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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump on Friday threatened to veto the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress.

"I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats," Trump tweeted Friday morning, adding, "the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded."

A White House official told ABC News less than an hour before the president’s tweet the staff fully expected Trump to sign the bill before departing for Mar a Lago later in the afternoon.

The tweet openly contradicted two days worth of on-the-record comments from officials in the White House, ranging from the press secretary to the vice president, that defended the omnibus as a "win" for the American people.

"With $1.6 billion included in the spending bill that arrives on President Trump's desk tomorrow, we’re going to start to build that wall," Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech in Manchester, New Hampshire, Thursday. "We're doing it."

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and Marc Short, the White House legislative affairs director, even held a briefing Thursday. The two mounted a full defense against a building narrative that the bill fell short of delivering on the president's promises.

"Is the president going to sign the bill? The answer is yes," Mulvaney said. "Why? Because it funds his priorities. We've talked for the last, I don't know, three, four, five, six months about trying to get the president's priorities funded, and this omnibus bill does that.”Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., in a swift reply encouraged Trump to veto the spending bill, saying, “Please do.”

"I am just down the street and will bring you a pen," Corker wrote. "The spending levels without any offsets are grotesque, throwing all of our children under the bus. Totally irresponsible."

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., also reacted to Trump's tweet, going as far as to call the omnibus bill a "sad excuse for legislation."

"I agree @realDonaldTrump should veto this sad excuse for legislation because," he tweeted, adding, "it’s $1.3 trillion in spending that (almost) no one read."

The Senate voted 65-32 to pass the spending package, averting another government shutdown. The House approved its version Thursday in a 256-167 vote.

Government funding expires at midnight.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Environmental groups breathed a slight sigh of relief on Thursday.

The sweeping spending bill being voted on Capitol Hill at the end of the week did not include the deep and potentially devastating cuts to clean air, clean water and wildlife protection programs that conservationists had feared.

“It could have been a lot worse, and we were expecting a lot worse,” Athan Manuel, director of the Sierra Club’s Lands Protection Program, told ABC News.

Earthjustice Vice President Martin Hayden wrote that the bill heeded “the outrage of millions of Americans” and “soundly rejected the draconian budget cuts President Trump proposed for the departments and agencies charged with protecting public health and the environment.”

For example, the president’s budget proposed cutting the Land and Water Conservation Fund by almost 80 percent, but members of Congress rejected that entirely and the final bill instead slightly increased money for the fund.

Similarly, the White House suggested a 30 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency. Instead, lawmakers not only didn't adopt the drastic cuts, but instead maintained the agency’s funding at close to last year’s levels.

The leading Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee for Interior and Environment, Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico, agreed with Manuel and said, in a “divisive time,” he was pleased the two parties were able to work together to keep government funding for environmental protections.

“Together, we rejected the Trump administration’s proposal to make massive and dangerous budget cuts,” Udall wrote in a statement. “My colleagues and I worked hard to block a long list of anti-environment provisions that have no place in an appropriations bill.”

In addition to possible funding cuts, conservation groups feared Republicans might try to include policy changes that could impact conservation work inside the massive, 2,000-page spending bill. There had been talk of possible changes to rules safeguarding the Tongass National Forest in Alaska and provisions dealing with endangered species, for example, but most of the changes did not make it into the final text.

The spending bill, in fact, preserved money for endangered species programs, which administration budget proposals had zeroed out or cut significantly.

Environmental activists and especially lawmakers from the western part of the country celebrated one policy change in the bill that will give the Forest Service more flexibility to plan for and pay to fight wildfires.

“It allows the Forest Service to use more of its funds on timber management, forest management and recreation programs, rather than fire suppression," Sen. Steve Daines, a Montana Republican, said.

Scientific groups also said they were "over the moon" about increased funding to research programs in multiple departments, especially after fears about the administration's proposed cuts to programs that research climate change.

“We applaud congressional leaders -- on both sides of the aisle -- for recognizing that funding science and technology continues to be a sound investment that benefits our nation and leads to economic growth," Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said in a statement.

