Robert Mueller

Updated at 8:15 p.m. ET

A federal grand jury has indicted 13 Russians and three Russian entities in connection with the attack on the 2016 presidential election.

The defendants are "accused of violating U.S. criminal laws in order to interfere with U.S. elections and political processes," according to a statement from the special counsel's office. The indictment charges them with "conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants with aggravated identity theft."

Ever since Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller unveiled charges against George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump 2016 presidential campaign, the White House has insisted Papadopoulos played an unimportant role in the campaign.

Updated at 9:31 a.m. ET

The latest political sandstorm in the Russia saga is over four pages of paper that have never seen the light of day. Here's what you need to know to make sense of what's going on with this story.

1. What exactly is this memo that everyone is talking about?

Updated at 3:39 p.m. EST on Jan. 24

The hottest thing on Capitol Hill this week is a document that no one in the outside world is allowed to see.

A secret four-page memorandum prepared by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has become a rallying cry for Republicans waging a sustained campaign against the FBI and the Justice Department.

The document, pulled together by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., alleges that the Obama administration abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in targeting the Trump campaign.

Updated at 2:17 p.m. ET

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was interviewed last week by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Sessions is the first member of President Trump's Cabinet known to have been questioned by the special counsel's office in its investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior confirmed Sessions' interview to NPR on Tuesday. Sessions cooperated voluntarily.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort may not be headed for trial on money laundering and conspiracy charges until late autumn. The judge in his case expressed puzzlement over some of the legal positions he has taken.

Lawyers for Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller have turned over thousands of pages of material to Manafort and his former business partner Richard Gates, a process that prosecutors said is continuing.

But at least part of the holdup in the case is Manafort's own making, Judge Amy Berman Jackson said.

If President Trump answers questions from Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller, as reports indicate he may, Trump would follow the precedent set by many previous occupants of his office.

NBC News reports the president's lawyers are "discussing a range of potential options for the format," which may include written responses to questions rather than a sit-down interview.

President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is suing the Justice Department and special counsel Robert Mueller, alleging that Mueller has exceeded his mandate by investigating matters unrelated to the 2016 election.

Manafort and business associate Rick Gates face money laundering and other charges as part of the special counsel's investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Both have pleaded not guilty.

If 2016 was the bravura opener and 2017 the tension-building second act, 2018 could deliver an action-packed conclusion to the Russia imbroglio.

Or this story might still be getting started.

Even without knowing every surprise the saga might bring in the new year, there are already enough waypoints on the calendar to confirm that 2018 will ratchet up the volume yet again.

Here are four big storylines to watch.

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.

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