Russia

Last week in the Russia investigations: Mueller removes all doubt, the imbroglio apparently costs a man a government job and lots of talk — but no silver bullet — on digital interference.


Mueller time

How many more thunderbolts has Zeus in his quiver? Where might the next one strike? Who does the angry lightning-hurler have in his sights — and who will be spared?

Federal prosecutors have lots of ways to intensify pressure on the people they're investigating, from early morning FBI raids to leaning on relatives of those under government scrutiny.

But even by those measures, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in last year's presidential election is moving with unusual speed and assertiveness, according to half a dozen legal experts following the probe.

Updated at 10:29 a.m.

The Senate is long gone. The House? Splitsville. The president is at his golf club in New Jersey. Only the hardiest swamp creatures continue to scuttle in and out of the half-empty offices of late-August Washington, D.C.

Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller and his team, however, haven't gone anywhere.

MARK WILSON / GETTY IMAGES

Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, told lawmakers in a statement on Monday that he "did not collude ... with any foreign government."

Kushner met behind closed doors with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday and will talk with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. Both panels are investigating Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and whether any members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

NPR journalists have annotated Kushner's statement, in which he describes his contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and a June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer, among others, but denies any wrongdoing.

Now that Donald Trump Jr.'s emails have produced the kind of solid evidence the Russia connection story had been lacking, what had been mostly speculative reporting has instead become the first draft of history.

Expect that history to be much debated. All accounts of political skulduggery with foreign actors tend to be "tangled and murky," as one foreign policy historian has written.

Updated at 9:02 a.m. ET

President Trump says he "strongly pressed" Russian President Vladimir Putin twice about Russia's meddling in the U.S. election — and that it's now time "to move forward in working constructively with Russia."

That work, Trump said, will include a new ceasefire in Syria, as well as a joint cybersecurity operation. But by Sunday evening he distanced himself from the latter, tweeting, "The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn't mean I think it can happen."

President Trump arrives in Poland on Wednesday afternoon. Over the next few days, he'll be attending a Group of 20 summit and meeting with a wide array of world leaders.

It's likely none of those meetings will be more closely scrutinized than Trump's first face-to-face sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump has often said he would like to see closer ties between the U.S. and Russia. But that has been complicated by Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Russia's efforts to interfere with last year's elections will be front and center during two hearings on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson will appear before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence while the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will hear from current U.S. intelligence officials and state election experts.

Here are five questions likely to be on lawmakers' minds as they listen to witnesses and ask questions.

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In the wake of former FBI director James Comey’s testimony about his dismissal by President Donald Trump, Democrats and Republicans are both claiming victory.

During a three-hour public hearing Thursday, Comey said Trump and the White House lied “plain and simple” about his firing.

Comey contradicted Trump’s claims that he fired the former FBI director because of his handling of Hillary Clinton’s email investigation and that rank-and-file FBI members had lost confidence in him.

Thousands of protesters gathered around the country in a series of "March for Truth" rallies on Saturday. Demonstrators were calling for a congressional independent commission to investigate connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

In full view of the White House, protesters in Washington, D.C., demanded answers in the ongoing Russia probe. Chants of "Investigate Trump!" and "Resist, resist!" rang across the National Mall.

Some protesters even lined up together to spell out "Investigate Trump."

Lisa Autry

A Kentucky congressman says he’s convinced that Russia tried to interfere in this country’s presidential election. 

However, Representative Brett Guthrie says there is no evidence that President Donald Trump was involved.

"There's no evidence at all of any collusion between what Russia did, or attempted to do, and the Trump administration," stated Guthrie.  "That's what the special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into, but my point is let's not create facts before they exist."

In a speech to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club Wednesday, Congressman Guthrie said he thinks Russia was behind the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails which proved embarrassing for Hillary Clinton's campaign.

This post was updated at 1:20 p.m. ET.

Russian forces appear to be digging in after seizing key assets in the Ukrainian republic of Crimea, and despite tough talk from Kiev's new leaders, the former Soviet satellite's under-manned and under-equipped military is no match for Moscow's battle-tested troops, experts say.

This post was updated at 4:50 p.m. ET.

Russia's parliament has unanimously approved a request by President Vladimir Putin to authorize the intervention of Moscow's forces in Ukraine until "the normalization of the political situation" there. In response, Ukraine put its own forces on alert and warned that a Russian invasion would spark war between the two countries.