According to the association, the bill would provide the largest research and development increase in nearly a decade, especially at agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy.

Still, many said the bill is far from a wish list for scientists and environmentalists. “This bill only looks good when you compare it to something as bad as what President Trump put on the table,” Manuel told ABC News. He argued that several federal conservation programs and agencies are already strapped for cash, and this bill simply did not slash funding further.

“EPA is probably where there has been the most hits and biggest cuts,” he said. He listed other programs struggling to work within their designated budgets too.

“The Park Service has a multibillion-dollar maintenance backlog. The Fish and Wildlife Service will tell you they are down 10,000 staff," he said. "They are 10,000 people below where they should be in order to adequately monitor wildlife refuges and maintain habitat for endangered species.”

The Sierra Club also pointed to part of the bill released Thursday that would allow for some increased barriers along the Texas-Mexico border, which, they said could impact animal migration and the National Butterfly Center.

Though Congress ignored many of the president's requests and did not reduce federal spending as much as he would have preferred, the White House said Thursday that he will sign the spending bill.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump's proposed ban on military service by transgender individuals is supposed to go into effect Friday but it’s unclear if the White House will announce any new policy.

Trump tweeted last July that he wanted to ban all transgender service members because the military "must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory."

Defense Secretary James Mattis sent his private recommendation to the White House a month ago but it hasn't been revealed.

After the president's tweets, March 23 was the date set in the presidential memorandum submitted to the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

 In legalese, the memorandum states, "Sections 1(b) and 2(b) of this memorandum shall take effect on March 23, 2018."

Section 1(b) directed DoD and DHS to revert to the policy toward transgender individuals prior to June 2016, when the Obama administration allowed transgender service members to serve openly for the first time. Section 2(b) halted DoD and DHS resources to fund "sex reassignment surgical procedures" for service members.

But the timeline provided in the memo has not always been followed.

Mattis was supposed to send his private recommendation to the White House Feb. 21, but actually sent it a few days later on Feb. 23. Defense officials have not said what it was.

Since Trump's tweets, federal courts have rejected portions of the proposed ban.

Most notably, beginning Jan. 1, the Pentagon complied with a court order that allowed transgender individuals to join the military if they met strict criteria, including certifications from a medical provider about the status of their health.

Two transgender individuals are already under contract to serve in the U.S. military since that court ruling.

Whatever policy the president announces will be subject to and restrained by existing court orders, unless the Department of Justice has judges dissolve preliminary injunctions.

What do we know about transgender service members?

Last year, defense officials estimated there were about 200 transgender individuals in the U.S. military who had self-reported to their services a desire for some form of medical treatment related to their gender identity.

However, the actual number of transgender service members is still unknown, primarily because military personnel records do not currently track transgender individuals.

A 2016 Rand study, which was referenced by former defense secretary Ash Carter, estimated that 2,450 active duty service members might be transgender, with 1,510 in reserve units.

The same Rand study said the "little research" on transgender service members showed "little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness."

"Commanders noted that the policies had benefits for all service members by creating a more inclusive and diverse force," the study said.

At the time of the study, 18 countries, including the United Kingdom, Israel, Canada, and Australia, allowed transgender personnel to serve openly.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate is working against a midnight Friday deadline to pass a $1.3. trillion spending bill to keep the government from running out of money – but as he's done before – Kentucky Republican Rand Paul is threatening delays that could cause another shutdown.

Paul has said he wanted to read each of the bill's 2,200-plus pages before voting on it, and as of Thursday evening was tweeting excerpts that he found especially objectionable.

After House and Senate leaders reached a deal, the House approved the bill midday Thursday.

Thursday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to end debate on the bill, triggering a 30-hour window senators can use to discuss it.

The debate time could be shortened if Paul and other senators unanimously agree to do so but it was unclear how far Paul would go to press his point.

If the whole 30-hour time is used, the earliest the Senate could vote to advance the so-called "omnibus" bill would be 1 a.m. Saturday morning.

The Senate would then have to wait even longer before taking any final vote to pass it.

