FROM Susan Hennessey
Paul Manafort's in the hot seat. Who's next? It's reported that, while he was chair of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, Paul Manafort offered to brief a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin. That's just the latest revelation about evidence being collected by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as he probes Russia's effort to influence last year's election. Recent reports by CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post suggest that Mueller's investigation has reached a "critical stage." Were the President's own associates involved? If so, did he know it? When he fired James Comey as head of the FBI, did he commit obstruction of justice? Trump has called the investigation a "witch hunt." We look at the "knowns" and the "un-knowns."
A White House shakeup after less than a month in office Washington is on fire with charges and counter-charges, reports and rumors in the aftermath of Michael Flynn's departure as President Trump's National Security Advisor. Trump asked for Flynn's resignation because he "lost his trust" in him. White House officials were reportedly told "weeks ago" that Flynn lied to Vice President Pence about conversations with Russia's ambassador. Democrats are demanding to find out what the President knew and when he knew it — and even some Republicans are calling for an investigation. Washington is fully preoccupied with Russian meddling in the election, Obama Administration sanctions and President Trump's ties to Vladimir Putin.
Chaos and confusion as a new administration gets under way After less than a week in office, President Trump has been shaking up governmental institutions — as promised during his campaign. But his labeling intelligence agencies "Nazis" surprised even supporters — and Saturday's apologetic visit to the CIA seems to have backfired. Meantime, the CIA and others are investigating relations between the President's close advisors and Russia. We ask what they're looking for, and hear about the potential consequences of a chief executive at loggerheads with his sources of information on national security.
Does the FBI Need a Back Door to Your Data? The FBI demands that Apple provide access to a dead terrorist Syed Farook's iPhone, which might contain evidence in December's deadly attack in San Bernardino. But Apple says the privacy of every other iPhone user could be lost forever, and it's challenging the power of government in the Era of Smart Phones. Complicating the issue, the FBI is using a law passed about the time that Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity. We update the case in more ways than one.
White House budget proposal slashes and burns President Trump's first budget request is considered dead on arrival in Congress — a familiar development in Capitol Hill. We hear what it reveals about the priorities of the new administration. What's likely to die… and what might survive?
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.