Russia

The Justice Department has notified Senate investigators that it will not make FBI officials available for interviews because doing so could pose conflicts with the work of special counsel Robert Mueller.

Leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee had sought to meet with the FBI's chief of staff, James Rybicki, and the executive assistant director of its national security branch, Carl Ghattas, as part of their review into the dismissal of then-FBI Director James Comey earlier this year.

Senate investigators met this week with the co-founder of the political research firm behind the explosive dossier of unsubstantiated and salacious material about President Trump's alleged ties with Russia.

Glenn Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who later helped found the private investigation firm Fusion GPS, sat down with Senate Judiciary Committee staff behind closed doors on Tuesday, congressional aides told NPR.

A member of Congress who's one of the staunchest defenders of Russia in American politics met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London on Wednesday.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., spent around three hours with Assange talking at the Ecuadorean Embassy there, where Assange sought refuge in 2012 in the face of sexual assault charges in Sweden.

A lot of people are counting on special counsel Robert Mueller.

Federal prosecutors have lots of ways to intensify pressure on the people they're investigating, from early morning FBI raids to leaning on relatives of those under government scrutiny.

But even by those measures, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in last year's presidential election is moving with unusual speed and assertiveness, according to half a dozen legal experts following the probe.

Updated Aug. 11 at 6:45 p.m. ET

President Trump said Thursday that he was "very thankful" that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered the expulsion of hundreds of U.S. diplomats from the country in response to sanctions — because the administration needs to cut the State Department's budget anyway.

Updated at 10:29 a.m.

The Senate is long gone. The House? Splitsville. The president is at his golf club in New Jersey. Only the hardiest swamp creatures continue to scuttle in and out of the half-empty offices of late-August Washington, D.C.

Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller and his team, however, haven't gone anywhere.

FBI agents raided former Trump campaign ChairmanPaul Manafort's home, a spokesman for Manafort tells NPR's Tamara Keith. Manafort's name has come up as part of the U.S. investigation into Russia's attempt to meddle with last year's election.

The raid reportedly took place in late July, one month after Manafort registered as a foreign agent.

On a steamy August afternoon in McLean, Va., not far from CIA headquarters, Daniel Hoffman sits on a coffee shop terrace and reminisces about summer afternoons spent in a different place.

"There's a tennis court, and a little dacha with a sauna," says Hoffman. "And then a big dacha where families could go and get out of the city in the summer and relax."

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