The measure would fund the government through September 30, with Republicans hailing its large increase in military spending, $1.6 billion for border security and $600 million for election security resources.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney says President Donald Trump will sign the bill despite not getting more of what he wanted - including more money for a border wall.

"In order to get the defense spending primarily, (and) all the rest of our priorities funded, we had to give away a lot of stuff that we didn't want to give away," Mulvaney said.

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ABC News(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- Students who survived the Parkland shooting last month joined with teachers, lawmakers and other stakeholders for a press conference on Capitol Hill today as part of their buildup to this weekend’s March for Our Lives on the National Mall.

 Parkland student Aalayah Eastmond, who attended with her mother Stacey-Ann, urged lawmakers to take action, noting it’s been more than a month since the shooting.

“It's been 36 days and nothing's happened! We have to move fast,” she said.

Congress was on track to pass the FIX NICS bill, which will strengthen existing background checks on gun purchases, as part of a sweeping government funding measure, but Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., called that effort “baby steps when we need real reform.”

The activists at the event called on Congress to ban assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, require universal background checks including at gun shows and online, and pass a “red flag” law that empowers law enforcement to remove guns from the possession of a person if he or she is deemed a danger to self or others.

U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Rand Paul, R-Fla., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., introduced such a bill Thursday.

Parkland librarian Diana Haneski, who protected students during the shooting, said she was compelled to join the students in Washington given what happened to them.

“If this were any other Thursday, I'd be back in the library, helping students, helping them learn, and I can't be silent when there are solutions right in front of us,” she said.

Eastmond and David Hogg, another Parkland student and gun safety activist, said Saturday’s march was a kickoff, not a culmination, for their efforts.

“The march is just the start. We will fight for this until change happens. If you guys don't want to hear about it anymore, fix it so we don't have to keep repeating ourselves,” Eastmond said.

Hogg said the Parkland students and their supporters will seek to establish clubs across America that will organize students of all backgrounds to lobby their state capitals in favor of gun legislation they want to see passed.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt pushed back against criticism of his Italy trip in a radio interview on Thursday.

Pruitt said he took official meetings during the entire four-day trip to Italy for the G7 environmental summit in June of last year.

"These are very important meetings that take place, it's an obligation I have to participate and so I'm a little bit dumbfounded by the kind of media narrative that these things are somehow not the focus, they've always been the focus," Pruitt told a host on CBS radio in St. Louis on Thursday.

Documents released earlier this week show that the cost of the trip was $30,000 more than previously reported, bringing the total to around $120,000. An EPA document showed that the cost of travel for Pruitt's security detail was $30,559 the week of the trip.

Previously released travel documents show that the EPA paid almost $90,000 for Pruitt and his staff to travel to Italy for meetings around the summit. The cost includes $36,000 for Pruitt and his staff to take a military jet from Cincinnati to New York so he could make his flight to Rome. The military flight was requested by the White House so Pruitt could join President Donald Trump at an event in Cincinnati, according to an ethics waiver.

The nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog group the Environmental Integrity Project obtained both sets of documents through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and subsequent lawsuit, which were reviewed by ABC News.

ABC News has exclusively obtained a photo of Pruitt disembarking a military jet at New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport in June 2017.

After the meetings and the first day of the summit, Pruitt returned to Washington, D.C., to attend a cabinet meeting at the White House.

"This was a four-day exercise of focused efforts on decisions the United States had made on an international agreement that had a significant impact on this country," Pruitt said in the interview Thursday.

Audio of the KMOX interview was provided to ABC News by the Sierra Club.

The cost of Pruitt's travel for all of last year is under investigation by the EPA inspector general. The EPA has previously confirmed that Pruitt and his security detail fly first class for security reasons, citing the need to evacuate him quickly in the case of a threat.

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Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump and National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster mutually agreed that the three-star general and Iraq war veteran will leave the Trump administration, the White House confirmed on Thursday.

He will be replaced by former United Nations ambassador John Bolton — the third person to take on the role during the current administration.

