James Comey

International influence campaigns have been around for centuries, but 2017 made clear how much they remain a part of daily life.

Through court documents, congressional testimony, press reports and other sources, Americans learned not only about the extent of the "active measures" — as they're known to intelligence officers — that Russia waged against the U.S. through the presidential election.

If the saga of Michael Flynn feels like it's been hanging over President Trump's head since Inauguration Day, that's because it has.

The story of how Trump's first national security adviser came to plead guilty to lying to FBI investigators and cooperate in the special counsel's Russia investigation spans two presidential terms and also touches government officials who were subsequently fired by Trump.

To the many mysteries swirling around the investigation of Russian election interference and the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey, add this one: Why is Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein continuing to supervise the investigation?

Rosenstein is the Justice Department official who pulled the trigger and named special counsel Robert Mueller to lead the probe in May, only days after President Trump fired Comey under questionable circumstances.

Updated at 1:59 p.m. ET

President Trump gave a straight answer on Thursday about whether he has recordings of his private conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey — No.

The question of the existence of tapes arose on May 12, when shortly after firing Comey, Trump tweeted that the former FBI director "better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations."

Updated at 9:55 a.m. ET on June 15

President Trump dismissed a potential obstruction of justice investigation into his conduct, calling allegations of collusion between him, his campaign or people associated with him and Russia a "phony story."

Of course, it's possible to obstruct justice without colluding.

All we want are the facts, ma'am.

During his congressional testimony Thursday, James Comey played his best Sgt. Joe Friday, the protagonist of the 1950s Dragnet TV series known for that signature line.

Asked whether he thought President Trump obstructed justice, Comey, the fired FBI director, declined to give his opinion.

"I don't know," Comey said. "That — that's Bob Mueller's job to sort that out."

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

President Trump has broken the silence he maintained during former FBI Director James Comey's testimony Thursday, saying on Twitter that he was vindicated in the hearing that explored Russian meddling in the U.S. election, its ties to Trump's security adviser, and Trump's dealings with Comey.

"Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication...and WOW, Comey is a leaker!" the president tweeted early Friday morning.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And we begin with some excerpts from Senate testimony today by the man who was fired by President Donald Trump as director of the FBI.

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Updated at 3:35 p.m ET

President Trump's outside lawyer flatly denied that the president ever asked former FBI Director James Comey for a pledge of loyalty, and he accused Comey of disclosing privileged communications with the president to the news media, without authorization.

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