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(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

Republicans are gearing up their campaign to discredit former FBI chief James B. Comey ahead of his tell-all book’s release next week, but President Trump took things into his own hands on Friday morning.

In sharply pejorative terms — even by Trump’s standards — he described the man he fired as an “untruthful slime ball.”

Trump also said, “It was my great honor to fire James Comey!” Although aides originally explained the firing as a response to Comey’s mishandling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, the president later explained that the Russia investigation was on his mind when he made the decision.

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(David Goldman / Associated Press)

After weeks of railing against online shopping giant Amazon, President Trump signed an executive order Thursday creating a task force to study the United States Postal Service.

In the surprise move, Trump said that USPS is on "an unsustainable financial path" and "must be restructured to prevent a taxpayer-funded bailout."

The task force will be assigned to study factors including USPS pricing in the package delivery market and will have 120 days to submit a report with recommendations.

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Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena of the Drug Enforcement Administration was murdered in Mexico in 1985.
Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena of the Drug Enforcement Administration was murdered in Mexico in 1985. (Associated Press)

The Trump administration is trying to ratchet up pressure to capture a Mexican drug lord who allegedly ordered the murder of an American narcotics agent more than three decades ago.

Rafael Caro Quintero was convicted and jailed in the 1985 killing of Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena of the Drug Enforcement Administration. But the convicted murderer has been free since 2013, when a Mexican judge released him from prison on a technicality.

The U.S. government reacted furiously to the release of one of Mexico’s most notorious cartel leaders, and pressured Mexican officials to find him so he can be extradited to the United States.

Judges on a federal appeals court panel on Thursday appeared hesitant to overrule President Trump and install the deputy director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as the agency’s temporary leader.

Donald Trump participates in a meeting on trade with governors and members of Congress at the White House on Thursday.
Donald Trump participates in a meeting on trade with governors and members of Congress at the White House on Thursday. (Chris Kleponis / EPA)

President Trump has asked trade officials to explore the possibility of the United States rejoining negotiations on the Pacific Rim agreement after he pulled out last year as part of his “America first” agenda. 

Farm-state lawmakers said Thursday after a White House meeting with Trump that he had given that assignment to his trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, and his new chief economic advisor, Larry Kudlow. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would open more overseas markets for American farmers. 

“I'm sure there are lots of particulars that they'd want to negotiate, but the president multiple times reaffirmed in general to all of us and looked right at Larry Kudlow and said, ‘Larry, go get it done,’” said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.).

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Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) speaks to reporters Thursday at the Capitol.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) speaks to reporters Thursday at the Capitol. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

One day after his surprise announcement that he would not seek reelection, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan sought to knock down suggestions that he should depart earlier to avoid distracting Republicans from their uphill battle to keep control of the House.

Ryan cast the sentiments expressed by some allies of his second-in-command, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, as those of a “small group” and not the vast majority of the Republican caucus.

“I’ve talked to a lot of members, a lot of members, who think it’s in all of our best interests for this leadership team to stay in place and run through the tape,” Ryan said.

 Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt speaks at the White House on June 2, 2017.
Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt speaks at the White House on June 2, 2017. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

A high-ranking political staffer at the Environmental Protection Agency has told lawmakers he faced retaliation after pushing back against outsized spending demands from Administrator Scott Pruitt and his top aides.

House and Senate Democrats sent letters Thursday to President Trump and Pruitt describing a meeting they had with Kevin Chmielewski, who was recently placed on involuntary, unpaid leave from his positon as EPA's deputy chief of staff for operations.

Chmielewski is a Republican who served as a key staffer for the Trump campaign before being hired at the EPA last year to help oversee spending at the agency. He says he was forced out after questioning Pruitt's travel and security spending, including the administrator's use of first-class flights.

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Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureaui
Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureaui (Jacquelyn Martin)

A federal appeals court panel on Thursday will hear oral arguments in the legal battle over the acting leadership of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will provide a live audio stream of the arguments, beginning at 6:30 a.m. PDT.

Leandra English, the bureau’s deputy director, is appealing a lower court decision denying her request for a preliminary injunction to remove Mick Mulvaney as acting director and install her instead.

Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer Donald Cook as the ship departs Larnaca, Cyprus on April 9.
Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer Donald Cook as the ship departs Larnaca, Cyprus on April 9. (MC2 Alyssa Weeks / U.S. Navy)

President Trump said Thursday that an attack on Syria could take place "very soon or not so soon at all!"

The president made the statement in a tweet Thursday morning. Trump on Wednesday had warned Russia to "get ready" for a missile attack on its ally Syria, suggesting imminent retaliation for last weekend's suspected chemical weapons attack. But on Thursday, Trump wrote: "Never said when an attack on Syria would take place."

At stake in Syria is the potential for confrontation, if not outright conflict, between the U.S. and Russia, former Cold War foes whose relations have deteriorated in recent years over Moscow's intervention in Ukraine, its interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and, most recently, its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.