“After thirty-four years of service to our nation, I am requesting retirement from the U.S. Army effective this summer after which I will leave public service. Throughout my career it has been my greatest privilege to serve alongside extraordinary servicemembers and dedicated civilians," McMaster said in a statement adding. "I am thankful to President Donald J. Trump for the opportunity to serve him and our nation as national security advisor.”

Trump lauded McMaster's service saying "I thank General McMaster and his family for their service and wish them the very best.”

McMaster's departure in early 2018 had been planned and expected, especially as Trump re-tools his team ahead of historic talks with North Korea, sources with direct knowledge told ABC News.

He was seen as adding a steady and intellectual voice to Trump’s security team, but the president chafed at his style and disposition in Oval Office briefings, the sources said. He also clashed with former Trump advisor Steve Bannon and other top military brass, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

He was also reportedly unable to keep the president's attention in complex briefings, correcting him when he doesn't want to be corrected, and seen as a lecturer, the sources said.

Three months on the job, the New York Times reported that Trump described McMaster as "a pain" and complained he talked too much.

Just last month, following new indictments targeting Russian cyber operatives, Trump publicly rebuked McMaster, tweeting the general forgot to mention that results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians - something the indictment never said.

McMaster also broke with Trump on several issues.

He has urged continuation of the Iran nuclear deal; opposes the label “radical Islamic terrorism;” supports free trade deals with key allies like South Korea, and forcefully protested the racially charged violence in Charlottesville.

After reports surfaced that Trump revealed highly classified info to the Russians in an Oval Office meeting in May 2017, McMaster vigorously defended the president in an ad hoc press conference outside the West Wing.

He remains on active duty as a Lieutenant General in the US Army (3-star). The Pentagon has considered giving McMaster a fourth star and new assignment in the military.

McMaster's resignation comes on the heels of other high profile departures including deputy national security adviser Dina Powell, staff secretary Rob Porter, and senior adviser Hope Hicks.

By appointing John Bolton to the role of national security adviser, President Trump has just inserted one of Washington's most vocal war hawks to work beside him in the West Wing.

This worries some congressional Democrats who took to social media to decry Bolton's appointment.

he move comes less than a week the president fired Rex Tillerson, whom he had clashed with over their approach to confronting Iran.

Bolton does not mince words on Iran.

“Our goal should be regime change in Iran," he said earlier this year.

He has advocated for preemptive strikes in both Iran and North Korea.

Just last month he wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal making the case for striking North Korea, and in March of 2015, he made a similar case for Iran in an editorial in The New York Times.

With McMaster and Tillerson out and Bolton in, the future of the Iran deal seems more questionable. Trump has until May 12 to decide if he will again sign sanctions waivers.

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- An attorney for the adult-film star known as Stormy Daniels today sent letters to two banks and to the Trump Organization, putting the companies on notice that he intends to subpoena them - and demanding they preserve all documents related to a $130,000 payment made to Daniels shortly before Donald Trump was elected president.

"We intend on using all legal means at our disposal to uncover the truth about the cover-up and what happened,” the lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said in a statement to ABC News. “And this is but one of many tools we will use. When we are done, the truth will be laid bare for the American people."

Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, alleges she had a consensual affair with Trump that began in 2006 after they met at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe.

She filed suit in California state court earlier this month seeking to nullify the non-disclosure agreement she signed less than two weeks before the election – alleging that the contract is void because it lacked Trump’s signature.

An interview with Clifford is scheduled to air on Sunday on the CBS News program, 60 Minutes.

In the letter to the Trump Organization, Avenatti cites “the unmistakable links” between the President’s family business and Michael Cohen - Trump’s longtime personal lawyer - who has acknowledged making the payment to Clifford through a limited-liability company he formed in Delaware.

Avenatti’s letter also notes the involvement of another Trump Organization lawyer, Jill Martin, in an arbitration proceeding last month that resulted in a temporary restraining order against Clifford. The Trump Organization said last week that Martin was acting in her “individual capacity” and not on behalf of the company.

