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Attorney General Bill Barr. Photo: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr has appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut John Durham to investigate the origins of the Russia probe and whether law enforcement's methods of collecting intelligence on the Trump campaign were legal, the New York Times first reported and the AP confirmed.

Why it matters: Barr had previously signaled that he wanted to review the FBI's surveillance of the Trump campaign, telling senators in a hearing last month that "spying did occur" — though he clarified that he did not mean to suggest that it was necessarily illegal. Durham has previously served as a special prosecutor investigating allegations of impropriety by intelligence officials, "including the F.B.I.’s ties to a crime boss in Boston and accusations of C.I.A. abuses of detainees," according to the Times.

The big picture: This is at least the third investigation into the origins of the Russia probe. The FBI's inspector general Michael Horowitz is currently investigating the government's use of wiretaps through the FISA process, while U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber is also looking into claims of FBI misconduct.

  • Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham has also signaled his intention to "investigate the investigators," which has become a rallying cry for many Trump allies who believe the president was unfairly targeted.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
15 mins ago - Economy & Business

GM's shrinking deal with Nikola

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

General Motors will no longer take an equity stake in Nikola Corp. or build its pickup truck, under a revised deal that still envisions GM as a key tech supplier for Nikola's planned line of electric and fuel cell heavy trucks.

Driving the news: The revised agreement Monday is smaller in scope than a draft partnership rolled out in September that had included a $2 billion stake in the startup and an agreement to build its Badger pickup.

1 hour ago - Technology

Exclusive: Facebook's blackout didn't dent political ad reach

Photo: Valera Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Americans saw more political ads on Facebook in the week before the 2020 election than they did the prior week despite the company's blackout on new political ads during that period, according to Global Witness, a human rights group that espouses tech regulation.

Why it matters: The presidential election was a key stress test for Facebook and other leading online platforms looking to prove that they can curb misinformation. Critics contend measures like the ad blackout barely made a dent.

Wall Street wonders how bad it has to get

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wall Street is working out how bad the economy will have to get for Congress to feel motivated to move on economic support.

Why it matters: A pre-Thanksgiving data dump showed more evidence of a floundering economic recovery. But the slow drip of crumbling economic data may not be enough to push Washington past a gridlock to halt the economic backslide.

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