Speed Reads

Trump-Russia

Trump, Jeff Sessions learned about the Russia special counsel appointment only after it was finalized

If you've been starting to anticipate your phone or TV buzzing in with a big news alert about the Trump administration sometime around dinner time, the Trump White House is probably right there with you.

President Trump found out that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had appointed a special counsel to oversee the federal investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and any possible collusion with President Trump's campaign or associates only about 25 minutes before the news was made public; after signing the order, Rosenstein had called White House counsel Don McGahn, who informed Trump, White House officials tell Bloomberg and CNN. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wasn't informed until after the order was signed, either, the Los Angeles Times reports, citing a Justice Department spokesperson.

Trump passed on the news to senior staff in the Oval Office, and "the moment was calm and oddly refreshing after weeks of chaos surrounding the probe," Bloomberg reports, citing the White House official. The appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel "takes away a lot of the politics," CNN's Jim Acosta says, summing up the White House mood.

"The White House can hardly attack Rosenstein's decision," notes Dave Lawler at Axios. "After all, they spent 24+ hours arguing that his judgment was above reproach" last week, when the White House was using Rosenstein's advice as the rationale for firing FBI Director James Comey. The decision to appoint a special prosecutor was Rosenstein's to make because Sessions, a key member of Trump's campaign, recused himself from the Russia investigation.