A look back at the biggest news stories from 2017

Image: Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States
Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts on Jan. 20, 2017. Copyright Patrick Semansky AP
By Dan Corey with NBC News
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From increased tensions with North Korea, to a hurricane season unlike any other, to the #MeToo movement, NBC News reflects on the key moments from 2017.

As the New Year approaches, it seems like every year is dubbed "a year like no other." But 2017 truly was more dramatic than many other years in recent memory.

In the last 12 months, we faced a renewed threat of nuclear war, debated whether to take a knee during the national anthem and resisted the temptation to look at the sun during the total solar eclipse.

From increased tensions with North Korea, to a hurricane season unlike any other, to the bombshell allegations of sexual misconduct in Hollywood and beyond, take a look back at the key moments of 2017, as they were reported by NBC News.

The New President

Image: Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States
Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts on Jan. 20, 2017. Patrick SemanskyAP

Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Jan. 20, outlining his vision of a new national populism and reiterating the same "America First" mantra that delivered the White House to him during the 2016 election.

In his first address as leader of the free world, Trump said his inauguration would signify a historic moment when "the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."

After months on the campaign trail marked by partisan division and deep skepticism from his critics, Trump told thousands in the nation's capital that his agenda was for every American — even as protesters demonstrated against him elsewhere in Washington, D.C., including some who clashed with police hours later.

Photos: President Trump: Scenes from the Inauguration

The next day, half a million marchers demonstrated for gender equality and against the new president during the Women's March on Washington, brandishing pink hats and homemade signs in the streets near the National Mall.

Now more than a year since his election, Trump is enjoying a healthy economy marked by lower unemployment numbers and strong stock market performance.

But he has struggled to fulfill his many campaign promises with major legislation. Since his inauguration, the push to repeal and replace Obamacare has failed three times, and his plans to build a border wall and invest billions in infrastructure have been put on hold.

The Mueller Investigation

Image: Michael Flynn leaves federal court following his plea hearing
Michael Flynn leaves federal court following his plea hearing on Dec. 1, 2017 in Washington. Chip SomodevillaGetty Images

Bowing to public and congressional pressure, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller in May as a special counsel to conduct the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

More than five months later, Mueller's office indicted President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his longtime business associate Rick Gates on 12 charges, including money laundering, being an unregistered foreign agent and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

The special counsel's office also announced that day that it had struck a cooperation agreement with former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos, who secretly pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his contacts with Kremlin-connected Russians.

In early December, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty in federal court to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Russia, and agreed to cooperate with Mueller's probe.

The special counsel's investigation is still ongoing.

Greater Tensions with North Korea

Image: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in a photo released on Sept. 16, 2017. KCNA via Reuters

American tensions with North Korea intensified rapidly since President Donald Trump was inaugurated in late January, as leader Kim Jong Un made no secret that his scientists are working on a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S.

Kim Im Ryong, North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations, bluntly warned that the Trump administration's tough talk was creating "a dangerous situation in which thermonuclear war may break out at any moment."

The situation has become so dire that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked China — Pyongyang's neighbor and most powerful ally — to "use their influence to convince or compel North Korea to rethink its strategic calculus."

Tensions escalated in June when Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old American student, died days after being released from a North Korean prison in an unconscious state.

The regime's actions has led Trump and his administration to ratchet up the rhetoric, with the president in August promising "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if North Korea continues to threaten the U.S. Trump also disparaged the North Korean leader as a "rocket man" during his first address to the United Nations.

The #MeToo Movement

Image: NOW Protests Manhattan DA's Decision Not To Prosecute Harvey Weinstein
Members of the National Organization for Women (NOW) outside of Manhattan Criminal Court on Oct. 13, 2017, in New York City. Spencer PlattGetty Images

In early October, back-to-back bombshell reports in The New York Times and The New Yorker revealed that film mogul Harvey Weinstein allegedly lured women into hotel rooms and bars, and sexually harassed or assaulted them in what some have described as an open secret known for years in Hollywood.

Later that month, after a tweet from actress Alyssa Milano, who was one of Weinstein's accusers, social media was inundated with personal stories of being the victims of sexual harassment or assault, all using the hashtag #MeToo.

Weinstein's downfall has seemingly emboldened others to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against prominent men. In recent months alone, at least 30 powerful men in entertainment, business, politics and the news media have been publicly condemned for their alleged sexual misconduct and many have lost their jobs as a result, including Weinstein.

"The Silence Breakers" of the #MeToo movement, who gave a voice to sexual assault and harassment survivors, have since been named Time magazine's 2017 Person of the Year.

The Massacres in Las Vegas and Texas

Image: Reported Shooting In Las Vegas
Las Vegas police stand guard along the streets outside the festival grounds of the Route 91 Harvest. David BeckerGetty Images

On Oct. 1, a lone gunman unleashed a rapid-fire barrage of bullets down on a crowd of concertgoers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, killing 59 people and injuring more than 500 others. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

The shooter — 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada — acted alone, police said. Investigators found 23 firearms in his room at the Mandalay Bay, and 19 more at his home. He was found after killing himself with a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.

Photos: Las Vegas Shooting: Photos Capture Chaos of Concert Massacre

On Nov. 5, an armor-clad shooter entered a church in rural Texas and opened fire, killing 26 parishioners and injuring at least 19 others.

The gunman, Devin Kelley, fired the first shots outside of the church before unleashing more bullets inside the church. His victims' ages ranged from 5 to 72 years old, police said. Kelley was later found dead inside his vehicle after a Good Samaritan stepped in.

