2017's top ten news stories

The last year was extraordinary when it comes to news — chiefly because of one person: President TrumpDonald TrumpRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Jake Ellzey defeats Trump-backed candidate in Texas House runoff DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit MORE.

Trump’s actions, from his Twitter account to his executive actions to the various controversies that swirled around the White House, dominated headlines throughout the year.

Here’s a look back at the biggest 10 stories of the year, many of which had something to do with the U.S. president.

  1. Donald Trump’s presidency.

The Trump presidency itself is the biggest story of the year.

Since inauguration day, Trump has been the top story of the year, and he has seemingly delighted in providing copy for the nation’s media — even as he has feuded with them.

The day after the inauguration, White House press secretary Sean SpicerSean Michael SpicerDeSantis to hold Newsmax town hall Biden's poor TV ratings against Trump is exactly what this administration wants Overnight Health Care: CDC director calls on Michigan to 'close things down' amid surge in cases | Regeneron says antibody therapy prevents COVID-19 infections MORE slammed news reports that suggested inauguration crowds were not the largest in history — a point refuted by photographic evidence.

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The performance was a sign of what was to come.

A week later, Trump announced a ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations, sparking an uproar that continued for months.

The initial weeks of the year featured large protests against the new president. Marches on Washington became weekly events.

White House aides surrounding the president became celebrities themselves, from Spicer and counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayAides who clashed with Giuliani intentionally gave him wrong time for Trump debate prep: book 7 conservative women who could replace Meghan McCain on 'The View' Karen Pence confirms move back to Indiana: 'No place like home' MORE to former White House strategist Stephen Bannon and Anthony “the Mooch” Scaramucci, whose career as White House communications director was short-lived.

In a normal year, Scaramucci’s tenure and Bannon’s firing — to say nothing of the firing of former White House chief of staff Reince PriebusReinhold (Reince) Richard PriebusEx-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm Democrats claim vindication, GOP cries witch hunt as McGahn finally testifies Biden's is not a leaky ship of state — not yet MORE — might have been their own entries on this list.

Not this year. It all leaves one wondering what year two of the Trump presidency will bring.

Trump himself took credit for stimulating the news business in an interview Thursday with The New York Times, predicting that he’ll win reelection in 2020 because without him, “all forms of media will tank.”

The president may be right, but he’ll want to improve his approval ratings by then. The constant controversy appeared to make its mark.  

As of Dec. 29, Trump sits at 39.3 percent in the Real Clear Politics average of polls.

  1. Trump fires FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyBiden sister has book deal, set to publish in April Mystery surrounds Justice's pledge on journalist records NYT publisher: DOJ phone records seizure a 'dangerous incursion' on press freedom MORE

Trump’s abrupt decision to fire FBI Director James Comey in May was the stunner of the year.

It rocked Washington and threw into uncertainty the ongoing investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.

It also led to one of the most dramatic congressional hearings in U.S. history, when Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence panel in June. Much of the nation stood transfixed, with bars filling in the middle of the day so that people could watch.

Comey’s ouster set into motion a series of events, including the appointment of former FBI Director Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE as special counsel to head up the criminal investigation into Russian interference. Some Trump loyalists see the firing as Trump’s biggest mistake, because it birthed the Mueller probe.

The reverberations will be felt in 2018, and perhaps for a lot longer. 

  1. The Trump tax cuts are passed

Trump got a huge Christmas present from the GOP Congress when it passed a sweeping $1.5 trillion tax bill days before the holiday.

It capped a difficult year in Congress, but many of the disappointments were forgotten following the tax bill’s passage, the biggest such legislation to be approved since the Reagan era.

Households and businesses across the country will be affected by the legislation, which chopped the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.

It was also a huge victory for Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Juan Williams: Biden's child tax credit is a game-changer Trump clash ahead: Ron DeSantis positions himself as GOP's future in a direct-mail piece MORE (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse to resume mask mandate after new CDC guidance Five takeaways from a bracing day of Jan. 6 testimony McCarthy, McConnell say they didn't watch Jan. 6 hearing MORE (R-Ky.).

  1. ObamaCare repeal fails as McCain casts dramatic, deciding vote.

Congressional Republicans scrambled all summer to repeal ObamaCare.

But in an early morning July vote on a slimmed-down version of a repeal bill, Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain on Pelosi, McCarthy fight: 'I think they're all bad' Democrats seek to counter GOP attacks on gas prices Biden nominates Jeff Flake as ambassador to Turkey MORE (R-Ariz.) sided with Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: CDC advises vaccinated to wear masks in high-risk areas | Biden admin considering vaccine mandate for federal workers Eight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Crunch time for bipartisan plan; first Jan. 6 hearing today MORE (R-Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiEight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division Manchin grills Haaland over Biden oil and gas moratorium The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Crunch time for bipartisan plan; first Jan. 6 hearing today MORE (R-Alaska) and the chamber’s Democrats in rejecting the measure, throwing a wrench into the GOP’s efforts to do away with former President Obama’s signature health-care law.

McCain did so in the most dramatic way possible.

Days earlier, he had returned to Washington after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. In a speech on the Senate floor, the Arizona Republican admonished his party for abandoning what he called “regular order” in its pursuit of an ObamaCare repeal.

As the clock ticked down to the Senate vote, all eyes were on McCain, whose decision remained unclear until the very end. He eventually signaled his vote with a thumbs-down gesture as McConnell looked on. The vote failed, 51-49.

The GOP did repeal ObamaCare’s individual mandate as part of the tax vote. McCain supported that bill, but missed the vote as he continued to battle his cancer diagnosis and his colleagues contemplated his future. 

