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  • White House
  • Russia
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

President Trump’s anger over the Russia investigation melded with his itchy Twitter finger on Thursday to undermine support for an intelligence program that the White House has been lobbying hard to preserve.

The House  is scheduled to vote Thursday on renewing the National Security Agency’s broad authority to collect communications from foreigners, without warrants, including those communicating with U.S. citizens. The outcome is in doubt.

The White House has been lobbying aggressively to maintain the authority, against a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers — conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats — who say the act compromises civil liberties.

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The announced retirement this week of two highly vulnerable Southern California congressmen, Republicans Darrell Issa and Ed Royce, could signal something larger. If a Democratic wave is building, the swell may be gathering off the Pacific Coast.

California always stood at the center of this year’s fight for control of the House. Democrats, in the minority for most of the decade, need 24 seats to seize control in November. More than half a dozen of their top targets are in California, including the seats held by Issa and Royce.

Significantly, their districts — filled with well-educated suburbanites, social moderates, aspiring immigrants and their millennial offspring — are the very embodiment of the year’s election battleground; not just in California, but in Arizona, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington state.

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A federal judge on Wednesday denied a request for a preliminary injunction to remove Mick Mulvaney as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

President Trump, who once said he would “be glad to” talk to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, on Wednesday demurred, suggesting no such interview need take place. 

"We'll see what happens,” Trump said during a joint press conference with the prime minister of Norway. “When they have no collusion, and nobody has found any collusion, at any level, it seems unlikely that you'd even have an interview."

Mueller has been investigating whether anyone from Trump’s team assisted with Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, but also whether Trump tried to obstruct justice by impeding the probe.

  • White House
(Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

President Trump expressed unusual optimism about talks between North and South Korea, citing “good energy” after initial discussions produced agreement that North Korea will send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month. 

“A lot of good talks are going on right now,” Trump said Wednesday during a news conference at the White House with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. “A lot of good energy,” he added.

Trump had spoken by phone with South Korean President Moon Jae-in earlier Wednesday, following the two Koreas’ first high-level talks in two years. The North and South agreed to continue discussing ways to reduce tensions, which have risen as North Korea has sped toward the development of a missile-born nuclear weapon that can reach U.S. soil.

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With new deadlines looming, President Trump plans to again refuse to certify to Congress that the Iranian nuclear deal is the U.S. interest — but stop short of reimposing sanctions that could kill the landmark accord, according a U.S. official involved in the process and a person familiar with the deliberations.

The White House is expected to announce the president’s decision, which could still change, on Friday.

The moves would maintain the status quo in place since October, when Trump first declined to certify the 2015 deal, which was negotiated with Iran by the United States and five other world powers. The Obama administration considered it a crowning foreign policy achievement that blocked Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

  • White House

President Trump, still stewing from the release last week of a scathing book about his first year in office, renewed his call to alter libel laws on Wednesday, saying his administration would take a "a very very strong look" at them.

The trouble for Trump: It is not law but a landmark Supreme Court ruling that set a high constitutional bar for public figures to claim libel.

“Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values or American fairness,” he told reporters during a lengthy introduction to a cabinet meeting. 

  • North Korea
(Ahn Young-joon / Associated Press)

President Trump is telling South Korea's president that he's open to U.S.-North Korean talks "at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances."

That's according to a White House readout of the president's call Wednesday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

The phone call comes after the Koreas held their first high-level talks in two years. North Korea agreed to send a delegation to the Olympic Games next month and both sides agreed to hold talks on reducing tensions along their border.

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(Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

The White House issued a crucial correction Wednesday to the official transcript from President Trump’s lengthy White House confab that took place a day earlier.

Here’s the back story.

Trump held an unusual 55-minute televised meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday. Much of the discussion involved so-called Dreamers, an estimated 700,000 young people who were brought to the country illegally as children who are now facing deportation.

Scattered community efforts to help residents lessen the blow of the Republican tax overhaul’s limit on a popular deduction are turning into full-fledged rebellion in California and elsewhere across the country.