and consulting work related to Ukraine. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / ABC News)

The Republican National Committee has been paying more than $37,000 a month in rent at Trump Tower after the RNC came under pressure to stop paying Trump's personal legal bills in the special counsel's Russia investigation. (CNBC)

A Russian oligarch with close ties to Putin, said Russian mercenaries who attacked US troops in Syria this month were in close touch with the Kremlin and Syrian officials shortly before and after the assault. (Washington Post)

A Trump-appointed federal judge who donated to the Trump campaign and worked on his presidential transition team is refusing to recuse himself from overseeing a legal battle involving Fusion GPS, the research firm that produced the dossier of intelligence that contains claims Trump has ties to Russia. U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden donated $1,000 to Trump's presidential campaign. (ABC News)

Trump challenged Jeff Sessions to investigate the Obama administration for not doing enough to stop Russian interference in the 2016 election. "If all of the Russian meddling took place during the Obama Administration, right up to January 20th, why aren’t they the subject of the investigation?" Trump tweeted. "Why didn't Obama do something about the meddling? Why aren't Dem crimes under investigation? Ask Jeff Sessions!" Trump has singled out his own attorney general several times for not doing enough to protect him from the Russia probe. In July, Trump tweeted that Sessions "has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes." A few hours later, Trump called Sessions "beleaguered." (CNN / New York Times)

Alex van der Zwaan pleads guilty in Robert Mueller's probe. The son-in-law of a Russia-based billionaire admitted to lying to investigators about his communications with Rick Gates, the former Trump campaign aide. Van der Zwaan also admitted that he deleted records of emails that prosecutors had requested. It's the fourth guilty plea Mueller has secured, but van der Zwaan is the first not to enter into a cooperation agreement with the special counsel's office. (New York Times / Bloomberg)

Robert Mueller charged an attorney with making a false statement to federal authorities as part of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Prosecutors charged Alex Van Der Zwaan with lying to the FBI and Mueller's office about conversations he had with Rick Gates, the former Trump campaign aide who is cooperating in the Mueller probe, about work done in Ukraine six years ago. Van Der Zwaan was charged by criminal information, which typically precedes a guilty plea because it can only be filed with a defendant's permission and usually indicates the person is cooperating with investigators. (Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post)

Robert Mueller's interest in Jared Kushner has expanded beyond his contacts with Russia and now includes his efforts to secure financing for his company from foreign investors during the presidential transition. Mueller's investigators have been asking about Kushner's conversations during the transition to finance a Kushner Companies-backed New York City office building facing financial troubles. (CNN)

Trump blamed everybody but Russia as he lashed out against the Russia investigation in a nine-hour, profanity-laced, and error-laden tweetstorm. He attacked the FBI, CNN, the Democratic Party, his national security adviser, former president Obama, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Hillary Clinton, and more. He never criticized Russia or Putin's attempts to undermine U.S. elections. (Politico / Washington Post / CNN)

"They are laughing their asses off in Moscow": Trump takes on the FBI, Russia probe and 2016 election. (Washington Post)

National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster said the "evidence is now incontrovertible" that Russia meddled in the U.S. political system, essentially telling the Munich Security Conference to ignore Trump's tweet. Trump countered on Twitter, naturally: "General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems." (Washington Post)

Trump suggested that the FBI could have stopped the school shooter at a Florida high school if they spent less time on the Russia investigation. "Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign - there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!" Trump tweeted. (The Hill)

Robert Mueller's federal grand jury indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for violating criminal laws with the intent to interfere "with U.S. elections and political processes." Mueller's office said that the government accuses all the defendants of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Three defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. The indictment charges that a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency, waged "information warfare" against the U.S. by using social media platforms and fictitious American personas for "supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump … and disparaging Hillary Clinton." Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said this "information warfare" didn’t affect the outcome of the presidential election. (CNBC / ABC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg)

Mueller's investigation into collusion and potential obstruction of justice by Trump and his campaign is expected to continue for months. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that the Russian indictments are vindication that there was "No collusion!" Rod Rosenstein said during his press conference today that there is "no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant" in the alleged scheme to interfere with the 2016 election. Mueller could still indict Americans for knowingly helping Russia. (Bloomberg)

Rick Gates is close to a plea deal with Robert Mueller. The former Trump campaign adviser has been involved in plea negotiations for about a month, and people familiar with the case say he is poised to cooperate with the investigation. If Gates agrees to a plea deal, he will be the third known cooperator in the special counsel's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. (CNN)

Russia-linked bots are promoting pro-gun messages on Twitter in an attempt to sow discord in the aftermath of the Florida school shooting. (CNN)

Russia-linked bots are promoting pro-gun messages on Twitter in an attempt to sow discord in the aftermath of the Florida school shooting. (CNN)

Steve Bannon told the House Intelligence Committee yesterday that he had been instructed by the White House to invoke executive privilege on behalf of Trump and declined to answer questions pertinent to the Russia investigation. Lawmakers are considering whether to hold him in contempt. (CNN)

Steve Bannon was interviewed by Robert Mueller over several days this week, spending more than 20 hours in conversation with the team investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Bannon and his legal team also appeared for a closed-door meeting with the House Intelligence Committee, despite the White House telling lawmakers Bannon would not be answering questions pertinent to the Russia investigation. (NBC News / ABC News / CNN)

Reince Priebus convinced Jeff Sessions not to resign shortly after Trump fired James Comey in May 2017. Trump berated Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation in a meeting in the Oval Office, which lead to Sessions offering his resignation. (New York Times / Vanity Fair)

Trump doesn't believe Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, even though the heads of U.S. intelligence agencies testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia meddled in 2016 and is planning to do so again in 2018. (CNN)

A former senior FBI official is leading BuzzFeed's effort to verify the Trump dossier and defend itself from a Russian billionaire's lawsuit. BuzzFeed in turn is suing the DNC for information the publisher believes could show a link between the Russian billionaire and the e-mail hacking, which would undercut his libel claim. (Foreign Policy / Vanity Fair)

U.S. intelligence agencies expect Russia to meddle in the 2018 midterm elections through hacking and social media manipulation. During testimony at the Senate Intelligence Committee's annual hearing on worldwide threats, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the committee: "Frankly, the United States is under attack" and that Russia will continue to engage in cyber attacks to "degrade our democratic values and weaken our alliances." He added: "There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations." (New York Times / USA Today / NBC News)

More than 200 Russian mercenaries were killed in a clash with U.S. forces in Syria last week. The fighters attacked a base and refinery held by the U.S. and were defeated. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called the situation "perplexing," because it's not clear whether the attack was a rogue operation or if it was ordered by Russia. (Bloomberg)

Rachel Brand quit the Justice Department in part over fears that she'd have to take over the Russia investigation if Trump fired Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The Justice Department's No. 3 attorney had been unhappy with her job for months, telling friends that she felt overwhelmed and unsupported in her job, primarily because four of the 13 divisions she oversaw as the associate attorney general remained unfilled. (NBC News)

The Justice Department's No. 3 official resigned. Rachel Brand was next in line behind Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the special counsel's inquiry into Russian influence in the 2016 election. Trump has called the investigation a witch hunt and even considered firing Rosenstein. (New York Times / CNN)

The FBI was monitoring Carter Page when he spoke to Steve Bannon about Russia in January 2017. The details of the call are vague, but national security experts say the FBI would have retained the conversation as evidence if it seemed pertinent to their investigation into allegations that Trump associates coordinated with the Kremlin. (Politico)

Trump said the White House would release a letter regarding the possible release of the Democrat's memo written which rebuts a Republican document claiming FBI and Justice Department bias against him in the federal probe of Russia and the 2016 U.S. election. (Reuters)

Russian hackers penetrated voter registration rolls in several U.S. states before the 2016 presidential election. A Homeland Security Department official said that of the 21 states that were targeted, a "small number" were successfully penetrated. Officials maintain that there is no evidence that voter rolls were altered. (NBC News)

poll/ 57% of Americans believe Russia will try to influence this year's midterm elections and 55% believe the federal government isn't doing enough to prevent it. (NBC News)

Rex Tillerson: Russia is already trying to influence the 2018 midterm election. Tillerson warned that Russia has "a lot of different tools" that it can use to influence the election. He added: "I don't know that I would say we are better prepared, because the Russians will adapt, as well. The point is, if it's their intention to interfere, they are going to find ways to do that." (Fox News / NBC News)

Trump's lawyers want him to refuse an interview with Robert Mueller, because they're concerned that he could be charged with lying to investigators. Trump, however, has said that he is "looking forward" to speaking with Mueller as part of the investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia's election interference, and whether he obstructed justice. Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer Trump tapped to deal with Mueller's investigation, has said the White House is in "total cooperation mode." (New York Times)

Steve Bannon will not testify before the House Intelligence Committee today, thus risking being held in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena. The panel wants Bannon to testify a second time in its investigation of Russian election meddling. Bannon's January 16th appearance failed to satisfy members of the committee. (CNN / Reuters)

The Justice Department sided with Robert Mueller in a lawsuit filed against him by Paul Manafort. Manafort filed the civil suit against Mueller on January 3rd, saying the special counsel's investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia exceeded its legal authority. (Reuters)

The memo confirms that actions taken by George Papadopoulos, the former Trump foreign policy adviser, were a factor in the opening of the investigation. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty last year to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians.

The Trump administration called for the development of two new, "lower-yield" types of nuclear weapons for ballistic and cruise missiles launched from submarines. The weapons could be used to respond to "extreme circumstances," including non-nuclear attacks. The White House also publicly acknowledged for the first time that Russia is "developing" a "new intercontinental, nuclear armed, nuclear-powered, undersea autonomous torpedo." (Politico)

K.T. McFarland asked to withdraw her stalled nomination to be the U.S. ambassador to Singapore. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was concerned about her testimony to Congress over communications with Russia. (Reuters)

CIA Director Mike Pompeo met with the head of Russia's foreign intelligence agency, even though the head of the GRU was barred from entering the US under sanctions put in place in 2014. Pompeo defended the meeting and claimed that he and other officials only met with the Russian operatives "to keep Americans safe." The Russian Embassy in Washington announced the meeting with Pompeo in a tweet on January 30th. (CNN)

Hope Hicks allegedly told Trump that the emails involving Trump Jr. and the Trump Tower meeting "will never get out" because only a few people have access to them. The White House communications director's comment was in response to Mark Corallo, who served as the spokesman for Trump's legal team, saying the statement they drafted aboard Air Force One would backfire when documents surface that the meeting was setup to get political dirt about Hillary Clinton from the Russians – and not about Russian adoptions. Corallo believed Hicks' comment indicated that she could be contemplating obstructing justice. Corallo will tell Robert Mueller about the previously undisclosed conference call with Trump and Hicks when he meets with the special counsel's team sometime in the next two weeks. Corallo resigned from Trump's legal team in July. (New York Times / CNN)

Trump is telling friends that The Memo™ is a way of discrediting the Russia investigation. He believes it would expose bias at the FBI and that the bureau is prejudiced against him. (CNN)

Carter Page was on the radar of U.S. intelligence agencies several years before he became a member of Trump's campaign. Page had his first brush with a U.S. intelligence official back in 2013, when he was interviewed by FBI counterintelligence agent Gregory Monaghan about his contacts with Victor Podobnyy, who was serving as a junior attaché at the Russian consulate in New York City at the time. (Wall Street Journal)

Trump asked Rod Rosenstein if he was "on my team" during a December meeting at the White House. "Of course, we're all on your team, Mr. President," Rosenstein said, who wanted Trump to push back on the Nunes memo. Trump, however, wanted to know where Robert Mueller's Russia investigation was going. It's Trump's fourth loyalty request from a Justice Department official. Last year, Trump asked for Comey to pledge his loyalty at a private dinner seven days after the inauguration. Comey declined. (CNN / Axios)

