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Did Trump reverse an Obama order last month because he knew there would be a Sessions-Russia investigation?

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On Feb. 9,  the same day current Attorney General Jeff Sessions was sworn into office, Donald Trump quietly signed an executive order that effectively changed the line of succession within the Department of Justice, laying out who will succeed Sessions in the event he dies, resigns or otherwise becomes incapacitated.

Trump’s order was a reversal of one signed a month prior by then-president Barack Obama. A week before leaving office, Obama authorized Executive Order 13762, “Providing an Order of Succession Within the Department of Justice.” That order inexplicably removed Obama appointee Dana Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, from the DOJ line of succession. As USA Today reports, at the time Obama offered no justification for why he removed an attorney he appointed from the order of succession within the DOJ.

Fast-forward to Jan. 30, less than two weeks after Trump took office, when the president dramatically fired Obama holdover Sally Yates as Acting Attorney General after she refused to defend Trump’s controversial (and ultimately futile) immigration ban. As Sessions had yet to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Trump was able to elevate whomever he pleased to take Yates’ place.

If Boente’s name sounds familiar, that’s not surprising. In the wake of Yates’ ouster, Trump asked Boente to serve as Acting AG. The Virginia attorney was officially named Acting Attorney General on Feb. 9, the same day Sessions was sworn into office—and the same day Trump signed the executive order reversing Obama’s line of succession.

On Thursday, Sessions announced he would recuse himself from any investigation into Russia’s involvement with the 2016 presidential election, after the Washington Post reported that he failed to disclose multiple meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during his confirmation hearing. As Politico’s Eric Geller reports, Boente will now take over “any election-related investigations.”

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News of Boente’s elevated role in the investigation comes after a New York Times report published Wednesday revealed that in the waning days of the Obama administration, the White House scrambled to disseminate information about Russia’s efforts to undermine the election, as well as potential ties between Trump associates and Russian officials. According to the Times, the Obama administration’s goal was two-fold: to make sure Russia never interfered in that capacity again, and to present a clear trail of evidence for investigators.

Though officials told the Times that “none of the efforts were directed by” the former president, it reflects an unease the prior administration harbored regarding a possible connection between Moscow and Trump.

In December, Obama ordered a full assessment of Russian influence in the 2016 election. The 17 agencies and offices that comprise the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russia interfered in an effort to help elect Trump. The full extent of Russia’s interference—and the Trump campaign’s potential involvement—is currently under investigation; as the story continues to unfold, one thing is clear: Despite the administration’s claims to the contrary, there is a “there” there.

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Lara Trump snarls at critics of ‘send her back’ for pushing a ‘biased, racially-charged narrative’

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Lara Trump, the wife of President Donald Trump's son Eric, has accused CNN anchor Anderson Cooper of pushing a "biased, racially-charged narrative" after he criticized her recent defense of the Trump administration over the "send her back" scandal.

This article first appeared on Salon.

"Anyone insinuating that there was some premeditated plan to orchestrate the “send her back” chant is obviously desperate to continue pushing a biased, racially-charged narrative. #FakeNews," Trump posted to her Twitter account on Saturday. She included a link to the Washington Examiner, a right-leaning newspaper which included a quote from Cooper blasting Trump for supposedly "lying" about her role in whipping up a crowd to chant "send her back" about Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

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2020 Election

Trump’s trade war with China has led to foreign investments in the US drying up: report

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Not only are U.S. manufacturers and farmers feeling the devastating brunt of Donald Trump's ongoing trade war with China -- among other countries -- now the New York Times reports that foreign investors no longer see America as a safe bet to park their money.

According to the report, "the once steady flow of Chinese cash into America, with Chinese investment plummeting by nearly 90 percent since President Trump took office."

With the report stating, the drop-off "stems from tougher regulatory scrutiny in the United States and a less hospitable climate toward Chinese investment, as well Beijing’s tightened limits on foreign spending," one analyst blamed the increasingly hostile trade relationship between the two countries.

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Marvel reveals next star-studded superhero films at Comic-Con

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Marvel unveiled its bumper slate of new superhero movies Saturday, wheeling out a who's who of Hollywood stars and prompting a collective meltdown at Comic-Con as it ended frenzied speculation over the most lucrative franchise in film history.

Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek and Rachel Weisz were brought on stage in San Diego to join Marvel film stalwarts such as Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman in the upcoming -- and sure to be multi-billion-grossing -- movies.

"I can spend 90 minutes talking about what we've done or I can spend some time talking about what we're about to do," said Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, drawing rapturous screams from thousands packed into the world's largest pop-culture fan convention.

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