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Thomas Shannon, one of America’s highest-ranking and longest-serving diplomats, said Thursday that he plans to retire, the latest in a steady stream of departures from the State Department since President Trump took office. 

Shannon, who is undersecretary for political affairs, told his staff in a letter that after more than 34 years at State, “I have decided it is time to step aside.”

Unlike several senior diplomats who have quit to protest Trump administration policies, Shannon took pains to say he was stepping down for personal reasons, not political.

(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

In a rare interview, President Trump called into Fox News on Saturday night to rail against Democrats, repeat his suggestion that teachers should be armed to prevent school shootings and to compliment his interviewer on her ratings. 

"I did look at your ratings over the last couple of weeks, and you're doing fantastically,” the president told Jeanine Pirro, a Fox News host, as their friendly interview drew to a close.

Trump spent more time blasting his political opponents, accusing Democrats of trying to protect the violent gang MS-13 and abandoning a program that had protected some immigrants from deportation. (In fact, Trump last year announced he was phasing out the program, known as  Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, leaving the next steps up to the Republican-controlled Congress.)

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The House Intelligence Committee released a Democratic memo Saturday that staunchly defends the decision by U.S. law enforcement to start eavesdropping on a former Trump campaign advisor three weeks before the 2016 election, countering Republican charges that abuses tainted the process.

The dueling conclusions about the surveillance reflect the bitter partisan divide on the House committee and within Congress over how to view the broader criminal investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into whether President Trump or his aides assisted in Russian meddling in the campaign or obstructed justice in the White House.

The White House was on lockdown for about an hour Friday after a passenger vehicle struck a security barrier.

The U.S. Secret Service tweeted that the vehicle "did not breach the security barrier of the White House complex." No shots were fired during the incident, the Secret Service said.

(Associated Press)

Apparently as reward for their support of the United States during a United Nations vote on Jerusalem, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley will visit Honduras and Guatemala next week, her office announced Friday.

The trip to two of the region’s most troubled countries follows a lopsided U.N. General Assembly vote in December to condemn President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the U.S. Embassy to the disputed city.

“We are grateful to these two countries for standing with us at the U.N. when many others did not,” a spokesman for the U.S. mission at the U.N. said Friday. “At the same time, we have many other shared interests to discuss, including narcotics, gangs, migration, and the crisis in Venezuela.”

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(Saul Loeb / AFP-Getty Images)

President Trump said his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, will decide if Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, keeps a security clearance that gives him access to highly classified government secrets.

“General Kelly will make that call,” Trump told reporters on Friday during a press conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. “I won’t make that call.”

Kelly had set Friday as a deadline, after which White House aides still without a permanent security clearance would require a waiver to continue to see classified information and attend classified meetings. Losing clearance would likely greatly inhibit Kushner’s work, given his portfolio as a senior advisor on policy toward China, Mexico and the Middle East, among other topics.

Richard W. Gates III, who helped manage Donald Trump's presidential campaign after making millions of dollars advising Ukraine's pro-Kremlin government, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy against the United States and lying to federal agents, becoming the latest former Trump aide to cooperate with prosecutors in the sprawling Russia investigation.

The guilty plea is unusual because court papers reveal that Gates lied to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and the FBI as recently as Feb. 1, when he already was negotiating with prosecutors about the raft of criminal charges he was facing.

Students from Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School hug survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting before heading to a rally.
Students from Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School hug survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting before heading to a rally. (Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

President Trump said Friday that the Florida sheriff’s deputy who failed to intervene in last week’s school shooting may have been a “coward,” a strong rebuke from a president toward a local law officer.

“He trained his whole life,” Trump told reporters at the White House, referring to Scot Peterson, who resigned after Broward County authorities determined he’d stood outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for four minutes during the shooting that left 17 people dead.

“When it came time to get in there and do something, he didn’t have the courage or something happened,” Trump added. “But he certainly did a poor job. There’s no question about that.”

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(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

President Trump is announcing what he calls the “largest ever” sanctions against North Korea.

In a speech to conservative activists Friday morning, Trump will describe sanctions to target 56 vessels, shipping companies and trade businesses the administration thinks are helping North Korea evade existing sanctions, according to excerpts of the speech released ahead of time.

The administration is hoping the sanctions will halt North Korea’s nuclear program, a strategy that so far has failed to thwart the progress of supreme leader Kim Jong Un’s regime toward developing a nuclear-armed ballistic missile capable of hitting U.S. territory.

Tourists ride the Staten Island Ferry to get a view of the Statue of Liberty in New York City.
Tourists ride the Staten Island Ferry to get a view of the Statue of Liberty in New York City. (Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

America is no longer a “nation of immigrants,” at least in the mission statement of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Director L. Francis Cissna announced the rewrite of the statement Thursday, scrapping the more immigration-friendly language that said the agency “secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers.”

The new version has a distinctly tougher tone, stressing the agency’s role as “protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.”

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