The letter demands that the Trump Organization preserve all documents - including emails, text messages, photos and videos – related to Trump’s relationship with Clifford and any “all emails, text messages, and other contacts exchanged between you and third parties regarding intimidations tactics directed” to Clifford from 2011 to the present.

Avenatti has recently alleged that Clifford was threatened to keep silent, though he has declined to say by whom or when.

President Trump – through his representatives – has denied Clifford’s allegations of an affair. Cohen has insisted that the agreement with Clifford was legal and that the $130,000 came from his personal funds. He says he was not reimbursed by the Trump campaign or the Trump Organization.

Avenatti’s letters to the two banks reportedly involved in the transaction – First Republic Bank and City National Bank - request that the institutions maintain all financial records and any correspondence with federal law enforcement agencies related to the payment. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that First Republic Bank had flagged the transaction as suspicious and reported it to the Treasury Department.

Last week – Cohen moved Clifford’s lawsuit to federal court in Los Angeles – and said in court papers that he intends to seek damages of up to $20 million for her alleged breaches, or threatened breaches, of the non-disclosure agreement.

He told Vanity Fair – in an interview published this week – that he has never threatened Clifford. He told the magazine that if he recovers money from her, it will go to his lawyers and to charity. But then added, “You know what? The more I’m thinking about it, I might even take an extended vacation on her dime.”

Responding on Twitter, Avenatti wrote that “Mr. Cohen should ensure he makes refundable reservations for that extended vacation he is planning on my client’s dime…”

A spokesman for First Republic Bank declined to comment for this story. City National Bank and the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At a forum with millennials Thursday, when asked what advice he’d give his 25-year-old self, President Donald Trump said he’d tell him to avoid the road to the White House.

“Don't run for president,” Trump said, apparently in jest, as he went on to complain about the media coverage he’s gotten since becoming a candidate.

“All my life, I've gotten really — look, we all get a knock. But I got the greatest publicity. I was getting such great until I ran for office,” he said.

But the president added that he is heartened by having “exposed” the media for what he sees as unfair bias.

“There's a lot of fake news out there. Nobody had any idea. I'm proud of the fact that I exposed it to a large extent. We exposed it. It's an achievement,” Trump said, even as he qualified that he has respect for some journalists.

The president made the remarks during a discussion with Charlie Kirk, a millennial rising star in conservative media who is the founder of the grassroots conservative youth group Turning Point USA.

He also commented on his own political popularity in the context of the midterm elections, saying he hopes his political appeal is transferable to other Republicans even as he admitted it may not be, noting the energy in the room for the recent rally he held in Pennsylvania for Rick Saccone, who lost in spite of the president’s support.

“I don't know if it's transferrable. They say a lot of it is not transferable. They may not like me. They all say I'm going to do great in 2020. You know, let's see what happens. Right? They don't know if it's transferrable. I hope it's transferrable. We have to do our agenda. We have to win in '18. We have to get the agenda. We need more Republicans,” he said.

He also predicted as he had before, that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's "crumbs" comment will become the 2018 equivalent of Hillary Clinton's 2016 "deplorables" comment.

In January, referring to Republican claims about the benefits of their tax plan, Pelosi called them “the bonus that corporate America received, versus the crumbs that they are giving to workers.”

In September 2016, Clinton famously said half of Trump supporters "are what I would call the deplorables — you know, the racists and the haters and the people who are drawn because they think somehow he’s going to restore an America that no longer exists.”

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- On the heels of a rare series of public interviews by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg - the social media giant is sending senior staff to Capitol Hill on Thursday to brief aides to key committees on the controversy over its role in the exposure of as many as 50 million of its users’ private information to a data-science firm linked to the Trump campaign.

 Members want additional detail on why Facebook permitted a Russian-American professor to collect data on more than 200,000 of its users, with consent, and then how that then mushroomed into up to 50 million users having their private information end up in the hands of a data mining firm, Cambridge Analytica. The data firm was financially backed in part by conservative mega-donor Robert Mercer.

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon served as vice president up until he stepped down in 2016 to join the Trump campaign.

