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Russia

This week in the Russia investigations: The collusion mystery may be insoluble, Mueller and his team fly around to the dark side — perhaps — and punishment for Papadopoulos.

Updated at 7:03 p.m. ET

Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, has pleaded guilty to eight counts in federal court in New York, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday evening.

They include five counts of tax evasion, one count of falsifying submissions to a bank and two counts involving unlawful campaign contributions.

In a series of tweets over the weekend, President Trump responded to a story published in The New York Times that detailed extensive cooperation between White House counsel Donald McGahn and the inquiry by special counsel Robert Mueller into obstruction of justice and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

This week in the Russia investigations: The White House is trying to burn the clock to get into a better political position to handle the Russia imbroglio. Why it might — or might not — work.

Time trouble

In the championship chess match that is the Russia imbroglio, President Trump and the White House are hoping that Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller has stumbled into what players call "time trouble."

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh shares one important view with President Trump: Both are deeply suspicious of any attempt to limit the president's power over executive branch officials.

That view could have important consequences for special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 election, which includes allegations of collusion and possible obstruction of justice.

Updated at 4:10 p.m. ET

The counteroffer submitted by President Trump to Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller may be the "last, best chance" Mueller has to secure Trump's testimony, lawyer Rudy Giuliani told NPR on Wednesday.

That doesn't mean it's the White House's final offer or negotiations are closed, Giuliani said — but "if they said yes, we'd do it."

Updated at 8:03 a.m. ET

It was a tweet that set off a storm. Was President Trump admitting to collusion between his campaign and Russia? Was he stipulating that the now notorious June 2016 Trump Tower meeting arranged by his son Donald Trump Jr. really was all about getting dirt on Hillary Clinton from a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer and not adoption issues as President Trump had earlier claimed?

Updated at 6:15 p.m. ET

President Trump asked his attorney general to stop Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation Wednesday morning, as the first trial stemming from that investigation entered its second day.

Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, is on trial in Alexandria, Va., for bank and tax fraud charges, not, as Trump noted in a Twitter thread Wednesday morning, for "collusion."

Updated at 7:33 p.m. ET

On the first day of Paul Manafort's trial, prosecutors sought to paint him as a man with absurdly extravagant taste who thought he was above the law, while the former Trump campaign manager's defense lawyers tossed blame onto one of his closest associates.

Most tax and bank fraud cases are built on stacks of bland business documents and Internal Revenue Service paperwork — hardly the stuff of international intrigue.

When Russian hackers targeted the staff of Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., they took aim at maybe the most vulnerable sector of U.S. elections: campaigns.

McCaskill's Senate staff received fake emails, as first reported by The Daily Beast, in an apparent attempt by Russia's GRU intelligence agency to gain access to passwords. McCaskill released a statement confirming the attack but said there is no indication the attack was successful.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

President Trump denied a CNN report that he knew in advance that his son Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign officials planned to meet with a group of Russians in June 2016 who said they had dirt on 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

In a tweet Friday morning, Trump wrote "I did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don Jr."

Updated at 3:50 p.m. ET

Russian President Vladimir Putin won't visit the United States this year after all, the White House said Wednesday, following an earlier invitation by President Trump after their recent summit in Helsinki.

"The president believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over, so we've agreed that it will be after the first of the year," national security adviser John Bolton said in a statement released by the administration.

Updated at 2:14 p.m. ET

President Trump resumed acknowledging Russian election interference on Tuesday and said he fears that this year, it will benefit Democrats.

Trump, who goes back and forth about what he accepts about the years-long campaign of "active measures" against the West, now says the cyberattacks, online agitation and other techniques could be turned against him and Republicans in the 2018 congressional races.

Updated at 6:47 p.m. ET

The White House is denying that President Trump believes Russia is no longer targeting U.S. elections and other infrastructure, despite his apparent answer to a reporter's question Wednesday morning.

Asked at the start of a Cabinet meeting whether Russia is still targeting the U.S., Trump shook his head and said "no."

Later, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders sought to clarify Trump's comments, saying his "no" meant that he was not taking any questions from reporters.

