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President Trump with Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
President Trump with Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Despite Trump administration efforts to discourage people from signing up, the number of people enrolling for Affordable Care Act coverage nearly hit last year’s level, the government revealed Thursday.

The 8.8 million people who enrolled in the 36 states that use the federal government’s healthcare.gov system significantly exceeded most forecasts.

The Trump administration stopped most outreach and other efforts this year aimed at getting people to sign up. The president also repeatedly said publicly that Obamacare was “dead.”

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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. (Getty Images)

The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted Thursday to condemn President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite Trump’s threats to punish countries that voted against the U.S. position.

The resolution passed in an emergency session at U.N. headquarters in New York with 128 in favor, nine opposed and 35 abstentions.

The nonbinding resolution demands that Washington rescind its declaration, which included a plan to transfer the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in coming years. 

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Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) speaking during a committee hearing earlier this year.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) speaking during a committee hearing earlier this year. (Molly Riley / Associated Press)

House Democrats said they will fight Republican attempts to “discredit and undermine” the work of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating whether President Trump’s associates helped Russian meddling in last year’s election. 

“There is an organized effort by Republicans, in concert with Fox News, to spin a false narrative and conjure up outrageous scenarios to accuse special counsel Mueller of being biased,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) said.  

Trump has said he has no plan to fire Mueller, but Democrats are alarmed by escalating criticism of the special counsel’s work. 

The Trump administration on Thursday blacklisted a Myanmar army general who it said oversaw human rights abuses committed by security forces against Rohingya Muslims.

Imposing economic sanctions against the general, Maung Maung Soe, was the toughest action the United States has taken in response to a brutal army offensive that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has described as ethnic cleansing.

In a statement, the Treasury Department said it had examined “credible evidence of Maung Maung Soe’s activities, including allegations against Burmese security forces of extrajudicial killings, sexual violence and arbitrary arrest as well as the widespread burning of villages.”

Amanda Bayer, left with banner, and Marisol Maqueda, right, join a rally in support of so-called Dreamers outside the White House.
Amanda Bayer, left with banner, and Marisol Maqueda, right, join a rally in support of so-called Dreamers outside the White House. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

A promised year-end deal to protect the young immigrants known as Dreamers from deportation collapsed Wednesday as Republicans in Congress — fresh off passage of their tax plan — prepared to punt nearly all remaining must-do agenda items into the new year.

Congressional leaders still hope that before leaving town this week they can pass an $81-billion disaster relief package with recovery funds for California wildfires and Gulf Coast states hit during the devastating hurricane season. But passage even of that relatively popular measure remained in doubt as conservatives balked at the price tag.

Rather than finish the year wrapping up the legislative agenda, the GOP majorities in the House and Senate struggled over their next steps.

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U.S. Capitol Police arrest a man wearing a Santa Claus hat during a protest against the Republican tax bill.
U.S. Capitol Police arrest a man wearing a Santa Claus hat during a protest against the Republican tax bill. (Alex Edelman / AFP/Getty Image)

Outside the U.S. Capitol, the lights on a towering Christmas tree are flipped on each evening, giving the Engelmann spruce a festive twinkle; inside the marble halls, wreaths and garlands decorate doorways and alcoves ahead of the holidays.

But the spirit of the season has been punctuated by other sights: a Jumbotron parked across from the Capitol reflecting pool broadcasts images of young immigrants who face deportation; Little Lobbyists, children with complex medical needs, were featured in a recent news conference; protesters filed into the visitor galleries to shout against the Republican tax plan.

While it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Capitol, it’s also shaping up to be a holiday season of protest.

(Getty Images)

The top United Nations official for human rights, who has frequently criticized the Trump administration, has reportedly decided not to seek a second term, saying his work had become untenable.

Zeid Raad Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, notified his staff in an email that was obtained by several news outlets, including Agence France-Presse.

Staying when his four-year term is up for renewal at the end of August "might involve bending a knee in supplication,” AFP quoted Hussein’s email as saying.

(Shawn Thew / European Pressphoto Agency)

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, one of the top Democrats involved in the congressional inquiries into Russian interference in last year’s election, said Wednesday that any attempt by President Trump to interfere with the separate criminal investigation would be a “gross abuse of power.”

Warner, who is vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, delivered his warning from the Senate floor as Republicans escalate their criticism of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his team of prosecutors and FBI agents.

Some Democrats believe Trump is laying the groundwork to fire Mueller even though the president has publicly denied it. Mueller was appointed in May after Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey.

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  • White House
  • Taxes
President Trump at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday at the White House.
President Trump at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday at the White House. (Chris Kleponis / Getty Images)

President Trump is celebrating Republicans’ passage of the tax overhaul bill as a two-fer: On Wednesday, in addition to tax cuts, he checked off his promise to repeal Obamacare, pointing to a provision in the bill to end the penalty on Americans who don’t get health insurance.

"We have essentially repealed Obamacare," Trump told reporters during a Cabinet meeting at the White House.

Other provisions of the 2010 Affordable Care Act are still in place, and Trump and congressional Republicans failed completely on the “replace” half of their vow to “repeal and replace” the program.