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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

NRA files for bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for voluntary bankruptcy as part of a restructuring plan.

Driving the news: The gun rights group said it would reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment." Last year, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.

26 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden: "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution

Joe Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden promised to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine manufacturing, as he outlined a five-point plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first months of his presidency.

Why it matters: With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, Biden is trying to establish how he’ll approach the pandemic differently than President Trump.

A new Washington

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Image

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday that the city should expect a "new normal" for security — even after President-elect Biden's inauguration.

The state of play: Inaugurations are usually a point of celebration in D.C., but over 20,000 troops are now patrolling Washington streets in an unprecedented preparation for Biden's swearing-in on Jan. 20.