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On Wednesday afternoon, the Justice Department selected Robert Mueller III as special counsel to investigate any links or coordination the Trump campaign had with Russia as part of that country's effort to interfere in last year's presidential election.

"Special Counsel Mueller has agreed to resign from his private law firm in order to avoid any conflicts of interest with firm clients or attorneys," a Justice Department statement noted.

President Trump will try to leave his troubles behind as he departs on the first foreign trip of his presidency. It's an ambitious itinerary with stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican and two meetings with European leaders.

Here are five objectives to watch for as Trump goes overseas.

1. Will the cloud of controversy follow?

There has been one "bad news" headline after another involving the Trump administration breaking every day this week. But if the president is looking for a reprieve, recent history indicates he might be disappointed.

President Donald Trump at speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference in February.
Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/SfGqf1

Bill Radke talks to Phil Ewing, NPR's National Security editor, about the latest in the investigation into the Trump campaign's connections to Russia in the 2016 election.  

Updated at 5:57 p.m. ET

In his first on-camera remarks amid burgeoning scandals engulfing his White House, President Trump denied he asked then-FBI Director James Comey to scuttle an investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

"No. No. Next question," Trump responded curtly to a reporter during a news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday afternoon.

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant announces her endorsements for Seattle mayor and council races at the Yesler Community Center, May 17, 2017.
KUOW Photo/Angela Nhi Nguyen

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant is endorsing candidates for the 2017 election. The lone Socialist on the City Council said she’s supporting Nikkita Oliver and Jon Grant in their respective campaigns for city hall. Both candidates pledged not to take any corporate money during their campaigns.

Recruits from around the region, including Seattle Police Department, on the first day at the police academy.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

After years of work, the Seattle City Council is finally going to vote on police accountability legislation.

A council committee is expected to vote on the bill Thursday and it's expected to go to the full council next week.

Robert Mueller, who has been appointed to handle the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, took the reins as FBI director a week before the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. That day would influence his entire 12-year run leading the agency.

Mueller oversaw arguably the most significant changes the century-old FBI had gone through, and he received praise from lawmakers from both parties on Wednesday for his commitment to justice.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee will spend the next few days focused on trade with Canada and Mexico. Thursday he will meet in Seattle with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. After that Inslee leaves on a trade mission to Mexico.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) vehicle in downtown Seattle
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Kim Malcolm talks with reporter George Joseph about how federal immigration officials are able to directly access regional law enforcement databases, including Law Enforcement Information Exchange Northwest, which contains data from the Seattle Police Department.

Updated at 9:15 p.m. ET

The Justice Department is appointing former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee the growing probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties to associates of President Trump.

"In my capacity as acting Attorney General, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a Special Counsel to assume responsibility for this matter," Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement.

Updated at 9:10 p.m. ET

President Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to close down the agency's investigation into his former national security adviser Michael Flynn just one day after Flynn was let go, according to two sources close to Comey.

A crowd of women in pink Planned Parenthood T-shirts surrounded Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday morning as he signed a bill to improve access to birth control.

The majority of Washingtonians with a regular driver's license will have an interesting choice to make the next time they renew—a choice possibly coming to Oregon too. Continue with the same old license they have grown accustomed to or apply for a so-called "enhanced driver license."

President Donald Trump
Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/9hKraP

Bill Radke talks to Jill Dougherty, a distinguished visiting practitioner at the University of Washington Evans School and former CNN Russia correspondent and Moscow Bureau Chief, about the latest news from the White House regarding how President Trump handled classified information in his meeting with Russian officials. 

Can you rely on what White House officials say on behalf of the U.S. government to be true?

The answer, even by the account of President Trump himself, is no.

Of all the crises and controversies consuming this White House, perhaps none is more fundamental than the collapse of its credibility. And a close look at some of the administration's policies, statements and controversies suggests chief responsibility of that collapse can be laid at the feet of the man who works in the Oval Office.

