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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Associated Press)

The United States and Turkey began issuing reciprocal visas again on Thursday, more than two months after normal visa service was suspended in a dispute over the arrest of two U.S. diplomatic staffers in Istanbul — the latest friction between the two nominal allies.

The State Department said it was lifting the visa restrictions after it was assured by the Turkish government that U.S. Embassy employees would not be arrested when performing their official duties.

But the Turkish Embassy in Washington denied assurances were offered “concerning the ongoing judicial processes,” and suggested that the arrests were legal and justified.

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  • White House
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

President Trump isn’t taking a holiday vacation from Twitter. In one of three tweets early on Thursday from his West Palm Beach golf club, he charged that China was “caught RED HANDED” allowing oil shipments to reach North Korean ports.

Pronouncing himself “very disappointed,” Trump in effect was acknowledging the failure of his months-long effort to convince China to clamp down further on energy shipments going to the isolated country, which relies heavily on Beijing, as a way to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program. 

Trump’s tweet came after a South Korean newspaper published what it said were U.S. spy satellite images of Chinese ships selling oil to North Korean ships.

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  • White House
President Trump visits a firehouse in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Wednesday.
President Trump visits a firehouse in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Wednesday. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP)

After another morning at his Florida golf club, President Trump visited firefighters and paramedics at a West Palm Beach firehouse and praised his own performance as president, including with a false boast.

Trump touted his administration’s work to roll back government regulations and cut taxes and claimed credit for the stock market hitting record highs. He also said he’s signed more bills into law than any other president, which isn’t true.

“We have signed more legislation than anybody,” Trump said, standing in front of a rescue vehicle inside the fire station. 

Sergei Lavrov
Sergei Lavrov (AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked Russia on Wednesday to reinstate its military personnel at a monitoring station in eastern Ukraine intended to quell escalating bloodshed.

In a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, Tillerson also urged Russia to “lower the level of violence” and underscored the Trump administration’s “concern” over increased fighting in Ukraine, the State Department said in a statement.

Russia last week withdrew its monitors from the Joint Center on Coordination and Control, which is tasked with verifying a much-violated ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists. Moscow cited what it called restrictions and “provocations” from Ukrainian authorities that made it impossible for the observers to do their jobs.  

(Associated Press)

The Trump administration announced sanctions Tuesday against two more North Korean officials for their alleged role in Pyongyang’s expanding ballistic missiles program.

The Treasury Department “is targeting leaders of North Korea’s ballistic missile programs, as part of our maximum pressure campaign to isolate [North Korea] and achieve a fully denuclearized Korean Peninsula,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in a statement.

The nuclear-armed country tested an intercontinental ballistic missile last month that U.S. officials said appeared capable of reaching New York or Washington, a significant milestone in the country’s growing arsenal. 

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Perhaps the most significant move of Hatch’s career is the one that should, if there is any justice, end it.

(Associated Press)

President Trump launched a Christmas Eve attack on FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, whom he accuses of favoritism toward his former opponent, Hillary Clinton, and also returned to a longtime favored theme, excoriating the news media for failing to sufficiently extol his accomplishments.

Trump, who is spending the holidays at his Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, also sent Christmas greetings to deployed military personnel, praising them for success in the fight against terrorism.

The early-morning swipe at McCabe followed a flurry of tweets attacking the deputy FBI chief on Saturday. McCabe, who has been a lightning rod for Republican attacks on the FBI, is expected to retire early in the new year.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez is shown during a trip to Texas a year and a half ago.
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez is shown during a trip to Texas a year and a half ago. (Associated Press)

The Trump administration on Friday formally recognized the incumbent president of Honduras, conservative Juan Orlando Hernandez, as the winner of a bitterly contested presidential election held last month.

In a statement, the State Department congratulated Hernandez while also acknowledging widespread irregularities in the Nov. 26 vote and calling for a “robust national dialogue” to overcome political discord in the Central American country, a close ally of the administration.

The Organization of American States, which monitored the election, said it was so flawed that only a new round of voting could establish a “fair and transparent” outcome. But the U.S. rejected that determination.

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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)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday he’s committed to allowing a vote on a bill for so-called “Dreamers” in January, but sees no rush to resolve the deportation threat posed by President Trump’s decision to end a program protecting immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.  

“There isn’t that much of an emergency there,” he said. “There is no emergency until March. We’ll keep talking about it.”

Trump called for phasing out by March the Obama-era program that allows the young immigrants, many of them longtime residents, to get two-year deferrals of any deportation threat so they can legally attend school or work. Beneficiaries must be vetted for security purposes.

  • White House
  • Taxes
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

President Trump on Friday morning signed a sweeping tax-cut measure — his first major legislative achievement — before heading off for a Christmas vacation at his Mar-a-Lago property in Palm Beach, Fla.

The president also privately signed a short-term spending bill to fund government operations through Jan. 19. Congress approved it Thursday, after Republican leaders were unable to bridge differences in their own party as well as with Democrats to get agreement on funding for the full fiscal year. The stopgap bill punts fights on immigration and other issues to January.  

The tax bill, approved earlier this week in Congress in largely party-line votes, slashes corporate tax rates from 35% to 21% and also includes a host of other provisions for individuals, all intended to boost the economy.