Senators also are demanding to know when and if that data was destroyed - as Cambridge Analytica certified to Facebook. The social media company is investigating whether that information was indeed deleted.

Facebook says it became aware of the potential unauthorized use of data in 2015.

ABC News has learned that Facebook deputy general counsel Chris Sonderby and deputy privacy officer Rob Sherman are expected to sit down with staff of the House Judiciary Committee and both the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees as bipartisan demand grows for Zuckerberg, COO Sheryl Sandberg, as well as, Chief Product Officer Chris Cox to testify in public.

One congressional aide said Thursday’s briefings are a precursor to formal testimony from the senior executives.

A Facebook official said that - as of Thursday morning - no formal testimony before Congress has yet been requested.

"We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can't then we don't deserve to serve you," Zuckerberg announced in an online statement Wednesday, his first since the controversy erupted late last week. "I've been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn't happen again."

Zuckerberg announced that his company would make changes to the way it shares data with third-party apps.

But while the billionaire CEO apologized for the “breach of trust” in a CNN interview Wednesday evening, some members of Congress were angered by his noncommittal answer on testifying. Democratic Sen. Ed Markey on Facebook wrote: "You need to come to Congress and testify to this under oath."

Zuckerberg said he would gladly oblige if required.

“What we try to do is send the person at Facebook who will have the most knowledge about what Congress is trying to learn. So if that’s me, then I am happy to go,” Zuckerberg said.

Cambridge Analytica, for its part, tweeted Thursday, “We're committed to being responsible, fair and secure with data. We'll be working with everyone – Facebook, independent auditors, and the ICO – as their investigations continue.”

Members of Congress on multiple committees have also called for Cambridge executives to testify.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- After battling rumors he'd be leaving the State Department for more than half his tenure, Rex Tillerson has finally left the building – and he took a parting shot as he did so Thursday.

"This can be a very mean-spirited town," he said to laughs and then applause, as he smiled. "But you don't have to choose to participate in that," he added, to more applause.

"Each of us gets to choose the person we want to be and the way we want to be treated and the way we will treat others," he added.

Tillerson delivered the remarks in the lobby of the State Department in Washington, packed with hundreds of employees. But after a rocky 13 months in office, many more employees are angry about a hiring freeze, vacancies, and stalled redesign project that marked his time in office.

The former ExxonMobil CEO stuck to many of his familiar lines from his town hall speeches to embassy staff around the world – about values like respect, safety, and accountability that he tried to instill.

But he also talked about personal integrity in a striking way, especially in contrast to his firing by presidential tweet.

"Never lose sight of your most valuable asset, the most valuable asset you possess: Your personal integrity," he said. "Not one of you was gifted it. You were born with it. It belongs to you, and always has and will belong to you and you alone. Only you can relinquish it or allow it to be compromised. Once you've done so, it is very, very hard to regain it. So guard it as the most precious thing you possess."

Tillerson clashed often with President Donald Trump, with whom he disagreed on many top foreign policy issues including the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate accord, talks with North Korea, international trade, and the Gulf dispute in the Middle East. After months of rumored resignations or firings, Trump finally canned his top diplomat in a tweet on March 13.

Tillerson and his staff maintain that he did not know he was being fired until the tweet came. The White House has said that chief of staff John Kelly called Tillerson while he was in Nairobi, Kenya, on a tour of Africa to inform him of the president's decision four days earlier.

As he signed off to staff, Tillerson got a bit emotional, his voice catching as he said with a wave, "God bless you all, your loved ones, and God bless America."

He exited through the crowd, shaking dozens of hands along a rope line to sustained applause from staff. He gave a final wave inside to a responding chorus of cheers, before walking outside to a receiving line of top aides, many of whom he hugged goodbye.

He got into a waiting black car and one final motorcade – to the airport and back to Texas, where he will celebrate his birthday Friday.

