Here’s where things stand heading into Day 70 of the Trump administration:
The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee stood side by side on Wednesday to address its investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 election and possible ties to the Trump campaign. They stood in contrast to the political discord on the House side, announcing that as soon as Monday, they’ll begin privately interviewing 20 people on the matter.
Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the Republican chairman of the committee, said staff is “within weeks” of completing a review of “thousands of pages” of documents the intelligence community has made available to them.
Also on Wednesday, my colleagues revealed one of the sources of striking allegations in the controversial dossier assembled on behalf of Trump’s political opponents.
The mystery man identified in parts of the dossier as “Source D,” who claimed to know that Russia holds evidence of encounters between Trump and prostitutes in Moscow, is Sergei Millian, president of the Russian American Chamber of Commerce. Millian’s identity was first reported by the Wall Street Journal and confirmed by The Washington Post.
Millian, who The Post reported provided the information in confidence to an associate, who in turn reported it to the dossier’s author, also said that Trump had a long-standing relationship with Russian officials, who supplied his campaign with harmful information about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton throughout the race. Millian claimed, in other words, that Trump is guilty of colluding with Russia. Trump has denied the dossier’s allegations, which have not been proved. Millian did not address questions about his role but told a Russian TV program in January that he does not have damaging information on Trump.
The FBI is investigating possible collusion as part of its probe of Russian meddling in the presidential race.
Therefore, establishing or dismantling Millian’s credibility as a source is vitally important — and also extremely difficult, as The Post’s Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger explain in Thursday’s paper:
By his own evolving statements, Sergei Millian is either a shrewd businessman with high-level access to both Trump’s inner circle and the Kremlin, or a bystander unwittingly caught up in a global controversy.
An examination of Millian’s career shows he is a little of both. His case lays bare the challenge facing the FBI as it investigates Russia’s alleged attempts to manipulate the American political system and whether Trump associates participated.
It also illustrates why the Trump administration remains unable to shake the Russia story. While some of the unproven claims attributed in the dossier to Millian are bizarre and outlandish, there are also indications that he had contacts with Trump’s circle.
IVANKA TRUMP OFFICIALLY JOINS HER FATHER’S TEAM
The president’s elder daughter was a key member of his campaign team and planned to serve as an informal adviser to his White House, but ethics watchdogs worried that Ivanka Trump’s nebulous role lacked accountability. So now, Ivanka will become an official, unpaid government employee.
Ivanka Trump’s attorney, Jamie Gorelick, said she will submit all financial disclosure and conflict-of-interest forms required of federal employees within 30 days. She also will seek a security clearance.
“We are pleased that Ivanka Trump has chosen to take this step in her unprecedented role as first daughter and in support of the president,” the White House said in a statement. “Ivanka’s service as an unpaid employee furthers our commitment to ethics, transparency, and compliance and affords her increased opportunities to lead initiatives driving real policy benefits for the American public that would not have been available to her previously.”
A ROLE FOR CHRIS CHRISTIE, AFTER ALL
He isn’t chief of staff or attorney general, but the New Jersey governor is the head of a newly launched commission charged with combating drug addiction.
Trump campaigned on ending the nation’s opioid crisis, and the formation of the Christie-led commission represents a step toward keeping his promise.
“Opioid abuse has become a crippling problem throughout the United States,” Trump said during a listening session at the White House on Wednesday. “This is a total epidemic. And I think it’s almost untalked-about, compared to the severity that we’re witnessing.”
This move to fulfill a campaign promise comes on the heels of Trump’s failure to fulfill one of his biggest pledges, the quick repeal and replacement of Obamacare. Will voters see it as an adequate consolation prize?