The FBI is investigating a second Trump-Russia dossier. This one, written by former journalist Cody Shearer, was provided to the FBI by Christopher Steele in October 2016. Steele warned that he could not vouch for the accuracy of the memo, but provided a copy because it corroborated what he had separately heard from his own sources. The FBI is still assessing details in the "Shearer memo," which suggests investigators have taken some aspect of it seriously. Both documents allege that Trump was compromised during a 2013 trip to Moscow that involved prostitutes urinating on a bed where the Obamas once stayed. (The Guardian)

Paul Ryan called for a "cleanse" of the FBI as he defended the way that Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes handled a vote to declassify The Memo™ of alleged surveillance abuses by federal law enforcement agencies. Ryan, however, warned against trying to use it to discredit Robert Mueller's probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. "Let it all out, get it all out there," Ryan said. "Cleanse the organization." (Fox News / Washington Post)

Mitch McConnell sees no need to protect Robert Mueller's Russia investigation or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. "My understanding is there's no effort under way to undermine or remove the special counsel," McConnell said. "Therefore I don't see any need to bring up legislation to protect someone who appears to need no protection." Trump has discussed both possibilities. (Bloomberg)

Trump will not impose new sanctions on Russia because the threat is already "serving as a deterrent," a State Department official said. A bipartisan bill overwhelmingly passed in July imposes penalties on companies doing "significant" business with Russian defense and intelligence entities. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said: "We estimate that foreign governments have abandoned planned or announced purchases of several billion dollars in Russian defense acquisitions." (Politico / Washington Post)

The US Treasury published a list of Russian oligarchs and senior officials at the Kremlin as part of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. The report includes 114 senior political figures with close ties to Putin and 96 oligarchs with a net worth of $1 billion or more. The list is designed to shame individuals and put them on notice that they could be the subject of future sanctions. (CNN)

The Congress-mandated sanctions report was lifted from the Forbes "200 richest businessmen in Russia 2017" list, a Treasury Department spokesperson confirmed. Almost all 96 oligarchs listed in the government-issued report appear in the Forbes' ranking. (BuzzFeed News)

CIA Director Mike Pompeo has "every expectation" that Russia will attempt to influence this year's midterm elections. Pompeo said he still sees Russia primarily as an adversary and he hasn't "seen a significant decrease in their activity." (BBC)

Julian Assange thought he sent a direct message to Sean Hannity on Twitter offering news about Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. Instead it was just a fake Sean Hannity account. (The Daily Beast)

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to release The Memo™ that accuses the Justice Department and FBI of misusing their authority to obtain a secret surveillance order on Carter Page. The vote effectively declassifies the memo, which was written by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes. Trump now has five days to review the document and decide whether to prevent it from going public. Last week, Trump called for the release of The Memo™, despite his own Justice Department warning him that releasing the memo to the public would be "extraordinarily reckless." Trump reportedly erupted in anger aboard Air Force One when he learned that a top Justice Department official advised against releasing the memo, warning Jeff Sessions and others that they need to excel at their jobs or go down as the worst in history. Democrats said the three-and-a half-page document is an effort to build a false narrative in order to undercut the ongoing Russia investigation, using inaccurately summarizes classified investigative materials that are designed to smear the FBI. (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

The deadline to implement the Russia sanctions is today. In August Trump reluctantly signed the sanctions, which are designed to punish Moscow for meddling in the 2016 election, into law. The Treasury Department is required to produce a report on Putin-linked oligarchs and impose sanctions on entities doing business with Russia's defense and intelligence sectors. (Politico)

Russia accused the US of meddling in its upcoming presidential election. Moscow called the timing of the US Treasury report on Russian sanctions "a direct and obvious attempt" to interfere with the upcoming vote. (CNN)

Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed that "poll after poll" says that nobody cares about the Trump-Russia investigation. She did not cite a specific poll. However, poll, after poll, after poll, after poll, after poll, after poll, after poll suggest Americans do care about the issue. (Washington Post)

A Russian military jet came within five feet of a US Navy P-3 Orion surveillance plane while flying in international airspace over the Black Sea. (CNN)

The Russian lawyer from the Trump Tower meeting has been named in a Swiss court case involving bribery, corruption, and "unauthorized clandestine behavior." (The Daily Beast)

The Senate Judiciary Committee intends to share Trump Jr.'s testimony with Robert Mueller. Democrats suggested that Trump Jr. may have made false statements to the committee, and are pressing the committee's Republican chairman to give Mueller the transcripts from the panel's interviews with key witnesses in the Russia probe. Chairman Chuck Grassley said he wants to release the transcripts the committee has done about the meeting at Trump Tower. (Politico / Reuters)

Dutch intelligence spied on the Russian group believed to be behind the hack of the Democratic Party ahead of U.S. elections. AIVD provided information about the Moscow-based group known as Cozy Bear, who are believed to be linked to the Russian government to the FBI. (Reuters / de Volkskrant)

Trump said he was "looking forward" to speaking with Robert Mueller's team of prosecutors under oath as they investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, as well as possible obstruction of justice. "I would love to do it, and I would like to do it as soon as possible," Trump said. "I would do it under oath, absolutely." He is expected to talk to Mueller's team in two or three weeks. (CNBC / New York Times / Washington Post)

Michael Flynn didn't tell the White House about his 2017 interview with the FBI. Flynn met privately with FBI investigators a year ago today to discuss his communications with Russia's ambassador. The meeting took place without a lawyer present and without the knowledge of the president or top White House officials. (NBC News)

Jeff Sessions was questioned by Mueller's team last week as part of the investigation into Russia's meddling in the election and whether Trump had obstructed justice since taking office. As attorney general, Sessions was involved in the firing of James Comey and it's the first time that special counsel investigators have interviewed a member of Trump's cabinet. Sessions was not under subpoena and was questioned for several hours. (New York Times / CNN)

Omarosa Manigault-Newman may have taped confidential West Wing conversations. The former White House staffer believes she may become a fixture in Robert Mueller's investigation into possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia's election meddling. (NY Daily News)

Ty Cobb said Trump is "very eager" to talk to Robert Mueller in the hope that this will help wrap up the Russia investigation as quickly as possible. Trump's personal lawyer expects the investigation to end in the next four to six weeks. (The Hill)

The White House's top lawyer may have a conflict of interest. Don McGahn was personally involved in instructing Steve Bannon about what questions he shouldn't answer from the House Intelligence Committee's Russia investigation. He is also a witness to events under investigation by both Congress and Robert Mueller. (Bloomberg)

The FBI is investigating whether a Russian banker illegally funneled money to the NRA in order to help Trump win the presidency. Alexander Torshin is the deputy governor of Russia's central bank and has a close relationship with Putin. Torshin spoke with Trump Jr. during an NRA gala in May 2016, when Trump won the NRA's presidential endorsement. The NRA spent $30 million to support Trump in the 2016 election – three times what they devoted to Mitt Romney in 2012. (McClatchy DC)

Trump accused Russia of helping North Korea evade sanctions and claimed that Pyongyang is getting "closer every day" to being able to deliver a long-range missile to the United States. Russian tankers were caught supplying fuel to North Korea on at least three occasions in recent months. North Korea requires imported fuel to keep its intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear program functioning. "Russia is not helping us at all with North Korea," Trump said. (Reuters)

Steve Bannon cited executive privilege and refused to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee yesterday. House investigators in both parties were outraged by his refusal, leading the committee to subpoena Bannon on the spot, vowing to force him to answer their questions about Russian interference in the 2016 election. (Politico)

Robert Mueller's team is investigating newly uncovered financial transactions from Russian diplomatic accounts and people or businesses inside the United States. Among them are transactions by former ambassador Sergey Kislyak 10 days after the 2016 presidential election and a blocked $150,000 cash withdrawal five days after the inauguration. (BuzzFeed News)

Steve Bannon was subpoenaed to testify in front of a grand jury as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. It's the first time Mueller has used a grand jury subpoena to get information from someone in Trump's inner circle. Mueller, however, may end up letting Bannon forgo the grand jury appearance if he allows investigators to question him at the special counsel's offices in Washington. (New York Times)

The FBI will notify U.S. companies and the public about Russian efforts to manipulate social media and interfere in upcoming elections. The FBI's "foreign influence" task force, which was created last year, could dramatically reshape the relationship between the government and social media companies. (Bloomberg)

Trump declined to commit to an interview with Robert Mueller when asked at a news conference today. He said it "seems unlikely," but that "we'll see what happens." Trump repeatedly argued there has been "no collusion" between his campaign and Russia, and questioned why he would need to be interviewed. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times)

A member of Trump's National Security Council proposed withdrawing U.S. forces from Eastern Europe as a way to please Putin during the first months of the Trump presidency. Kevin Harrington's proposal, which was rejected, is the first known instance of senior Trump aides attempting to alter U.S. military actions to please Putin. (The Daily Beast)

The Trump administration waived fines for Deutsche Bank and four other multinational banks convicted of manipulating global interest rates. Trump owes Deutsche at least $130 million in loans that were originally worth $300 million. The German bank was also fined $425 million by New York State for laundering $10 billion out of Russia. (International Business Times / USA Today)

A Senate Foreign Relations Committee report says the US is not prepared to defend against possible Russian meddling in the 2018 midterm elections or the 2020 presidential contest. (CNN)

Dianne Feinstein released the full transcript of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson's testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The head of the research firm behind the dossier of allegations against then-candidate Trump told congressional investigators that someone from inside Trump's network had also provided the FBI with corroborating information during the campaign. Simpson had asked the committee last week for the transcript to be made public, but Republican leaders declined prompting Feinstein to post the transcript today with "no agreement" from committee Republicans. (CNBC / Washington Post / Politico)

White House officials believe that Trump will be "sunk" if Robert Mueller looks into Trump's finances as part of the Russia probe. "People don't think in the White House — don't think that he colluded with Russia," Michael Wolff said, author of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. "They do think that if the investigation goes near his finances, he's sunk." (The Hill / CNBC)

The Russian lawyer met Ivanka Trump after the Trump Tower meeting with Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner in June 2016. Natalia Veselnitskaya said that as she was leaving the building and waiting for an elevator, she exchanged pleasantries with a blond-haired woman whom she believed was Trump. (NBC News)

Trump was named the world's most oppressive leader for "overall achievement in undermining global press freedom" by the Committee to Protect Journalists, beating out Erdoğan and Putin. Trump plans to announce his "MOST DISHONEST AND CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR" on Wednesday. (HuffPost)

Trump's legal team anticipates that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will try to directly interview Trump as part of the Russia probe. The team wants to submit written responses to Mueller's questions instead of having Trump appear for a formal, one-on-one sit-down. Mueller informed Trump's lawyers last month that he may want to interview Trump "soon." A person with direct knowledge of the discussions described them as "preliminary and ongoing." (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

Over the weekend, Trump defended his mental fitness, describing himself as a "very stable genius" in response to details in Michael Wolff's book that he is mentally unfit to serve. He insisted that opponents and the media were attacking his mental capacity because they had failed to prove collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump tweeted that "my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart." (New York Times / CNN / The Guardian)

Steve Bannon walked back his critical comments of Trump Jr. He said he "regrets" his "delay in responding to the inaccurate reporting" that the Trump Jr. meeting with Russians at Trump Tower during the campaign was "treasonous," "unpatriotic," and "bad shit." In a statement, Bannon called Trump Jr. "both a patriot and a good man," adding that "there was no collusion and the investigation is a witch hunt." (Axios / CNN)

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said there was already evidence of Russian meddling in Mexico's election, which is set for July. (Reuters)

Trump ordered the White House's top lawyer to stop Jeff Sessions from recusing himself from the Russia investigation, saying he expected his attorney general to protect him. Don McGahn unsuccessfully lobbied Sessions to remain in charge in March 2017. Trump reportedly erupted in anger in front of several White House officials. The previously unreported details have legal experts suggesting that there is currently a larger body of public evidence tying Trump to a possible crime of obstruction. Robert Mueller's investigation is currently investigating whether Trump obstructed justice while in office and whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. (New York Times)

Comey testified on May 3rd that the Russia investigation was ongoing to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

🇷🇺 What you need to know about the Russia investigation.

