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Michael Cohen exits federal court after his sentencing hearing. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The sentencing (before public testimony) of Robert Mueller's cooperating witnesses suggests the end of the Russia investigation may be near, the Washington Post's well-wired Devlin Barrett reports.

The big picture: One explanation for Mueller's unusual approach is that "the accounts of those cooperating witnesses will appear in a written report, not in court." And Robert Ray, a former independent counsel on the Whitewater investigation, "said he expects Mueller to deliver a report on his findings in the first three months of 2019."

Multiplying fronts in Trump probes:

  • NBC News: "Trump was the third person in the room in August 2015 when his lawyer Michael Cohen and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker discussed ways Pecker could help counter negative stories about Trump's relationships with women." Why it matters: Daniel Goldman, an NBC News analyst and former assistant U.S. attorney, said that would "squarely place Trump in the middle of a conspiracy to commit campaign finance fraud."
  • WashPost: "Trump tried to place blame entirely on his lawyer for felonies that his advisers and allies are increasingly concerned could imperil the president."
  • Wall Street Journal: "Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee misspent some of the record $107 million it raised."
  • N.Y. Times: Federal prosecutors are examining "whether people from Middle Eastern nations — including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — used straw donors to disguise their donations" to Trump’s inaugural committee and a pro-Trump super PAC.

Go deeper

38 mins ago - Technology

Scoop: Google won't donate to members of Congress who voted against election results

Sen. Ted Cruz led the group of Republicans who opposed certifying the results. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Google will not make contributions from its political action committee this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election, following the deadly Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Several major businesses paused or pulled political donations following the events of Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters, riled up by former President Trump, stormed the Capitol on the day it was to certify the election results.

Minority Mitch still setting Senate agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chuck Schumer may be majority leader, yet in many ways, Mitch McConnell is still running the Senate show — and his counterpart is about done with it.

Why it matters: McConnell rolled over Democrats unapologetically, and kept tight control over his fellow Republicans, while in the majority. But he's showing equal skill as minority leader, using political jiujitsu to convert a perceived weakness into strength.

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