TRUMP AGENDA: Russia probe turns into "full-blown Washington scandal"
From Jonathan Allen: "The Russia probe is no longer just an abstraction or a distraction for President Donald Trump. It's now a legitimate full-blown Washington scandal — the kind that can subsume a president's agenda or destroy his party at the polls. The immediate question is whether Trump, a master of messaging, can keep himself and his allies focused on policy goals while the investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Russia intensifies."
Our legal team notes that Paul Manafort is facing charges that are tough to beat.
Ken Vogel in the New York Times outlines how Manafort got involved with the GOP nominee's campaign in the first place — and how his ambitions set him up for the mess he's in now.
Who is George Papadopoulos? NBC's Alex Johnson takes a look.
Russia's foreign ministry is citing an error in the indictment as proof that the allegations against Manafort are "cooked up."
The big picture, from the Washington Post: "The charges are striking for their breadth, touching all levels of the Trump campaign and exploring possible personal financial wrongdoing by those involved, as well as what appeared to be a concerted effort by one campaign official to arrange a meeting with Russian officials… The investigation, which the FBI began last year but escalated significantly with Mueller's appointment in May, has taken a heavy toll on the Trump administration, repeatedly putting the president on the defensive as reports have emerged about the work the special counsel's team is doing. With Monday's revelations, a week that otherwise might have been spent with Washington focused on the Republican tax plan will have talking heads dissecting the criminal counts against former Trump campaign officials — and speculating about the next shoe to drop."
And from the New York Times: "Inside the White House, the mood changed drastically throughout the morning. Although Mr. Manafort was the first president's former campaign chief indicted since John N. Mitchell during Watergate, aides to Mr. Trump felt momentarily relieved that it had largely tracked their expectations and did not include any surprise allegations involving the campaign. But then, just as Mr. Trump tweeted that the charges involved actions that took place "before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign," the news about Mr. Papadopoulos stunned and alarmed White House aides."
"Top White House officials including press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that despite the latest developments the Mueller probe was still moving toward a quick conclusion. But that brand of optimism ran counter to the analysis provided by several veterans from previous special counsel investigations who said they expect more targets to wind up in court," writes POLITICO.
ICYMI: Tony Podesta is leaving his D.C. lobbying firm amidst Mueller's probe as well.
And POLITICO also talks to Preet Bharara for his take on Mueller's moves.
Carter Page was on All in With Chris Hayes last night.
"White House Chief of Staff John Kelly waded into the long-simmering dispute over the removal of memorials to Confederate leaders saying in a televised interview on Monday night that "the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War."
Also yesterday, via the AP: "A federal judge on Monday barred President Donald Trump's administration from proceeding with plans to exclude transgender people from military service."
From Carol Lee and Jo Ling Kent: "An estimated 126 million Americans, roughly one-third of the nation's population, received Russian-backed content on Facebook during the 2016 campaign, according to prepared testimony the company submitted Monday to the Senate Judiciary Committee and obtained by NBC News. Underscoring how widely content on the social media platform can spread, Facebook says in the testimony that while some 29 million Americans directly received material from 80,000 posts by 120 fake Russian-backed pages in their own news feeds, those posts were "shared, liked and followed by people on Facebook, and, as a result, three times more people may have been exposed to a story that originated from the Russian operation."
Trump is likely to name Jerome Powell as the next Fed chairman (but the decision may not be final).
OFF TO THE RACES: Bredesen would be a 2018 game-changer
AL-SEN: Hillary Clinton is taking on Roy Moore's "bigotry and hatred."
AZ-SEN: Jeff Flake on Twitter yesterday after a report surfaced that he was eyeing an indy run: "Not gonna happen. I subscribe to the old saw Running as an Independent is the future…and will always be the future."
CA-SEN: Nancy Pelosi endorsed Dianne Feinstein.
NJ-GOV: A new poll shows Murphy leading Guadagno by 16 percentage points.
TN-SEN: The Tennessean: "Democrat Phil Bredesen's sudden interest in running for U.S. Senate has emerged as a potential game-changer in Republican-dominated Tennessee, leading political analysts to see a new path for Senate Democrats in Washington to try to take control of the upper chamber. It seemed improbable just weeks ago that the former Tennessee governor — who left office in 2011 and has stayed largely out of the spotlight since — would re-enter politics. But now, some Democrats are privately growing optimistic that, after he initially ruled it out, he's moving toward a run for the seat, held by retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker."
VA-SEN: After Corey Stewart mocked trangender Democratic House candidate Dana Roem, Roem is fighting back.