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Justice to hold bipartisan briefing Thursday

Intelligence leaders will brief both Republicans and Democrats on the Russia investigation as President Donald Trump and his allies are pressing for information on reports that a government informant talked to members of Trump's 2016 campaign.

Posted: May 23, 2018 9:57 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on President Donald Trump and the Russia investigation (all times local):

10:40 p.m.

Intelligence leaders will brief both Republicans and Democrats on the Russia investigation as President Donald Trump and his allies are pressing for information on reports that a government informant talked to members of Trump's 2016 campaign.

The Justice Department will host two classified briefings Thursday. The first will be with intelligence officials, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and two House Republicans who originally requested the information. The second will include everyone in the first meeting plus the bipartisan "Gang of Eight," which includes congressional leaders from both parties and the heads of the intelligence committees.

The second meeting is a reversal from the original plan brokered by the White House, which excluded Democrats. Kelly and Rosenstein were also added to the roster.

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9:40 p.m.

The White House now says it is working to facilitate a meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to review classified documents on the Russia investigation this week, instead of after the Memorial Day recess, as promised earlier.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement late Wednesday night that, "Congressional leadership has requested the bipartisan Gang of 8 meeting be scheduled before the recess." He says, "We are working to make that happen."

Officials from the Justice Department and the intelligence community are set to hold a briefing about classified documents for just two Republican House members, both Trump allies, on Thursday.

Trump and his supporters in Congress are pressing for information on an outside informant who reportedly approached members of Trump's campaign.

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6:50 p.m.

The White House and Justice Department have agreed to hold a classified briefing with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders about the Russia investigation, allowing Democrats access they had previously been denied.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said late Wednesday that Justice Department, law enforcement and intelligence officials will brief a group of lawmakers known as the "Gang of Eight" after the Memorial Day recess. That group includes the top Republicans and Democrats in each chamber and the top Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees.

Democrats had objected to a briefing scheduled for Thursday with two House Republicans and no Democrats. The Republicans had requested information about an outside informant who spoke to members of the Trump campaign.

Shah says tomorrow's briefing will go on.

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3:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, has been interviewed a second time by special counsel Robert Mueller's team.

That's according to Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell.

Lowell says Kushner answered all questions that were asked and "is looking forward to continuing the work the president has asked him to do."

The first interview with Kushner occurred last fall. It was limited to questions about former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, who later was charged with lying to the FBI.

It's not immediately clear when Kushner's second interview took placed or exactly what Kushner was asked.

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2:55 p.m.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors have asked a federal judge to start the process of sentencing a former Trump campaign adviser.

A court filing appears to show that prosecutors have started to wind down the cooperation of George Papadopoulos (pah-puh-DAHP'-uh-luhs). He's been a key witness in the Russia investigation.

Prosecutors had pushed off Papadopoulos' sentencing for months since his plea last year to lying to the FBI. Information about Papadopoulos' contact with people linked to Russia during the 2016 campaign triggered the FBI counterintelligence investigation that Mueller took over.

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12:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he wants transparency from everyone involved in the investigation of Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election.

Here's what he says: "What I want is total transparency."

Trump says he wants that from the FBI and from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. He's overseeing the special counsel's investigation into possible coordination between Russia and Trump's 2016 campaign.

On Thursday, FBI Director Christopher Wray, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and Justice Department official Edward O'Callaghan are meeting with House intelligence committee chairman Devin Nunes and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee head Trey Gowdy to review secret Justice Department documents that lawmakers have been demanding access to.

Trump predicts "people are going to see a lot of bad things happened."

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12:25 p.m.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi are asking the Justice Department to cancel a rare classified briefing for two House Republicans, saying it's "highly irregular and inappropriate."

The Democratic leaders say Thursday's meeting for President Donald Trump's congressional allies should instead include the bipartisan "Gang of 8." That consists of House and Senate leaders from both parties as well as the top leaders from both parties on the House and Senate intelligence committees.

The meeting with House intelligence committee chairman Devin Nunes and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Trey Gowdy was encouraged by Trump and brokered by the White House. Nunes has demanded information on an FBI source in the Russia investigation.

The Democrats say the GOP-only meeting is inappropriate for any investigation, "much less one involving the president."

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10:15 a.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey is defending the FBI's use of a secret informant in the Russia investigation, saying the practice is "tightly regulated and essential to protecting the country."

And he's criticizing the president and other Republicans for lying about the agency's work.

He's tweeted: "How will Republicans explain this to their grandchildren?"

President Donald Trump fired Comey last year amid the bureau's Russia investigation. The firing is now under investigation by the Justice Department's special counsel as possible obstruction of justice.

On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that the FBI's use of a government informant amounts to "one of the biggest political scandals in history."

Comey, a former Republican who now identifies as an independent, warned the GOP: "Attacks on the FBI and lying about its work will do lasting damage to our country."

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7:10 a.m.

President Donald Trump is tweeting about the "Criminal Deep State" and says its efforts to undermine him have backfired.

He's referring to the FBI's reliance on an outside informant to determine whether Trump's campaign aides were working with Russia ahead of the 2016 election. He tweeted Wednesday: "SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!"

Trump and his GOP supporters in Congress are now demanding information on that informant, suggesting it's proof that the Obama administration was trying to spy on his campaign.

Trump also tweeted: "Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State. They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before! What goes around, comes around!"

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12:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump is declining to say whether he has confidence in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after the White House negotiated rare access to classified documents for Trump's congressional allies.

Trump was asked Tuesday if he has confidence in Rosenstein, who is overseeing the special counsel's Russia investigation. The president told reporters to move on to another question.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says a meeting to allow House Republicans to review highly classified information on the Russia probe will happen Thursday.

Sanders says FBI Director Christopher Wray, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and Justice Department official Edward O'Callaghan will meet with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

5/23/2018 9:45:43 PM (GMT -5:00)

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