A third Republican called on Jeff Sessions to resign, saying he "is not able to take the reins and direct" the Russia probe because of his recusal. Chris Stewart, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, joins Mark Meadows, Freedom Caucus chair, and Jim Jordan, a member who sits on the oversight and judiciary committees in the US House of Representatives, who have called for Sessions to resign this week. (CNN)

Republican senators recommended possible criminal charges for the author of the Trump-Russia dossier. Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham suggested that the Justice Department investigate Christopher Steele for possibly lying to the FBI. (Washington Post / New York Times)

Steve Bannon received a cease and desist letter from Trump's lawyer accusing him of breaching his confidentiality agreement by making "disparaging" and "outright defamatory statements" about Trump and his family. The letter comes after excerpts from Michael Wolff's book were made public, with Bannon calling the Trump Tower meeting with Russians "treasonous," "unpatriotic," and "bad shit." During the campaign, Trump had staffers sign a non-disclosure agreement which required all staff to refrain from making any disparaging comments about Trump, his family, or the campaign. (ABC News)

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Chris Wray met with Paul Ryan about the House Russia investigation. The meeting was related to a document request by House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes this summer. (Politico)

Steve Bannon called the Trump Tower meeting with Russians "treasonous," "unpatriotic," and "bad shit." He added: "The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower … with no lawyers … You should have called the FBI immediately." Bannon's comments come from forthcoming book the Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, by Michael Wolff. (The Guardian)

Fusion GPS defended the dossier of alleged Trump-Russia ties and called on Republicans to release the firm's testimony. "The attack on our firm," the Fusion GPS founders wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed, "is a diversionary tactic by Republicans who don't want to investigate Donald Trump's ties to Russia." Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch write they hired Christopher Steele to investigate Trump's repeated efforts "to do deals in a notoriously corrupt police state that most serious investors shun." They added: "As we told the Senate Judiciary Committee in August, our sources said the dossier was taken so seriously because it corroborated reports the [FBI] had received from other sources, including one inside the Trump camp," referring to a drunk George Papadopoulos, who bragged about Russia having political dirt on Hillary Clinton to one of Australia's top diplomats. (New York Times)

A drunk George Papadopoulos bragged about the political dirt Russia had on Hillary Clinton to Australia's top diplomat at a London bar in May 2016. Australian officials passed the information about Papadopoulos to their American counterparts two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online. The FBI opened its counterintelligence investigation in July 2016 into Russia's attempts to disrupt the election following the revelation that the Trump campaign had information about the DNC's hacked emails Trump and his advisers have dismissed Papadopoulos' campaign role as just a "coffee boy." (New York Times)

White House aides are worried about 2018 as several senior officials are expected to depart in the coming year – with no replacements lined up – and Robert Mueller's Russia investigation looms. Aides expect few things to get done in Washington this year as they head into a contentious midterm election season. (Politico)

Trump: The Russia investigation makes the US "look very bad" and "puts the country in a very bad position." The comment came during an impromptu 30-minute interview with The New York Times at his golf club in West Palm Beach. Trump insisted 16 times that there has been "no collusion" discovered by Robert Mueller's investigation. Additional quotes below. (New York Times)

On collusion with Russia: "There is no collusion" and even if there was collusion, "it's not a crime."

Russia said the worsening relationship with the US is a major disappointment. A Putin spokesman told reporters that Russia still wants improved relations with the US, but they have to be based on a "mutual trust and mutual respect" and that "it takes two to tango." (Associated Press)

Robert Mueller is investigating whether the Trump campaign and the RNC coordinated their voter outreach using Russian-acquired information. Russian hackers stole voter information from election databases in several states in 2016. Mueller's prosecutors want to know if the Trump campaign used that information to target voters in key swing states and determine if the joint RNC-Trump campaign data operation effort was related to the activities of Russian trolls and bots aimed at influencing the election. Jared Kushner was in charge of the campaign's digital operation and has recently searched for a crisis public relations firm to handle press inquiries. (Yahoo News / Business Insider)

A jailed Russian said he can prove he hacked the Democratic National Committee computers on behalf of Russian intelligence. Konstantin Kozlovsky claims he left behind a data signature in a hidden data file that corresponds to his Russian passport number and the number of his visa to visit the Caribbean island of St. Martin. (McClatchy DC)

Trump claimed the "tainted" FBI is using the "bogus," "pile of garbage" dossier to go after him. The dossier contains allegations about Trump's connections to Russia and possible coordination between the campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 election. Many of the details contained in the dossier have been verified. (Washington Post / Politico)

The FBI asked Cyprus for financial information about a defunct bank that was used by wealthy Russians with political connections. The FBI's request appears to be connected to Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation of Paul Manafort and money that flowed between former Soviet states and the US through Cypriot banks. (The Guardian)

Russian submarines have been prowling around undersea data cables that provide internet to North America and Europe. (Washington Post)

The House Intelligence Committee asked Steve Bannon and Corey Lewandowski to testify as part of their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Both were asked to testify in early January as part of a voluntary, closed-door meeting. The committee hasn't received a response from either Bannon or Lewandowski, yet. (Bloomberg)

Carter Page failed his Ph.D. twice and blamed it on "anti-Russian bias." Examiners called the former Trump foreign policy advisor's thesis "verbose" and "vague." (The Guardian)

The White House counsel knew Michael Flynn had probably violated two federal laws in January. Don McGahn learned on December 29, 2016, that Flynn had counseled Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, not to retaliate against economic sanctions imposed by the Obama administration. McGahn then researched federal laws dealing with lying to federal investigators and negotiating with foreign governments. He also warned Trump about Flynn's possible violations. (Foreign Policy)

Jeff Sessions asked the FBI to reexamine evidence in the dormant Uranium One deal. Trump and some Republicans have called the 2010 deal to sell U.S. uranium mining facilities to Russia's state atomic energy company corrupt, because several people involved had contributed millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation. Hillary Clinton, however, wasn't involved in the decision while secretary of state, the State Department official who approved the deal has confirmed. (NBC News)

poll/ 47% of Americans approve of Robert Mueller's handling of the Russia investigation. 56% say Trump's comments on the Russia probe have been mostly or completely false. (CNN)

The Trump administration has approved the commercial sale of weapons to Ukraine, which will be used by Ukrainian forces fighting a Russian-backed separatist movement. (Washington Post)

Russian trolls promoted autocracy and fear during key events in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. They infiltrated the online conversations of millions of Americans on Facebook and Twitter. (NBC News)

Donald Trump Jr. suggested that "people at the highest levels of government" have conspired to block his father's agenda, saying they "don't want to let America be America." He added that the investigations into Russian election meddling and his father's campaign are evidence of a "rigged system." Trump Jr. made the comments at a gathering of young conservative activists during an event in West Palm Beach, Florida. (CNN)

The Senate Intelligence Committee is looking at Jill Stein for potential "collusion with the Russians." The Green Party candidate attended a 2015 dinner in Moscow, which was also attended by Michael Flynn. Putin was seated next to Flynn and across the table from Stein. (Washington Post)

The FBI warned Trump in 2016 that Russia would try to infiltrate his campaign. Both Trump and Hillary Clinton received counterintelligence briefings by senior FBI officials, which advised them to alert the FBI to any "suspicious overtures to their campaigns." Trump was "briefed and warned" at the session about potential espionage threats from Russia. (NBC News)

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are trying to wrap up their Russia probe by the end of the year. Democrats have requested as many as 30 additional interviews with new witnesses, but none have been scheduled beyond the end of this month. Some witnesses are scheduled to be interviewed in New York this week, leaving Democrats to choose between attending those depositions or voting on the tax bill coming before the House. (New York Times / NBC News)

Trump unveiled his "America First" foreign policy, presenting both Russia and China as "revisionist powers" who "want to shape a world antithetical to US values and interests." Trump's strategy has four organizing principles: protect the American homeland, protect American prosperity, preserve peace through strength, and advance US influence. Trump attacked past administrations on immigration, the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate accord, trade pacts, and more. (Washington Post / CNN)

Putin called Trump to thank him for CIA intelligence that allegedly stopped a planned bombing in St. Petersburg. A readout of the conversation said that Trump appreciated the call and "stressed the importance of intelligence cooperation to defeat terrorists wherever they may be." (NBC News)

Cambridge Analytica handed over employees' emails to Robert Mueller's team as part of the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The firm provided the Trump campaign with data, polling, and research services during the race. The emails had previously been voluntarily turned over to the House Intelligence Committee. (Wall Street Journal)

Internet traffic sent to and from Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft was briefly routed through a previously unknown Russian Internet provider on Wednesday. Researchers called it suspicious and intentional. (Ars Technica)

Trump's daily intelligence briefings are often structured to avoid upsetting him. Russia-related intelligence, specifically, is usually only included in the written assessment and not addressed orally. When it is, the CIA analyst leading the briefing will adjust the presentation's structure in order to soften the impact (Washington Post)

Rex Tillerson told diplomats that Russia "interfered in democratic processes here," something Trump continues to call "fake news" intended to delegitimize his presidency. The comment came in a closed-door meeting with US diplomats where Tillerson also praised Trump for trying to focus on "productive engagement" with Russia. (The Daily Beast)

Trump's legal team is trying to protect him from Robert Mueller's "killers" in the Russia probe, while facing criticism that they are outmatched. (Washington Post)

Adam Schiff called the evidence of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia is "pretty damning." The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee said: "The Russians offered help. The campaign accepted help. The Russians gave help. And the president made full use of that help." (The Hill)

Robert Mueller's investigators are focused on an 18-day timeline related to possible obstruction of justice by Trump. Sally Yates testified that she told White House Counsel Don McGahn on January 26th that Michael Flynn had lied to senior members of the Trump team about his conversations with Russia's ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. Possible obstruction of justice hinges on when Trump knew about Flynn's conversations with Russia's ambassador during the transition and when he learned that Flynn had lied about those conversations to the FBI. Trump fired Flynn on February 13th, saying he did so because he had misled Pence. Mueller is trying to determine why Flynn remained in his job for 18 days after Trump learned of Yates' warning, and is interested in whether Trump directed him to lie to senior officials. (NBC News)

Putin ordered the partial withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria. Putin made a similar withdrawal announcement last year, but Russian military operations continued. (BBC)

Russian operatives tried to make contact with Hope Hicks at least twice since Trump took office and after US intelligence agencies publicly accused Moscow of trying to influence the presidential election. Hicks is one of Trump's top advisers and there is no evidence that Hicks did anything wrong. The FBI gave Hicks the names of the Russians who had contacted her, and said that they were not who they claimed to be. Hicks met with Robert Mueller's investigators this week as part of the investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election. (New York Times)

Trump Jr. cited attorney-client privilege and refused to discuss a phone call he had with his father about how to handle the fallout from his June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer. He told the House Intelligence Committee that a lawyer was in the room during the call. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, told reporters: "I don't believe you can shield communications between individuals merely by having an attorney present," adding "that's not the purpose of attorney-client privilege" and that "the presence of counsel does not make communications between father and son a privilege." (Politico / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

Trump Jr.'s initial response was that the meeting focused on the issue of adoption. It was later revealed that Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort also attended the meeting after receiving an email stating that a Russian government lawyer would provide incriminating facts about Hillary Clinton as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." No damaging information was delivered.

poll/ 59% of Americans think the Trump team "definitely" or "probably" had improper contacts with Russia during last year's presidential campaign. 56% are very or somewhat confident Robert Mueller will conduct his probe fairly. (Pew Research Center)

The British publicist who arranged the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting encouraged Dan Scavino to make a page for candidate Trump on the Russian social networking site VK, telling him that "Don and Paul" were on board with the idea. Don and Paul, of course, refer to Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort. The previously undisclosed emails from Rob Goldstone to a Russian participant and a member of Trump's inner circle later that summer raise new questions for congressional investigators about what was discussed at the meeting. Scavino is now the White House director of social media. (CNN)

Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee put KT McFarland's nomination on hold until she answers questions about her knowledge of communications between Michael Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. (CNN)

