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Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, third from the left, and Gov. Jerry Brown tour fire damage in Paradise, Calif., on Nov. 14.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, third from the left, and Gov. Jerry Brown tour fire damage in Paradise, Calif., on Nov. 14. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

The Interior Department's Office of Inspector General has cleared Secretary Ryan Zinke in a probe of whether he redrew boundaries of a national monument in Utah to aid the financial interests of a Republican state lawmaker and stalwart supporter of President Trump.

In a Nov. 21 letter to Zinke's deputy, David Bernhardt, Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall wrote that her office "found no evidence" that the secretary or his aides changed the boundaries of Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in an effort to help former Utah state representative Mike Noel, who serves as executive director of the Kane County Water Conservancy District. Last December, Trump shrank the monument, first established by President Clinton in 1996, by 46% based on Zinke's recommendation.

Noel owns 40 acres that had been surrounded by the monument, but now lies outside its boundaries. The new boundaries also would make it easier to construct the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline, which would deliver water to sites in Kane County that include Noel's property. Earlier this year, the Interior Department had proposed selling off 120 acres of federal land from the former monument that lay adjacent to some of Noel's land holdings, but later reversed the plan.

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Larry Kudlow, President Trump’s top economic advisor, said Tuesday that China’s response to U.S. efforts to rework the two economic superpowers’ trade relationship has been “extremely disappointing” but the planned meeting this weekend between the nations’ leaders is an opportunity for a breakthrough.

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Democrat TJ Cox slipped past Republican incumbent David Valadao on Monday to take the lead in the country’s sole remaining undecided congressional race, positioning Democrats to pick up their seventh House seat in California and 40th nationwide.

Then-CIA Director Michael Hayden testifies before a Senate committee in 2008.
Then-CIA Director Michael Hayden testifies before a Senate committee in 2008. (Saul Loeb / Getty Images)

Former CIA Director and retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden has been hospitalized after suffering a stroke, his family said Friday.

"He is receiving expert medical care for which the family is grateful," according to a statement issued by his namesake organization. "The General and his family greatly appreciate the warm wishes and prayers of his friends, colleagues, and supporters."

Hayden, 73, served as director of the CIA and National Security Agency during the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. He retired from the CIA in 2009.

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President Trump talks with troops via teleconference from his estate in Palm Beach, Fla., on Thanksgiving.
President Trump talks with troops via teleconference from his estate in Palm Beach, Fla., on Thanksgiving. (Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

President Trump used his Thanksgiving Day call to troops deployed overseas to pat himself on the back and air grievances about the courts, trade and migrants heading to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump's call, made from his opulent private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., struck an unusually political tone as he spoke with members of all five branches of the military to wish them happy holidays.

“It’s a disgrace,” Trump said of judges who have blocked his attempts to overhaul U.S. immigration law, as he linked his efforts to secure the border with military missions overseas.

President Trump makes a Thanksgiving Day call to U.S. troops.

President Trump delivered a Thanksgiving message to American service members on duty around the world, telling them by telephone, "Your courage truly inspires us."

Trump told members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard that he and First Lady Melania Trump wanted to express their "profound gratitude."

Trump is spending the holiday in Palm Beach, Fla., at his private Mar-a-Lago Club again this year.

(Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

President Trump on Thursday contradicted the CIA's assessment that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, insisting that the agency "had feelings" but did not firmly place blame for the death.

Trump, in defiant remarks to reporters from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, defended his continued support for Mohammed in the face of a CIA assessment that the crown prince had ordered the killing.

"He denies it vehemently," Trump said. He said his own conclusion was that "maybe he did, maybe he didn't."

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Former FBI Director James B. Comey said he has received a subpoena from House Republicans, according to a Twitter post on Thursday.

Bloomberg News reported last week that Comey would be receiving a subpoena alongside former Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch as part of continuing probes into their handling of investigations into Hillary Clinton and Russian election meddling, according to a top House Democrat.

Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford), right, finds himself in an increasingly harrowing cliffhanger against Democrat TJ Cox.
Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford), right, finds himself in an increasingly harrowing cliffhanger against Democrat TJ Cox. (Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)

On election night, it looked like Rep. David Valadao had survived a close shave and was destined to return to Washington for his fourth term.

But on Wednesday, when Fresno County announced its latest vote totals, the Hanford Republican found himself in an increasingly harrowing cliffhanger against Democrat TJ Cox, with his lead in the Central Valley district shrunken to 447 votes. Thousands remain to be counted.

Valadao, a repeated Democratic target, finished election night with a lead of nearly 4,440 votes. Cox, an engineer and a business owner who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2006, has steadily gained ground in the 21st Congressional District ever since.