2017 in review: The biggest stories of the year

PHOTO: There were some big events in 2017, from Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration to North Korea’s numerous missile tests.PlayAP (4) | Getty Images (3) | Newscom (1)
WATCH The biggest headlines of 2017

It was a year we won't soon forget.

From Donald Trump's inauguration to the Harvey Weinstein scandal, these were the biggest stories of the year.

Trump's first year in the White House

Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Jan. 20 after his stunning upset over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Setting the tone for Trump's tumultuous first year in office and the administration's tense relationship with the press, Sean Spicer berated reporters over the crowd size at Trump's inauguration two days later in his debut as White House press secretary.

"This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration —- period —- both in person and around the globe," Spicer said.

"These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong." he added, taking no questions from reporters after reading the brief statement.

PHOTO: (L-R) President Donald Trump takes the oath of office as his wife Melania Trump holds the bible and his son Barron Trump looks on, on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
(L-R) President Donald Trump takes the oath of office as his wife Melania Trump holds the bible and his son Barron Trump looks on, on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

Spicer announced his resignation from as the White House press secretary in July after just six months on the job.

The controversies persisted throughout the year, from Trump's relentless tweeting at all hours of the day to the ousting, resignation and job changes of more than a dozen administration officials. And who can forget Trump's coining of a new word, "covfefe"?

PHOTO: President Donald Trump at the Freedom Ball on January 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Trump will attend a series of balls to cap his Inauguration day. Getty Images
President Donald Trump at the Freedom Ball on January 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Trump will attend a series of balls to cap his Inauguration day.

The Russia investigation

While testifying before the House Committee on Intelligence in March, then-FBI director James Comey confirmed the bureau was investigating Russian interference in the U.S. election and "any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts."

Trump fired Comey suddenly in May after the president allegedly spoke to Comey about dropping the FBI's investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

PHOTO: Former FBI director James Comey speaks on Capitol Hill,June 8, 2017.Andrew Harnik/AP
Former FBI director James Comey speaks on Capitol Hill,June 8, 2017.

Comey wrote about his Feb. 14 meeting with the president in a memo, details of which were first reported by The New York Times and were later confirmed to ABC News by sources close to the former FBI director.

According to a source who read the memo, which Comey shared with top FBI associates, Comey wrote that Trump said, "I hope you can let this go," referring to the inquiry into Flynn's conduct. "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go," said Trump, according to the source who read the memo. "He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."

Trump's alleged request to Comey about the investigation came the day after Flynn was forced to resign after misleading the administration about his contacts with Russian officials.

Trump has repeatedly denied asking Comey to halt an investigation into Flynn. “I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn,” he tweeted in December. “Just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!”

PHOTO: Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn leaving the federal court in Washington, Dec. 1, 2017. Susan Walsh/AP Photo, FILE
Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn leaving the federal court in Washington, Dec. 1, 2017.

After Comey's termination, the U.S. Department of Justice appointed Robert Mueller, a former FBI chief, in May as special counsel to lead the probe into Russian election interference and potential ties to the Trump campaign. By mid-December, Mueller's team of investigators had brought federal charges against four people -- including Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia's ambassador.

London high-rise fire

A massive fire engulfed a residential high-rise building in London in the early morning hours of July 14.

Since then, London's Metropolitan Police Service said they have searched every apartment on every floor and every communal area of the 24-story Grenfell Tower and examined 15.5 tons of debris on each floor.

PHOTO: A huge fire engulfs the 24 story Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road, West London in the early hours of this morning on June 14, 2017 in London.Gurbuz Binici /Getty Images
A huge fire engulfs the 24 story Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road, West London in the early hours of this morning on June 14, 2017 in London.

Police said the death toll stands at 71 after recovering and identifying all those believed to have died in the blaze.

Police previously estimated that about 80 people had died in the fire, which started in a refrigerator on the fourth floor and raced all the way to the top within minutes. Many of the survivors remain displaced without permanent housing.