Devin Nunes met with Blackwater founder Erik Prince earlier this year despite his recusal from the Russia probe. Nunes discussed with Prince the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into the unmasking of Americans' identities in intelligence reports. (Business Insider)

Michael Flynn promised that sanctions against Russia would be "ripped up" as one of the Trump administration's first acts, according to a whistleblower. Flynn worked with Russia until June 2016 on a business venture to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East. Ending the sanctions would have allowed the project to move forward. During Trump's inaugural address, Flynn sent the whistleblower a text message directing him to tell those involved in the nuclear project to continue developing their plans and that the project was "good to go." The whistleblower approached the House Oversight Committee in June, but Robert Mueller's investigators asked him to "hold on the public release of this information until they completed certain investigative steps." (New York Times / Politico / CNN)

Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Trump Jr. asked her for evidence of illegal donations to the Clinton Foundation during the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. Veselnitskaya said she told Trump Jr. that she didn't have any meaningful information about the Clintons, at which point Trump Jr. lost interest and the meeting fizzled out. Veselnitskaya said that she wasn't working for the Russian government and that her motivation for contacting the Trump campaign was to convince them to reexamine the incident that led to the Magnitsky Act. (NBC News)

Robert Mueller issued a subpoena for the banking records of people affiliated with Trump. The move forced Deutsche Bank – Trump's biggest lender – to turn over documents related to certain credit transactions and the $300 million Trump owes the lender. Legal experts said it showed Mueller was "following the money" in search of links between the campaign and the Kremlin since Deutsche Bank may have sold some of Trump's mortgage or loans to Russian-owned banks, which could potentially give Russia leverage over Trump. Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's personal lawyers, denied that a subpoena had been issued. Since 1998, Deutsche has helped loan at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with Trump, which he used to build or purchase highest-profile projects in Washington, New York, Chicago and Florida. (The Guardian / Bloomberg / Reuters / Wall Street Journal)

Paul Manafort was ghostwriting an op-ed with a longtime colleague "based in Russia and assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service" while out on bail last month. The editorial was related to Manafort's political work for Ukraine. Robert Mueller's investigators argue that Manafort's $10 million unsecured bail agreement should be revisited because it was written while he was on house arrest facing several felony charges, which would have violated a court order to not publicly discuss the case and "casts doubt on Manafort’s willingness to comply with court orders." If the court sides with Mueller, Manafort could remain under house arrest until his trial sometime next year. (New York Times / The Guardian / Washington Post / Associated Press)

Trump's former deputy national security advisor may have contradicted herself during Senate testimony about Michael Flynn's contacts with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. In July, K.T. McFarland told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that she did not discuss or have any knowledge of Flynn's contact with Kislyak. A December 29th email exchange, however, shows McFarland wrote a colleague that Flynn would be speaking with Kislyak later that day. (New York Times)

Pence's aides maintain he doesn't know anything about Russia and the Trump campaign. (Politico)

Robert Mueller's Russia investigation has cost at least $3.2 million so far. Other Justice Department agencies spent an additional $3.5 million to support the investigation. (USA Today)

Germany sees Trump as a bigger challenge than North Korea or Russia. (Reuters)

Trump tweeted that he fired Michael Flynn because he lied to the FBI about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition last December. "I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies," Trump tweeted. (New York Times)

Emails dispute White House claims that Michael Flynn acted independently in his discussions with Russia during the presidential transition and then lied to his colleagues about the interactions. (New York Times)

A conservative operative offered the Trump campaign a "Kremlin Connect" by using an NRA convention to make "first contact." Russia, Paul Erickson wrote, was "quietly but actively seeking a dialogue with the U.S." (New York Times)

The Senate Judiciary Committee is building an obstruction of justice case, according to Dianne Feinstein, the panel's top Democrat. "I see it in the hyper-frenetic attitude of the White House, the comments every day, the continual tweets," Feinstein said. "And I see it most importantly in what happened with the firing of Director [James] Comey, and it is my belief that that is directly because he did not agree to ‘lift the cloud’ of the Russia investigation. That’s obstruction of justice." (NBC News)

Robert Mueller removed his top FBI agent this summer for sending anti-Trump text messages. During the presidential campaign, Peter Strzok and another member of Mueller's team had exchanged texts disparaging Trump and supporting Hillary Clinton. At the time, Strzok was investigating Clinton's use of a private email server. Strzok left the Russia investigation in August. (New York Times / Washington Post)

The Russia investigation is "wearing" on the White House and "everyone thinks they're being recorded." Michael Flynn's plea is the closest that Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling and collusion has come to the Oval Office. Flynn's plea deal includes an agreement that he could avoid a potential lengthy jail term in part by "participating in covert law enforcement activities." (CNN / Politico)

Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition last December. Flynn is the fourth Trump associate to be charged in Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. (New York Times)

Flynn promised "full cooperation" with Mueller's investigation and is prepared to testify that Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians. The FBI said Flynn communicated with Sergey Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the US, after being asked by a senior Trump transition official to find out where foreign governments stood on an upcoming UN Security Council resolution about Israel. The FBI did not name the officials. (ABC News / CNN)

Jared Kushner was the "very senior" Trump official who directed Michael Flynn to contact the Russian ambassador and several other foreign governments. Abbe Lowell, Kusher’s attorney, declined to comment. (Washington Post / CNN)

Trump lobbied several Senate Republicans over the summer "to wrap up" the Russia investigation. The chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, said Trump made a request "something along the lines of 'I hope you can conclude this as quickly as possible.'" Trump also approached Senator Roy Blunt, who sits on the committee, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with requests to end the investigations. Trump has now asked at least seven officials in both houses of Congress and the Department of Justice to end the multiple investigations. The White House said Trump "at no point has attempted to apply undue influence on committee members." (New York Times / Newsweek)

Jeff Sessions declined to say if Trump ever asked him to obstruct the Russia investigation when questioned today during his House Intelligence Committee testimony. Sessions said his conversations with Trump were subject to executive privilege and he would not respond to the question either way. (The Hill)

Trump Jr. agreed to meet with the House Intelligence Committee on December 6th. It's the first opportunity for lawmakers to question Trump's son over his contacts with Russians during the campaign, including the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between campaign officials and Russian operatives promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. (CNN)

Michael Flynn may have violated federal law by failing to disclose a Middle Eastern trip on his security clearance renewal application in 2016. Flynn traveled to Egypt and Israel in 2015 as an advisor to a company hoping to build two dozen nuclear power plants in the region. The plan relied on help from Russians to build the plants and take possession of the spent fuel, which could be used to build a nuclear weapon. (Washington Post)

The FBI failed to notify US officials that their personal Gmail accounts were being targeted by Fancy Bear, a Russian-government-aligned cyberespionage group. Many officials learned of the hacking attempts only when informed by the Associated Press. (Associated Press)

The FBI warned Representative Dana Rohrabacher in 2012 that Russia regarded him as an intelligence source worthy of a Kremlin code name. (New York Times)

Roman Beniaminov, a low-profile real estate exec turned pop star manager, knew about Russia’s "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. (The Daily Beast)

Kushner failed to disclose that a senior Russian official tried to arrange a meeting between Putin and Trump. The Senate Judiciary Committee accused Kushner of withholding an email from Aleksander Torshin, who claimed to be acting at the behest of Putin in a May 2016 email. The subject line read: "Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite." Torshin's email came a few weeks after a professor with ties to the Russian government told George Papadopoulos that the Russians had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails." Spanish anti-corruption officials say Torshin is a "godfather" of the Russian mafia. (New York Times / NBC News)

Robert Mueller issued a subpoena to Trump's campaign for Russia-related documents from more than a dozen officials. The subpoena, issued in mid-October, is the first time Trump's campaign has been ordered to turn over information. It does not compel any officials to testify but it surprised the campaign, which had been voluntarily complying with Mueller's requests for information. (Wall Street Journal)

Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak said he won't name all the Trump officials he's met with because "the list is so long" and that it would take him more than 20 minutes to do so. Kislyak made the remarks during an interview with Russia-1, a state-owned Russian TV channel. (CNBC)

The British publicist who helped set up the Trump Tower meeting will talk with Robert Mueller's office. Rob Goldstone has been living in Bangkok, Thailand and is expected to travel to the US at some point "in the near future" to discuss the meeting between Trump Jr. and a group of Russians in June 2016. (NBC News)

The Republican Party is no longer paying Trump's personal legal bills related to the Russia probe. Trump is working with the Office of Government Ethics and tax firm to use his personal funds to help current and former White House staffers caught up in the Justice Department's special counsel investigation with their legal costs. The RNC had previously paid out more than $230,000 for Trump's legal bills. (Bloomberg / CNN)

Jared Kushner forwarded emails about a "Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite" to campaign officials, according to a letter the Senate Judiciary Committee sent Kushner's lawyer. Kushner received emails in September 2016 about Russia and WikiLeaks, but failed to turn them over to lawmakers with the rest of his documents on November 3rd. In the letter to Kushner, Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein wrote: "There are several documents that are known to exist but were not included." Kushner has been asked to turn over all relevant documents by November 27th. (Business Insider / Politico)

The author of the Trump dossier believes his report is 70-90% accurate. Christopher Steele's reports were commissioned by Fusion GPS as opposition report and detail allegations that the Kremlin had personally compromising material on Trump, including sex tapes recorded during a 2013 trip to Moscow, as well as evidence that Trump and his associates actively colluded with Russian intelligence to influence the election. (The Guardian)

Jeff Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee he didn't lie under oath, but he has "no clear recollection" of the proposed Trump-Putin meeting. Despite repeatedly answering "I do not recall" to questions about a March 2016 meeting where George Papadopoulos proposed that Trump meet with Putin, Sessions said he believes he rejected the suggested meeting. Later during testimony, Sessions was more direct: "At the meeting, I pushed back." In January, Sessions testified that he had no communications with Russians during the 2016 campaign. It was later revealed that he met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least twice during the campaign. (Politico / Reuters / New York Times)

Sessions: There is "not enough basis" for assigning a new special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton. Earlier, Sessions sent the House Judiciary Committee a letter informing them that the Justice Department was looking into whether a special counsel should be appointed to investigate the Clinton Foundation and a 2010 deal to sell a US uranium company to Russia. On November 3rd, Trump said he was "very unhappy," "disappointed," and "frustrated" with the Justice Department for not investigating Hillary Clinton. (Washington Post / New York Times / The Guardian)

The US embassy in Moscow hired a security firm owned by Putin's former KGB counter-intelligence director to provide "local guard services" for the US mission in Russia. Moscow forced Washington to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia from more than 1,200 to 455 in response to sanctions adopted against Russia in August. To make up for the loss of security guards, Washington awarded a $2.8 million no-bid contract to Elite Security, which was founded in 1997 by Viktor Budanov and his son Dmitry. Budanov retired from espionage in 1992. (The Telegraph / New York Times)

The FBI is investigating Russian embassy payments "to finance election campaign of 2016." The Russian foreign ministry made more than 60 wire transfers that exceeded $380,000 in total to its embassies around the world, most of them bearing the memo line "to finance election campaign of 2016." Nearly $30,000 was sent to the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C. (BuzzFeed News)

Trump asked Putin if Russia meddled in the election. Putin said they didn't. Trump believed him. After meeting on the sideline of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Vietnam, Trump said he was done asking Putin about election meddling. "He said he didn’t meddle — I asked him again. You can only ask so many times … Every time he sees me he says, 'I didn’t do that,' and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it." Trump added: "I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country." The comments came during a question-and-answer session with reporters aboard Air Force One on Saturday. (New York Times / CNN)

Trump called US intelligence leaders "political hacks" and labeled the community's conclusion that Russia interfered in the election as an "artificial Democratic hit job." Later Trump tweeted: "When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing." On Sunday, Trump walked back his comments, saying "I'm with our agencies." (Politico / The Hill)

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said he stands by the US intelligence assessment that Russia meddled in the election. Pompeo had falsely claimed Russian meddling didn't affect the election results. (CNN)

Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates called Trump "shamelessly unpatriotic" for accepting Putin’s denial that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. (The Hill)

The former CIA director said Trump is being "played" by Putin regarding election meddling. "By not confronting the issue directly and not acknowledging to Putin that we know you’re responsible for this, I think he’s giving Putin a pass," former CIA director John Brennan said. "I think it demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and try to play upon his insecurities." Brennan added that Trump called him and two other top intelligence officials "political hacks" in order to "delegitimize" the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

Trump Jr. corresponded with Wikileaks during the campaign via Twitter direct messages, which were turned over to congressional investigators as part of its probe into Russian meddling. Wikileaks made multiple requests of Trump Jr., including asking for Trump's tax returns, urging the Trump campaign to reject the results of the election as rigged, not to concede if he lost, and, later, asking the president-elect to have Australia appoint Julian Assange as ambassador to the United States. Intelligence agencies believe Wikileaks was chosen by the Russian government to share the hacked DNC emails. (The Atlantic)

Robert Mueller is investigating Michael Flynn's role in a plan to extradite a Muslim cleric in the US and deliver him to Turkey in return for $15 million. Investigators are looking into the role Flynn and his son may have played in the alleged proposal to deliver Fethullah Gülen to the Turkish government. Erdoğan views Fethullah Gülen as a political enemy and has repeatedly pressed the US to extradite him. Flynn is facing military, congressional, and criminal investigations for concealing his financial ties to Turkey and Russia, and whether the ties played a role in his decisions as Trump's national security adviser. Any deal where a government official is bribed to act on behalf of a foreign government would involve multiple federal crimes. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

Mueller's team is investigating a meeting between Michael Flynn and a pro-Russia congressman. The meeting between Dana Rohrabacher and Flynn took place in Washington on September 20th, 2016, while Flynn was an adviser to Trump’s campaign. Rohrabacher has pushed for better relations with Russia, traveled to Moscow to meet with officials, and advocated for overturning the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 bill that froze the assets of Russian investigators and prosecutors. It's the first known time that Mueller's investigation has touched a member of Congress. (NBC News)

Robert Mueller interviewed Stephen Miller. The White House senior policy adviser is the highest-level aide still working at the White House known to have talked to investigators. Miller was at the March 2016 meeting where George Papadopoulos said that he could arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin. (CNN)

Michael Flynn is worried about his son's legal exposure as Robert Mueller continues to investigate Russian meddling and the business dealings of key campaign advisers to Trump. Flynn Jr. served as his father's chief of staff and top aide, and was actively involved in his father's consulting and lobbying work at their firm, Flynn Intel Group. In December 2015, the Flynns traveled to Moscow, where the elder Flynn dined with Putin at a gala for the RT television network, which US intelligence views as a Russian propaganda outlet. (CNN)

The House Intelligence Committee will interview the Russian-American lobbyist who was at the Trump Tower meeting with Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort. Rinat Akhmetshin will meet with House investigators next week. The panel last week interviewed Ike Kaveladze, a Russian who attended the meeting on behalf of Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov, the oligarch who initiated the session. (CNN)

Trump's bodyguard testified that Russians offered to "send five women" to Trump's hotel room in Moscow. "We don't do that type of stuff," Keith Schiller said. The comments came as Schiller disputed the allegations made in the dossier that describes Trump as having an encounter with prostitutes at the hotel during the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant. Schiller testified that Trump went to bed alone and that he stood outside the room for a time before going to bed. He could not say for sure what happened during the remainder of the night. (NBC News)

Corey Lewandowski's "memory has been refreshed" about Carter Page's trip to Russia. In March, Trump’s former campaign manager said he "never met Carter Page." On Tuesday, Lewandowski described Page as a "low-level volunteer" who had "no formal role in the campaign," and "to the best of my recollection, I don't know Carter Page." Page testified last week to the House Oversight Committee that he had asked Lewandowski and Hope Hicks for permission to travel to Moscow. After the trip, Page emailed Lewandowski, Hicks, Sam Clovis, JD Gordon, and then-Senator Jeff Sessions about his trip to Russia, where he met with Russian officials and discussed the presidential campaign. (Politico / Talking Points Memo)

Carter Page testified that he received permission from Corey Lewandowski to visit Moscow in July 2016, he told the House Intelligence Committee during his seven-hour testimony yesterday. Page also told senior campaign officials Sam Clovis, Hope Hicks, and JD Gordon, as well as then-Senator Jeff Sessions, about his trip to Russia. When he returned, Page sent an email to campaign officials saying he had received "incredible insights and outreach" from "senior members" of Putin’s administration and suggested that Trump should make a foreign policy speech in Russia and "raise the temperature a little bit." Page maintains that his trip was made as a private citizen and was unrelated to his role in the Trump campaign. (CNN / NBC News / Washington Post)

Jeff Sessions will testify before the House Judiciary Committee on November 14th about his past statements regarding contacts between Trump campaign and Russian intermediaries. Sessions is also expected appear in a closed session with the House Intelligence Committee on the same day. (Reuters)

Trump told CIA director Mike Pompeo to meet with a former intelligence officer who claimed the DNC emails were "leaked" – not hacked. Pompeo met last month with William Binney, who has challenged a January 2017 intelligence community report from the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA that concludes "Putin ordered an influence campaign … to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency." Trump has called the report "fake news." (The Intercept)

Trump urged North Korea to "come to the table" and discuss giving up its nuclear weapons, casting the threat as a global crisis that required cooperation from Russia and China. Trump previously called Rex Tillerson's effort to negotiate with North Korea a waste of time and threatened to unleash "fire and fury" against Kim Jong Un if he continued to provoke the US. (Bloomberg / Politico)

Robert Mueller has enough evidence to charge Michael Flynn and his son as part of the Russia probe. Mueller's team is looking at possible money laundering charges, lying to federal agents, and Flynn's role in a plan to remove an opponent of the Turkish president from the US in exchange for millions of dollars. (NBC News / Reuters)

A Russian lawyer said Trump Jr. offered to have an anti-Russian law re-examined if Trump won the election. "Looking ahead, if we come to power, we can return to this issue and think what to do about it," Trump Jr. said of the Magnitsky Act, which the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was lobbying against. Trump Jr. met with Veselnitskaya lawyer in June 2016 at Trump Tower with Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner after being promised "information that would incriminate" Hillary Clinton. (Bloomberg)

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross retained investments in a shipping company tied to Putin's inner circle. Ross and his private equity firm are the biggest shareholders in Navigator Holdings. Navigator's largest client is the Russian energy firm Sibur, which is partly owned by a Russian oligarch and Putin's son-in-law. The revelation comes after the so-called Paradise Papers were leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The trove of more than 13 million documents reveal how some wealthy individuals have used offshore havens to avoid paying taxes. (New York Times / The Daily Beast / Washington Post)

Russian tech leader Yuri Milner invested $850,000 in a startup called Cadre that Jared Kushner co-founded in 2014. Kushner did not disclose his ownership in Cadre on his initial financial disclosure form when he became a White House adviser. In July, Kushner told the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed-door meeting that he never "relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector." (New York Times)

At least nine Trump associates had contacts with Russians during the campaign or presidential transition and include Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, J.D. Gordon, Michael Flynn, and Jeff Sessions. Experts who've studied Russian tactics see a concerted and multifaceted Kremlin effort to infiltrate Trump’s campaign. (Washington Post)

poll/ 44% of Americans are "very concerned" about the Trump campaign's contacts with the Russians, up from 27% who said so in July. (CNN)

poll/ 44% of Americans are "very concerned" about the Trump campaign's contacts with the Russians, up from 27% who said so in July. (CNN)

Current Status: Trump and Jeff Sessions have denied knowing about the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia. Court documents suggest otherwise. Records show that at a March 31, 2016, meeting between Trump, Sessions, and the campaign's foreign policy team, George Papadopoulos introduced himself and said "that he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin." (New York Times)

Trump does not "remember much" from the meeting with George Papadopoulos, where Papadopoulos offered to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin. Trump called it a "very unimportant meeting [that] took place a long time [ago]. Don't remember much about it." According to a person present for the meeting, Trump didn't dismiss the idea of meeting with Putin, but Jeff Sessions did. Trump has described himself as having "one of the greatest memories of all time." (Politico / NPR)

Carter Page testified that he told Jeff Sessions about his 2016 trip to Russia during the presidential campaign. At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in June, Sessions testified that he had "no knowledge" of any conversations between "anyone connected to the Trump campaign." During his confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked if "anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government" during the campaign. Sessions responded: "I'm not aware of any of those activities … I didn't have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I'm unable to comment on it." (CNN)

Republicans called on Robert Mueller to resign as special counsel over what they contend to be "obvious conflicts of interest." Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, and Louie Gohmert introduced a measure to put the House on record describing Mueller as unfit to lead the Russia probe because of his relationship with James Comey, who was Mueller's successor at the FBI. (Reuters / Politico)

The White House learned that Sam Clovis testified before the grand jury from media reports. Last week Clovis testified before the investigating grand jury and was questioned by Robert Mueller's team about his role on Trump’s campaign. Emails between Clovis and George Papadopoulos, whom he supervised, show Clovis encouraging Papadopoulos to engage with his Russian contacts. (ABC News)

Senate Democrats asked Jeff Sessions to clarify his confirmation hearing remarks regarding attempts by the campaign to coordinate a meeting between Trump and Putin. Both the Senate intelligence and judiciary committees asked Sessions to formally clarify his remarks after it was reported that Trump declined to rule out the idea proposed by George Papadopoulos. Sessions weighed in and rejected the proposal to use Papadopoulos' "Russian contacts" to arrange a meeting. During his confirmation testimony, Sessions testified that he was "not aware" of anyone from the Trump campaign communicating with the Russians. (CNN / NBC News)

Carter Page met with the House Intelligence Committee in private looking into Russian involvement in the 2016 election. Page originally wanted to be questioned by the panel in public. The committee agreed to release a transcript three days after the interview. (Bloomberg)

Paul Manafort wired millions of dollars into the US through a company linked to one of Russia’s most notorious criminals. The Cyprus-based Lucicle Consultants Limited received millions of dollars from a businessman and Ukrainian parliamentarian named Ivan Fursin, who is closely linked to Semion Mogilevich, who is frequently described as "the most dangerous mobster in the world." (The Daily Beast)

The Justice Department has identified at least six Russian government officials involved in the DNC hack that resulted in thousands of emails being released by WikiLeaks last year. Prosecutors have assembled evidence to charge the Russian officials and could bring a case next year. U.S. intelligence agencies have attributed the hack to Russian intelligence services. (Wall Street Journal)

The hackers who targeted Hillary Clinton's campaign had international targets corresponding with Russian interests. A digital "hit list" shows a multi-year operation that tried to break into the inboxes of 4,700 Gmail accounts worldwide and targeted the emails of Ukrainian officers, Russian opposition leaders, U.S. defense contractors, and more. The list was found by the cybersecurity firm Secureworks after the "Fancy Bear" hacking group forgot to set an active Bitly account to private. One of the experts who reviewed the list described the data as "a master list of individuals whom Russia would like to spy on, embarrass, discredit or silence." (Associated Press)

Trump and Jeff Sessions denied knowing if anybody from the campaign was in contact with the Russians. Records suggest otherwise. (New York Times)

Carter Page testified that he told Jeff Sessions about his trip to Russia. (CNN)

Trump did not dismiss the idea of meeting with Putin when it was suggested by George Papadopoulos in March 2016. "He didn't say yes and he didn't say no," according to a person in the room at the time. Jeff Sessions shot down the idea. However, in a July 2016 email to his Russian contact, Papadopoulos proposed a meeting in August or September between "my national chairman and maybe one other foreign policy adviser" and members of Putin's office and Russia's foreign ministry. "It has been approved by our side," Papadopoulos wrote. It's not clear if the meeting ever occurred, but Paul Manafort was the campaign chairman at the time. (CNN / Bloomberg)

Speculation: Jeff Sessions may have perjured himself. During his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions was asked "if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government" during the campaign. Sessions responded: "I’m not aware of any of those activities… I didn’t have – did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it." (New Republic)

Facebook, Google, and Twitter testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was the second day in a row the tech companies answered questions on Capitol Hill. The tech firms admitted that they could have done more to prevent Russian meddling in the US election. Yesterday, the firms said that content by a Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency sought "to create discord between Americans" during the election, but after the election, the troll farm sought to undermine Trump's legitimacy. (Washington Post / Politico)

Twitter offered Russian television network RT 15% of its US election advertising inventory for $3 million dollars. The US intelligence community describes RT as "the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet." (BuzzFeed News)

Separately, Roger Stone told Trump that Kushner was giving him bad political advice. A former Trump campaign aide described "Jared [as] the worst political adviser in the White House in modern history," adding that "Trump is at 33 percent [approval] in Gallup. You can’t go any lower. He’s fucked." In a call with the New York Times, Trump said he was "not angry at anybody" and that the investigation into his campaign's links to Russia have "nothing to do with us." (Vanity Fair)

Court documents show that Papadopoulos shared his Russian outreach with several senior Trump campaign officials. Here's the breakdown:

"The Campaign Supervisor" named in the documents is Sam Clovis, who served as Trump's national campaign co-chairman. Clovis urged Papadopoulos to organize an "off the record" meeting with Russian officials.

