MUELLER PROBE INTO TRUMP-RUSSIA COLLUSION YIELDS INDICTMENTS FROM GRAND JURY: The first round of charges in special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election were approved Friday – but it's still not known what they are or who they target. A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., approved the charges, CNN reported Friday, citing sources briefed in the matter. The network said plans were being made to take anyone charged into custody on Monday. CNN said a spokesman for Mueller's office declined to comment. The special counsel has been digging into allegations of Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential campaign since May.
CONSERVATIVE GROUP ADMITS IT ORIGINALLY FUNDED OPPOSITION RESEARCH ON TRUMP: A conservative website with strong ties to the Republican establishment triggered the investigation into Donald Trump's past that ultimately produced the dossier that alleged a compromised relationship between the president and the Kremlin. The Washington Free Beacon on Friday confirmed it originally retained the political research firm Fusion GPS to scour then-candidate Trump's background for negative information, a common practice known as "opposition research" in politics. Leaders from the Free Beacon, which is funded largely by Republican billionaire Paul Singer, insisted none of the early material it collected appeared in the dossier released later in the year detailing explosive allegations, many uncorroborated, about Trump compiled by a former British spy. The president himself hinted that he knew the Republican source earlier in the week, but he refused to share it. The White House had no immediate comment Friday night about the Free Beacon's involvement.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FORCED TO RELEASE LIST OF RUSSIAN CONTACTS FOR BUSINESS TO AVOID OR RISK SANCTIONS: The former prime minister of Denmark, Rasmussen joined a growing chorus of Russia critics expressing exasperation that an Oct. 1 deadline came and went without new penalties to punish Russia for interfering in the U.S. election. A law Trump signed in August requires the administration to produce a list of individuals linked to Russia’s defense and intelligence agencies. Anyone who does business with those individuals could then be hit themselves with U.S. sanctions. With pressure building, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson approved the belated list and authorized its release, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. Tillerson’s deputy spoke Thursday to Republican Sen. Bob Corker, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman and among those seeking an explanation for the delay. The State Department was also sending others in Congress the list of individuals, along with guidance about how businesses and foreign countries can avoid running afoul of the sanctions, officials said.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION DESPERATELY TRIES TO DISTANCE ITSELF FROM CORRUPT PUERTO RICO CONTRACT: The Trump administration scrambled Friday to distance itself from the decision to award a $300 million contract to help restore Puerto Rico's power grid to a tiny Montana company from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's hometown. The White House said federal officials played no role in the selection of Whitefish Energy Holdings by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. The administration disavowed the contract amid a growing number of investigations and a bipartisan chorus of criticism from Capitol Hill. Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Zinke had given the president his personal assurance that he had nothing to do with what she described as "a state and local decision made by the Puerto Rican authorities and not the federal government."
NOW THERE'S THREE: ELDER BUSH IN HOT WATER OVER SEXUAL ASSAULT: Author Christina Baker Kline wrote in Slate magazine that she was invited to the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy fundraiser in April 2014. She described Barbara Bush, the former president’s wife, as “warmly intimate and surprisingly funny” at a lunch in a private residence before the event began. Then it was time for Kline and her husband to take a photograph with Bush, who allegedly called the author close to him and said “You’re beautiful.” After confirming she was an author, Bush then asked Kline if she wanted to know his favorite book, she said. “Yes what is it,” she recalls asking. “David Cop-a-feel,” Bush, who was in a wheelchair, allegedly said before squeezing Kline’s butt at the exact moment the photographer took a picture. “It’s right there in the official photograph,” Kline continued. “President Bush laughing at his joke (like a mischievous boy, I thought at the time); me, struggling to keep the smile on my face.