An unpredictable new White House and a rush to pass a sprawling Republican policy agenda characterized a chaotic 2017 in Washington.
Here are 12 of the biggest stories from the year in politics.
President Donald Trump took an antagonistic stance with journalists as soon as he took office in January. His then-press secretary, Sean Spicer, blasted the media on Trump's first full day in office, asserting the media lied about the size of the inauguration crowd (pictured below). Trump also claimed reporters misrepresented the crowd size, and continued his outbursts at what he called "fake news." In tweets this year, he particularly targeted The New York Times, The Washington Post and NBC News. The White House also made several unfounded or misleading claims, including Trump's contention that President Barack Obama had his "wires tapped" at Trump Tower ahead of the 2016 election.
After gaining control of Congress and the White House in January, Republicans turned to their long-held goal of repealing the Affordable Care Act. The House GOP passed a bill to overhaul the American health care system in May, but the Senate failed to approve its own repeal legislation in a few tries. The most dramatic moment came in July, when Sen. John McCain (pictured in the circle) and two other Republicans voted to sink a partial Obamacare repeal measure in a late-night Senate floor vote.
Republicans led by Speaker Paul Ryan, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (pictured below) overcame party fractures to meet their goal of passing an overhaul of the tax system by the end of the year. Trump signed the bill into law last week. The plan permanentlyslashes the tax rate for corporations while temporarily reducing the tax burden on most, but not all, individuals. Republicans argue that it will unlock economic growth and boost wages, while Democrats criticize it as a giveaway to corporations at the expense of the middle class.
In March, then-FBI Director James Comey confirmed the agency was investigating Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election and possible ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. In May, the Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee the probe days after Trump fired Comey. At every step, Trump has called the investigation a witch hunt designed to discredit his electoral victory. The probe has led to charges filed against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and ex-national security advisor Michael Flynn, though the charges are unrelated to collusion with Moscow during the campaign. (The picture below shows Comey, left, and Mueller at the White House in June 2013, when Obama picked Comey to succeed Mueller as head of the FBI.)
Kim Jong Un's rogue regime pursued its nuclear and missile programs aggressively in 2017 in the face of international backlash and sanctions. A missile tested in late November traveled higher and for longer than Pyongyang's previous devices did. North Korea says its latest missile can reach anywhere in the continental United States. The United States and United Nations have put more economic pressure on North Korea throughout the year and pushed China — Pyongyang's major ally — to do more to isolate the regime.
A national reckoning over sexual misconduct in recent months has swept up multiple members of Congress. Sexual harassment claims have led to the resignation or planned departure of members of Congress including Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, and Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. (left to right in this photo).
Trump's response to violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, sparked more backlash to the president than just about any other action he took in 2017. After a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi rammed a car into a crowd of counter protesters, killing a woman and injuring numerous others, the president blamed both sides for the violence. Trump's comments prompted the disbandment of White House business advisory councils and harsh criticism from Gary Cohn, his Jewish chief economic advisor.
Six House seats and one Senate seat were up for grabs in 2017 special elections. Five of those contests chose a replacement for an official who left to join the Trump administration. Republicans won five of the House races in red districts in Kansas, Georgia, South Carolina, Montana and Utah, though some Democrats in those elections outperformed 2016 results. A Democrat won a special election in largely blue California. The biggest shockwave came this month, when Democrat Doug Jones won a Senate seat in deep-red Alabama over Trump-backed candidate Roy Moore (pictured below).
In the face of repeated challenges this year, Trump has cited the American economy as evidence of his success. U.S. stock markets — already roaring during Obama's administration — enjoyed more success after Trump took office. The president has promoted recent hiring and gross domestic product numbers as evidence of his success, though job growth has not changed significantly from the months before he took office.
In June, Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the landmark Paris climate accords, which call on nearly 200 countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. Trump contended that adhering to the deal could harm the American economy, saying the U.S. could re-enter it on better terms. His decision drew criticism from most major American businesses. When Syria and Nicaragua signed on to the agreement later this year, the U.S. became the only country not to be a part of it.
The resignation or firing of major officials marked the early months of the Trump administration. So far, departed administration officials include: national security advisor Michael Flynn, FBI Director James Comey, press secretary Sean Spicer, chief of staff Reince Priebus, communications director Anthony Scaramucci, chief strategist Steve Bannon, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and deputy national security advisor Dina Powell. (Pictured below, L-R: Trump, Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, Bannon, Spicer and Flynn, as the president speaks by phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Jan. 28.)
Trump made two major moves in the Middle East within his first year in office. First, in October, he said the Iran nuclear deal was not in America's best interest and threatened to scrap it barring changes. This month, he said the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and promised to move the U.S. Embassy to the disputed holy city, angering leaders in the Arab world.