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One year in, Trump's greatest asset in the Mueller probe has been all the chaos

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks to a crowd gathered at the Local 18 Richfield Facility of the Operating Engineers Apprentice and Training on March 29, 2018 in Richfield, Ohio.Jeff Swensen / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — On today’s one-year anniversary of the Mueller probe, two things can be true: There’s an abundance of material suggesting potential wrongdoing by Trump and/or his team, and there’s plenty of chaos and confusion for anyone trying to make sense of it all.

And if you’re Trump, that second part — the confusion and chaos — helps you, at least until Mueller shows the cards he’s playing.

Just look at the news over the last 24 hours:

  • “Donald Trump Jr. told Congress that he does not remember discussing with his father the infamous 2016 meeting with Russians at Trump Tower before news of it broke last year, according to testimony released Wednesday,” per NBC News.
  • “Russia intended to help Donald Trump secure the presidency when it meddled in the 2016 election, Senate Intelligence Committee leaders said after a closed hearing Wednesday,” contradicting the conclusion from Devin Nunes and Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, CNBC wrote.
  • The New York Times traced the origins of the FBI’s original investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia: “The facts, had they surfaced, might have devastated the Trump campaign: Mr. Trump’s future national security adviser was under investigation, as was his campaign chairman. One adviser appeared to have Russian intelligence contacts. Another was suspected of being a Russian agent himself.”
  • “President Donald Trump reported that he reimbursed personal attorney Michael Cohen for costs apparently incurred in paying adult film star Stormy Daniels for a nondisclosure agreement, according to a federally required annual financial disclosure form released by the Office of Government Ethics on Wednesday,” per NBC’s Jonathan Allen.
  • The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow said that an anonymous law-enforcement official leaked the financial records involving Michael Cohen because the official was alarmed after being unable to find the reports in a government database. “The official, worried that the information was being withheld from law enforcement, released the remaining documents.”
  • “A social media expert, who was paid $3,000 for his work as part of a Roger Stone founded Super PAC, has been subpoenaed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office,” NBC’s Tom Winter reported.
  • And Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in an interview with NBC News that Mueller’s office has told the Trump legal team that he won’t indict a sitting president.

On the one hand, there’s so much smoke here, you could choke from it. On the other hand, you can’t see anything at all.

And that’s before you even consider Trump’s tweets on the subject. “Congratulations America, we are now into the second year of the greatest Witch Hunt in American History...and there is still No Collusion and No Obstruction. The only Collusion was that done by Democrats who were unable to win an Election despite the spending of far more money!” the president said this morning.

Giuliani: “If there was collusion with the Russians, they would have used it”

Oh, there’s one more Russia-related story that took place over the last 24 hours… On Fox News last night, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani contended that the Trump campaign never used information from Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. “If there was collusion with the Russians, they would have used it,” he said.

Except that the Trump campaign DID capitalize on Russia’s interference campaign, with Trump saying the word “WikiLeaks” more than 140 times during the final month of the 2016 campaign – seizing on the material in the Podesta emails.

  • Oct. 31 in Warren, Mich.: "Did you see where, on WikiLeaks, it was announced that they were paying protesters to be violent, $1,500?... Did you see another one, another one came in today? This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove"
  • Nov. 2 in Orlando, Fla.: "WikiLeaks just came out with a new one, just a little a while ago, it's just been shown that a rigged system with more collusion, possibly illegal, between the Department of Justice, the Clinton campaign and the State Department."
  • Nov. 4 in Wilmington, Ohio: "Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks."

Profiling the Democrat who pulled off Tuesday’s upset in Omaha

NBC's Alex Seitz-Wald: “Kara Eastman is the new darling of the left after defeating the party favorite in a stunning upset in a Democratic congressional primary in Nebraska on Tuesday. Eastman distinguished herself by supporting single-payer health care, and her surprise victory means the most important issue in progressive politics will get a real electoral test in November.”

More: “While Medicare for All encompasses a wide range of ideas, Eastman has signed on to the more maximalist approach, a House bill that would cover all Americans with a more generous version of Medicare.”