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For decades, China had no closer American friend than Dianne Feinstein.

An attempt by Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin to calm plunging financial markets backfired Monday, further rattling investors with new fears about whether major U.S. banks have enough cash on top of worries about interest rates, political instability in Washington and a slowing global economy.

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He’s a failed U.S. Senate candidate with an undistinguished congressional record who, for the moment, is a blazing-hot 2020 presidential prospect — despite the fact that he may not run and faces long odds if he does.

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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.

  • White House

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