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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.

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  • Immigration
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. (Rogelio V. Solis / Associated Press)

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. is pushing back against President Trump's description of a judge who ruled against Trump's new migrant asylum policy as an "Obama judge."

It's the first time that the leader of the federal judiciary has offered even a hint of criticism of Trump, who has previously blasted federal judges who ruled against him.

Roberts said Wednesday the U.S. doesn't have "Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges." He commented in a statement released by the Supreme Court after a query by the Associated Press.

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  • White House
  • Middle East
In this Oct. 25 photo, candles are lit in front of a photo of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In this Oct. 25 photo, candles are lit in front of a photo of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (Lefteris Pitarakis)

President Trump made it clear on Tuesday that he does not intend to punish Saudi Arabia or Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an American resident killed by Saudi officials in Turkey in October.

In a remarkable statement replete with exclamation points, Trump cast doubt on the CIA’s reported conclusions that it has a high degree of confidence that the crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s murder and sent his closest allies to Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul to carry it out.

This article has been updated with staff. 

  • Midterm Election
Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford), left, remains ahead of Democratic challenger T.J. Cox in updated vote tallies.
Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford), left, remains ahead of Democratic challenger T.J. Cox in updated vote tallies. (Associated Press)

The election-night lead that GOP Rep. David Valadao of Hanford established over his Democratic challenger T.J. Cox has shrunk to 968 votes, stoking Republican fears that the party could lose a seventh California congressional seat.

The alarming news for the GOP came Monday as Kern and Tulare counties released updated results from their ongoing ballot counting.

On election night, when Valadao had a 4,389-vote lead, the Associated Press projected the Republican incumbent would win, but that victory now appears uncertain.

  • Congress
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

Sixteen House Democrats said Monday that they will vote to deny Rep. Nancy Pelosi another stint as House speaker, a show of defiance that puts her opponents on the cusp of forcing a seismic leadership shake-up as their party prepares to take the majority.

Their pledge to oppose Pelosi (D-San Francisco), both in an internal caucus election and a Jan. 3 floor vote, delivered in a letter sent to Democratic colleagues, comes as Pelosi has marshaled a legion of supporters on and off Capitol Hill to make her case.

But her opponents said Monday they are convinced it is time to select a new leader.

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Acting U.S. Atty. Gen. Matthew Whitaker
Acting U.S. Atty. Gen. Matthew Whitaker (Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images)

Three Senate Democrats filed a lawsuit Monday arguing that Acting Atty. Gen. Matthew Whitaker's appointment is unconstitutional and asking a federal judge to remove him.

The suit, filed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, argues that Whitaker's appointment violates the Constitution because he has not been confirmed by the Senate.

Whitaker was chief of staff to Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions and was elevated to the top job after Sessions was ousted by President Trump on Nov. 7.

  • Congress
Republican Senate candidate Rick Scott speaks with his wife, Ann, by his side at an election watch party in Naples, Fla., on Nov. 7.
Republican Senate candidate Rick Scott speaks with his wife, Ann, by his side at an election watch party in Naples, Fla., on Nov. 7. (Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press)

Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott says incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson called him to concede defeat in their extremely tight race.

Scott issued a statement Sunday saying Nelson "graciously conceded" their Senate race shortly after the state's recount ended. The final results show Scott defeated Nelson by just over 10,000 votes out of 8 million cast. Nelson is scheduled to release a videotaped statement later Sunday.

The defeat ends Nelson's lengthy political career. The three-term incumbent was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000. Before that he served six terms in the U.S. House and as state treasurer and insurance commissioner for six years.

Gil Cisneros defeated Republican Young Kim on Saturday in the last of Orange County’s undecided House races, giving Democrats a clean sweep of the state’s six most fiercely fought congressional contests and marking an epochal shift in a region long synonymous with political conservatism.

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For a party in freefall the last two decades, California Republicans learned that it's possible to plunge even further.

Democratic Rep.-elect Katie Porter is congratulated by volunteers at her campaign headquarters in Irvine.
Democratic Rep.-elect Katie Porter is congratulated by volunteers at her campaign headquarters in Irvine. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Congresswoman-elect Katie Porter said she plans to support Rep. Nancy Pelosi's bid for speaker of the House and will make campaign finance reform her top priority when she enters the chamber in January.

“I'm going to continue to have conversations, but so far I feel like Leader Pelosi is definitely making the things that were a priority to the families that elected me her priorities, including announcing her support for campaign finance reform and anti-corruption as HR1," Porter said in her first public appearance since being declared the winner in California’s 45th Congressional District on Thursday evening. 

“It means a lot to me that she is a Californian. She understands our state,” Porter added. “When we talk about environmental protections, this is a person who understands as a Californian how fragile our environment is and what's at risk in things like drilling off our coasts."