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Week In Politics: Michael Cohen, Mueller, Rosenstein


The economy is up. Facebook is billions of dollars down. Putin will visit but not until Bob Mueller is done. And Michael Cohen has begun to dish. We begin the hour by sorting through the week with NPR's Ron Elving, our senior editor and correspondent at NPR. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: Please give us a fill - so much going on in the Mueller investigation this week.

ELVING: Well, you know, it seemed like there was Mueller news pretty much every day this week, Scott. On Friday, we learned that Trump's chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, has been subpoenaed in the Mueller probe. Now, this is a man who has the keys to the kingdom, if anyone does. We also got a list of 35 witnesses who are expected to be called in the trial of Paul Manafort. Now, that's Trump's 2016 campaign manager. He is accused of money laundering and deceiving the U.S. government. That trial was delayed until next week. But we do expect this is going to be the new refocusing of the Mueller probe in the days ahead.

Also this week, CNN reported that Michael Cohen - that's the former attorney for the president - is ready to testify that Trump knew about that June 2016 meeting with Manafort and Donald Jr. and some Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. And we also learned that Putin and the president will not meet in September because they want to wait until after the Mueller probe is over. So they're planning to exchange visits to each other's capital city next year.

SIMON: We have no idea if the Mueller probe will be over or not though, right?

ELVING: That was - that was a bit of a surprise, I think, to quite a number of people that the president was so certain that it would be over. But we shall see, as the president likes to say.

SIMON: The president, understandably, trumpeted good economic numbers. Commerce Department found U.S. economy grew at 4.1 percent between April and June.

ELVING: Yes, a quarter to remember. We're back up about 4 percent growth. It's the best quarter in four years, on par with the best quarters of the Obama years. And the president attributed this accelerated growth to the tax cuts and reduced regulations that were his main policy thrust in 2017. And if sustained over the entire year, this will be a banner year, indeed, for the American economy. The question, of course, is whether it is sustainable as the effects of tariffs and trade war talk make their way through the economy.

SIMON: It was also a week, though, we have to note, that includes the largest single-day loss in stock market history. And in a way, it's tied into the Russia investigation, isn't it?

ELVING: It could be, indirectly, because Facebook was a principal platform for a lot of the Russian disinformation campaign during 2016. And that's prompted a lot of soul-searching and policy change at Facebook, and that's got investors worried about whether more privacy and scrutiny might actually hobble future revenue and earnings. So Facebook had the biggest one-day loss in market history. Mark Zuckerberg absorbed a lot of that himself - the biggest loss for one individual. And Twitter also took a big hit. And CBS also took a big hit on news about sexual harassment allegations against their chief executive.

SIMON: Did we, maybe without noting it, pass a corner this week in which the Russia investigation - Mueller, Michael Cohen, all of that - has gone from examining if there was obstruction of justice to actual collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign?

ELVING: That's why the Michael Cohen revelation this week seems to be so important. We've been talking about this for the better part of two years now. We've always been kind of dubious about whether or not there was an actual provable case of collusion, as opposed to obstruction. An active cooperation with the Russian interference would seem to be the collusion everyone's looking for. A lot of journalists and Democrats have thought it more likely that we would simply get an obstruction case, which might be easier to prove. But in the news of this week, we see a wider possibility.

SIMON: NPR's Ron Elving, thanks so much.

ELVING: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for NPR.org.
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