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Week In Politics: Cuba, DACA And Tweets


Over the past few days, President Trump announced some consequential policy decisions. Yesterday, he rolled back openings for trade and travel with Cuba that the Obama administration had introduced. On Thursday, the administration said that protections for some immigrants who entered the country illegally as children, the so-called DREAMers, will remain in place. And yet, the president could not hold back from lashing out at the latest developments in the Russia investigation, including reporting by The Washington Post that Trump himself is under investigation for possible obstruction of justice.

NPR political editor Domenico Montanaro has been following, among many other things, the presidential tweets, and he joins us now. Good morning, Domenico.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Good morning, Melissa.

BLOCK: And once again, we are finding ourselves talking about the president's tweets. Here's one from yesterday morning. He wrote this, (reading) I am being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director, witch hunt.

And that sure sounds, Domenico, like he's acknowledging that he is in fact under investigation.

MONTANARO: Yeah. Well - but a source from Trump's legal team actually tells us that he did not learn this from authorities. It was referring to the Washington Post report. So he seemed to be stewing over it and decided to tweet about it the next morning. But remember, it's not outside the realm of possibility, obviously. He had asked James Comey when he was FBI director if he was under investigation some three times. So you know, we thought maybe that could be possible, of course. But as far as we know, it's a reaction to news reports, as his legal team told us.

He appears also, though, to be taking a shot at Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general because Rosenstein is the person who recommended Comey's firing, you might remember, and whose memo the White House initially said that they'd based the firing on. Of course, Trump undermined that rationale when he went on TV and said that he was thinking of the Russia investigation and he fired Comey regardless of recommendation.

BLOCK: There was a lot of reporting this week about the scope of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. Where does that probe seem to stand at this point?

MONTANARO: Well, you know, I think it's a little different than what you'd seen under James Comey because Robert Mueller is not exactly the kind of person who likes to have a high profile. He's a low-profile guy. So you likely won't hear much from him or the FBI on this as the investigation moves forward. Rosenstein testified last week that he has seen no cause for dismissing Mueller at this point and he would not dismiss him if someone pressured him - read, the president.

But Rosenstein is also facing pressure from the White House to crack down on those leaks. The White House is really annoyed with all of the leaks that have been coming out of the intelligence community. And that might explain Rosenstein's kind of odd statement Thursday night about not believing anonymous leaks, which came after that Washington Post report.

BLOCK: Not believing anonymous leaks, particularly when they do not identify the country, which had a lot of people scratching their heads. Domenico, heading into next week, we're looking for more congressional hearings. There's going to be focus on the security of voting systems and how to prevent Russian hacking in the future. What might we learn there?

MONTANARO: Well, there's a couple of hearings next week. Tuesday, there's one before the Senate judiciary committee about lessons from history and how to carry out what's called concurrent investigations, in other words, how congressional investigation would not interfere with a Justice Department investigation and vice versa. Wednesday, though, is going to be a pretty big day. Former head of homeland security for President Obama, Jeh Johnson, is going to testify before the House intelligence committee.

At the same time, the Senate intelligence committee is going to be interviewing DHS and FBI officials and outside experts. It's also possible that acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe is going to make an appearance before the budget committee to talk about his budget, and we know that's going to probably talk about Russia, too.

BLOCK: OK. NPR's Domenico Montanaro following all this for us. Thanks so much, Domenico.

MONTANARO: All right. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.