  1. Charlottesville

Trump’s words blaming “both sides” for the violence in this Virginia college town last August between white supremacists and those protesting them led to criticism of the president from most of his party — a low point for the White House.

Trump offered his take hours after a 32-year-old woman named Heather Heyer was killed after a man drove a car through a crowd marching against white supremacists.

A few days later at Trump Tower, he doubled down, stunning Republicans.

“I think there's blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about that,” Trump said on Aug. 15. 

  1. Mueller indicts Manafort and Flynn

For months, Mueller worked behind the scenes, with little if anything leaking out about his team’s activities.

Then, in October, came the sudden news that former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortLobbyist Tony Podesta returns to work for Huawei Former bank CEO convicted of bribery in scheme to land Trump admin job Trial begins for Chicago banker who exchanged loans with Manafort for Trump job MORE and one of his associates, Richard Gates, had been indicted on charges of money laundering, among other things.

Even bigger news dropped minutes later when court documents revealed that George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosTrump supporters show up to DC for election protest Trump pardons draw criticism for benefiting political allies Klobuchar: Trump 'trying to burn this country down on his way out' MORE, a former foreign policy adviser to Trump’s campaign, had pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents and was now cooperating with the probe.

Weeks later came even worse news for Trump. Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, also pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and was cooperating with Mueller.

The indictments and guilty pleas have everyone, from the White House to Congress to the nation, wondering what will come next.

  1. Sexual harassment rocks the political world.

The #MeToo movement unleashed by the storm surrounding movie mogul Harvey Weinstein hit Washington in December when Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenCould Andrew Cuomo — despite scandals — be re-elected because of Trump? Al Franken to launch 15-stop comedy tour Democrats, GOP face crowded primaries as party leaders lose control MORE (D-Minn.), who had been considered a presidential contender, and Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersThe faith community can help pass a reparations bill California comes to terms with the costs and consequences of slavery Democrats debate timing and wisdom of reparations vote MORE Jr. (D-Mich.), the longest-serving member of the House, both resigned after allegations of sexual misconduct.

Rep. Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksOn The Trail: Arizona is microcosm of battle for the GOP Arizona New Members 2019 Cook shifts 8 House races toward Dems MORE (R-Ariz.) also resigned after it became public that he had discussed the possibility of female staffers serving his his surrogate.

Two other members, Reps. Ruben KihuenRuben Jesus KihuenRep. Steven Horsford wins Democratic House primary in Nevada Members spar over sexual harassment training deadline Nevada Dem sanctioned for sexual misconduct announces city council bid MORE (D-Nev.) and Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdThe biggest political upsets of the decade Members spar over sexual harassment training deadline Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations MORE (R-Texas), have announced they will not run for reelection after allegations of sexual misconduct.

As December closed, many lawmakers were wondering who would be next.

  1. Democrats win Alabama Senate seat after Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreRoy Moore loses lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen Shelby backs ex-aide over Trump-favored candidate in Alabama Senate race Of inmates and asylums: Today's House Republicans make the John Birchers look quaint MORE controversy

Democrat Doug Jones pulled off a stunning win in Alabama’s special Senate election on Dec. 12, capping off a bitter race marked by sexual misconduct allegations against Republican Roy Moore.

With his narrow victory over Moore, Jones became the first Democrat to be elected to the Senate in Alabama in 25 years.

Moore, an insurgent former Alabama Supreme Court justice, was largely considered the favorite to win after defeating incumbent Sen. Luther StrangeLuther Johnson StrangePandemic proves importance of pharmaceutical innovation The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings Trump faces test of power with early endorsements MORE (R-Ala.) in the state’s GOP runoff in September. Strange had been backed by both McConnell and Trump.

But allegations emerged in November that Moore pursued sexual and romantic relations with teenage girls when he was in his 30s, prompting calls by many Republican officials and lawmakers for Moore to withdraw from the race.

Moore rebuffed those pleas, and denied the allegations against him, insisting that they were politically motivated. In the days before the election, he received a boost from Trump, who offered him a full-throated endorsement.

But Jones ultimately emerged victorious over Moore, propelled by a strong turnout among black voters. The Democratic victory dealt a blow to Bannon, the Breitbart News chief and former White House chief strategist, who backed Moore in the race.

  1. Trump’s travel ban

President Trump introduced his controversial travel ban just one week after taking office, sparking widespread protests fueled by social media at airports across the country after several refugees were detained.

The ban, which called for the U.S. to restrict travelers from selected Muslim-majority countries, triggered a court battle that lasted throughout the year.

But on Dec. 4, the Supreme Court provided the president with a major victory by granting the administration’s request to fully reinstate a revised version of his travel ban.

The ban will now likely be an issue in the midterms — and in the presidential race of 2020.

  1. Gorsuch is confirmed to the Supreme Court.

More than a year after Obama nominated Judge Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandProtesters shut down Greene-Gaetz Jan. 6 event Cheney calls Gaetz, Greene DOJ protest a 'disgrace' Has Trump beaten the system? MORE to fill the vacancy left by the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, Trump had his own pick, Neil Gorsuch, confirmed to the court.

Gorsuch’s confirmation amounted to one of Trump’s biggest wins of his first year in office. It was also a huge win for McConnell, who devised the strategy to block Obama’s pick.

Gorsuch was just one of Trump’s judicial appointees. In his first year in office, the real estate mogul has filled seats on federal courts across the country with conservative judges, reshaping the judiciary for decades to come.