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What We Learned in the Trump-Russia Investigation: Week of Dec 31 – Jan 6, 2018

Russia probe in congress:

  • The co-founders of Fusion GPS wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times, stating that the Steele dossier was not the trigger of the FBI investigation into Trump’s Russia contacts. They also suggested that Republican lawmakers are trying to distract from the core mission of the FBI probe by diverting attention to Fusion and the dossier. They called on congress to release the transcripts of their 21 hour testimony before the various committees. source
  • Grassley responded that Simpson has already been invited to testify publicly about the dossier, adding that the offer “remains on the table.” Yet he still will not commit to releasing the transcripts of testimony. source
  • Grassley and Graham announced they made a criminal referral to the Justice Department, suggesting it investigate the dossier’s author, former British spy Christopher Steele, for possibly lying to the FBI. This move has been derided as a mere political stunt, as the two senators do not have any information that the FBI does not. source

Fire and Fury:

  • Michael Wolff released a tell-all book about the Trump administration. The parts most pertinent to the Russia probe revolve around Steven Bannon’s descriptions of the Trump Tower meeting attended by Kushner and Donald Jr. He called it “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”, stating that the FBI should’ve been contacted immediately. source
  • The book’s release prompted Brad Parscale, the digital director of the Trump campaign, to release a statement describing Jared Kushner and Eric Trump as “joint deputy campaign managers.” He continued: “Not one person made a decision without their approval.” This is important because, thus far, Eric Trump has not been a major player in the public Russia probe. source

More evidence of Obstruction of Justice: Trump instructed the White House top counsel, Don McGahn, to stop Sessions from recusing himself from the Russia probe. Mueller has received notes written by Reince Priebus that document Trump’s attempts at pressuring Comey to declare the president not under investigation. source

Mueller has called back at least one participant of the Trump Tower meeting for further interviews. He is also now investigating Ivanka Trump’s discussions with the Russian lawyer from that meeting. source

Sen. Feinstein has requested interviews with Trump’s social media director Dan Scavino and digital director Brad Parscale. She stated that the Senate Judiciary Cmte. has evidence that Scavino “may have corresponded with Russian nationals.” source

Manafort has filed a lawsuit against Mueller and Rosenstein, challenging the Special Counsel’s authority. Legal experts do not expect it to be successful. source

Nunes has stated that the DOJ agreed to give him all the documents and access to witnesses he requested in his attempt to investigate Fusion GPS and the dossier. This came about after Paul Ryan supported his requests (source). Additionally, a bank has handed over Fusion GPS’s records to the House panel. source

Richard Johnson of Page Six interviewed a purported ‘witness’ who testified before Mueller’s Grand Jury. S/he made comments about the racial makeup of the jury and the appearance of several jurors, concluding that they were not likely to be fair to Trump. It’s likely this person is connected to the Trump administration or organization in some fashion. source 1 and source 2

Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Ivanovich Antonov, held a meeting at the Trump International Hotel on January 2nd, raising yet more concerns about Trump’s flagrant disregard for the Emoluments clause. source


Papadopoulos’s fiance gave an interview with some details that may end up being important in future developments of the Russia probe. It can be read here.