Miles Parks

The New Year will bring a new test for President Trump and the United States' relationship with Russia.

Five years ago, President Obama signed a bill imposing sanctions on a group of powerful people there charged with involvement in the death of a Russian lawyer who uncovered a $230 million tax fraud scheme — and then died in government custody. The sanctions infuriated Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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FBI Director Christopher Wray defended his agency on Capitol Hill Thursday, speaking publicly for the first time since President Trump denigrated the agency last weekend. The questioning from lawmakers and the responses the new FBI director gave are a harbinger of likely issues to be raised again as the Justice Department's Russia probe appears to be intensifying after the recent plea deal of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

If the saga of Michael Flynn feels like it's been hanging over President Trump's head since Inauguration Day, that's because it has.

The story of how Trump's first national security adviser came to plead guilty to lying to FBI investigators and cooperate in the special counsel's Russia investigation spans two presidential terms and also touches government officials who were subsequently fired by Trump.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference has passed the six-month mark, and President Trump's staff is painting a picture of a process nearing its end.

"We still expect this to conclude soon," White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders has told reporters.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau effectively has two leaders right now, which should lead to a confusing Monday morning back from the Thanksgiving holiday — and eventually a battle in court.

Both the departing head of the CFPB, Obama appointee Richard Cordray, and the White House have named interim leaders of an agency that has been engulfed in partisan politics since its inception as part of the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform bill in 2010.

The agency was created to be a watchdog for consumers when they interact with almost all kinds of financial institutions.

The Egyptian military launched airstrikes on militant hideouts overnight Friday, in response to the horrific mosque attack earlier that day, the deadliest in the country's modern history.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi had promised to respond with "brute force" in retaliation for the attack on a village mosque that officials say killed 305 people and wounded more than 128.

The Argentine navy announced evidence Thursday pointing to an explosion occurring near the time and at the location one of its submarines, with 44 crew members aboard, went missing last week.

The news sent families of the crew into tears as they gathered at the Mar del Plata Navy Base, where the sub was originally scheduled to arrive on Monday, the Associated Press reported.

"They haven't come back and they will never come back," said Jesica Gopar, wife of an officer aboard the submarine. "I had a bad feeling about this and now it has been confirmed."

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President Trump spoke to U.S. troops Thursday from his private Florida club Mar-a-Lago, telling them "we're really winning" in the fight against ISIS and in Afghanistan — all thanks to his administration's leadership.

"They say we've made more progress against ISIS than they did in years of the previous administration, and that's because I'm letting you do your job," Trump said, in a video call to branches of the U.S. armed forces.

The law intended to shine a light on foreign entities and foreign governments working to influence policy in Washington, D.C., has been called everything from "toothless" to "a complete joke."

But Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller isn't laughing — and neither may potential violators if he decides to make it his new weapon of choice.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday that his "story has never changed" about his and other Trump campaign officials' connections to Russia.

"I will not accept, and reject accusations that I have ever lied," Sessions said. "That is a lie!"

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Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for the open Senate seat in Alabama, is facing an accusation from a woman who says that he initiated sexual contact when she was 14 years old and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney.

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Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., wasted no time on Wednesday connecting the abstract story that is Russian election interference to strife in the real world.

With lawyers from Facebook, Twitter and Google sitting before him, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman described a divisive scene in Houston last year — engineered entirely by Russian influence-mongers.

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Russian interference efforts in the 2016 presidential election were broader than anyone first knew, as representatives for Facebook, Twitter and Google told lawmakers on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

The first charges have been filed in the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election, and the court documents help make clearer the timeline of Russia-related events that took place during the presidential campaign.

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Before George Papadopoulos became the first legal casualty of Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia and the 2016 election, he was a 30-year-old energy lawyer best known in D.C. for getting name-dropped by Donald Trump and for reportedly embellishing his resume.

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A pair of Russian state media organizations will no longer be able to advertise on Twitter, the company said Thursday — a direct result of their role in Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The announcement took place less than a week before much-anticipated hearings on Capitol Hill at which representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google are expected to be grilled by lawmakers about how Russia used their platforms as part of its influence campaign in the U.S.

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House Republican leaders on Capitol Hill said they were launching two new investigations into Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, keeping alive a pair of storylines that have fueled anger with the party base.

When Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced he was handing over the reins of the Justice Department's Russia investigation to a special counsel, he gave Robert Mueller the authority to look into "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation."

Otto Fricke says he knew what he was getting himself into.

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