The "High-Ranking Campaign Official" named is campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Papadopoulos wrote to Lewandowski several times to let him know that the Russians were interested in forging a relationship with the campaign, including an email about discussing "Russia’s interest in hosting Mr. Trump."

"Another high-ranking campaign official" is Paul Manafort, who Papadopoulos sent an email to with the subject line "Request from Russia to meet Mr. Trump." Manafort forwarded the email to another campaign official, stating: "We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips," referring to a trip to Russia. "It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal." (Washington Post / US v. George Papadopoulos)

Sam Clovis was questioned by Robert Mueller's team last week and testified before the investigating grand jury. Clovis supervised George Papadopoulos during the campaign. The former co-chair and policy adviser to Trump’s campaign was also interviewed recently by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. He was described as "a fully cooperative witness." Clovis is Trump's pick to be the Department of Agriculture's chief scientist and is awaiting Senate confirmation. He is not a scientist. (NBC News / Politico)

Facebook, Twitter, and Google appeared before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee today for the first of three public hearings. Facebook told members that Russians bought 3,000 Facebook ads, which had the potential reach of 126 million users – equivalent to more than half of the total U.S. voting population. Google found 1,108 videos with 43 hours of content related to the Russian effort on YouTube. And Twitter identified 2,752 accounts controlled by Russian operatives and more than 36,000 bots that tweeted 1.4 million times during the election campaign. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN)

poll/ 49% of voters support impeaching Trump, to 41% who are opposed to doing so. Of Trump voters, 79% think he should remain in office even if collusion is proven, and 75% claim the entire Russia story is “fake news." (Public Policy Polling)

In a 12-count indictment, Robert Mueller charged Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates with conspiracy to launder more than $18 million, making false statements to the Justice Department, and other charges stemming from probes into possible Russian influence in US political affairs. The indictment of Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, and Gates focused on their work advising a pro-Russia party in Ukraine between 2006 to 2015, laundering money through 2016, and continuing the conspiracy against the US in 2017. The charges – the first by Mueller – make no mention of Trump or Russian election meddling. Both Manafort and Gates surrendered to Justice Department and pleaded not guilty on all counts today. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

Trump's former foreign policy adviser pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about an April 2016 conversation with a professor with close ties to the Russian government that said Moscow had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails." George Papadopoulos repeatedly tried to arrange a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian government officials. Papadopoulos was arrested in July 2017 and has been working with Mueller ever since as a "proactive cooperator," court documents show. The single felony count against Papadopolous directly relates to the 2016 presidential campaign. (New York Times / Bloomberg / NBC News / Politico)

Russian agents began reaching out to Trump's campaign as early as March 2016, the Justice Department established in documents released Monday. (NPR)

Trump hasn't imposed sanctions on Russia because Rex Tillerson dissolved the office that implements them. After the Coordinator for Sanctions Policy office was eliminated just one mid-level official is now responsible for coordinating the implementation of sanctions across the State Department and other government agencies. The administration missed the October 1st deadline to implement new penalties against Russia, which were adopted by Congress in August. (Foreign Policy / The Hill)

Trump hasn't imposed sanctions on Russia because Rex Tillerson dissolved the office that implements them. After the Coordinator for Sanctions Policy office was eliminated just one mid-level official is now responsible for coordinating the implementation of sanctions across the State Department and other government agencies. The administration missed the October 1st deadline to implement new penalties against Russia, which were adopted by Congress in August. (Foreign Policy / The Hill)

Trump claimed that it's "commonly agreed" that he didn't collude with Russia. Instead, he accused Hillary Clinton of working with the Kremlin amid reports that Clinton and the DNC paid for the dossier of accusations about Trump and his ties to Russia. Trump tweeted that "after many months of COSTLY looking, that there was NO collusion between Russia and Trump. Was collusion with HC!" (Politico / The Hill)

Republican lawmakers intend to wind down their Trump-Russia investigations even though the issue of collusion remains unresolved. The Senate Intelligence Committee wants the panel’s investigation to end by February – ahead of the first 2018 primary elections – while the House Intelligence Committee hopes to finish before that. (Politico)

The memo Natalia Veselnitskaya brought to the Trump Tower meeting was coordinated with the Kremlin, undercutting the Russian lawyer's claim that she was an independent actor when she sat down with Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort. In the months before the meeting, Veselnitskaya had discussed allegations that Democratic donors were guilty of financial fraud and tax evasion with Russia’s prosecutor general, Yuri Y. Chaika. The memo she brought to the meeting closely followed a document that Chaika’s office had given to Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican who is considered to be one of the most pro-Russia lawmakers in Congress and who heads a subcommittee that helps oversee U.S. policy toward Russia. (New York Times)

Trump personally directed the Justice Department to lift an FBI informant's gag order so they could testify to Congress about Russia's attempt to gain influence in the uranium industry in the United States during the Obama administration. The request is unusual for two reasons: 1) The DOJ limits the White House's involvement in criminal law enforcement, and 2) the request is related to Obama and the Clintons.

Before Obama approved the 2010 deal to give Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had evidence showing Russian nuclear officials routing millions of dollars to the US designed to benefit Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation while Hillary Clinton was serving as Secretary of State. She was not involved in the review by the Committee on Foreign Investment, which approved the deal. (CNN / The Hill)

It's been more than three weeks since the October 1st deadline passed for the White House to imposed new sanctions on Russia. The administration still has not implemented the sanctions that Congress passed with veto-proof majorities in July. The State Department issued guidance on how to implement sanctions shortly after Bob Corker and other Senate Republicans pledged to find out if the White House was intentionally delaying them. Trump signed the bill in early August, imposing new sanctions and limiting his authority to lift them. He called the bill "seriously flawed," but signed it anyway. (The Daily Beast / CNN)

Foreign steel imports are up 24% since Trump's "Buy American" pledge. In particular, a Russian steel company has won several pipeline contracts, including the Keystone XL. The biggest shareholder in Evraz North America is an oligarch and Trump family friend. (Bloomberg)

Trump's personal lawyer met with the House Intelligence Committee today. Michael Cohen emailed Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, during the presidential campaign seeking help getting a Trump Tower built in Moscow. Peskov said he never responded to the email. (NBC News)

Trump's digital director will meet with the House Intelligence Committee about Russian meddling in last year’s election. It will be Brad Parscale’s first interview with any of the committees investigating the matter. Parscale claimed that Facebook, Google, and Twitter employees were "embedded" inside the Trump campaign. (Reuters)

Trump will spend at least $430,000 of his own money to cover the legal costs his aides have incurred related to the Russia investigation. The RNC has paid roughly $430,000 to lawyers representing Trump and Trump Jr. The White House said Trump has pledged to spend the same amount, from his personal finances, "to defray the costs of legal fees for his associates, including former and current White House aides." (Axios / Washington Post)

The State Department revoked the visa of a Putin critic after Russia placed Bill Browder on Interpol's wanted list. Browder was responsible for the Magnitsky Act, a law aimed at punishing Russian officials believed responsible for the death in a Moscow prison of Sergei Magnitsky. In response to the Magnitsky Act, Russia cut off the US adoption of Russian children, which was the premise for the Trump Tower meeting between the Russian lawyer and representatives of the Trump campaign. (NPR / The Guardian / The Hill)

The US rejected Russia's criminal complaint against Browder and allowed him into the country. The initial action blocking Browder had been taken automatically in response to an Interpol notice filed against him by Russia and was not an affirmative action by the American government. (New York Times)

Putin called on Americans to respect Trump. "Inside the country, disrespect is shown for him. This is a regrettable negative component of the U.S. political system," Putin said. He continued, saying that "Trump was elected by the American people. And at least for this reason, it is necessary to show respect for him, even if you do not agree with some of his positions." Putin's comments came the same day that U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley accused the Russian government of committing "warfare" against the United States. (The Hill)

Trump suggested that the Democratic Party, the FBI, or the Kremlin paid for the dossier alleging ties between him and the Russian government. "Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th," Trump tweeted. "Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?" Two officials from Fusion GPS, the firm behind the dossier, invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and refused to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee yesterday. (Politico)

CIA Director Mike Pompeo falsely claimed Russian meddling didn't affect the election results. A US intelligence report released in January concluded that Moscow’s aims were to undermine the democratic process and help elect Trump. It did not reach a conclusion about whether meddling had altered the outcome, because the question was considered out of the scope of the report. (Washington Post / NBC News)

Trump's former campaign manager met with the Senate Intelligence Committee for a closed-door interview. Corey Lewandowski said earlier this year that he did not have any contact with Russian officials, but if there was contact, it was made by Manafort or others on the campaign and Trump didn't know about it. (CNN)

On November 1st, the general counsel for both Facebook and Twitter will testify before the House and Senate intelligence committees on Russia's use of technology to try to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. Google, which was also invited, has not said if it will send a representative to testify. (NBC News / The Hill)

An exiled Russian oligarch believes Putin tried to collaborate with the Trump campaign. "I am almost convinced that Putin's people have tried to influence the U.S. election in some way," Mikhail Khodorkovsky said. He added that the Russian banker Jared Kushner met with last December was not "acting on his own behalf." (NBC News)

Several Republicans have called for the three congressional Russia investigations to end this year. The GOP members contend that the Democrats on a fishing expedition, which Trump has called a "witch hunt." Democrats say they don't want to rush testimony from witnesses. (CNN)

Putin's "chef" is believed to have financed the Russian "troll factory" that used social media to spread fake news during the 2016 US presidential campaign. Yevgeny Prigozhin is a Russian oligarch and the main backer of the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency. A declassified assessment by US intelligence concluded in January that the "likely financier of the so-called Internet Research Agency of professional trolls located in Saint Petersburg is a close Putin ally with ties to Russian intelligence." It did not name Prigozhin directly. Prigozhin was at one point, allegedly, Putin's "personal chef," in addition to having catering contracts with Russia's armed forces. He also once served caviar and truffles to George W. Bush during a summit in St. Petersburg. (CNN)

Sean Spicer met with Robert Mueller's team on Monday for an interview that lasted most of the day. Spicer was asked about the firing of former FBI director James Comey, his statements regarding the firing, and Trump’s meetings with Russians officials, including Sergei Lavrov in the Oval Office. (Politico)

The Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Carter Page as part of its investigation into Russia meddling in the 2016 election. Page previously said he would not cooperate and would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to answer questions. (NBC News)

Robert Mueller’s team interviewed Reince Priebus. The former chief of staff was present for many key moments, including Trump's efforts to limit questions about Russian meddling in the election and the discussions that led to James Comey’s firing. (Washington Post)

