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Sam Clovis speaks during a news conference as then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, watches before a campaign rally in Dubuque, Iowa, on Aug. 25, 2016.
Sam Clovis speaks during a news conference as then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, watches before a campaign rally in Dubuque, Iowa, on Aug. 25, 2016. (Scott Olson / Getty Images)

A former Trump campaign official who has been linked to the Russia investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller has withdrawn his nomination for a Department of Agriculture post. 

Sam Clovis said in a letter to President Trump dated Thursday that he does “not want to be a distraction or a negative influence.” He cites “relentless assaults on you and your team” that “seem to be a blood sport.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the administration respects his decision to withdraw. 

House Republicans are proposing to place new limits on the tax deduction for mortgage interest in their soon-to-be-released overhaul. 

A summary of the plan says it would reduce the cap on the popular deduction to interest on mortgages of $500,000 for newly purchased homes. The current mortgage cap is $1 million. 

The idea is sure to generate opposition from the real estate lobby, but it's being used to help pay for tax cuts elsewhere in the plan. 

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President Trump backed down from his threat to send New York City terrorism suspect  Sayfullo Saipov to the military detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as an enemy combatant and instead called for a quick death sentence.

In a tweet early Thursday, Trump said that he “would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically the process takes much longer than going through the Federal system.”

Trump also called for the “DEATH PENALTY!,” using all capital letters and an exclamation point as a signal that he was not softening his position. He was repeating the call he'd made hours earlier on Twitter, just before midnight Wednesday and also in capital letters -- a presidential intervention against the defendant that could complicate prosecutors' efforts, by allowing his defense team to argue he cannot receive a fair trial.  

(Associated Press)

Reversing another Obama-era policy, the Trump administration on Wednesday voted against a United Nations resolution that condemned the half-century-old U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.

Only Israel voted with the United States against the resolution, which called for an end to the economic embargo imposed by Congress early in the Cold War.

A total of 191 countries approved the resolution at a U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York.

The Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building in Washington. Federal Reserve policymakers on Wednesday held a key interest rate steady.
The Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building in Washington. Federal Reserve policymakers on Wednesday held a key interest rate steady. (Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Federal Reserve officials on Wednesday provided an upbeat account of the economy, saying that economic activity has been "rising at a solid rate despite hurricane-related disruptions."

That bullish assessment will reinforce expectations that the Fed -- while it held interest rates steady this week, as expected -- will nudge up its benchmark rate next month.

In its statement Wednesday upon concluding a two-day meeting, the central bank said that the labor market has continued to strengthen, with the jobless rate falling even further, to 4.2% in September. (October's unemployment and hiring report will be released Friday.)

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As House Republicans struggle to produce their ambitious tax overhaul, President Trump weighed in Wednesday with an off-topic suggestion: How about repealing part of Obamacare and use the money saved on healthcare for tax cuts?

The idea is not original. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Okla.), who often has the president's ear, floated as much during a tweet storm over the weekend.

Cotton, joined by GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, argue that repealing the mandate that all Americans carry health insurance would save $300 billion over the decade.

President Trump meets with business leaders at the White House on Tuesday.
President Trump meets with business leaders at the White House on Tuesday. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Republicans delayed the long-awaited introduction of their tax-cut bill Tuesday as members continued to argue over key elements, including how fast to cut corporate rates, which state tax deductions to eliminate and whether to impose new caps on popular 401(k) retirement accounts, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

After promising that the bill would be released on Wednesday, the chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), announced late in the day that the unveiling would have to wait another day.

Although Republicans remained divided on some issues, particularly how to pay for the cuts they favored, other details were coming into focus.