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In a moment of unexpected high drama, Republicans were stymied once again in their effort to repeal Obamacare — and they have John McCain to thank for it.

The senator who earned the nickname "Maverick" over his long tenure showed why in the early morning hours Friday.

McCain, who was diagnosed with brain cancer and returned to Washington to advance the health care bill, turned around and bucked his party's leadership — and President Trump — by joining two moderate Republicans and every Democrat in voting against the so-called "skinny repeal" of the Affordable Care Act.

President Trump is now faced with a decision on whether to sign into law new sanctions meant to punish Russia for interfering in last year's presidential election, after the Senate overwhelmingly approved the measure Thursday.

The bill, the first major foreign policy legislation to emerge from Congress since the president took office, also includes sanctions on North Korea and Iran. It easily passed the Senate in a 76-1 vote after sailing through the House by a similarly veto-proof 419-3 margin.

Updated at 8:15 p.m. ET

The Republican's seven year quest to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act descended into chaos Thursday night as the Senate prepared for an unwieldy, all-night session.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, speaking on Fox & Friends Thursday, said the Trump administration's hiring efforts are being hindered by the "hoops you have to jump through" to comply with Office of Government Ethics rules.

"There are so many qualified men and women who wanted to serve this administration and their country who have been completely demoralized and completely disinclined to do so based on the paperwork we have to put forward, divesting assets," Conway said.

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President Donald Trump has nominated a new ambassador for international religious freedom - Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.

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President Trump recently tweeted an unusual suggestion - all agree the U.S. president has the complete power to pardon. Which raised the question, can the president pardon himself? Legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg went to find that out.

Updated at 8:50 p.m. ET

President Trump is famous for requiring the loyalty of his subordinates. But it's the loyalty of Republican senators — not to him but to one of their own — that is the heart of a simmering showdown between the White House and Congress.

A growing number of GOP lawmakers appear to have had enough with what one has called the president's "public floggings" in recent days of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a onetime senator from Alabama for served on Capitol Hill for two decades before joining the Trump administration.

Updated at 4:49 p.m. ET

The head of the Boy Scouts of America apologized Thursday to the organization's members, telling them that the group did not intend to showcase the "political rhetoric" in President Trump's speech to the National Jamboree earlier this week.

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Updated at 2 p.m. ET

The nation's highest-ranking military officer said Thursday that the Defense Department was making "no modifications" to current policy regarding transgender service members until President Trump gives more direction.

Hours after President Trump criticized Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski's vote on debating health care legislation, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke reportedly called Murkowski and fellow Alaskan Sen. Dan Sullivan to say their state could run into trouble with the Trump administration.

At a security conference in Australia on Thursday, this scenario was posed to the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet: If ordered to do so by President Trump, would he would launch a nuclear attack on China next week? His response: Yes.

Warning: This post contains some very graphic language

Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET

The newly installed Trump White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, unloaded on the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and adviser Steve Bannon with some harsh language that would make a sailor blush.

One of the least popular governors in the country is leaving his post to take a new position with the Trump administration.

President Trump announced Wednesday that he would nominate Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a social conservative with deep religious convictions, to head the Office of International Religious Freedom in the U.S. State Department. As ambassador at large, Brownback's mission would be to monitor and respond to threats to religious freedom around the world.

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Newt Gingrich, the former Republican speaker of the House, was interviewed by Rachel Martin on NPR's Morning Edition on Wednesday.

Gingrich threw out a lot of allegations, including that the Justice Department is "very liberal" and "anti-Trump"; that Robert Mueller, the former FBI director and now special counsel in charge of the Russia investigation, is biased because of donations to Hillary Clinton from people at his law firm; and that Mueller has hired "killers" to take down Trump.

Updated: 9:27 a.m.

President Trump's announcement that he wants to ban transgender people from serving in the military could mean a historic reversal in the Pentagon's long-term trend of lowering barriers to service.

Or it could be a speed bump on a course the Defense Department was already following.

The question in Washington following Trump's post on Twitter Wednesday morning was: Which will it be?

Almost no one other than Trump himself had any idea what he intended when he wrote this:

Trump Backer On The President And The Press

22 hours ago

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