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The issue:

President Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey renewed recommendations that the ongoing investigation of possible collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russian operatives will require the appointment of an independent special counsel.

The facts:

A special counsel can be appointed via two methods:

1. The Attorney General can appoint a special counsel when the DOJ might face a conflict of interest or if "extraordinary circumstances" occur. However, since Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russia investigation, that responsibility would now fall to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

2. Congress could pass a law similar to 1978's Ethics in Government Act — passed in response to Watergate — which mandated that allegations against certain high-level government officials require a special counsel independently selected by a panel of judges from U.S. Circuit courts. (After Bill Clinton's impeachment, the Ethics in Government Act's special counsel provision expired in 1999 and was not reauthorized.) This method would require broad bipartisan support to pass both houses of Congress — enough to override the possibility of a Trump veto when the bill crosses his desk.

Why it matters:

The only realistic option for a special counsel appointment will come via Rosenstein, the man who drafted the memorandum that explained why Comey was being fired. Still, it's worth noting that Rosenstein isn't a Trump surrogate — he's been at the Department of Justice for 27 years under five different presidential administrations.

Go deeper

Poll: U.S. leadership approval rebounds from Trump low

A Gallup report published Tuesday found approval of United States leadership in 46 countries and territories hit 49% — up from 30% at the end of Donald Trump's presidency, and matching former President Obama's first year (2009).

Why it matters: Biden's efforts to reengage with the international community following the Trump administration appear to be improving the global approval ratings for U.S. leadership, though this poll does not take into account the withdrawal from Afghanistan in August.

"No-code" miracle for startups

Expand chart
Data: Interactive Advertising Bureau; Table: Axios Visuals

The U.S. has reached a tipping point in its shift from the industrial economy — one that relied on the buildout of hardware — to an information economy that relies on the transfer, storage and implementation of data, according to a new report.

Why it matters: This shift towards a data and information-based economy has allowed more businesses to establish themselves and scale quickly and at a very low cost. As such, the number of jobs created by the commercial internet has more than tripled since 2012.

Amazon's small business shield

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Amazon is touting the success of small sellers on its platform through the pandemic — and warning that antitrust legislation could jeopardize that success and blow up its open-marketplace model.

Why it matters: As online shopping became a lifeline for both businesses and consumers during the pandemic, Amazon reaped big benefits, but also saw its regulatory risk grow.