Mueller's Russia investigation picks up steam, and so do Trump's tweets

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David Knowles
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President Trump talks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House Thursday before traveling to the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Trump talks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House Thursday before traveling to the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Key developments in the special counsel’s investigation of possible collusion between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Russian government were very much on the president’s mind this week.

While past presidents often strove to keep their emotions hidden from the public, Trump’s rising irritation was chronicled in his Twitter feed. Posting more than a dozen times on the subject of Robert Mueller’s methodical inquiry since Monday, Trump made his outrage plain.

Monday

The week began with the news that Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, had breached his plea agreement with Mueller. According to the special counsel, Manafort repeatedly lied to Mueller’s team after entering into an agreement in September to cooperate, in exchange for a lighter sentence for his convictions on financial fraud and related charges.

Former Trump 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort leaves U.S. Federal Court in Washington on Oct. 30, 2017. (Photo: Reuters/James Lawler Duggan/File Photo)
Former Trump 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort leaves U.S. Federal Court in Washington on Oct. 30, 2017. (Photo: Reuters/James Lawler Duggan/File Photo)

Trump, however, started his day responding to a comment made over the weekend by law professor Alan Dershowitz, who told ABC News’ “This Week” that Mueller’s final report “is going to be devastating to the president.” The president did his best to reframe the coming report, questioning why Mueller’s team had not interviewed staffers who were not implicated in contacts with Russia.

Tuesday

Manafort was not the only Trump confidant caught up in negotiating a plea deal this week. Conspiracy theorist and author Jerome Corsi released a draft of an agreement from Mueller’s office that he said he had rejected. It would have required him to admit that he intentionally lied about alerting Trump confidant Roger Stone that WikiLeaks was preparing to release documents stolen by Russia that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The sequence of events around the WikiLeaks disclosures appears to be a central focus of Mueller’s probe.

Jerome Corsi, right-wing commentator, speaks during an interview in New York on Wednesday. (Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)
Jerome Corsi, right-wing commentator, speaks during an interview in New York on Wednesday. (Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

The document further illuminated how Mueller was establishing a case of Russian collusion. Amid that backdrop, Trump returned to Twitter to vent.

Wednesday

One possible reason for Trump’s renewed Twitter attention to the Russia investigation is that the president and his lawyers delivered written answers to Mueller’s team on Nov. 20. The gist of two of his answers were reported Wednesday by CNN. According to the network’s reporting, Trump denied being told by Stone about the WikiLeaks dump of stolen emails, or knowing about the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting between his campaign’s senior staffers and a Russian lawyer supposedly offering dirt on Clinton. In his daily tweets on the investigation, Trump sought to portray those close to those transactions as innocent.

Trump then retweeted a photo montage of prominent Democrats, political rivals and others associated with the investigation of his campaign behind bars, suggesting they should be tried for treason.

Thursday

Thursday’s bombshell in the Russia investigation came courtesy of the president’s former lawyer Michael D. Cohen, who pleaded guilty in a Manhattan courtroom to lying to Congress about Trump’s pursuit of a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen’s plea implied the deal was still being actively sought as late as June 2016, by which time Trump had locked up the Republican nomination. This both contradicts Cohen’s own earlier testimony and Trump’s frequent denials of any existing or pending deals with Russia. Cohen said he lied to Congress to protect the president.

Michael Cohen walks out of federal court, Thursday in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Michael Cohen walks out of federal court, Thursday in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Trump wasted little time accusing Cohen of lying, telling a press gaggle before he departed for the G-20 summit in Argentina that his long-time lawyer and “fixer” was “a weak person.” With the prospective dominoes of a collusion case continuing to fall, Trump again took to Twitter to try to discredit the investigation itself.

The day ended with Yahoo News’ Hunter Walker reporting that Mueller’s team is looking into the role Trump’s children Ivanka and Don Jr. played in trying to develop projects in Moscow.

Friday

As the president’s day began in Buenos Aires, his thoughts drifted back home, where more than a few op-eds declared that the week’s developments illustrated how the president had handed Vladimir Putin leverage over his administration.

And while his anger about Mueller’s investigation continued apace, Trump ever so slightly adjusted the goalposts once again as to what might count as collusion or the lack thereof.

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