Updated at 5:01 p.m. ET

Just hours after President Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and held a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart that stunned many political observers in the U.S., federal prosecutors on Monday unsealed a criminal complaint alleging that a Russian graduate student living in the D.C. area conspired to act as an agent of Russia without registering, as required, under U.S. law.

Updated at 7:13 p.m. ET

President Trump's effort to reset relations with Russia backfired at home after he failed to side with the U.S. intelligence community over Moscow's interference in the 2016 election. The president's equivocation drew bipartisan condemnation, capping a week in which Trump alienated allies and cozied up to adversaries.

Trump himself declared his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday in Helsinki a success, in what he called the "proud tradition of bold American diplomacy."

Updated at 9:38 p.m. ET

The Justice Department charged 12 Russian intelligence officers on Friday with a litany of alleged offenses related to Russia's hacking of the Democratic National Committee's emails, state election systems and other targets in 2016.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who announced the indictments, said the Russians involved belonged to the military intelligence service GRU. They are accused of a sustained cyberattack against Democratic Party targets, including its campaign committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Russia's information attack against the United States during the 2016 election cycle sought to take advantage of the greater trust that Americans tend to place in local news.

The information operatives who worked out of the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg did not stop at posing as American social media users or spreading false information from purported news sources, according to new details.

They also created a number of Twitter accounts that posed as sources for Americans' hometown headlines.

Updated Thursday, June 28 at 8:19 a.m. ET

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will discuss relations between the United States and Russia and a range of national security issues when they meet in Helsinki on July 16.

The meeting will follow a NATO summit in Brussels on July 11.

"I think we'll be talking about Syria. I think we'll be talking about Ukraine. I think we'll be talking about many other subjects," Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.

Updated at 11:59 a.m.

The Senate Judiciary Committee released more than 2,500 pages of documents on Wednesday related to its investigation about a meeting in 2016 between top Trump aides and a delegation of Russians who promised to help the campaign.

The material, which includes interview transcripts and other "exhibits," is available here.

Updated at 10:55 a.m. ET

Kremlin-linked Russian politician Alexander Torshin traveled frequently between Moscow and various destinations in the United States to build relationships with figures on the American right starting as early as 2009, beyond his previously known contacts with the National Rifle Association.

As attendees of the National Rifle Association's annual convention ride on the interstate this week from the Dallas airport to their convention hall, they might look out the window to see a billboard questioning why the group has "cozied up" with Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin.

Updated at 10:34 a.m. ET

Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller may have developed evidence that has not yet been made public about contacts between Donald Trump's campaign and the Russian government as it attacked the 2016 election, based on questions published Monday by The New York Times.

Updated at 6:46 p.m. EDT

The Democratic National Committee filed an attention-grabbing lawsuit against the Russian government, WikiLeaks and Donald Trump's presidential campaign that says they conspired to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The suit — which faces legal obstacles because of the Justice Department's investigation into Russia's attack and the difficulties involved with suing a foreign government — develops a theory about alleged collusion between Trump's campaign and the Russians.

Updated at 2:01 p.m. ET

More than 100 missiles were launched early Saturday morning by the U.S. and its allies France and the U.K., targeting three chemical weapons sites in Syria. The mission, according to Pentagon officials, has "significantly crippled" Syrian President Bashar Assad's ability to manufacture chemical weapons. No casualties have been reported.

As the Trump administration evaluates potential military operations against Syria, the White House has declined to explain why it believes it has the legal authority to conduct them without authorization from Congress.

But the White House does have a secret seven-page memo that may make the case.

Updated at 1:09 p.m. ET

President Trump had a ready retort to a Russian threat to shoot down any U.S. missiles in Syria: "Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!' "

Trump tweeted that news early Wednesday and added, "You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!"

This week in the Russia investigations: Mueller sends the feds to meet some international arrivals; new sanctions on some powerful, wealthy Russians; and Mr. Zuckerberg goes to Washington.

Fade in:

A gleaming new Gulfstream G650 — or maybe it's a Sukhoi business jet — sweeps in for a landing at Teterboro Airport, the suburban New Jersey gateway to nearby Manhattan for elite fliers.

Special counsel Robert Mueller notified President Trump's lawyers last month that the president is being investigated as part of the Russia probe, but a source familiar with the situation says they were told Trump was not a criminal target at that time.

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