The Russia watchThe obstruction was the collusion?; 18 reasons Trump could be a Russian asset; The dueling narratives on Trump and Russia, and more

Published 14 January 2019

·  What if the obstruction was the collusion? On the New York Times’s latest bombshell

·  Why the FBI’s investigation into the president was unavoidable

·  Here are 18 reasons Trump could be a Russian asset

·  Subpoena the interpreter

·  Trump’s AG nominee pledges to allow Mueller to complete investigation

·  Kremlin blessed Russia’s NRA operation, U.S. intel report says

·  The dueling narratives on Trump and Russia

·  The weekend’s Trump-Russia news, explained

What if the obstruction was the collusion? On the New York Times’s latest bombshell (Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare)
Shortly before the holidays, I received a call from New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt asking me to meet with him about some reporting he had done. Schmidt did not describe the subject until we met up, when he went over with me a portion of the congressional interview of former FBI General Counsel James Baker, who was then my Brookings colleague and remains my Lawfare colleague. When he shared what Baker had said, and when I thought about it over the next few days in conjunction with some other documents and statements, a question gelled in my mind. Observers of the Russia investigation have generally understood Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s work as focusing on at least two separate tracks: collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, on the one hand, and potential obstruction of justice by the president, on the other. But what if the obstruction was the collusion—or at least a part of it?
Late last year, I wrote a memo for Schmidt outlining how I read all of this material, a memo from which this post is adapted.
Today, the New York Times is reporting that in the days following the firing of James Comey, the FBI opened an investigation of President Trump. It wasn’t simply the obstruction investigation that many of us have assumed. It was also a counterintelligence investigation predicated on the notion that the president’s own actions might constitute a national security threat

Why the FBI’s investigation into the president was unavoidable (David Kris, Lawfare)
The New York Times has reported that, in the wake of President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, the bureau opened a counterintelligence investigation into the president. At one level, of course, this is not surprising—John Bellinger identified Donald Trump as a potential danger to U.S. national security in 2015, and Benjamin Wittes followed up in 2016 and 2017. There is a lot of information in the public record, much of it recounted in the Times article, about the president’s unusual behavior with respect to Russia. But, of course, on another level it is terribly shocking—and just plain terrible—that the president has behaved as he has, and that the FBI is investigating him. (Cont.)