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  • White House
(Associated Press)

After threatening to cut off aid, the Trump administration has failed to make a scheduled payment to the United Nations refugee agency that works with Palestinians, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.

A disbursement of about $120 million was scheduled to be made on Jan. 2, and all the paperwork for such a transaction had already been completed. But the payment did not happen, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity to be able to discuss internal matters.

The U.S. has not formally notified the organization, U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), of a final decision on whether funding will be discontinued or maintained, the person said.

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Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), left, and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) meet with President Trump at the White House on Thursday.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), left, and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) meet with President Trump at the White House on Thursday. (Jim Watson / AFP/Getty Images)

Two senior Republican senators have urged the Justice Department to open an investigation into Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled a dossier of allegations about Donald Trump and Russia during the 2016 campaign.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who heads a Judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism, said they believe the former MI6 operative lied to U.S. investigators about his contact with reporters. 

“I don’t take lightly making a referral for criminal investigation,” Grassley said in a statement. “But, as I would with any credible evidence of a crime unearthed in the course of our investigations, I feel obliged to pass that information along to the Justice Department for appropriate review.”

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A mural of the late President Hugo Chavez overlooks Venezuelans lined up to vote in Caracas.
A mural of the late President Hugo Chavez overlooks Venezuelans lined up to vote in Caracas. (AFP / Getty Images)

The Trump administration on Friday slapped economic sanctions on four senior Venezuelan officials, accusing them of corruption and oppression in the crackdown on anti-government dissidents.

President Nicolas Maduro and his inner circle “continue to put their own interests above those of the Venezuelan people,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in a statement announcing the latest penalties against members of Maduro’s administration.

The four targeted Venezuelans include  Rodolfo Clemente Marco Torres, the governor of the northern coastal state of Aragua. The retired army general is an oil company executive and former president of the Bank of Venezuela.

Michael Wolff
Michael Wolff (Carolyn Kaster)

The author of an explosive new book about President Trump's first year in office said Friday that the president's calls to halt publication are helping him sell more copies.

Michael Wolff said on NBC's "Today”: "Where do I send a box of chocolates?"

Wolff's book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" portrays Trump as an undisciplined man-child who didn't want to win the presidency. Trump said on Twitter that it is full of "lies, misrepresentations and sources that don't exist."

A terrorist attack targeted a church in Pakistan in December.
A terrorist attack targeted a church in Pakistan in December. (Associated Press)

After a series of angry exchanges with Pakistan, the Trump administration announced Thursday it was suspending security aid to Islamabad until the country takes “decisive action” to fight militants based within its borders.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert would not say precisely how much aid money was being suspended, but said it went “beyond” the $255 million in military assistance that U.S. officials previously had said was frozen.

Pakistan once was a firm U.S. ally, but relations with Washington have suffered a series of setbacks in recent years. The relationship is complicated because nuclear-armed Pakistan is a key ally for some U.S. counter-terrorism operations, and militants have killed thousands of Pakistani civilians.

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  • White House
(Alex Wong / Agence-France Presse)

President Trump insisted again on Thursday that constructing a border wall and overhauling two legal immigration programs must be part of any deal with Democrats to protect so-called “Dreamers” from deportation.

“We're going to have a wall, remember that,” Trump told reporters in the White House at the beginning of a meeting with Republican senators about possible immigration legislation. 

Two-year deportation protections and work permits given under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program begin to expire March 6 under a Trump order. Trump announced in September that he was ending the Obama-era program, but told Congress to draft a law to continue protections for people brought to the country illegally as children — a group that has widespread public support.

President Trump delivered a scorching rebuke to his former chief strategist.

President Trump’s lawyer reportedly has demanded that Henry Holt and Co. Inc. and author Michael Wolff stop publication of a soon-to-be released book about the chaotic first year of Trump’s presidency.

In a letter on Trump’s behalf, lawyer Charles Harder demanded that the author and publishing house “cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination” of the book “Fire and Fury,” according to a copy of the letter obtained by ABC News.

The book, which is set to be released on Tuesday, includes stunning comments from a number of aides, including former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. Bannon called it “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” that Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner, along with Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, met in June 2016 in Trump Tower with Russians said to have “dirt” on then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

One day after disbanding his troubled voter fraud commission without any findings of fraud, President Trump continued to call the U.S. voting system “rigged” and said states should require that Americans have voter-identification cards.

In two tweets on Thursday morning, Trump blamed the commission’s failure on the lack of cooperation from “mostly Democrat States” that refused to hand over voter rolls “because they know that many people are voting illegally.” However, voting supervisors in Republican-led states refused as well, objecting on privacy and other grounds.

Despite Trump’s assertions, analysts have not found evidence of widespread voter fraud.

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Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod J. Rosenstein.
Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod J. Rosenstein. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images)

Amid escalating tensions between some House Republicans and the Justice Department, Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod J. Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray went to Capitol Hill on Wednesday for a private meeting with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

Wray and Rosenstein, the number two official at the Justice Department and the man overseeing the special counsel investigation into the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russian agents, asked for the meeting in part to discuss the department’s responses to House subpoenas and requests for information, according to a person familiar with the request who was not authorized to speak on the record.

The meeting comes as President Trump and allies in Congress have stepped up their attacks on the Justice Department, the FBI and the probe run by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Critics have alleged the investigation is infected with partisan bias, pointing to texts last year between two FBI officials during the campaign that were highly critical of Trump.

President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is suing the Department of Justice, claiming that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III overstepped his authority by filing criminal charges unrelated to the 2016 presidential campaign. 

“The investigation of Mr. Manafort is completely unmoored from the Special Counsel’s original jurisdiction to investigate ‘any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,’” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court on Wednesday.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to a dozen charges of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering related to his lobbying work in Ukraine before the campaign began. Although the allegations extend into 2016, they haven’t involved campaign activity.