Paul Manafort's financial ties to a Russian oligarch total around $60 million over the past decade. Previously unreported documents revealed a $26 million loan between a Manafort-linked company and Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with close ties to the Kremlin. (NBC News)

Trump's top allies aren't sure if he realizes his feuds with Republicans and lack of legislative wins are putting his presidency at risk. Top White House aides, lawmakers, donors, and political consultants have privately wondered if Trump grasps that losing the House next year could bring on new subpoenas, an intense focus on the Russia investigation, and possible impeachment proceedings. (CNN)

The background check chief said he has "never seen [the] level of mistakes" Jared Kushner made on his security clearance application. Kushner's initial SF-86 form did not mention any foreign contacts. He updated the form in the spring, listing about 100 contacts, but omitted the June 2016 meeting with the Russian lawyer, Trump Jr., and Paul Manafort. He updated the SF-86 forms once more in June to include that meeting. (CNN)

Twitter's privacy policy required it to delete data relevant to the Russia probe. Whenever a user removes a tweet, promotion, or account, Twitter is obligated to also delete that data from its servers. Because Russian operatives immediately erase all of their digital footprint, a substantial amount of valuable information held by Twitter has been lost. Twitter engineers are trying to determine what data is recoverable. (Politico)

Facebook removed thousands of posts from public view that were linked to the Russian disinformation campaign. The data was deleted a day after researcher Jonathan Albright published a report showing that the reach of the Russian campaign was at least twice what Facebook had said. Facebook claimed it simply fixed a "bug," which allowed researchers to access cached information from inactive Facebook Pages. (Washington Post)

Trump’s lawyers are open to having the president sit down for an interview with Robert Mueller in an effort to speed up the Russia probe and dispel suspicions surrounding Trump. Trump told reporters this spring that he was “100 percent” willing to testify under oath about alleged Russian ties to his campaign. Trump's personal lawyer, John Dowd, called the report that they were willing to cooperation with the special counsel “Totally false!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (Politico)

Cambridge Analytica’s work for Trump’s campaign is now as part of the Russia probe. The company is in the process of turning over documents to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Steve Bannon had a stake in Cambridge Analytica worth between $1 million and $5 million as recently as April of this year. (The Daily Beast)

The House Intelligence Committee will publicly release the Facebook ads purchased by Russian operatives during last year’s presidential election. The committee received more than 3,000 politically divisive ads believed to have been purchased by Russia. (Reuters)

Russia hijacked Kaspersky Lab anti-virus software and turned it into a tool for spying. The software routinely scanned files looking for terms like "top secret" and classified code names of US government programs. (Wall Street Journal)

Carter Page told the Senate Intelligence Committee he will not cooperate with any requests to appear and would plead the Fifth. The Trump campaign's former foreign policy adviser met with Sergey Kislyak on the sidelines of the GOP convention last year. In addition, the FBI has been monitoring Page since he travelled to Russia and met with high-level associates of Putin last year. (Politico)

The House Intelligence Committee issued subpoenas to the partners who run Fusion GPS, the research firm that produced the dossier of memos of alleged Russian efforts to aid the Trump campaign. Chairman Devin Nunes signed off on the subpoenas that demand documents and testimony. Nunes recused himself from the House's panel earlier this year after going directly to the White House with information about “incidental” surveillance of Trump's transition team. (CNN)

The attorney for the Russian billionaire who pushed for the Trump Tower meeting said an email shows the meeting wasn't about Hillary Clinton. In the newly disclosed email, Natalia Veselnitskaya asked music publicist Rob Goldstone if she could bring a “lobbyist and trusted associate" to the meeting, because of his knowledge of the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law that imposed financial sanctions on wealthy Russians as punishment for human rights abuses. The email was disclosed by Scott Balber, who represents Aras and Emin Agalarov, the billionaire real estate developer and his son who requested the June 2016 meeting.

The emails between Goldstone and Trump Jr. tell a different story, however. Goldstone requested the meeting Trump Jr., saying the Russian government wanted to help the Trump campaign by providing documents that “would incriminate Hillary" and "be very useful to your father.” Trump Jr. replied: “If it’s what you say I love it." (Washington Post / CNN)

Google said Russian agents bought ads aimed to spread disinformation on YouTube, Google Search, Gmail, and DoubleClick, the company’s ad network. The ads don't appear to be from the same Kremlin-affiliated troll farm that bought ads on Facebook. Google runs the world’s largest online advertising business, and YouTube is the world’s largest online video site. (Washington Post)

Robert Mueller's investigators met with the author of the Trump dossier, Christopher Steele, this past summer in an effort to understand if people associated with the Trump campaign and suspected Russian operatives broke any laws. US intelligence agencies reportedly took the Steele dossier more seriously than previously acknowledged, keeping it out of a publicly-released January report on Russian meddling in order to not divulge which parts of the dossier they had corroborated. Trump and his allies have repeatedly called the dossier "totally made-up stuff" written by a "failed spy." (CNN / Associated Press)

Christopher Steele is talking with the Senate Intelligence Committee about formally speaking with its leaders. The sticking point for the former British intelligence operative, who authored a 35-page dossier alleging that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia, has been over his unwillingness to discuss who underwrote his work. Steele was hired by Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research, which was originally funded by undisclosed Republican opponents of Trump. During the general election, unknown Democrats began picking up the tab. Senators had previously said they have had unable to get traction on the dossier, because Steele had not agreed to meet with investigators or the senators. (NBC News)

Russian hackers stole NSA data about US cyber defense after an employee removed the highly classified material, put it on his home computer, and used an antivirus app made by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab. The US government had previously banned the use of Kaspersky Lab software over concerns of Russian cyberespionage. The stolen material includes details about how the NSA penetrates foreign computer networks, the code it uses, and how it defends networks inside the US. (Wall Street Journal)

Russian propaganda may have been shared hundreds of millions of times on Facebook, new research shows. From the 470 Facebook accounts that have been made public, the content had been “shared” 340 million times. (Washington Post)

The three Russians named in the Trump dossier are suing Fusion GPS for libel. Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan claim that their reputations have been unfairly ruined by the dossier. (Politico)

FBI deputy director on Russian hacking: We "should have seen this coming." Speaking at the Cambridge Cyber Summit, Andrew McCabe implied that Russian meddling hasn't stopped, either: "The experience in the 2016 elections allowed us to diagnose the problem. Have we cured it yet? Absolutely not." (CNN)

Two former CIA chiefs said Russia needed help targeting US voters and districts in the 2016 presidential campaign. "It is not intuitively obvious that they could have done this themselves," former CIA director Michael Hayden said. Russia either needed someone to help give it information on who to microtarget or it stole the necessary information through hacking. (Bloomberg)

Senate Judiciary Chairman said there is "no way of avoiding" a public hearing for Trump Jr., who has come under scrutiny from multiple committees in Congress for meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016. "Before this is over with," Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr said, "we will know everything about the Don Jr. meeting." (CNN)

Trump criticized the Senate Intelligence Committee for continuing its investigation into possible collusion between Russia and his campaign, tweeting: "Why Isn't the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!" Trump tweeted. The tweet comes in response to yesterday's news that the committee is still investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential race. (The Hill / ABC News)

The Senate Intelligence Committee endorsed the conclusions of American intelligence agencies that Putin directed a campaign of hacking and propaganda to disrupt the 2016 presidential election. Richard Burr, chairman of the committee, said they "trust the conclusions" of the Intelligence Community Assessment that Russia was behind the hacking of the John Podesta’s email account and had attempted to exploit public opinion with false information through fake social media accounts. The issue of collusion remains open.

Senators also acknowledged that they have been unable to get traction on the Steele dossier, which contains a series of claims about Trump and Russia. The memos’ author, Christopher Steele, has not agreed to meet with investigators or the senators. Robert Mueller's special counsel has taken over FBI inquiries into the Steele dossier. (New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News)

Facebook and Twitter agreed to testify publicly before the Senate intelligence committee as part of the congressional probe into Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election. Facebook will also testify at the House Intelligence Committee hearing. Twitter and Facebook have already briefed both committees on their findings regarding Russian use of their platforms to influence the election. While invited, Google has not said if it will also appear at either hearing. (Recode / The Hill)

The House intelligence committee is focusing on Russian ads bought on Google, search engine manipulation, fake news, and the potential uses of YouTube. Google had initially said it found no evidence of targeted tactics like the thousands of election-related ads purchased on Facebook. (Bloomberg)

Russian-linked Facebook ads specifically targeted Michigan and Wisconsin, two states Trump won by less than 1% of the vote. The ads promoted divisiveness and anti-Muslim messages. Trump beat Hillary Clinton in Michigan by about 10,700 votes out of nearly 4.8 million ballots cast. In Wisconsin, Trump won by only about 22,700 votes. (CNN)

Robert Mueller's top legal counsel is researching limits on pre-emptive presidential pardons. Michael Dreeben has been researching past pardons to determine if any limits exist as Trump's current and former advisers come under the special counsel's scrutiny. Trump previously tweeted that "all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon." Pardons of a president’s campaign workers, family members, and himself are largely uncharted legal territory. Mueller has a team of 16 seasoned prosecutors investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election as well as any potential collusion between Russian and members of Trump’s campaign. (Bloomberg)

The CIA denied a request by the Senate Judiciary Committee to let them view information about Russian meddling that the intelligence committee was allowed to see. The material pertains to obstruction of justice matters that are in the Judiciary Committee’s jurisdiction. (Politico)

Russian operatives used Facebook's retargeting tool to target specific ads and messages to voters who had visited misleading web sites and social media pages designed to mimicked those created by political activists. By using Facebook's Custom Audiences, Russian-linked ad buyers were able to spend $100,000 on more than 3,000 ads that were seen by roughly 10 million users — approximately 44% of which were seen before the November 8th election. (Washington Post / CNN)

Trump's associates had two more previously undisclosed contacts with Russia during the 2016 campaign. The documents were turned over to congressional committees and special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was invited to a conference in Russia that would be attended by Putin; in the other case, Cohen received a second proposal for a Trump-branded Moscow project during the campaign. Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, low-level foreign policy advisers and, now, Cohen were all contacted by Russians with interests in business and politics in the weeks before or after Trump accepted the nomination. (Washington Post)

Paul Manafort attempted to leverage his role on Trump's campaign team to curry favor with a Russian oligarch close to Putin during the campaign. Emails turned over to investigators show how the former campaign chair tried to please Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska, one of Russia’s richest men. Manafort was ousted from the Trump campaign after Manafort’s name was listed in a secret ledger of cash payments from a pro-Russian party in Ukraine that detailed his failed venture with Deripaska. At the time, Manafort was in debt to shell companies connected to pro-Russian interests in Ukraine for some $16 million. (The Atlantic)

The National Security Agency warned senior White House officials against using personal cellphones and email, which could make them vulnerable to espionage by Russia, China, Iran, and others. The briefing came shortly after Trump was sworn into office on January 20, and before some top aides began using their personal email and phones to conduct official business. At least five current and former White House officials have used private email, including Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Gary Cohn, Steve Bannon, and Reince Priebus. (Politico)

Facebook is turning over more than 3,000 Russian-linked advertisements to congressional investigators. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees and the Senate Judiciary Committee will receive copies of the ads. The Senate Intelligence Committee also wants Facebook, Google, and Twitter to testify before a Congressional panel on November 1 regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election. None of the companies have confirmed they will attend. The House Intelligence Committee will hold a public hearing in October, and would like the three companies to attend as well. (New York Times / ABC News / The Hill)

Russia warned the US not to take action against their government-funded media outlets RT and Sputnik: "every step against a Russian media outlet will be met with a corresponding response." Earlier this month, the Department of Justice notified the company supplying services for RT America that it is obligated to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act due to the work it does for RT. Federal investigators are also looking into whether RT and Sputnik were part of Russia's influence campaign in the 2016 election. (CNN)

