7 things to know now: Special counsel appointed; Chris Cornell dies; more contact with Russians discovered

Credit: Evan Vucci

Credit: Evan Vucci

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and the world today.

What to know now:

1. Special counsel appointed: The Justice Department on Wednesday appointed ex-FBI Director Robert Mueller special counsel in charge of the investigation into allegations that members of President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with the Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. According to sources, neither the White House nor members of Congress had much advance notice that a special counselor was to be named. Mueller will begin Thursday assembling a team of investigators to look into the allegations. By some accounts, the investigation could take months or even more than a year.

2. Rosenstein to brief senators: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will brief senators Thursday about his part in the president's decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey. The meeting comes just hours after Rosenstein appointed Mueller to head up the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

3. Contact between the campaign, Russians: Reuters is reporting that advisers to Trump's campaign – including former national security adviser Michael Flynn – exchanged 18 calls and electronic messages with Russian officials in the last seven months of the 2016 presidential campaign. According to the story, the calls focused on mending relations between the two countries and joining forces to fight the Islamic State. Those who claim to know about the contact said they have not seen any evidence of wrongdoing or collusion between the campaign and Russian officials.

4. Cornell dies: Chris Cornell, lead singer of the bands Audioslave and Soundgarden, died Wednesday night. According to Cornell's representative, the singer died unexpectedly while he was in Detroit. Cornell, 52, had been on tour.

5. Police officer acquitted: A jury on Wednesday acquitted a Tulsa, Oklahoma police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man last year. Betty Jo Shelby was found not guilty of manslaughter in the death of Terence Crutcher. Shelby shot Crutcher after he refused to get down on the ground, and appeared to be reaching inside his vehicle. Shelby said she believed he was reaching for a gun. Shelby said she was scared of Crutcher because of the way he was acting and thought he was high on PCP. The drug was found in Crutcher's system, and a vial of it was found in his SUV.

And one more

Ever wonder which 11 herbs and spices make up Colonel Sanders' Kentucky Fried Chicken? Wonder no more, as it looks like the colonel's nephew may have spilled the beans. A reporter for the Chicago Tribune said Joe Ledington showed him the recipe that was in an old scrapbook that belonged to Harlan Sanders' second wife, Claudia. The recipe was written on the back of her will, the reporter said.

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