45 After Dark: The ‘Witch Hunt’ edition

President Donald Trump is on the attack — against his own Department of Justice.

Starting with morning tweets that acknowledged he was the subject of an FBI investigation, Trump struck a defiant tone today. He lashed out at the FBI and his own Justice Department for what he termed a “witch hunt” in a series of tweets that seemed to come out of nowhere. They came hours after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein put out an odd, vague statement about not trusting anonymous sources last night.

But the tension behind the tweets had been building: Trump has “smarted all week” over various stories POLITICO’s Josh Dawsey reports. It was a quintessentially defiant move from Trump.

He’s been told by basically all of his advisers to avoid taking to Twitter to talk about the investigation, to avoid talking about the Russia probe altogether. And yet:

“Trump has been told repeatedly not to post such missives on Twitter but has decided he is in for a political fight, according to one outside adviser briefed on the strategy. Advisers have told him to use his Twitter to boost his political message or attack Democrats instead of talking about the legal case. But Trump doesn’t trust others to share his message, this person said, because they don’t want to share it the way he does.”

The target of Trump’s ire, Rosenstein, likely won’t be affected by Trump’s efforts, his friends say, POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein reports. “Trump’s tweet Friday struck many of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s friends and colleagues as a bid to get him to drop oversight of the special prosecutor investigation into Trump and his campaign’s contacts with Russian officials, but Rosenstein’s allies insist he won’t buckle under such pressure.”

Elsewhere in President Trump’s orbit:

BRAND NEW: Should Rod Rosenstein be fired — or recuse himself — the Russia investigation would fall to a Rachel Brand, a Bush administration veteran who Democrats opposed because they said her legal rulings always sided with big business.

CAST(RO) OUT: President Trump rolled back Obama administration entreaties to Cuba, adding more oversight for Americans who want to visit Cuba and banning Americans from any activities that profit the Cuban military — which controls the majority of the tourism industry.

GATES’ BARBEQUE: Rick Gates, a Paul Manafort protege, has become embroiled in the Russia investigation after seeming to survive his ouster from the Trump campaign. Now he faces scrutiny from federal investigators. (The New York Times)

DOBROE UTRO!: The Trump transition team has been asked to preserve all of its communications related to Russia because of “several pending investigations into potential attempts by Russia interests to influence the 2016 election. Officials were told to keep all documents related to the Russian Federation, Ukraine and a number of campaign advisers and official.

COMEY LATER: BuzzFeed News reports that the FBI turned down a freedom of information request for James Comey’s memos — because they are the subject of an active investigation.

LAWYER’S LAWYER: Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen has hired his own personal attorney as the Russia probe heats up.

There you have it. You’re caught up on the Trump administration. It’s Friday, at last.


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