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Secretary of Energy Rick Perry stirred a controversy Thursday when he appeared to suggest a connection between burning fossil fuels and preventing sexual assault, a lesson he said he had learned on a recent trip to Africa.

"A young girl told me to my face, 'One of the reasons that electricity is so important to me is not only because I'm not going to have to try to read by the light of a fire and have those fumes literally killing people,' " the former Texas governor said, according to The Hill.

"But also from the standpoint of sexual assault. When the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts," he added.

When the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts.

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(Chris Kleponis / Getty Images)

President Trump pushed again Thursday for canceling the green card lottery program under which the alleged New York City attacker entered the country in 2010, as well as for changing immigration rules that give priority to family members of those living in the United States.

Speaking in the White House after a meeting with Republican senators, Trump called the diversity visa lottery “a disaster for our country.”

“The people put in that lottery are not that country’s finest,” he said, adding that the program created “significant vulnerabilities” for national security.

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Sam Clovis speaks during a news conference as then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, watches before a campaign rally in Dubuque, Iowa, on Aug. 25, 2016.
Sam Clovis speaks during a news conference as then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, watches before a campaign rally in Dubuque, Iowa, on Aug. 25, 2016. (Scott Olson / Getty Images)

A former Trump campaign official who has been linked to the Russia investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller has withdrawn his nomination for a Department of Agriculture post. 

Sam Clovis said in a letter to President Trump dated Thursday that he does “not want to be a distraction or a negative influence.” He cites “relentless assaults on you and your team” that “seem to be a blood sport.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the administration respects his decision to withdraw. 

House Republicans are proposing to place new limits on the tax deduction for mortgage interest in their soon-to-be-released overhaul. 

A summary of the plan says it would reduce the cap on the popular deduction to interest on mortgages of $500,000 for newly purchased homes. The current mortgage cap is $1 million. 

The idea is sure to generate opposition from the real estate lobby, but it's being used to help pay for tax cuts elsewhere in the plan. 

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President Trump backed down from his threat to send New York City terrorism suspect  Sayfullo Saipov to the military detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as an enemy combatant and instead called for a quick death sentence.

In a tweet early Thursday, Trump said that he “would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically the process takes much longer than going through the Federal system.”

Trump also called for the “DEATH PENALTY!,” using all capital letters and an exclamation point as a signal that he was not softening his position. He was repeating the call he'd made hours earlier on Twitter, just before midnight Wednesday and also in capital letters -- a presidential intervention against the defendant that could complicate prosecutors' efforts, by allowing his defense team to argue he cannot receive a fair trial.  

(Associated Press)

Reversing another Obama-era policy, the Trump administration on Wednesday voted against a United Nations resolution that condemned the half-century-old U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.

Only Israel voted with the United States against the resolution, which called for an end to the economic embargo imposed by Congress early in the Cold War.

A total of 191 countries approved the resolution at a U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York.