Among those in the audience Thursday were former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steve Goldstein – who was fired the same day as Tillerson after he released a statement that countered the White House narrative on Tillerson's firing – as well as former senior communications aide R.C. Hammond, who left in December, and chief of staff Margaret Peterlin and deputy chief of staff Christine Ciccone, who are leaving with Tillerson.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump announced Thursday his plans for tariffs on up to $60 billion annually in Chinese imports, designed as retaliation for an administration report that will outline Beijing’s violation of U.S. intellectual property rights.

“This is the first of many,” the president said as he signed a presidential memorandum directing the U.S. Trade Representative to publish a proposed list of products in 15 days along with an intended tariff increase, after which the list will be opened up for public comment.

Trump said he’s spoken to China's President Xi about the actions and that he continues to have “tremendous respect” for him.

“We have a great relationship, " Trump said. "They're helping us a lot in North Korea. And that's China. But we have a trade deficit, depending on the way you calculate, of $504 billion. Now some people would say it's really $375 billion. Many different ways of looking at it. But any way you look at it, it is the largest deficit of any country in the history of our world. It's out of control.”

“The word is reciprocal," Trump said. "That's the word I want everyone to remember. We want reciprocal, mirror. Some people call it a mirror tariff," he said, adding that Thursday's action should have been taken years ago.

Primary sectors subject to the tariffs, according to the White House, will be aerospace, information communication technology, and machinery.

Earlier, an administration official briefing reporters said up to $50 billion in Chinese imports would be affected.

“Based upon the harm that is substantiated by the report, I think that about $50 billion is designed to offset the gains that the Chinese have received through their unfair trade practices,” the official said.

The memorandum directs the U.S. Trade Representative to file a dispute proceeding against China with the World Trade Organization aimed at targeting what the Trump administration is calling China’s “discriminatory licensing practices.” The president is also directing Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to propose within 60 days other potential executive actions he can pursue that will restrict investment by China in sensitive U.S. technology.

The announcement comes as the administration begins rolling out new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and as China has already threatened retaliatory actions against any punitive trade actions by the U.S. Economists have expressed growing worry that the president's heavy-handed moves could spark a trade war.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The House Intelligence Committee voted Thursday along party lines to release the Republican majority’s report on its Russia investigation, formally shutting down the only authorized House investigation into Russian election meddling and allegations of collusion.

“Today, we are one step closer to delivering answers to the questions the American people have been asking for over a year,” Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, the top Republican leading the Russian probe, said in a statement.

The report, along with a Democratic minority view that will be turned over by Monday, now heads to the intelligence community for declassification, a process that could take weeks.

Republicans said they found no evidence of collusion, coordination or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia in witness interviews, and concluded that the panel found no evidence of collusion related to Trump’s pre-campaign business dealings.

Democrats argued that Republicans prematurely shut down the investigation under political pressure, and refused to follow important and unresolved leads.

Saying Thursday’s vote ended a “rather sad chapter” in the traditionally bipartisan committee’s history, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the committee, called the GOP report a “fundamentally unserious effort.”

“It was clear that their report was going to be completely political from beginning to end, and there wasn't much to work on in a joint fashion,” he said of the GOP offer to amend the initial draft report.

Republicans released a summary of findings and recommendations in their report after the vote, which dismissed allegations of wrongdoing during the campaign by Trump associates and family members, including Donald Trump Jr., who met with a Russian lawyer who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton in June 2016; and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who faced questions about his meetings with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. during the campaign.

Republicans also concluded that leaks of classified information since the election “have damaged national security and potentially endangered lives,” and accused former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper of providing “inconsistent testimony” to the committee about his contacts with the media.

Conaway and committee Republicans initially said their report disagreed with the assessment from top intelligence officials that Russian President Vladimir Putin preferred Trump to win the election over Hillary Clinton. That finding, which some Republicans on the committee disputed, was not included in the summary of findings released Thursday, though Republicans said the intelligence community “did not employ proper analytical tradecraft” regarding Putin’s "strategic intentions."

Democrats offered motions to subpoena more than a dozen witnesses and entities to compel additional testimony, documents and information, including outgoing White House communications director Hope Hicks, Sessions and Deutsche Bank.

Republicans opposed the moves, Schiff said, adding that Democrats plan to push the committee to release witness interview transcripts.

