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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.

Updated at 9:15 a.m. ET on June 1.

The special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has cost nearly $17 million dollars so far, according to a new report from the Justice Department.

Robert Mueller's team of prosecutors and FBI special agents has spent by far the most money on covering salaries, followed by rent and information technology services, the statement of expenditures says.

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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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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This week, the Senate is on track to confirm six more federal appeals court judges. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that he wants to make that a lasting contribution to the country.

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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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein dismissed threats from antagonists in Congress on Thursday following months of tension between the Justice Department and conservative supporters of President Trump.

Rosenstein appeared at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. to celebrate Law Day and was asked about threats from members of Congress, including the putative "articles of impeachment" about him drafted by allies of Trump.

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