NPR, Fresh Air with Terry Gross: New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt doesn't have a badge or a gun or the ability to compel people to talk to him. Nevertheless, he has found sources to help him break major stories concerning special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into connections between President Trump, his associates and Russia.

Schmidt was one of the Times reporters who reported in January that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation in 2017 into whether Trump was secretly working on behalf of Russia against American interests.

"I knew that it was significant," Schmidt says of the story. And yet, he adds, "it's hard to be surprised. ... We have written, or been a part of, or been beaten on stories in the past two years-plus that are things that we had never seen before and never really fathomed."

Schmidt says that amid the "many different tentacles" of the Trump-Russia story, he has a singular focus: "At the end of the day, the facts are my best friend. ... I'm just going to follow the facts wherever they go."