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White House tours set to start again after being suspended since March

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Tours of the White House, which have been suspended since March due to deep US budget cuts known as the “sequester,” will resume soon under a limited schedule, officials said Friday.

Visits to the iconic mansion, one of Washington’s biggest tourist attractions, will begin November 5, the White House said in a statement.

A Secret Service official who spoke on background told AFP that tours would be available three days a week.

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Tours previously occurred five days a week until March 9, when the White House visitors office halted the program until further notice due to personnel reductions amid budget cuts.

About $85 billion in across-the-board cuts in domestic and defense spending went into effect in March after Republicans and Democrats failed to agree on a deal to cut the deficit.

However, under the new budget passed this week after a 16-day partial government shutdown, the Secret Service said it could begin operating tours again, albeit at the reduced level.

The White House will be open to visitors until at least January 15, 2014 when funding for the government runs out once again, according to the Secret Service official.

The White House tours, which are managed by the National Park Service, require reservations, usually at least two months in advance.

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Tours, which are self-guided, allow visitors to see some parts of the White House basement as well as ceremonial ground-floor rooms.

The second floor, which includes the president and his family’s living quarters, are off-limits, as is the West Wing, including the president’s famous Oval Office.

The White House also announced that tickets to view its gardens and grounds are available on a first-come, first-served basis this Saturday and Sunday.

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[Image via Agence France-Presse]

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Trump in 2014 fantasized about Obama falling apart emotionally if he got impeached: ‘He’d be a mess!’

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President Donald Trump has been angrily obsessing over House impeachment hearings -- just like he imagined former President Barack Obama would do if Republicans impeached him back in 2014.

Media Matters this week dug up an old "Fox & Friends" interview with Trump in which he mused over whether Obama secretly wanted to be impeached to boost his poll numbers, similar to what happened with former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

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Lawyers use belief in Trump far-right conspiracy theories for murder suspect’s insanity defense

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In the age of Trump, far-right conspiracy theories have gripped a large section of his base, birthing one of the most convoluted and bizarre rumors to date, namely the QAnon conspiracy theory -- which details a complicated and sometimes nonsensical plot by the "Deep State" against Trump and his supporters.

While most people regurgitate this particular brand of paranoia from behind their keyboards, some have been driven to commit acts of violence after being radicalized online, one example being a 29-year-old North Carolina man whose belief in "Pizza Gate" prompted him to walk into a D.C. pizzeria in 2016 and open fire with an assault weapon, believing he was rescuing children held hostage by a Hillary Clinton-run child sex trafficking ring.

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Trump’s undermining of efforts to fight Putin detailed in ex-CIA agent’s disturbing new column

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A recently retired CIA agent reveals that President Donald Trump was a "wild card" that prevented a full-scale effort to combat Russian aggression against the U.S. and its allies.

Marc Polymeropoulos, who retired from the agency in June, said in column posted at Just Security that the CIA issued an informal "call to arms" in the wake of Kremlin interference in the 2016 election, but those efforts were hampered by Trump's relationship with Russia's president Vladimir Putin.

"The Call to Arms required a whole-of-agency effort to counter the Kremlin," Polymeropoulos wrote. "It involved moving resources and personnel inside CIA. Most importantly, it required a change in mindset, similar to what occurred within the Intelligence Community after 9/11, that an 'all-hands-on-deck' approach was required."

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