Bernie Sanders supporter wears camouflage shirt to a Sanders rally at the Key Arena, March 20, 2016.
KUOW Photo/John O'Brien

Bernie Sanders may endorse a candidate in the Seattle mayor's race.

We can't confirm who, but Sander’s group Our Revolution tells KUOW that it's taking a look at Seattle.

Microsoft has had a whirlwind last few days. The company's Windows operating system was the target of a massive cyberattack that took down hundreds of thousands of computers across 150 countries. While it's too soon to say the worst is over — there could be another wave — the president of the company does have two big takeaways.

One takeaway is sexy and edgy. The other is boring, plain vanilla — but no less important to Brad Smith, president of Microsoft.

A trio of measures Gov. Jay Inslee will sign into law Tuesday aims to make roads in Washington state safer. They include a new ban on using electronics behind the wheel.

Updated at 9:45 p.m. ET

President Trump revealed "highly classified information" to two top Russian officials during a controversial Oval Office meeting last week, according to a report from The Washington Post.

Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET Tuesday

The U.S. State Department laid out a new case against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime on Monday: Not only has the Syrian government committed mass atrocities at its military prison complex outside Damascus, but for years, it has also added to the structure in order to burn and secretly dispose of thousands of its victims' remains.

The Washington state Capitol in Olympia.
Flickr Photo/amishrobot (CC-BY-NC-ND)/https://flic.kr/p/4PxvK4

Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill this week that bolsters legal protections for young, undocumented immigrants who have been neglected, abused, or abandoned by their parents.

KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Mayor Ed Murray drops his reelection bid, clearing the way for a wide-open race for Seattle's next mayor. 

Democrats call for a special prosecutor to investigate President Trump after he fires FBI director James Comey.

Opponents of a proposed safe-injection site for heroin users in King County launch a campaign to ban it before it can happen.

And the Kent School District cancels an international trip over concerns that undocumented students might not be able to participate.

When President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska was one of several Republicans in Washington voicing concern. As details unfolded throughout the week, Sasse, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, continued to call the timing of the firing "troubling," though he maintains there is not yet a need for an independent investigation or special prosecutor to look into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Washington AG Pledges To Defend National Monuments

May 11, 2017

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is pledging to defend the state’s national monuments. Ferguson sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke defending the Hanford Reach National Monument, which is up for review under an executive order.

At a town hall meeting in Willingboro, N.J., on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur was confronted by angry constituents who demanded to know how the Republican health care bill that he helped write would affect rape victims.

A young man named Joseph said he understood that the bill would allow insurance companies to deem rape a pre-existing condition and deny coverage to people who have been raped.

Updated at 7:45 p.m. ET

Undermining the prior rationale laid out by the White House, President Trump said he decided to fire James Comey as FBI director without regard to the Justice Department's recommendation.

"It was set up a while ago," Trump admitted to NBC's Lester Holt in his widest-ranging remarks about his firing of Comey. "And frankly, I could have waited, but what difference does it make?"

He added, "Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey."

Updated at 1:26 p.m. ET

The absence of former FBI Director James Comey loomed large over the Senate Intelligence Committee's hearing with top U.S. intelligence leaders, but his temporary replacement, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, assured lawmakers he would not bend to pressure from the White House.

"You cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing, protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution," McCabe said.

Gun dealers in Washington state will soon be required to report when someone tries to buy a gun and fails a background check. Gov. Jay Inslee signed that requirement into law Wednesday as part of a crackdown on prohibited gun buyers. 


The White House says President Trump fired James Comey because of how he handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Let that sink in for a moment.

The president, who campaigned before crowds that chanted, "Lock her up," is telling the American people that he summarily fired the FBI director, by letter, because he went outside Department of Justice protocols in speaking out about the Clinton investigation months ago.

Updated at 11:00 p.m. ET

For months, Democrats in Congress have criticized and questioned FBI Director James Comey about his handling of last year's investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server.

Still, they've met President Trump's surprising Tuesday evening decision to fire Comey with near-universal outrage.

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