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  • Russia
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. (Associated Press)

Months after President Trump took office, Russia’s disinformation teams trained their sites on a new target: special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Having worked to help get Trump into the White House, they now worked to neutralize the biggest threat to his staying there.

The Russian operatives unloaded on Mueller through fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter and beyond, falsely claiming that the former FBI director was corrupt and that the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election were crackpot conspiracies. One post on Instagram — which emerged as an especially potent weapon in the Russian social media arsenal — claimed that Mueller had worked in the past with “radical Islamic groups.”

Such tactics exemplified how Russian teams ranged nimbly across social media platforms in a shrewd online influence operation aimed squarely at American voters. The effort started earlier than commonly understood and lasted longer while relying on the strengths of different sites to manipulate distinct slices of the electorate, according to a pair of comprehensive new reports prepared for the Senate Intelligence Committee and released Monday.

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  • White House

President Trump says budget director Mick Mulvaney will serve as acting chief of staff, replacing John F. Kelly in the new year.

Democrat Gavin Newsom has yet to become California governor, but already a candidate for state Republican Party chairman is promoting a recall effort.

On her first full day leading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Kathy Kraninger said she won’t be a puppet of Mick Mulvaney, the controversial acting director whom she replaced in the powerful regulatory position.

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Nick Ayers, right, with Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, at the funeral service for George H.W. Bush on Dec. 3.
Nick Ayers, right, with Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, at the funeral service for George H.W. Bush on Dec. 3. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Associated Press)

President Trump's top pick to replace John F. Kelly as chief of staff, Nick Ayers, is no longer expected to fill that role. 

That's according to a White House official who is not authorized to discuss the personnel issue by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. 

Ayers is Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff. 

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. (Dylan Stewart / HS Insider)

The morning after the Nov. 6 congressional midterm election in California, state, county and media websites reported that 100% of precincts had turned in their results.

It was highly misleading: The final tally, released Friday, showed that a staggering 5.2 million of the 12.1 million ballots cast — 43% — remained uncounted that morning. Most of the outstanding votes were from mail ballots.

The website charts listing results from “100 percent” of the precincts feed public mistrust in the counting despite California’s stringent protections of ballot integrity, said Mindy Romero, the director of USC’s California Civic Engagement Project, a nonpartisan research center in Sacramento.

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Job growth slowed significantly in November but still was solid, indicating the economy remains in good shape but not expanding so quickly that it will lead to sharply higher interest rates.

  • White House
Heather Nauert at a briefing at the State Department on Aug. 9, 2017.
Heather Nauert at a briefing at the State Department on Aug. 9, 2017. (Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

President Trump is expected to nominate State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Two administration officials confirmed Trump's plans. A Republican congressional aide said the president was expected to announce his decision by tweet on Friday morning. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly before Trump's announcement.

Trump has previously said Nauert was under serious consideration to replace Nikki Haley, who announced in October that she would step down at the end of this year.