PHOTO: Grenfell Tower is pictured on June 17, 2017 in west London after a fire engulfed the 24-storey building on Wednesday morning. David Mirzoeff/PA via AP
Grenfell Tower is pictured on June 17, 2017 in west London after a fire engulfed the 24-storey building on Wednesday morning.

Hurricane onslaught

Three monster hurricanes ravaged Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands within a four-week span.

Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on Aug. 25, killing more than 80 people in the Lone Star State and causing an estimated $150 billion in damage.

PHOTO: People are rescued from a flooded neighborhood after it was inundated with rain water, remnants of Hurricane Harvey, Aug. 28, 2017, in Houston.Scott Olson/Getty Images
People are rescued from a flooded neighborhood after it was inundated with rain water, remnants of Hurricane Harvey, Aug. 28, 2017, in Houston.

Hurricane Irma made landfall twice in southern Florida on Sept. 10, killing scores of people there and elsewhere in the United States as well as in the Caribbean.

Among those killed were residents of a nursing home that lost its air conditioning in Hollywood, Florida.

PHOTO: This file photo taken on Sept. 06, 2017 shows the Hotel Mercure in Marigot, near the Bay of Nettle, on the French Collectivity of Saint Martin, during the passage of Hurricane Irma.
<p itemprop= " />Lionel Chamoiseau/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on Sept. 06, 2017 shows the Hotel Mercure in Marigot, near the Bay of Nettle, on the French Collectivity of Saint Martin, during the passage of Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, damaging thousands of homes and wiped out power to the entire U.S. territory. Nearly three months after the storm hit, the island's power grid was operating at only 70 percent of capacity.

The Puerto Rican government said the number of deaths traceable to the calamitous storm was 64. But independent analyses by several news organizations found that the death toll was likely far higher than the official count, prompting Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello on Dec. 18 to order a review of every death on the island since Maria.

“This is about more than numbers, these are lives: real people, leaving behind loved ones and families,” Rossello said in a statement, acknowledging that the death toll "may be higher than the official count certified to date."

PHOTO: View of damage caused the day before by Hurricane Maria in Roseau, Dominica, Sept. 20, 2017.AFP/Getty Images
View of damage caused the day before by Hurricane Maria in Roseau, Dominica, Sept. 20, 2017.

Las Vegas mass shooting

Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old retired accountant and high-stakes video poker player, opened fire on an outdoor music festival crowd along the Las Vegas Strip from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Oct. 1. Fifty-eight people were killed and hundreds more were wounded, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Authorities found Paddock dead inside his two-room suite alongside an arsenal of weapons.

PHOTO: People scramble for shelter at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival, Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas.David Becker/Getty Images
People scramble for shelter at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival, Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas.

The Clark County Office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner later determined that Paddock, a resident of Mesquite, Nevada, had committed suicide by shooting himself in the mouth.

Questions about the gunman's motive for the shooting remain unanswered.

PHOTO: A memorial displaying 58 crosses by Greg Zanis stands at the Welcome To Las Vegas Sign in Las Vegas, Oct. 5, 2017.Mikayla Whitmore/Las Vegas Sun via AP
A memorial displaying 58 crosses by Greg Zanis stands at the "Welcome To Las Vegas Sign" in Las Vegas, Oct. 5, 2017.

Sexual misconduct allegations

A deluge of sexual misconduct allegations were made against some of the most powerful men in politics, media and the entertainment industry. The issues are nothing new, but this year's worldwide wave of accusations was unprecedented and seemed to pour out after reports surfaced in early October that movie magnate Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexually harassing or assaulting numerous women for decades.

Weinstein has acknowledged inappropriate behavior but has denied any allegations of nonconsensual sex. “Any allegations of nonconsensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances,” his spokesman previously said.

The hashtag #MeToo went viral on social media in the wake of the allegations, as countless women -- and some men -- around the world were emboldened to share their own stories.

