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

43 mins ago - World

U.S. policy shift will allow taxpayer funding for projects in West Bank settlements

Friedman (L) with Netanyahu. Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel will announce tomorrow that they are expanding three agreements on scientific cooperation to include Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Israeli and U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is a substantial policy shift for the U.S., which did not previously allow its taxpayers' money to be spent in the Israeli settlements.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Obama: Trump is "jealous of COVID's media coverage" Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse.
  2. Health: Hospitals face a crush — 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Winter threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota cases traced to three Trump campaign events.
  6. World: Putin mandates face masks.

McConnell: Confirming Amy Coney Barrett will help GOP retain Senate

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed no regrets about Judge Amy Coney Barrett's controversial confirmation, telling Politico in an interview that he believes the decision to place her on the Supreme Court just a week before the election will help Republicans retain the Senate.

Why it matters: With a week to go until Election Day, many Republicans are concerned that President Trump's unpopularity could cost them the Senate. McConnell has long viewed the transformation of the federal judiciary through the confirmation of young conservative judges as his defining legacy.

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