The minority also unsuccessfully pushed Republicans to hold former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer committee questions under subpoena, Schiff said.

Democrats plan to continue investigating unilaterally, amid reports that a data firm tied to the Trump campaign improperly collected data from millions of Facebook profiles without permission.

They are planning to interview Christopher Wylie, the former Cambridge Analytica employee who has alleged wrongdoing at the company, and could release their own minority report sometime before the midterm elections. Republicans, who have signaled that they will not join additional interviews, have accused Democrats of seeking to extend the probe for political purposes.

The Senate Intelligence Committee investigation, however, has continued in a bipartisan fashion, and the panel held a hearing Wednesday on election security.

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George Bridges/MCT/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- John Dowd, President Trump’s lead attorney for the ongoing investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller, has resigned.

"I love the president and wish him well,” Dowd told ABC News.

Just last weekend, Dowd created a firestorm when he said, "I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe's boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt dossier," Dowd said, reacting to the termination of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

"John Dowd is a friend and has been a valuable member of our legal team. We will continue our ongoing representation of the president and our cooperation with the Office of Special Counsel,” Jay Sekulow, counsel to the president, told ABC News.

The news was first reported by The New York Times.

Sources familiar with Dowd’s resignation told ABC News that, over the last several months, the attorney has felt Trump was taking less of his advice.

Since taking over as the president’s lead attorney, Dowd has served as the point person on negotiating what an interview for President Trump with the special counsel could look like.

As ABC previously reported, part of that negotiation included the format -- whether it was an interview, a questionnaire or a mix of both. Sources have also previously told ABC News that among the topics the special counsel wants to ask President Trump about are the firing of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

It is unclear who will take lead on the negotiations after Dowd’s departure.

Trump was asked by the pool press on Thursday whether he would still like to testify before the special counsel. The president responded, “Yes, I would like to. I would like to.”

Trump did not answer a press question about Dowd.

Jay Sekulow remains on the president’s team working with Joe diGenova, who joined the team last week, for all matters related to the president -- meaning Trump himself. DiGenova has been a fierce defender of the president on cable TV.

Earlier this month, he told Fox News that the media is out to attack the president because the press “hate” Trump. “And they believe that anything, including violating every known standard of federal law enforcement, is justified to either keep him from office or, if elected, take him out of office,” he said.

Ty Cobb has served as the White House attorney handling all matters related to the investigation for the presidency -- meaning the administration, staff, etc. He has also been on thin ice with Trump; in recent weeks, the president has talked to his closest advisors about potentially firing Cobb, but he has privately told the attorney he has no plans to remove him.

Eleven days ago, Trump took to Twitter to say he was perfectly happy with his team.

Dowd’s departure is not the first round of changes among the president’s lawyers on this probe; last summer, the president removed his longtime personal attorney, Mark Kasowitz, as the lead attorney on the probe.

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Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The war of words between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden continued Thursday, with the president calling Biden “weak, both mentally and physically” on Twitter.

“Crazy Joe Biden is trying to act like a tough guy. Actually, he is weak, both mentally and physically, and yet he threatens me, for the second time, with physical assault. He doesn’t know me, but he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way. Don’t threaten people Joe!” the president tweeted.

Trump's comments are in response to an appearance Biden made at an anti-sexual assault rally at the University of Miami on Tuesday. Biden said he would "beat the hell" out of the president if they were in high school.

"A guy who ended up becoming our national leader said, 'I can grab a woman anywhere and she likes it,'" Biden said. "They asked me if I’d like to debate this gentleman, and I said, 'No.' I said, 'If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.'"

He continued, "I've been in a lot of locker rooms my whole life. I'm a pretty damn good athlete. Any guy that talked that way was usually the fattest, ugliest S.O.B. in the room."

This is not the first time the politicians have traded fire.

Trump reportedly joked at the Gridiron Dinner in Washington, D.C., earlier this month that it would be "easy" to beat Biden in 2020.

Biden responded shortly after, telling ABC News, “Everybody knows better than that.”

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