Carrie Johnson

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Updated at 7:51 p.m. ET

A Justice Department watchdog on Thursday criticized former FBI Director James Comey for violating long-standing department guidelines and mishandling the Hillary Clinton email investigation in 2016.

Department of Justice and FBI officials are planning another secret briefing for congressional leaders about investigators' use of confidential sources in the early stages of the Russia investigation.

Officials are expected to meet early next week with the leaders of the full House and Senate and the chambers' intelligence committees — the "Gang of Eight" — a senior Justice Department official said.

The official asked not to be identified discussing the preparations for the secret briefing.

If you turn on the TV news these days, it's difficult to miss Michael Avenatti.

The lawyer for porn actress Stormy Daniels has been that way since his days in law school.

Professor Jonathan Turley remembered Avenatti as one of the best students at George Washington University Law School — a guy who stood out in class.

"He first spoke to me about his desire to join a litigation team in his first year and I joked that he might want to find out where his locker is before he joined a litigation team," Turley told NPR.

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Updated at 3:50 p.m. ET

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law, is regaining a top security clearance following a marathon interview last month with special counsel investigators, a person familiar with the matter said.

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Democrats and Republicans who have led the Justice Department's criminal division are writing to Congress to push for a vote on the Trump administration's nominee for the post.

The five former government officials are urging senators to advance the nomination of Brian Benczkowski, whom they praise for his "professional experience, temperament and integrity." The officials said Benczkowski respects the Justice Department and "will work hard to protect the independence and integrity of this important institution."

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Lawyers for a Russian company accused of funding an Internet troll factory that sought to undermine the 2016 election signaled in federal court Wednesday they'll adopt an aggressive approach to their defense.

Eric Dubelier, a U.S.-based lawyer for Concord Management and Consulting, told a federal judge in Washington D.C. that he expected to file motions attacking Constitutional questions including due process, the mandate of Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller, allegations of selective prosecution and other issues.

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Solicitor General Noel Francisco is a familiar face in conservative legal circles. But he could be about to enter a new and uncomfortable period in the national spotlight if he becomes the chief overseer of the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

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