Miles Parks

The New Year will bring a new test for President Trump and the United States' relationship with Russia.

Five years ago, President Obama signed a bill imposing sanctions on a group of powerful people there charged with involvement in the death of a Russian lawyer who uncovered a $230 million tax fraud scheme — and then died in government custody. The sanctions infuriated Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Updated at 6:26 p.m. ET

FBI Director Christopher Wray defended his agency on Capitol Hill Thursday, speaking publicly for the first time since President Trump denigrated the agency last weekend. The questioning from lawmakers and the responses the new FBI director gave are a harbinger of likely issues to be raised again as the Justice Department's Russia probe appears to be intensifying after the recent plea deal of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

If the saga of Michael Flynn feels like it's been hanging over President Trump's head since Inauguration Day, that's because it has.

The story of how Trump's first national security adviser came to plead guilty to lying to FBI investigators and cooperate in the special counsel's Russia investigation spans two presidential terms and also touches government officials who were subsequently fired by Trump.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference has passed the six-month mark, and President Trump's staff is painting a picture of a process nearing its end.

"We still expect this to conclude soon," White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders has told reporters.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau effectively has two leaders right now, which should lead to a confusing Monday morning back from the Thanksgiving holiday — and eventually a battle in court.

Both the departing head of the CFPB, Obama appointee Richard Cordray, and the White House have named interim leaders of an agency that has been engulfed in partisan politics since its inception as part of the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform bill in 2010.

The agency was created to be a watchdog for consumers when they interact with almost all kinds of financial institutions.

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