U.S. Markets closed

HIGHLIGHTS-The Trump presidency on March 2 at 5:35 p.m. EST/2235 GMT

March 2 (Reuters) - Highlights of the day for U.S. President Donald Trump's administration on Thursday: ATTORNEY GENERAL AND RUSSIA U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions removes himself from any investigations into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because he was involved with Trump's campaign.

The Russian Embassy to the United States says it had regular contact with "U.S. partners" after the Washington Post reported that Sessions had failed to disclose meetings with Russia's ambassador.

FBI Director James Comey is tight-lipped when asked about investigations into any Russian meddling in the U.S. election during a closed-door meeting in Congress, the leading Democrat on the House intelligence committee says.

ADMINISTRATION Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson wins Senate approval to become secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, making him the sole African-American member of Trump's Cabinet.

The Senate votes to confirm Trump's pick to head the Department of Energy, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has promised to focus much of his attention on renewing America’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

Trump's nominee to run the department overseeing the U.S. government's health programs for the elderly and disabled wins the backing of a Senate committee, clearing the way for a full vote in the Senate.

YEMEN The United States says it carried out more than 20 precision strikes in Yemen targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, in the first major operations against the group since a January raid by U.S. commandos.

EPA The White House is proposing to slash a quarter of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's budget, targeting climate-change programs and those designed to prevent air and water pollution like lead contamination, a source with direct knowledge of the proposal says.

DEFENSE Trump says he wants a U.S. military buildup of more ships and planes to "project American power in distant lands," making his case for a proposed $54 billion increase in defense spending that has U.S. lawmakers squabbling.

SYRIA The lead Syrian opposition negotiator at peace talks in Geneva says he hopes Trump will correct the "catastrophic" errors of his predecessor, Barack Obama, to become a reliable partner against "devilish" Iran.

DOLLAR The Trump administration's dollar policy is not clear, and the currency's further near-term strength will depend mainly on the speed of Federal Reserve interest-rate hikes, according to a majority of foreign exchange strategists polled by Reuters.

(Compiled by Bill Trott and Jonathan Oatis; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Peter Cooney)