The past 24 hours in Trump-Russia news, explained


There was a flurry of news developments on several Trump-Russia fronts Tuesday and Wednesday morning as we learned of new investigation details, a new indictment, a Supreme Court move, and a planned administration departure.

The biggest news was that a poorly redacted court filing from Paul Manafort revealed new details about what special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating — including that Manafort had shared polling data related to Trump’s presidential campaign with an associate tied to Russian intelligence.

Meanwhile, the Russian lawyer who met Don Jr. and Manafort at Trump Tower got indicted by federal prosecutors in New York on a matter unrelated to the Mueller investigation. The Supreme Court made its first significant move connected to the Mueller probe, in a suit involving a foreign govermment-owned company that remains largely secret. And reports claimed that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller and supervised him for a year and a half, will soon step down.

Major questions about the Mueller investigation, such as what the special counsel has found out about President Trump and how much longer the probe will continue, remain unanswered. But here’s the significance of what we learned just over the past 24 hours.

Paul Manafort’s lawyers’ sloppy redaction revealed that he shared Trump campaign polling data with Russian
In a court filing this week, Paul Manafort’s lawyers responded to special counsel Robert Mueller’s claims that he violated his cooperation agreement by lying repeatedly. (After being convicted of financial crimes in Virginia in August, Manafort agreed to a plea deal to avert a second trial on separate charges in Washington, and committed to cooperating with investigators.)

But though parts of the public version of this filing appeared to be redacted by black bars, it quickly became apparent that the text underneath those redactions could be revealed by simply copying and pasting from the document.


The Russian lawyer who met Don Jr. at Trump Tower was indicted in a separate matter
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced the indictment of Natalia Veselnitskaya — the Russian lawyer who infamously met with Donald Trump Jr. and top Trump campaign officials at Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign and who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Now, the indictment (filed in December and newly unsealed) is unlikely to go anywhere. It’s highly improbable Veselnitskaya will come to the United States and face arrest. And it has no explicit link to the Trump-Russia investigation or the Mueller probe.

What it does do is provide context to that Trump Tower meeting — specifically, about what Veselnitskaya may have been up to and about her links to the Russian government.

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