Terrorism in Popular Tourist Destinations

Image: damaged home depot truck in downtown new york
Authorities stand near a damaged Home Depot truck after a motorist drove onto a bike path near the World Trade Center memorial, striking and killing several people on Oct. 31, 2017, in New York. Bebeto MatthewsAP

Vehicular and suicide terrorist attacks hit some of Europe's most popular tourist destinations, as well as the America's most populous city this year.

In late March, three people were killed and about 40 were injured when an attacker rammed into pedestrians on London's Westminster Bridge and attempted to enter Parliament wielding a knife. About two weeks later, an attacker killed four and injured 15 after intentionally driving into a department store in Stockholm, Sweden.

Photos: Terrorist Truck Attack Shocks New York City

In May, children were among the 22 killed in a suicide bombing after an Ariana Grande concert at Britain's Manchester Area. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in Britain since 2005. Almost two weeks later, seven people died and nearly 50 were injured when a vehicle rammed into pedestrians on London Bridge, and three attackers embarked on a stabbing spree at nearby Borough Market.

During August, 13 people were killed and more than 100 were wounded in Spain when a van plowed into Barcelona's La Rambla tourist destination, before another car hit several people and killed one woman in a resort further down the Spanish coast.

Terrorism again hit the U.S. on Oct. 31, when Sayfullo Saipov rented a pickup truck and deliberately mowed down pedestrians on a bike path in Lower Manhattan, killing eight and injuring about a dozen more, before crashing into a school bus. Officials said the terrorist attack was the deadliest in New York City since Sept. 11, 2001.

The Opioid Epidemic

Image: A heroin user displays a needle in a South Bronx neighborhood
A heroin user displays a needle in a South Bronx neighborhood which has the highest rate of heroin-involved overdose deaths in the city on Oct. 6, 2017 in New York. Spencer PlattGetty Images

In August, President Trump declared America's opioid epidemic a national emergency two days after vowing the U.S. would "win" the fight against it.

About a month earlier, the Department of Justice charged more than 400 people who officials said were preying on addicts to shell out money for unnecessary treatments that only worsened their condition, and doctors who were allegedly prescribing unnecessary opioids.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers recently reported that the epidemic's true cost in 2015 was $504 billion — more than six times the most recent estimate.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in late October that illegal, lab-made fentanyl contributed to the death of at least half of fatal opioid overdoses in 2016, underscoring how deadly the epidemic has become in recent years.

The Devastating Hurricane Season

Image: A woman walks on road covered in debris from Hurricane Maria
A woman walks on road covered in debris from Hurricane Maria in Frederiksted, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands on Sept. 26. Jonathan DrakeReuters

A hurricane season unlike any other came to a close in December after causing billions of dollars in damages, devastating those who were impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria when they plowed through southeast Texas, Florida and the Caribbean.

Harvey, a Category 3 storm, drenched southeast Texas in late August with 1 million gallons of water per person in the region, according to The Associated Press. The storm caused historic flooding in Houston, where some downtown areas were knee-deep in water and portions of highways were shut down with 10 feet of water.

Less than two weeks later, Hurricane Irma ravaged Florida, devastating the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm before weakening. The storm also lead to the deaths of 12 patients at a Hollywood, Florida, nursing home. Those fatalities have since been ruled a homicide, officials said.

And at the end of September, the Category 4 Hurricane Maria, the strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico in almost a century, steamrolled through the island, annihilating homes, knocking out the entire power grid and leaving many without electricity for months.

Maria's aftermath also raised concerns about the relationship between Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the small Montana energy firm that was helping Puerto Rico to rebuild its power grid, Whitefish Energy Holdings.

The island canceled its $300 million contract with the company in October after The Washington Post reported, among other things, that the company only had only two full-time employees when the storm made landfall.

The Total Solar Eclipse

Image: Solar Eclipse Visible Across Swath Of U.S.
People view the solar eclipse at the "Top of the Rock" observatory at Rockefeller Center. Drew AngererGetty Images

The astronomical phenomenon of the century lived up to the hype.

The total solar eclipse shifted across the U.S. in late August, enchanting Americans in small towns and large stadiums from coast to coast. The nation was captivated by the first total solar eclipse to cross the U.S. since 1918.

Photos: Americans Look to the Skies (With Glasses!) for Solar Eclipse

Viewers gazed at the eclipse as it carved a narrow "path of totality" from Salem, Oregon, to Charleston, South Carolina. The one rule was to look only through special glasses or projected reflections, but some — including the president — disregarded that sound advice.

The Culture Wars

Image: Violent Clashes Erupt at "Unite The Right" Rally In Charlottesville
White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" exchange insults with counter-protesters as they attempt to guard the entrance to Lee Park during the "Unite the Right" rally on Aug. 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Chip SomodevillaGetty Images file

Since President Trump took office, the partisan division that evidenced on the campaign trail translated into national culture wars, including debates over the merits of removing statues and building names that honor Confederate soldiers, as well as kneeling at football games to protest racial inequality.

On Aug. 12, white nationalists gathered in Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, before a rally organized by a group known as "Unite the Right." The rally's purpose was to protest the removal of a statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Later that day, a 32-year-old woman was killed and more than 19 others were injured after a car rammed into a group of counter-protesters who were demonstrating against the alt-right.

Photos: State of Emergency in Charlottesville, Virginia

Trump denounced the series of events that unfolded in Charlottesville, but was criticized by the public and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for not fully condemning the protests' white nationalist elements, which included appearances by former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard David Duke and white nationalist leader Richard Spencer.

In early October, Vice President Mike Pence attended a San Francisco 49ers game in Indianapolis only to walk out after some of the team's players knelt during "The Star-Spangled Banner."

After the fallout, Trump said days later that the NFL should have suspended former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was the first to "take a knee" during the National Anthem to protest racial injustice in the U.S.

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