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President Donald Trump. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

New court filings released this week by special counsel Robert Mueller's team have provided new evidence that federal investigators are zoning in on President Trump as a key figure in the wide-ranging Russia investigation, the Washington Post details in a new report late Thursday.

Why it matters: New "documents show investigators have evidence that Trump was in close contact with his lieutenants as they made outreach to both Russia and WikiLeaks — and that they tried to conceal the extent of their activities," per the Post. The court filings also cast new doubts on "Trump’s repeated claims that he had no business interests in Russia"

Details: On Thursday, Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in 2017 about the length and scope of his work on plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen reportedly said he lied out of loyalty to Trump and to be consistent with the president's political messaging.

  • In Cohen's guilty plea, Trump was reportedly identified as "Individual 1" and was said to have received information from Cohen about a Moscow project with Russia up until June 2016.
  • A draft document revealed on Tuesday showed that prosecutors are closely focusing on the president's interactions with longtime political adviser Roger Stone, who sought information about WikiLeaks’ plans to release information meant to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

What they’re saying: Trump ally and constitutional lawyer Alan Dershowitz told the Post that Cohen’s confessions do not indicate whether Trump committed a crime, but suggested that Trump was not being forthcoming about his business ties with Russia.

  • Tim O’Brien, a Trump biographer and critic stated: “This is part of the fact pattern that gets to the heart of whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin during the campaign.”

Go deeper

Biden says presidency "will be determined" by outcome of spending plans

President Biden walks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after addressing the House Democratic caucus on Thursday. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden told the House Democratic caucus Thursday "my presidency will be determined" by the votes he wants in the next week on his $1.75 trillion social safety net expansion and $1.2 trillion infrastructure package.

Driving the news: Biden made the comment, according to a source in the room, as he tried to rally support for the $1.75 trillion package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acted immediately, calling for a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill later in the day.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
35 mins ago - Energy & Environment

China declines to speed emissions cuts in new UN pledge

A view of the skyscrapers in the haze in Shanghai, China, in December 2020. Photo: Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Chinese leaders are sticking with a prior target to bring the country's carbon emissions to a peak before 2030, according to documents filed with the United Nations Thursday under the Paris climate agreement.

Why it matters: The new documents come just days ahead of the UN climate summit (COP26) in Glasgow. China is by far the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, and its emissions path is key to whether the temperature-limiting goals of the Paris agreement can remain within reach.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden lays out $1.75 trillion "framework" before Europe departure

President Biden in Kearny, N.J., on Oct. 25. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

President Biden announced Thursday a "framework" for $1.75 trillion in social program and climate change spending after failing in prior efforts to win over his fellow Democrats on a much broader and costlier package.

Why it matters: Biden is gambling that by proclaiming the broad contours of the proposal, which he immediately began selling in a meeting with House Democrats before jetting off to Europe, progressives will vote for his $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan if and when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brings it to the floor.