Russia Investigation

On this special edition of Political Rewind, we look back at the year in politics. From new leadership in Atlanta to the fight for a new governor of Georgia and an expensive fight for a congressional seat. There was also President Trump, tax reform, health care reform, the Mueller Russia investigation, the resignation of one Georgian from the president’s cabinet and the firing of another, plus the #MeToo movement that sent tremors through Washington. All were big stories in 2017, but which ranked as the biggest according to our panel?

The story of Russian election interference started long before 2017, but it took on new urgency after the inauguration of Donald Trump, the candidate the Russian government wanted to win.

Updated at 5:24 p.m. ET

Opponents of special counsel Robert Mueller ramped up their attacks over the weekend with a new claim that he improperly collected thousands of emails from President Trump's transition team and is using them as an illegitimate basis for much of his investigation.

Mueller's office said his team has obtained all the evidence it's using in its investigation properly. And Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed him, told Congress last week that he monitors Mueller's operation closely and has seen nothing improper.

When Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein faces questions Wednesday on Capitol Hill about the investigation into Russia's election interference, he is certain to be asked about unflattering text messages exchanged by FBI agents about then-candidate Donald Trump.

In the text messages, seen by NPR's Carrie Johnson, between agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, Trump is referred to several times as an "idiot."

This week In the Russia investigations: Downshift from strategic war to knife fight, top G-Men on his back foot as lawmakers engage in oversight, Trump Jr. clammed up in Congress.

Now, a knife fight

Not long ago, this saga was about Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller's surveying the battlefield like a general and with one swift coup — getting Michael Flynn to turn state's evidence — changing the whole strategic picture.

Updated at 6:26 p.m. ET

FBI Director Christopher Wray defended his agency on Capitol Hill Thursday, speaking publicly for the first time since President Trump denigrated the agency last weekend. The questioning from lawmakers and the responses the new FBI director gave are a harbinger of likely issues to be raised again as the Justice Department's Russia probe appears to be intensifying after the recent plea deal of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is trying to sway public opinion of his case by working with a Russian collaborator who has ties to Russia's intelligence services, special counsel Robert Mueller's office said in court papers Monday.

Mueller's team said it learned last week that Manafort has been working with a Russian compatriot on a newspaper column that prosecutors say violates a gag order by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson. Attorneys in the case were instructed not to talk about it in public.

Susa / AP Photo

On this edition of "Political Rewind," we address the fallout from Michael Flynn’s guilty plea in the Russia probe and his cooperation with the special counsel’s investigation. He’s already pointing fingers at the White House transition team and, according to some, President Trump directly. Also, vulnerable Georgians may soon lose health care benefits that the federal government has long funded to help children, rural hospitals and major trauma centers like Grady. Will Congress act quickly to restore these programs?