A look at where the investigations related to President Donald Trump stand and what may lie ahead for him.
WHAT’S THIS ALL ABOUT?
Trump is facing criminal investigations in Washington and New York.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia and whether the president obstructed the investigation. Trump also plays a central role in a separate case in New York, where prosecutors have implicated him in a crime. They say Trump directed his personal lawyer Michael Cohen to make illegal hush money payments to two women as a way to quash potential sex scandals during the campaign.
SO … DID THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN COLLUDE WITH RUSSIA?
There is no smoking gun when it comes to the question of Russia collusion. But the evidence so far shows a broad range of Trump associates had Russia-related contacts during the 2016 presidential campaign and transition period, and that several lied about the communication.
There is also evidence that some people in Trump’s orbit were discussing a possible email dump from WikiLeaks before it occurred. American intelligence agencies and Mueller have said Russia was the source of hacked material released by WikiLeaks during the campaign that was damaging to Hillary Clinton’s presidential effort.
OTHER QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
—WHAT ABOUT OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE? That is another unresolved question that Mueller is pursuing. Investigators have examined key episodes such as Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey and his fury over the recusal from the investigation of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
—WHAT DOES TRUMP HAVE TO SAY ABOUT ALL THIS? Trump has repeatedly slammed the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt” and insisted there was “NO COLLUSION” with Russia. He also says his now-former lawyer, Cohen, lied to get a lighter sentence in New York.
—WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW TODAY? Cohen, who as Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer once vowed he would “take a bullet” for his boss, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for an array of crimes that included arranging the payment of hush money to two women that he says was done at the direction of Trump. The sentence was in line with what federal prosecutors asked for. He is ordered to surrender March 6.
—OTHER DEVELOPMENTS THIS WEEK:
Two former Trump aides pleaded their case to judges Tuesday in hopes of easing the punishment they could face for their crimes.
Lawyers for former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn asked a judge Tuesday to spare him prison time, saying he had devoted his career to his country and taken responsibility for an “uncharacteristic error in judgment.” Flynn has admitted lying to the FBI just days after Trump took office about conversations he had during the transition with the then-Russian ambassador to the United States.
Also Tuesday, lawyers for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort said they were still deciding whether to dispute allegations that he lied to investigators and breached a plea agreement. Manafort has been convicted in Washington and Virginia of crimes related to years of Ukrainian political consulting work. Although the charges don’t directly touch Trump, Manafort was a central figure during the campaign, which means he could pass along potentially damaging information.