President Trump called for the end of the special counsel’s investigation, even as top officials warned of Russian interference.
President Trump urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday to end the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, raising more questions about whether Mr. Trump has tried to obstruct the investigation.
The White House and the president’s lawyers sought to minimize any damage by arguing that the call, issued on Twitter, was an angry opinion, not an order. Mr. Trump has also sought an interview with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and his office, in an attempt to clear himself of any wrongdoing.
Yet even as Mr. Trump characterizes the investigation as a “Russian hoax,” top administration officials came forward on Thursday to assert that Russian election interference was a serious threat and to vow to prevent it.
The financial fraud trial of Paul Manafort began this week.
Prosecutors began their case this week against Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, in federal court in Alexandria, Va. They say that Mr. Manafort hid tens of millions of dollars he received for his work in Ukraine and then engaged in bank fraud when he no longer earned that income.
Mr. Manafort’s defense team made clear in their opening arguments that they intended to shift the blame to Rick Gates, Mr. Manafort’s former business partner and likely the government’s star witness.
Federal prosecutors spent the first few days emphasizing Mr. Manafort’s lavish spending and the reversal of his fortune after 2014. Mr. Manafort’s accountant also testified that she had agreed to alter tax and bank documents to help Mr. Manafort out of his financial problems.
In midterm elections: more primary victories and an influence campaign on Facebook.
Facebook announced on Tuesday that it had identified an active political influence campaign, potentially intended to disrupt the midterm elections in November.
The company said it had removed a number of false accounts and pages that were involved in activity around divisive issues.
But as midterm primaries continued this week, Mr. Trump’s stamp is clear in some aspects of the midterm elections: shaping a governor’s race in Florida and potentially providing an opportunity for Democrats in Kansas.
The administration escalated the trade war with China and contemplated more tariffs and other economic measures.
President Trump intensified the trade war with China on Wednesday, ordering his administration to consider more than doubling proposed tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. (China threatened retaliation on Friday.)
The United States and Mexico are moving closer to agreement on how to rewrite important parts of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Talks this week, however, have excluded the pact’s third member, Canada
Mr. Trump also reiterated his threat to Congress on Monday to shut down the government this year if he did not receive sufficient funding for a wall at the southern border. His administration is also considering bypassing lawmakers and granting a $100 billion tax cut primarily to the wealthy.
The tension between the White House and the press corps increased.
Mr. Trump publicly clashed with the publisher of The New York Times, A. G. Sulzberger, on Sunday over the president’s threats to journalism and what Mr. Sulzberger said was a misrepresentation of a private meeting between them.
While the president has always had a combative relationship with his perceived detractors — especially unfavorable news reports — it escalated this week in rallies in Florida and Pennsylvania, centering many of his attacks on the press corps.
Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior adviser, appeared to disagree with that position on Thursday — a notable contrast with the assertions made by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the press secretary, during a briefing.