Daily Digest: Is Mueller constructing obstruction case?

The cloud that is the Russia probe connected to the 2016 election hasn’t gone away from the Trump White House, much to the annoyance of President Donald Trump. At the state level, the cloud that is the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System continues to dog Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration. Mike Mulcahy returns to Digest duties on Monday. Until then:

1. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has intensified his investigation of whether President Trump committed acts of obstruction of justice in the Russia probe, according to a report. The New York Times story says Trump, through a White House adviser, lobbied Attorney General Jeff Sessions against recusing himself in the inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election as a way to undermine the probe. And the story sheds more light on the firing of then-FBI Director James Comey, suggesting Trump’s decision was largely tied to the Russia inquiry. Trump’s team had hoped the special counsel’s investigation was winding down so it wouldn’t linger too far into his presidency. (New York Times)

2. Promised fixes aren’t enough for some lawmakers probing the clunky rollout of a new licensing system. The Minnesota Senate’s transportation committee chair says he’s lost confidence in the people running the state’s troubled vehicle licensing and registration system, and he wants them replaced. Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, called for drastic changes Thursday at the end of a public hearing that provided no firm answer about when the system will be fixed. Dana Bailey, executive director of projects and initiatives at Minnesota IT Services, said after the hearing that lawmakers will have an answer soon. Bailey said Newman’s call for resignations would not be helpful. (MPR News)

3. Alleged snooping comes at a cost for St. Paul. The city council agreed to a settlement that will pay Fox 9 morning anchor Alix Kendall $33,000 over unauthorized access by employees to her driver’s license data. The city denied wrongdoing but settled to avoid additional legal costs, its lawyer said. Kendall had sued St. Paul along with about 200 cities, counties and other agencies because her information had been accessed more than 3,800. Only a lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis remains, but settlement talks are underway. (Pioneer Press)

4. Wanted: A new Mayor of Mayo city. Rochester’s long-tenured Mayor Ardell Brede is moving on after completing this term, his fourth. It’s a race that could attract a lot of interest, including some current or former state lawmakers. The city will be going through a change in the years ahead with the Mayo Clinic in the midst of its big expansion project. (Paywall-protected Post Bulletin and The Med City Beat)

5. ‘Nutty’ might be a charitable way to put it. We began the week and the year laying out the hectic 2018 political scene. It’s a good place to end it, too. Briana Bierschbach compiled this handy rundown of the political and policy stakes for the year that will be. (MinnPost)