* Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky report that the investigation into the Russia scandal is already reaching deep into the White House:
The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.
The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official.
The revelation comes as the investigation also appears to be entering a more overtly active phase, with investigators shifting from work that has remained largely hidden from the public to conducting interviews and using a grand jury to issue subpoenas. The intensity of the probe is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks, the people said.
The sources emphasized that investigators remain keenly interested in people who previously wielded influence in the Trump campaign and administration but are no longer part of it, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
I recommend breathless speculation on who this might be, post-haste!
* Matt Apuzzo, Maggie Haberman, and Matthew Rosenberg report that Trump is so chummy with the Russians that he confessed all kinds of juicy things to them:
President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.
“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”
The conversation, during a May 10 meeting — the day after he fired Mr. Comey — reinforces the notion that Mr. Trump dismissed him primarily because of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives. Mr. Trump said as much in one televised interview, but the White House has offered changing justifications for the firing.
I’m looking forward to Sean Spicer’s explanation when we learn that Trump got a tattoo reading “I obstructed justice” across his chest. What, that? C’mon, that tattoo could refer to anything!
* In case you were wondering if White House officials disputing that Trump said these things…
White House officials have told NBC News that they do not dispute the account as reported by the New York Times. https://t.co/znHjxQR1dl
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 19, 2017
* White House policy aide and Forever Young Republican Stephen Miller is writing both Trump’s speech on Islam and his speech on NATO, two things Miller is known to despise. What could possibly go wrong?
* Alex Seitz-Wald reports that some Democrats are worried that the party is getting too caught up in the fact that the president of the United States is an erratic, corrupt nincompoop, and not spending enough time on pocketbook issues.
* Speaking of that, here’s the closing ad from Democrat Rob Quist, who’s running in the special election for Congress in Montana. It’s about the GOP health plan and pre-existing conditions.
* Julie Bykowicz reports that Trump’s attorney wanted him to be allowed to submit his financial disclosures without the standard signed certification attesting that the information is true. I can’t imagine why.
* Josh Dawsey, Jennifer Haberkorn, and Paul Demko report that Trump has told aides he wants to stop paying the Affordable Care Act’s cost-sharing subsidies, which would destabilize the ACA exchanges and cause premiums to spike, because he thinks doing so will bring Democrats to the negotiating table.
Reports that he is also considering killing a bunch of puppies and making their fur into a luxurious coat could not be confirmed.
* Rob Arthur reports that Latinos in major cities are reporting fewer crimes this year than before Trump took office, presumably because they’re afraid to come in contact with the authorities.
* And finally, since you’ve all been waiting, the CBO will release its score of the latest version of the Republican health plan on Wednesday. I recommend lining up no later than Sunday night. Do you have to dress up as your favorite CBO character? No, you don’t have to. But why wouldn’t you? Everybody loves CBO cosplay.