Russia

Maria Butina, the Russian woman accused of working as an unregistered foreign agent, encouraged pro-gun demonstrations in the U.S. as early as 2014, according to messages provided to NPR.

Butina's work has been linked to Russia's attack on the 2016 election, but people who know her say she began trying to make her mark inside America years before.

NPR examined thousands of people who make up Butina's Facebook network, and reached out to a sample of more than two hundred individuals.

President Trump wrote on Tuesday that he ordered the release of classified materials about the ongoing probe into Russian election interference because "really bad things were happening."

The White House said Trump is taking this action out of a desire for "transparency," but former law enforcement and intelligence officials warned the directive threatens to expose sensitive sources and methods.

This week in the Russia investigation: Paul Manafort turns state's evidence ... what will he tell the government?

St. Paul

After a long career as an advocate for political animals of nearly every kind across the world, Paul Manafort is now going to work for the United States government.

Updated at 2:49 p.m. ET

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded guilty on Friday and agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Manafort entered his guilty plea to two felony counts during an hourlong hearing in federal court in Washington, D.C. The plea took place three days before he was to face trial on charges related to his lobbying work for Ukraine and alleged witness tampering.

President Trump may soon double down on his strategy of releasing secret documents to undercut the Russia investigation by unveiling one with still fewer redactions — or none.

In July, the administration released the top secret application made by the FBI in 2016 to collect the communications of a onetime Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page. It was heavily redacted, with entire pages blacked out.

Pyotr Verzilov, a prominent member of the Russian art and activist collective Pussy Riot, is suspected to have been poisoned in Moscow on Tuesday, according to the group and local media.

Updated at 10:39 a.m. ET

Russian President Vladimir Putin said his government has identified the two men whom U.K. police recently accused of poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal. He said the pair are private citizens, not Russian agents, and urged them to speak out.

The quiet beach resort of Lubmin on Germany's Baltic coast has long been an energy hub. Just a mile from the pier are the remains of what was once East Germany's largest nuclear power station.

Now the town is the entry point for natural gas from Russia. Construction began in May on a new pipeline that will enable Russia to increase its natural gas exports not only to Germany but to other countries in Europe as well. The gas will be supplied by Russia's state-owned Gazprom.

Lubmin's Mayor Axel Vogt is delighted.

British authorities have charged two Russian men with using a Novichok nerve agent to poison former KGB spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Scotland Yard now wants help to find the two men, who flew from the U.K. to Moscow on the same day the Skripals fell ill.

Calling it "the most significant moment so far" in the investigation into the Skripals' near-fatal encounter with the exotic poison, counterterrorism police said the attack was carried out by Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov — names that investigators say are likely aliases used for the operation.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly dropped his insistence that President Trump appear in person to answer questions related to potential coordination his 2016 election campaign and Russia, agreeing instead to accept written responses.

The New York Times first reported on a letter sent Friday to the White House by Mueller making the offer. It comes after months of wrangling over whether Trump would or would not sit for an interview with the special counsel.

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