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We turn now to Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. She's a member of the Senate intelligence committee and was at the briefing today with the deputy attorney general. Thank you for joining us, Senator.

SUSAN COLLINS: My pleasure.

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Updated at 7:20 p.m. ET

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz says he will resign his congressional seat effective June 30. He first made the announcement in a statement on his website, ending weeks of speculation about his plans.

Chaffetz talked to reporters about his decision from his home in Alpine, Utah, later Thursday. Sitting next to his wife, Julie, and their dog, Ruby, Chaffetz said after nearly eight in years in Congress, he wanted a change.

A special counsel has been named in the ongoing investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 elections. Congressional probes continue, and a growing number of lawmakers are calling for fired FBI Director James Comey to testify.

Updated at 5:57 p.m. ET

In his first on-camera remarks amid burgeoning scandals engulfing his White House, President Trump denied he asked then-FBI Director James Comey to scuttle an investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

"No. No. Next question," Trump responded curtly to a reporter during a news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday afternoon.

Updated at 10:46 a.m. ET

The morning after former FBI Director Robert Mueller was named special counsel to oversee the investigation into the Trump team ties to Russia, President Trump is declaring "this" the "single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!"

It's another example of Trump going to grievance politics after a week of missteps and revelatory leaks.

The livelihoods of farmers and ranchers are intimately tied to weather and the environment. But they may not be able to depend on research conducted by the government to help them adapt to climate change if the Trump administration follows through on campaign promises to shift federal resources away from studying the climate.

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And let's keep this conversation going with a Republican member of Congress. It's Blake Farenthold of Texas. He's in our studios this morning. Congressman, good morning to you.

BLAKE FARENTHOLD: Good morning.

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The Justice Department has named former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel overseeing its investigation into Russia's role in the U.S. election. NPR's justice correspondent Carrie Johnson is covering this. She joins me now.

Robert Mueller, who has been appointed to handle the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, took the reins as FBI director a week before the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. That day would influence his entire 12-year run leading the agency.

Mueller oversaw arguably the most significant changes the century-old FBI had gone through, and he received praise from lawmakers from both parties on Wednesday for his commitment to justice.

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And let's begin with a new job for a former FBI director.

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Working With Robert Mueller

May 18, 2017

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Next we're going to hear from California Democrat Eric Swalwell. He serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and also the House judiciary committee. Welcome to the program.

ERIC SWALWELL: Thanks for having me back.

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Washington politics spilled over into the financial markets Wednesday, as the week's turmoil — including questions over what President Trump said to former FBI Director James Comey before firing him — has put the administration's pro-business legislative agenda in question, most notably the president's proposed tax cuts.

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We're joined now by NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson with the latest on the breaking news that the Justice Department has appointed a special prosecutor to handle the Russia inquiry. Hi, Carrie.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.

Updated at 9:15 p.m. ET

The Justice Department is appointing former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee the growing probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties to associates of President Trump.

"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," Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement.

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