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Justice Department appoints special counsel to oversee Russia investigation

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The Justice Department on Wednesday named a special prosecutor to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives, CNN reports.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced Wednesday that former FBI Director Robert Mueller will head the Justice Department’s investigation. Rosenstein took over the department’s Russia probe after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself following intense scrutiny over his ties to the Trump campaign.

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In a letter obtained by CNN, the Justice Department authorized Mueller “to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters.”

“In my capacity as acting attorney general, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a Special Counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” Rosenstein said in a statement.

“What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command,” he added.

CNN’s Carol Costello reports that the White House received less than one hour notice that a special counsel had been appointed.

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According to NBC News, former Trump aides Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort are key figures in the investigation. The FBI is examining contacts, money transfers and business relationships between Trump associates and Russian operatives.

Last week, Rosenstein said there was no need for a special prosecutor in the Russia probe. In the days since, reports emerged that Trump asked fired FBI director James Comey to stop investigating Flynn, his former national security adviser. Those reports intensified calls for a special counsel in the investigation.

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WATCH LIVE: Democrats to unveil historic articles of impeachment against Donald Trump

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On Tuesday morning members of the Democratic-led House of Representatives will release the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

According to the Associated Press, "House Democrats are poised to unveil two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — with an announcement expected early Tuesday. Democratic leaders are pushing ahead with formal charges saying the president put U.S. elections and national security at risk by asking Ukraine to investigate his rivals, including Joe Biden, while withholding military aid for an ally trying to counter hostile Russia neighbors. They warn Trump could do it again if left unchecked.

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Giuliani’s new 20-year-old spokeswoman has a shady resume and links to Ukraine henchmen

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President Donald Trump's allies are still trying to figure out why Rudy Giuliani hired a 20-year-old Instagram personality as his director of communications.

The president's personal attorney travels everywhere, including Ukraine, with Christianné Allen, a former teenage Trump campaign volunteer who has served since September as his media strategist and technology consultant, reported Politico.

“Nobody can figure out who the eff she is or how she got in there,” a friend of Giuliani told the website's Daniel Lippman.

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Trump blasted by former White House ethics chief for attacking his own FBI director

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On Tuesday, President Donald Trump lashed out at FBI director Christopher Wray on Twitter for endorsing DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz's report debunking the Republican claim that the FBI "spied" on Trump's 2016 campaign. "The current director," tweeted Trump, will "never be able to fix" the "badly broken" FBI.

Trump's remark, and possible threat to Wray's job, drew outrage from former White House ethics official Walter Shaub:

The history books will note that he fired not only an FBI Director but also an Attorney General for allowing an investigation of his campaign. Now he's attacking another FBI Director for not being supporting of conspiracy theories about that investigation. https://t.co/6pqjShuP8k

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