Robert Mueller

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.

This week in the Russia investigations: The White House is trying to burn the clock to get into a better political position to handle the Russia imbroglio. Why it might — or might not — work.

Time trouble

In the championship chess match that is the Russia imbroglio, President Trump and the White House are hoping that Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller has stumbled into what players call "time trouble."

Rudy Giuliani, the latest addition to President Trump's legal team, spent much of the weekend trying to clarify statements he made earlier concerning his client's legal troubles.

Updated 2:30 p.m. ET

President Trump joined his Republican allies on Friday in piling on with attacks about "bias" in the FBI and the Justice Department as Washington, D.C., waited on tenterhooks for the release of a controversial secret spying memo.

Updated 5:35 a.m. ET Friday:

President Trump ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller last summer — but McGahn refused and threatened to quit himself if the president went ahead, according to an explosive report in The New York Times.

Trump, in brief remarks as he entered the conference hall at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, dismissed the story in what has become his characteristic fashion.

Five months into his mandate, Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller III unleashed a legal version of "shock and awe" on Monday with criminal charges against President Trump's former campaign chairman and a guilty plea by a foreign policy aide.

Mueller made no public comment about the charges or the next steps in an investigation that's irritating the White House and riveting the nation. But there are some clues in the court documents about where the former FBI director and his investigators may be heading.