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We know nothing; Mueller knows all

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Robert Mueller's meaty indictment, accusing 13 Russians (including an oligarch known as "Putin's cook") of "information warfare against the United States of America," shows the special counsel has been doing deep, serious investigative work — totally under the radar, and with zero leaks.

  • Amazing that there was no hint of this in the media.
  • The gist: "The alleged scheme was run by the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm based in St. Petersburg, Russia, which used bogus social media postings and advertisements fraudulently purchased in the name of Americans to try to influence the White House race."

Thought bubble:

  • We’ve only been reading about [Mueller's] interviews with Trump associates and White House officials — because these are the folks that Washington reporters talk to.
  • But Mueller has been picking apart complicated, secretive and well-funded Russian networks that could only have originated from the Kremlin.
  • Mueller’s indictments are not the work product of some frivolous fishing expedition to indict Trump, as some of Trump’s conservative allies have claimed.
  • This shows that Trump was wrong when he said during a debate that the DNC hacker "could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.” It’s not fake news.
  • This shows Mueller has been doing consequential work, not just sniffing around the White House looking for an excuse to indict Trump. 
  • President Trump is either woefully ignorant, or deliberately lying, about the scope of Kremlin influence. This was a major Kremlin operation.

Why it matters:

  • It will now be even harder for Trump to fire Mueller. Capitol Hill already would have gone crazy if Trump tried that. But after Mueller has done such substantive work — even earning the lavish praise of Trump lawyer John Dowd — it’s impossible to imagine Trump getting away with firing him. 
  • The fact that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave a press conference is significant. It was a major vote of confidence in the Mueller probe: This is Rosenstein saying he’s proud of this work, and fully supports it.
  • It's also a notable show of independence by Rosenstein — a Heisman to the White House.

How it's playing ... Lead story of WashPost homepage: "Justice Dept. deals fatal blow to Trump’s Russia ‘hoax.'"

  • N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein: “The nature of the scheme was the defendants took extraordinary steps to make it appear that they were ordinary American political activists.”
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Zuckerberg admits Facebook "breach of trust"

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg walks wearing a t-shirt, with trees behind him
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg weighed in on what he called the "Cambridge Analytica situation" today in a Facebook post, saying there was a "a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it. We need to fix that."

"We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can't then we don't deserve to serve you. I've been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn't happen again. The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there's more to do, and we need to step up and do it."

Why it matters: Facebook has been under extraordinary pressure from lawmakers, regulators and Wall Street to respond to the issue.

Jonathan Swan 7 hours ago
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Trump to announce anti-China tariffs tomorrow

President Donald Trump
Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump plans to unveil his aggressive package of tariffs against China tomorrow, with a charge led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that will use Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to target Beijing.

The big picture: Two sources with direct knowledge tell me Kevin Hassett has been crunching the numbers, and the dollar value of the tariffs will likely be around $50 billion per year — or slightly less. The administration has used an algorithm to select a batch of Chinese products and then apply tariff rates to those products in a way that will hopefully limit the harm to American consumers.