President Donald Trump steps to the lectern to deliver his first State of the Union speech on Tuesday evening amid a myriad of head-spinning events in the nation's capital.
There are classified memos, abruptly departing FBI agents and crusading congressmen -- all tied to the unfolding Russia probe -- roiling Washington.
So as Trump steps into the Capitol to declare that the state of the union is strong, the reality is that the state of Washington is chaotic.
Here is the backdrop Trump will give his speech against:
Is the special counsel safe?
Will he or won't he? That's the question people are asking about whether Trump will fire special counsel Robert Mueller, the man tasked with investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election, as well as potential obstruction of justice and other possible crimes.
The New York Times first reported last week Trump had tried to fire Mueller in June 2017 -- only to back off when White House lawyer Don McGahn threatened to resign if he did.
Trump's temper, long simmering over the Russia probe, has boiled over into attacks on his own Justice Department.
Speaking of undermining ... Washington has been engulfed in debate over a controversial memo and whether it should be made public.
Crafted from classified intelligence, the Nunes memo is said to portray FBI agents abusing their surveillance tools. But it was composed by the staff of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes of California -- a former Trump transition campaign official. At one point, Nunes -- the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee -- was asked to step back from his role in leading the Russia probe over concerns about his actions.
House Republicans voted on Tuesday to release the controversial memo, in reality a political document, though Democrats and some Republicans oppose the move.
The decision on whether the public sees it now rests with the White House. Trump, CNN has reported, is inclined to make the document public. That's despite the fact that releasing it would put the President directly at odds with his own Justice Department. Releasing the memo without consulting with the department and the FBI would be "extraordinarily reckless," the department has said.
The White House has five days to decide how to play it.
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe abruptly decided to step down on Monday. Trump has long maligned McCabe, who had originally planned to step down from the FBI in March.
Why Trump singled out McCabe, is not entirely clear. But the FBI has been involved in the investigation into potential collusion between his campaign and Russia during the 2016 election and he has publicly lambasted the bureau's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server.
Although White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday that Trump had nothing to do with McCabe's departure, the President raised eyebrows by publicly attacking McCabe on Twitter.
"Why didn't A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got big dollars ($700,000) for his wife's political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives," Trump wrote in July. "Drain the Swamp!"
In December, Trump tweeted "FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!"
Trump also slammed McCabe because his wife took donations from a close Clinton ally while running for Virginia state Senate in 2015.
These donations all occurred before McCabe took over as FBI deputy director -- and before he would have had any oversight into the Clinton email investigation. Not that Trump seems to mind that order of events.
Meanwhile, current FBI Director Christopher Wray -- who replaced James Comey after Trump fired him -- has hinted to the agency that a pending watchdog report will reveal more about why McCabe left so abruptly.
Seperately, last week, the Justice Department's inspector general told Congress it was able to recover a trove of missing text messages exchanged between two FBI employees, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who have been accused of harboring anti-Trump bias in the lead-up to the general election.
Strzok and Page, meanwhile, were allegedly having an affair.
The New York Times reported Monday that McCabe's sudden decision to step down came after he told friends he felt pressure to do so from Wray.
The Times, citing one official close to McCabe, said the deputy director's decision to leave before his anticipated retirement in March came after Wray discussed the looming inspector general report and suggested demoting McCabe from the No. 2 post at the bureau.
So, anyway, that's what's occupying many minds in Washington as the world watches Trump talk up bipartisanship and the economy during his first State of the Union address.
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