President Donald Trump shook up his legal team yet again on Wednesday, signaling a shift in the White House’s approach to the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
But that’s only the start. A lot of other news broke this week related to the investigation into potential collusion between then-candidate Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. Here’s everything you need to know:
Mueller’s long list of questions:
On Monday, the New York Times obtained a list of questions that Mueller wanted to ask President Trump. The questions, obtained from a source “outside of Mr. Trump’s legal team,” were reportedly dictated to Trump’s legal team by Mueller’s investigators during negotiations to get Trump to speak about the inquiry.
In an interview on the Time’s podcast The Daily, reporter Michael Schmidt explains that about three-quarters of the 49 questions are intended to glean Trump’s motivations behind decisions, statements and tweets about various topics—and indicate that investigators are looking at a potential obstruction of justice case. The other questions focused on potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, the topic that got the inquiry off the ground.
Trump’s angry tweets:
On Tuesday, President Trump tweeted that the leak of the questions was “disgraceful” and he again called the investigation a “witch hunt.”
Legal team shakeup:
On Wednesday, Trump overhauled his legal team yet again. One of his attorneys, Ty Cobb, announced that he would retire from the White House at the end of May. He will be replaced by Emmet Flood, who was part of President Bill Clinton’s legal team during his impeachment. Previously, Flood worked under President George W. Bush as head of the White House Counsel’s Office, and represented Vice President Dick Cheney in a civil suit.
Cobb favored cooperating with Mueller, according to the New York Times, and former mayor of New York Rudolph Giuliani, who recently joined Trump’s legal team, agrees with that strategy, according to NPR. Others, including Trump’s former attorney, John Dowd, who left the team in March, have advised Trump to fight more aggressively against the inquiry, and Flood may also be more adversarial, according to the Times.
Each decision comes with risks. According to CNN, Mueller has considered subpoenaing President Trump, to compel him to testify before a grand jury. This is also where things get legally thorny. The Trump administration argues that the special counsel doesn’t have the authority to bring a president before a grand jury. However, an analysis by the Associated Press suggests that a sitting president can be forced to testify.
However, if Trump voluntarily meets with Mueller (which he has said he would do on multiple occasions), his lawyers worry about the president giving false statements or going off script. And Mueller has already successfully sought indictments against people in the investigation for lying to federal authorities.
Also on Wednesday, Trump again lashed out at the Justice Department over the probe following its refusal to give Congress the original directive by Rosenstein that lays out the scope of Mueller’s investigation, citing the fact that it is an ongoing investigation. Trump threatened that “at some point I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!”
Kiss Ukraine’s help goodbye:
In another yet another development on Wednesday, the New York Times reported that members of the Ukrainian government had frozen a Ukrainian investigation into former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to avoid angering Trump before finalizing a deal to buy U.S. anti-tank missiles. Ukrainian officials had previously said they’d cooperate with the Mueller investigation, but they are no longer willing to do so.