Opinion writer

* Gabriel Sherman reports that Trump’s paranoia about the Russia investigation has reached insane new heights:

According to people familiar with Trump’s thinking, his team is attempting to build the case that anti-Trump forces in the F.B.I. entrapped his advisers using informants to plant evidence about Russian collusion. The theory goes that the F.B.I. later used these contacts with the Russians to delegitimize his presidency. Trump’s advisers say the intelligence community believed Hillary Clinton would win the presidency, but in case she didn’t, they concocted this elaborate plot to remove Trump from office. […]

The president himself is convinced that the secret F.B.I. informant who reportedly met with several Trump campaign advisers in 2016 was not merely an informant, but an Obama political operative. One administration official told me the theory has become so widely accepted that people in the West Wing are paranoid that the F.B.I. has multiple informants working to take down Trump. “There’s a paranoia about who else is one,” the official said.

Forget “This is not normal.” This is utterly deranged.

* Josh Dawsey reports that everything over at Trump legal headquarters is going according to a carefully laid-out plan:

President Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani switched gears Wednesday, saying that he would prefer the president grant an interview to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s office and that a decision would be made within “the next couple weeks.”

“I guess I’d rather do the interview. It gets it over with it, it makes my client happy,” he said. “The safe course you hear every lawyer say is don’t do the interview, and that’s easy to say in the abstract. That’s much harder when you have a client who is the president of the United States and wants to be interviewed.”

Giuliani had expressed skepticism in recent days about an interview with the team investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, telling the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that his decision would be no if a decision had to be made immediately. “If they said, you have to do it now, the answer would have to be no,” Giuliani told the Journal.

In Wednesday morning’s interview with The Washington Post, he said the president sometimes seesaws on whether he wants to do an interview. “There have been a few days where he says, ‘maybe you guys are right,’” Giuliani said, referring to his lawyers who have warned against an interview. “Then he goes right back to, ‘why shouldn’t I?’”

It’s said that a man who represents himself has a fool for a client. But sometimes, a fool has an entirely separate fool for a client.

* Jay Willis tracks the rapid movement of the lie that the FBI was spying on the Trump campaign through the conservative media ecosystem.

* Michael Schmidt, Charlie Savage, Alicia Parlapiano, Anjali Singhvi, and Troy Griggs lay out a very useful flow chart laying out all the different courses the Mueller investigation could end up taking.

* Matt Gertz reviews a year’s worth of transcripts from Sean Hannity’s show, and finds that his obsession with Robert Mueller is as bizarre and all-encompassing as you’d expect.

* Chris Mooney and Juliet Eilperin get a hold of an internal White House memo debating whether they should try to actively discredit the federal government’s own climate science, or just ignore it.

* David Drucker reports that Trump lickspittle Devin Nunes has been raking in campaign contributions lately, apparently as a reward for his assaults on the rule of law on Trump’s behalf.

* Jordain Carney reports that Democrats are demanding that any briefings from the Justice Department about the Russia investigation be bipartisan and not just given to Republicans. What a crazy idea!

* Mark Maske reports that NFL owners have adopted a new policy that players have to stand for the national anthem, and if they want to kneel they’ll have to stay behind in the locker room.

* Alan Abramowitz explains how Stacey Abrams, the new gubernatorial nominee in Georgia, may show Democrats a different way to win in the South.

* Tom Jacobs examines research showing that Trump may be doing long-term damage to the GOP’s image.

* At The Week, I explained how the Trump administration is screwing over those “forgotten men and women” he told us he was going to advocate for.

* And Rudy Giuliani now says that, sure, the Trump campaign used information stolen from Democrats by Russia, but that isn’t really collusion, and “OK, and if it is, it isn’t illegal… It was sort of like a gift.”

Giuliani also says that he doesn’t accept that Russia was the one who did the hacking, because that would mean believing former CIA director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.