Trump signs order creating accountability office at VA

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump on Thursday created an office at the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve accountability and protect whistleblowers, calling it a "bold step forward." Trump, who made improving veterans' care a prominent issue in his presidential campaign, said the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection will make clear "that we will never, ever tolerate substandard care for our great veterans.

The Latest: Trump creates accountability office at VA

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on Veterans Affairs (all times EDT): 5 p.m. President Donald Trump is creating an office at the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve accountability and protect whistleblowers. Trump says the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection's creation sends "a strong message: Those who fail our veterans will be held, for the first time, accountable." Trump signed an executive order creating the office during a visit Thursday to the VA.

Political mainstay heads home to Utah, questions in his wake

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Since arriving in Washington in 2009, Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz has been a political mainstay, doggedly investigating Democrats, frequently appearing on cable TV and regularly updating his legions of social media followers with photos of himself, his family and even his dog, Ruby. His Twitter handle reminds people that of the 435 members, he's @jasoninthehouse. Not for the next few weeks though.

From 0-100: Presidents' first days come at varying speed

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A president's first 100 days can be a tire-squealing hustle from the starting line (Franklin Roosevelt), a triumph of style over substance (Jimmy Carter), a taste of what's to come (Ronald Reagan) or an ambitious plan of action that gets rudely interrupted by world events (pick a president).

Up against NRA, gun control advocates still voice optimism

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Donald Trump, darling of the National Rifle Association, has custody of the Oval Office. The Republican-controlled Congress already has ditched one Obama-era rule to tighten access to guns. And an emboldened NRA has much more ambitious plans afoot for easing state and national gun laws as its annual convention unfolds this weekend in Atlanta. But gun control advocates do not want your pity, thank you very much.

EPA chief to skip Republican gala after ethics complaint

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Environmental Protection Agency chief on Thursday pulled out of a Republican fundraiser after a Democratic senator raised ethics concerns. A spokesman for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced he would not be attending next week's Oklahoma Republican Party gala. Pruitt, who previously served as Oklahoma's elected attorney general, had been scheduled as the keynote speaker. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse filed an ethics complaint against Pruitt on Tuesday.

The Latest: Trump keeps mum about ousted adviser Flynn

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn (all times local): 2:50 p.m. President Donald Trump won't answer new questions about ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Trump ignored questions throughout the day Thursday on news that the Pentagon's acting inspector general has launched a probe of Flynn's work on behalf of foreign interests. That includes work for RT, the state-supported Russian television network, and a company linked to Turkey's government.

Moments that matter in Trump's first 100 days in office

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In his first 100 days, President Donald Trump has lived up to his promise to shake up Washington. It's been a presidency in which tweets -- whether angry or boastful, accurate or not -- have been the favored form of communications. Trump has suffered stunning setbacks on immigration and health care, while winning confirmation of a young, conservative justice to America's top court.

Study: DC voucher program shows poorer math results

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Students attending private schools in the nation's capital through a federally funded voucher program are doing worse in math compared to their peers, according to a government study released Thursday. The findings added fuel to one of the most heated debates in the education community: whether taxpayer money should be used to pay for private schools. Critics jumped on the study to reiterate that vouchers don't work.

Trump, Argentine President Macri hold White House talks

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump welcomed Argentine President Mauricio Macri to the White House for talks on Thursday and said the two countries will be "great friends, better than ever before." A red carpet and military honor guard awaited Macri as his motorcade pulled up the driveway to the South Lawn entrance of the White House, where Trump and first lady Melania Trump greeted Macri and his wife, Juliana Awada.

The Latest: Democrats block spending bill as shutdown looms

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on efforts in Congress to repeal the health care law and agree on a spending bill to keep the government open (all times local): 7:15 p.m. Senate Democrats have blocked a quick vote on a short-term spending bill less than 30 hours before the deadline to avoid a government shutdown. Republicans had sought approval late Thursday, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seeking an agreement. But Democratic leader Chuck Schumer objected.

Trump repeats criticism of court that halted 1st travel ban

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump is once again taking aim at a federal appeals court district that covers Western states, saying he is considering breaking up a circuit that is a longtime target of Republicans and is where his first travel ban was halted. Yet it would take congressional action to break up the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Republicans have introduced bills this year to do just that.

Pentagon joins intensifying probe of former Trump aide Flynn

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Investigations intensified into President Donald Trump's ousted national security adviser, Michael Flynn, on Thursday as the Pentagon watchdog joined lawmakers in probing payments he accepted from foreign sources including a Russian state-sponsored TV network.

House seeks charges for tech official in Clinton email case

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A congressional committee on Thursday asked the Justice Department to consider criminally prosecuting the head of a technology services company that was involved in maintaining a private email server for Hillary Clinton. The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee accused Colorado-based Platte River Networks and its chief executive, Treve Suazo, of withholding documents demanded under subpoena and of obstructing the committee's investigation "at every turn.

The Latest: Trump says NAFTA pull-out would shock system

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on President Donald Trump's activities (all times local): 1:10 p.m. President Donald Trump says that withdrawing from the North American Free Trade Agreement would be a "pretty big ... shock to the system." Trump said Thursday at the White House he'd been planning to terminate NAFTA "as of two or three days from now." But the president says he was persuaded to reconsider by the leaders of Canada and Mexico.

Trump to sign order creating accountability office at VA

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order Thursday creating an accountability and whistleblower protection office at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Trump, who made improving veterans' care a prominent issue as he campaigned for office, was to issue the order while visiting the VA. It will create a new Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection within the department.