Russia

Updated at 9:42 a.m. ET

Thursday marks one year since the appointment of Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller. Has any public figure in the United States ever become such a partisan lightning rod after having said so little?

Updated at 12:30 a.m. ET Saturday

Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired outgoing FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on Friday even though he was on the doorstep of retiring and receiving his pension after two decades of service to the bureau.

President Trump responded on Twitter just after midnight Saturday, calling McCabe's firing "a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI - A great day for Democracy."

After nearly a month of pronouncements, melodrama, headlines and strife, Round One of memo mania is finally complete.

House Intelligence Committee Republicans went first with their Feb. 2 salvo that alleged "biased" FBI and Justice Department officials had abused their surveillance powers by withholding information from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Then, on Saturday, committee Democrats released a rebuttal giving their perspective on the story — or at least part of it.

Updated at 8:15 p.m. ET

A federal grand jury has indicted 13 Russians and three Russian entities in connection with the attack on the 2016 presidential election.

The defendants are "accused of violating U.S. criminal laws in order to interfere with U.S. elections and political processes," according to a statement from the special counsel's office. The indictment charges them with "conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants with aggravated identity theft."

This week in the Russia investigations: The much-talked-about memo finally made its public debut.

After a week of hyperpartisan madness that critics warn could shatter key D.C. institutions forever, the inescapable, once-secret spying memo wound up falling like a drop of rain into the Pacific Ocean.

Updated at 9:31 a.m. ET

The latest political sandstorm in the Russia saga is over four pages of paper that have never seen the light of day. Here's what you need to know to make sense of what's going on with this story.

1. What exactly is this memo that everyone is talking about?

Updated 5:35 a.m. ET Friday:

President Trump ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller last summer — but McGahn refused and threatened to quit himself if the president went ahead, according to an explosive report in The New York Times.

Trump, in brief remarks as he entered the conference hall at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, dismissed the story in what has become his characteristic fashion.

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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