--Pressed at his White House news conference whether anyone on his campaign staff had contact with Russian officials, President Trump says "nobody that I know of." ABC's Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl asked about intelligence leaks on those contacts and Mr. Trump said "The leaks are real... the news is fake."
--In his nearly 80-minute news conference, President Trump criticized leaks, the intelligence community, and the press.  Mr. Trump blasting reports that his administration is in chaos ... calling it a, quote, "fine-tuned machine."  At one point talking again about his election victory.

Justice Department attorneys are intensely reviewing why former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn made misleading statements to the White House about his conversations with Russia's Ambassador to the U.S. and whether he broke any laws in the process.  Sources familiar with the case tell ABC News Flynn was less than entirely forthcoming in an interview with the FBI in the days just after the inauguration, but apparently did not cross the threshold of intentional lying.

On the eve of Scott Pruitt's confirmation vote (Friday) as President Trump's EPA Administrator, an Oklahoma judge ordered Pruitt to release emails with oil and gas companies by the end of business Monday. District Judge Aletia Haynes Timmons said Thursday "there really is no reasonable explanation" why Pruitt's office hasn't complied with a request filed in January 2015 by the Center for Media and Democracy.
-- Retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward had been offered the position of National Security Advisor to replace the ousted Mike Flynn, but tells ABC News he declined. "I was humbled and honored." He says of the job, "It takes 24 hours a day of focus ... It's a tough sacrifice" and after 40 years of military service he wasn't not ready to come back from retirement. Harward is an ABC News consultant.

A win for the coal industry Thursday.  President Trump signed into law a measure that will let coal mining operations release more waste into streams.  The measure overturns the so-called "Stream Protection Rule" ... which put into place safeguards for streams ... and required the restoration of streams that were damaged by mining operations. Environmental groups says communities downstream will be more vulnerable to pollution.

--The federal government has now officially filed paperwork with the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals saying it wants to go no further with the case against the President's immigration ban because President Trump will be issuing a new immigration Executive Order soon.
--Hispanic lawmakers are furious that they were denied entry to a meeting with the acting director of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Thomas Homan, Thursday at the Capitol.

A Florida man has been charged in connection with a plot to bomb Target stores along the East Coast, with hopes that such an attack would force the retailer's stock to plunge and allow him to cheaply buy its stock, federal investigators announced Thursday. Mark Charles Barnett of Ocala has been charged with "possession of a firearm (destructive device) affecting commerce by a previously convicted felon," according to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida.

The Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov is no longer off the coast of Connecticut, but has moved southward to a position northeast of Norfolk, Virginia. The vessel's presence 30 miles south of a U.S. Navy submarine base in New London, Connecticut drew international headlines this week even though U.S. officials were not concerned by the ship's operations, which are in international waters.

Worry about flooding and mudslides has some southern Californians sandbagging...ahead of what's forecasat as one of the strongest storms to hit the region in years.



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