PHOTO: Harvey Weinstein, shown Jan. 8, 2017, when he arrived at The Weinstein Company and Netflix Golden Globes afterparty in Beverly Hills, Calif. Chris Pizzello/Invision via AP Photo
Harvey Weinstein, shown Jan. 8, 2017, when he arrived at The Weinstein Company and Netflix Golden Globes afterparty in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Along with Weinstein, many of the accused men have suffered consequences.

North Korea weapons testing

Tensions between the United States and North Korea were sky-high this year, with the leaders of the two countries exchanging threats and schoolyard taunts, like "dotard" and "Little Rocket Man." But the tensions were exacerbated by North Korea's tests of a hydrogen bomb and of ballistic missiles that could potentially reach the U.S. mainland.

North Korea conducted over a dozen ballistic missile tests in 2017.

PHOTO: This undated picture released by North Koreas Korean Central News Agency on March 7, 2017 shows the launch of four ballistic missiles by the Korean Peoples Army during a military drill at an undisclosed location in North Korea.Korean Central News Agency/AFP/Getty Images
This undated picture released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency on March 7, 2017 shows the launch of four ballistic missiles by the Korean People's Army during a military drill at an undisclosed location in North Korea.

The latest was Nov. 29, when North Korea said it launched a new, nuclear-capable weapon that could allegedly reach the entire continental United States. North Korean state television said the new intercontinental ballistic missile, which it called a Hwasong 15, was "significantly more" powerful than the previous long-range ICBM the country had tested.

PHOTO:
SLIDESHOW: Pictures of the year 2017

The Hwasong 15 reached an altitude of 2,800 miles, making it the highest North Korean missile test to date, two U.S. officials confirmed.

It traveled for an estimated 50 minutes, the longest of the country's missile flights, an official said.

"The missile was launched from Sain Ni, North Korea, and traveled about 1,000 kilometers [about 621 miles] before splashing down in the Sea of Japan, within Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)," Pentagon spokesman Col. Robert Manning said in a statement.

The U.S. Department of Defense said the missile did not pose a threat to North America, its territories or its allies.

PHOTO: A Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, ICBM, launches off in North Korea.Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service/AP
A Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, ICBM, launches off in North Korea.

Trump later addressed the ICBM launch while appearing before reporters at the White House, pledging, "We will take care of it. ... It is a situation that we will handle."

In response to the Nov. 29 launch, the United Nations Security Council adopted strong new sanctions against North Korea.

NFL players protest during national anthem

The phenomenon began during the 2016 NFL preseason when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling before games to raise awareness of social injustice, including police brutality against black Americans. But the protests really took off over the next year, with players from across the league joining Kaepernick's refusal to stand for the national anthem.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media after taking a knee. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

In early March, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers, making him a free agent. Kaepernick remains unsigned, and some have accused the NFL of blacklisting him, according to ESPN.

PHOTO: San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick (7) and Eric Reid (35) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 18, 2016.Mike McCarn/AP
San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick (7) and Eric Reid (35) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 18, 2016.

In late September, Trump slammed the NFL for what he called the league's tolerance of players showing disrespect to the United States.

"Wouldn’t you love to see one of the NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now?'" the president said amid thunderous applause and cheers from a crowd in Huntsville, Alabama.

"You know, some owner ... is going to say, 'That guy who disrespects our flag, he’s fired,'" he said.

PHOTO: The Dallas Cowboys, led by owner Jerry Jones, center, take a knee prior to the national anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sept. 25, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.Matt York/AP
The Dallas Cowboys, led by owner Jerry Jones, center, take a knee prior to the national anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sept. 25, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.

San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid, one of the first players to join Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem, defended the ongoing silent protests in an Oct. 10 interview on ABC's "The View."

"We have a constitutional right to protest. And that's all we're doing -- exercising it," Reid said. "It's a peaceful protest.... We're simply trying to raise awareness around the issues that our country face[s]."

Reid said he was first inspired to join his teammate's protest after the death of Alton Sterling, a black man who was shot several times by police while being held on the ground in Reid's hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

"At that point, I knew I needed to do something," he said. "I need[ed] to use my platform to speak out for people who didn't have a voice."

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