WHAT'S THIS ALL ABOUT?
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW TODAY?
House Republicans brought an unceremonious end to their yearlong look at the Justice Department's handling of the investigations into Trump's ties to Russia and Democrat Hillary Clinton's emails.
In a letter released before Republicans cede the House majority to Democrats, the chairmen of two committees described what they said was the "seemingly disparate treatment" the two probes received during the 2016 presidential election and called on the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate further.
The wrapping up of the congressional investigation, done in a letter and without a full final report, was a quiet end to a probe that was conducted mostly behind closed doors but also in public. Republican lawmakers often criticized interview subjects afterward and suggested they were conspiring against Trump.
WHAT'S UP WITH THE ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE?
Trump's pick for attorney general, William Barr, sent an unsolicited memo to the Justice Department this year criticizing parts of the Mueller probe as "fatally misconceived."
The 20-page memo, sent in June while Barr was in private practice and months before he was selected by Trump for the Justice Department job, may prompt questions about his ability to oversee the special counsel's investigation fairly.
The document argues that there could be disastrous consequences for the Justice Department and the presidency if Mueller were to conclude that acts a president is legally permitted to take — such as firing an FBI director — could constitute obstruction of justice, just because someone concludes that there was corrupt intent.
SO ... DID THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN COLLUDE WITH RUSSIA?
There is no smoking gun when it comes to the question of Russia collusion. But the evidence so far shows a broad range of Trump associates had Russia-related contacts during the 2016 presidential campaign and transition period, and that several lied about the communication.
There is also evidence that some people in the president's orbit were discussing a possible email dump from WikiLeaks before it occurred. American intelligence agencies and Mueller have said Russia was the source of hacked material released by WikiLeaks during the campaign that was damaging to Clinton's presidential effort.
OTHER QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
—WHAT ABOUT OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE? That is another unresolved question that Mueller is pursuing. Investigators have examined key episodes such as Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey and his fury over the recusal from the investigation of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
—WHAT DOES TRUMP HAVE TO SAY ABOUT ALL THIS? Trump has repeatedly slammed the Mueller investigation as a "witch hunt" and insisted there was "NO COLLUSION" with Russia. He also says his now-former lawyer, Cohen, lied to get a lighter sentence in New York.
For more in-depth information, follow AP coverage at https://apnews.com/TrumpInvestigations