Twitter briefed members of the Senate and House intelligence committees about fake news spread by Russian accounts and what steps the company took to stop it. Twitter told Congress that about 200 accounts are tied to some of the same Russian-linked sources that purchased ads on Facebook. The vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee criticized Twitter for failing to aggressively investigate the Russian misuse of its platform beyond the accounts linked to fraudulent profiles already identified by Facebook. Mark Warner said the company's presentation “showed an enormous lack of understanding from the Twitter team of how serious this issue is, the threat it poses to democratic institutions and again begs many more questions than they offered." He added: “Their response was frankly inadequate on every level.” (Recode / New York Times)

An Oxford University study shows there was a higher concentration of misinformation, polarizing political and conspiratorial news shared on Twitter from Russian, WikiLeaks, and junk news sources in the swing states Trump won than in uncontested states. (Oxford Internet Institute)

A Russian hacker who previously worked for Putin’s United Russia party was arrested in Barcelona on a US warrant. Prosecutors charged Peter Levashov with operating a network of tens of thousands of infected computers used by cyber criminals. (Reuters)

The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked Facebook, Google, and Twitter to testify on Russian meddling at a public hearing on November 1st. The House Intelligence Committee also wants to hold a public hearing next month with representatives from several unnamed technology companies (hint, hint) in an effort to “better understand how Russia used online tools and platforms to sow discord in and influence our election.” (Reuters / New York Times / Politico)

A Russian-backed group impersonated a real American Muslim organization on Facebook and Instagram to spread misinformation. The United Muslims of America pushed memes that claimed Hillary Clinton admitted the US “created, funded and armed” al-Qaeda and ISIS, claimed that John McCain was ISIS’ true founder, and alleged Osama bin Laden was a “CIA agent.” (The Daily Beast)

Russian-bought political Facebook ads criticized Hillary Clinton, promoted Trump, and supported Bernie Sanders even after his presidential campaign had ended. The ads appeared designed to create divisions while sometimes praising Trump, Sanders, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. A number of the ads questioned Clinton’s authenticity and touted liberal criticisms of her candidacy. Trump took to Twitter to suggest that Facebook had colluded with the news media against him during the campaign, tweeting: "Facebook was always anti-Trump. The Networks were always anti-Trump hence, Fake News @nytimes (apologized) & @WaPo were anti-Trump. Collusion?" He added: "But the people were Pro-Trump! Virtually no President has accomplished what we have accomplished in the first 9 months – and economy roaring." (Politico / The Hill)

Three Americans with Russian business connections contributed almost $2 million to political funds controlled by Trump. All three men are associated with Viktor Vekselberg, one of the richest men in Russia, who holds frequent meetings with Putin. Donations began flowing to the RNC just as Trump was securing the Republican nomination and culminated in two large gifts – totaling $1.25 million – to the Trump inaugural fund following his victory. Unless the contributions were directed by a foreigner, they would be legal donations. (ABC News)

Roger Stone rejected all allegations of collusion between Trump's associates and Russia during the 2016 election. In a closed House of Representatives Intelligence Committee hearing, Trump's longtime ally denied he had any contact with Russian operatives during the campaign. Stone also denied that he had any advance knowledge that emails of Clinton’s campaign chairman would be hacked and his emails released by WikiLeaks, despite tweeting days before that John Podesta’s “time in the barrel” would soon be coming. (Reuters / Washington Post)

Roger Stone rejected all allegations of collusion between Trump's associates and Russia during the 2016 election. In a closed House of Representatives Intelligence Committee hearing, Trump's longtime ally denied he had any contact with Russian operatives during the campaign. Stone also denied that he had any advance knowledge that emails of Clinton’s campaign chairman would be hacked and his emails released by WikiLeaks, despite tweeting days before that John Podesta’s “time in the barrel” would soon be coming. (Reuters / Washington Post)

Robert Mueller could start interviewing current and former White House staff as soon as this week. On Mueller's short list are Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, Hope Hicks, Don McGahn, Josh Raffel, and James Burnham. Related, Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has said he's been informed by Mueller that he will be indicted as part of the FBI's Russia probe. Mueller has been looking at Manafort's possible financial and tax crimes, his contacts with Russian officials, and his work as a foreign agent with links to the Kremlin and Ukraine's pro-Russia Party of Regions. A Democratic senator said he's "99% sure" Michael Flynn will also be indicted. (CNN / Yahoo / Business Insider / Politico)

Homeland Security notified 21 states that they had been targeted by Russian government hackers during the 2016 election campaign. Hackers penetrated computer systems in a handful of states, but there is no evidence that hackers tampered with voting machines. DHS left it to individual states to decide whether to publicly acknowledge if they had been targeted, but officials confirmed that Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington were among the states targeted. (Washington Post)

The White House and Justice Department have missed deadlines and are withholding records related to the Russia investigation by the House intelligence committee and the Senate judiciary committee. The Senate judiciary committee has requested information about the DOJ's decision to prevent two senior FBI officials from sitting down for transcribed interviews to provide eyewitness accounts of the Comey firing. The House intelligence committee is threatening to hold a public hearing over documents the DOJ failed to turn over regarding the FBI's ties to the British operative who compiled a dossier of allegations on Trump's connections with Russia. (CNN)

After Paul Manafort left the Trump campaign in 2016, the United States placed him under surveillance as part of its early investigation into Russian election interference. The monitoring did not include listening to real-time phone conversations. It is currently unclear when the surveillance was suspended. (Wall Street Journal)

Facebook agreed to turn over to Congress details of ads sold to Russia-linked accounts during the 2016 election. The decision represents a reversal of the company's previous position. Facebook has already provided the ads and information to special counsel Robert Mueller's team. On Twitter, Trump dismissed potential nefarious Russian use of the social media platform as a "hoax." (CNN / Washington Post)

Writing through an intermediary, Paul Manafort offered to give private briefings to a Russian billionaire during the 2016 campaign. Oleg Deripaska is an aluminum magnate and former business associate of Manafort's with close ties to the Kremlin. It is unclear if Deripaska received or acted on the offer. (Washington Post)

Manafort also used his Trump campaign email account to communicate with Ukrainian political operative Konstantin Kilimnik, seeking payment for previous consulting work in Ukraine. Kilimnik is suspected to have ties to Russian intelligence operations. Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said it is "no secret" Manafort "was owed money by past clients." (Politico)

Mueller interviewed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about the Comey firing. The interview occurred in June or July. Since Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation, Rosenstein is ultimately in charge of overseeing the Russia probe. (Wall Street Journal)

Paul Manafort was wiretapped following an FBI investigation in 2014, and the surveillance continued through this year (albeit interrupted). A Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant was originally granted for Manafort's work for the former Ukrainian government and later discontinued due to lack of evidence. A second FISA warrant—concerning the Russia investigation—was obtained at some point last year. The details of the recorded communications have been provided to special counsel Robert Mueller. (CNN)

Trump is paying legal fees related to the Russia investigation with RNC and reelection campaign funds. Under the FEC, the move is legal, but Trump is the first president in modern history to use campaign funding in this manner. Trump lawyer John Dowd told reporters the question of financing Trump's legal bills was "none of your business.” (Reuters)

The Senate Intelligence Committee canceled an interview with former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Cohen was set to deny he'd ever "engaged with, been paid by, paid for or conversed with" Russia to interfere with the election. Cohen's lawyer said they look forward to "voluntarily cooperating with the House committee and with anyone else who has an inquiry in this area." (Washington Post)

Overheard in a Washington steakhouse, a White House counsel discussed the extent to which the administration should cooperate with the Russia investigation. Ty Cobb supports prompt turnover of all relevant emails and documents to special counsel Robert Mueller; Trump lawyer Don McGahn is concerned doing so might weaken the White House's future position. (New York Times)

Mike Flynn's family established a legal defense fund, citing a "tremendous financial burden" stemming from the Russia investigation. In a public statement, Flynn's siblings emphasized that the legal fees required of former Trump aides "far exceed their ability to pay." The Trump administration recently legalized anonymous donations to legal defense funds. (ABC News)

The Senate Judiciary Committee will take steps to ensure Trump cannot fire Robert Mueller. Two bills in development come after concerns that Trump was considering dismissing special counsel Mueller in his frustration about the Russia probe, despite White House claims to the contrary. House Judiciary Committee heads met with Mueller on Thursday. (CNN)

Flynn promoted a Middle East nuclear power plant deal while serving in the White House. The project, reported yesterday, originally involved several Russian companies, along with a group of former U.S. military officers with whom Flynn had worked on the potential deal. The deal would erect dozens of nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East. (Wall Street Journal)

In a policy reversal, the Office of Government Ethics will now allow anonymous donations to White House legal defense funds. The anonymity frees up lobbyists and others "with business before the government" to step in and pay White House aides' legal fees, including those related to the Russia probe. (Politico)

Russia reduced the number of parking spots available to U.S. diplomats at their consulates. The move represents the latest in a series of U.S.–Russian diplomatic expulsions and denials. The parking spots were painted over with a pedestrian crossing. (AP)

Congressional Democrats told special counsel Robert Mueller that Michael Flynn failed to disclose a summer 2015 Middle East trip to broker a Saudi–Russian nuclear power deal. Upon returning to the States, the Democrats say, Flynn omitted his contacts with foreign nationals during his reapplication for security clearance, which includes paperwork and an FBI interview. (CNN)

Flynn's son, Michael G. Flynn, is a subject of the federal Russia probe, as well. The investigation focuses in part on Flynn's work with Mike Flynn's lobbying firm. (NBC News)

The U.S. government has banned the use of Kaspersky Lab software over concerns of Russian cyberespionage. Federal agencies will have three months to remove the software. Homeland Security called the risk that Russia could "capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products" a national security threat. Kaspersky Lab denies any wrongdoing and claims it is "caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight." (Washington Post)

Earlier this summer, a handful of Trump lawyers believed Jared Kushner should step down due to legal complications arising from the Russia probe. After internal debate, the suggestion was ultimately dismissed as one of several efforts "focused on sabotaging" Kushner, who had several interactions with Russia during the 2016 campaign and transition. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

Russian actors remotely organized and promoted pro-Trump, anti-immigrant protests via Facebook. A former FBI agent referred to the events as Russia's "next step" in its influence campaign. Facebook confirmed it "shut down several promoted events as part of the takedown" it reported last week. (Daily Beast)

The FBI is investigating whether Russian news agency Sputnik has violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The law bars organizations from acting as undeclared governmental propaganda arms. The FBI has obtained several thousand internal Sputnik documents and emails and has interviewed a former White House correspondent who was fired in May. It is unclear whether or not the investigation falls under Mueller's broader efforts. (Yahoo News)

Robert Mueller's team wants to interview White House staffers about Trump Jr.'s initial statement regarding his meeting with the Russian lawyer at Trump Tower during the campaign. Trump personally helped craft his son's misleading statement while aboard Air Force One. It claimed Trump Jr. "primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children" during his meeting with the Russian lawyer. That claim was later debunked by multiple accounts of the meeting. Mueller wants to know whether information was intentionally left out and who was involved. (CNN)

Trump Jr. met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya to determine Hillary Clinton's "fitness, character or qualifications" for office, according to a prepared statement delivered to Senate Judiciary Committee investigators. He maintains that nothing came of the meeting, and he denies explicit collusion with Russia. Trump Jr. took questions behind closed doors. (New York Times)

Facebook found $100,000 in ad spending during the election tied to a Russian “troll farm” with a history of pushing pro-Kremlin propaganda. Facebook said 3,300 ads had digital footprints that led to a Russian company targeting voters. The Facebook team also discovered 470 suspicious and likely fraudulent Facebook accounts and pages that were operated out of Russia. (Washington Post)

Trump Jr. will meet with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday to discuss the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia. It's the first time someone from Trump's inner circle will speak with the committee members about the campaign’s alleged attempts to engage with Kremlin surrogates. Committee members still hope to interview Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner about the meeting they held at Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer claiming to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Kushner and Manafort have already spoken to the Senate Intelligence Committee. (Washington Post)

The House intelligence committee subpoenaed the FBI and Justice Department last month, seeking documents related to a dossier that alleged Russia collected compromising material on Trump. The pair of subpoenas were issued last month and ar