It was a relatively slow week in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, but some key revelations helped move the investigation forward.
Here’s everything you need to know about what has happened since Monday:
- Anti-Mueller Republicans have been communicating with the White House: One of the Republicans who has been critical of Robert Mueller’s investigation indicated that he has spoken to the White House about the issue, but maintains that the questions he asked about the two FBI agents who exchanged anti-President Donald Trump texts were motivated purely by the evidence. Two other Republicans have also spoken to Trump’s administration about Mueller’s investigation.
- The Justice Department still has not answered how it chose which of Peter Strzok’s text messages to release: Following the release of 375 text messages sent between FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the Department of Justice has still not explained how it chose which texts to disseminate from the 10,000 it had obtained. Department of Justice officials and legal scholars criticised Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for his actions on the Strzok-Page affair.
- Intelligence officials spoke out about Trump allies railing against the FBI: Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, the former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency, was joined by several other high-level former intelligence officials this week in defending Mueller, his investigation, and the FBI from criticism by Trump and his political allies.
- Trump believes Mueller will exonerate him in a letter: Trump reportedly feels encouraged by the lack of any charges against him in the Mueller investigation, and is apparently telling friends and advisers that he believes he will receive a letter from Mueller exonerating him early next year. His lawyer Ty Cobb says he has “no idea” where Trump got this idea from.
- Despite recusing himself months ago, Nunes still holds sway in House Russia probe: Republican Rep. Devin Nunes still controls the House Intelligence Committee’s subpoena power and he has used that power to subpoena only one financial institution: the primary bank for the DC-based opposition research firm Fusion GPS. Democrats see this as a partisan manoeuvre and encourage the House to subpoena banks with closer ties to Trump and his associates.
- Senate Judiciary Democrat says his committee has not done enough to prevent future Russian meddling: Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said Congress is focusing on “peripheral issues” that will do little to prevent future Russian hacks in 2018 and beyond. In an earlier tweet, Whitehouse suggested that Sen. Chuck Grassley had taken orders from Trump to shift the focus of the Russia investigation to expose former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s connection to an anti-Trump dossier.
- The FBI warned Trump that Russia would try to infiltrate his campaign: During last year’s campaign, the FBI warned both the Trump and Clinton presidential campaigns that Russia would likely try to spy on and infiltrate their teams and that they should report any suspicious overtures to the bureau. The revelation sheds new light on what Trump knew about Russian meddling and raises questions about why his campaign team did not report the many overtures it received from Russia-linked entities to the FBI as requested.
Mueller is currently spearheading the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, including whether members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the election in his favour. He is also looking into whether Trump sought to obstruct justice when he fired FBI director James Comey in May.
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