The Trump-Russia stories are just rolling out in rapid succession, one right after the other tonight. Rather than doing separate posts, I'm just going to aggregate them here for you and will update if more turn up.
On March 22nd, after a briefing, Trump asked everyone to leave the room with two exceptions: Mike Pompeo and Dan Coats. According to the Washington Post, he then asked them to intervene with Comey, who had testified two days earlier that the FBI was investigating collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.
The events involving Coats show the president went further than just asking intelligence officials to deny publicly the existence of any evidence showing collusion during the 2016 election, as The Washington Post reported in May. The interaction with Coats indicates that Trump aimed to enlist top officials to have Comey curtail the bureau’s probe.
The New York Times reports that James Comey had a talk with Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III, relating to Trump's private efforts to pressure Comey -- or obstruct justice, depending upon who you ask.
The day after President Trump asked James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, to end an investigation into his former national security adviser, Mr. Comey confronted Attorney General Jeff Sessions and said he did not want to be left alone again with the president, according to current and former law enforcement officials.
Mr. Comey believed Mr. Sessions should protect the F.B.I. from White House influence, the officials said, and pulled him aside after a meeting in February to tell him that private interactions between the F.B.I. director and the president were inappropriate. But Mr. Sessions could not guarantee that the president would not try to talk to Mr. Comey alone again, the officials said.
Mr. Comey did not reveal, however, what had so unnerved him about his Oval Office meeting with the president: Mr. Trump’s request that the F.B.I. director end the investigation into the former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, who had just been fired. By the time Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey last month, Mr. Comey had disclosed the meeting to a few of his closest advisers but nobody at the Justice Department, according to the officials, who did not want to be identified discussing Mr. Comey’s interactions with Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions.
Meanwhile, Trump is alone in the White House with his remote control and spiffy television set glued to Fox News, according to yet another report. And he is furious.
Glued even more than usual to the cable news shows that blare from the televisions in his private living quarters, or from the 60-inch flat screen he had installed in his cramped study off the Oval Office, he has fumed about “fake news.” Trump has seethed as his agenda has stalled in Congress and the courts. He has chafed against the pleas for caution from his lawyers and political advisers, tweeting whatever he wants, whenever he wants.
“He’s infuriated at a deep-gut, personal level that the elite media has tolerated [the Russia story] and praised Comey,” former House speaker Newt Gingrich said. “He’s not going to let some guy like that smear him without punching him as hard as he can.”
And then there's this. Take it as you will.
It's possible the lede was buried in that story about Trump's frustration. This may be the real story right here.
The West Wing, meanwhile, has taken on an atmosphere of legal uncertainty. White House counsel Donald F. McGahn has told staff to hold onto emails, documents and phone records, officials said, a move of caution designed to prepare the staff for future legal requests, should they come. McGahn has specifically advised staffers to avoid what are known as the “burn bags” in the executive branch that are often used to discard papers.
While people familiar with the White House counsel’s office described McGahn’s moves as appropriate steps because of the ongoing probes, they said many junior staffers are increasingly skittish and fearful of their communications eventually finding their way into the hands of investigators.
I will update this post with any additional stories if they break tonight.