Trump's border-wall proposal faces many obstacles

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump has now laid out exactly what he wants in the "big, beautiful wall" that he's promised to build on the U.S.-Mexico border. But his effort to build a huge hurdle to those entering the U.S. illegally faces impediments of its own.

Judge in Virginia declines to block travel ban

McLEAN, Va. (AP) -- In a sweeping affirmation of presidential authority, a federal judge in Virginia ruled against a Muslim civil rights group that sought to block the Trump administration's proposed travel ban. The ruling Friday by U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga is at odds with rulings from federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland who have issued orders preventing the bulk of the executive order from taking effect.

Trumps plot big hotel expansion, but political problems loom

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Trump family is launching a new hotel chain in a bold expansion of a company that critics say is already too big and opaque for an enterprise whose owner sits in the Oval Office. The chain, called Scion, will feature the first Trump-run hotels not to bear the family's gilded name.

New Congress, all-GOP, same political divisions

WASHINGTON (AP) -- With control of the White House and Senate and a commanding majority in the House, Republicans were supposed to brush off any challenge from the hardline Freedom Caucus and work their will with impunity. But something happened on the way to governing. Now, House Republican leaders are struggling with the same divisions that plagued them under President Barack Obama.

Ivanka Trump: A White House force, just not an 'employee'

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump will have a security clearance, a West Wing office and the ear of her father on important policy matters. But don't call her an employee. When it comes to government work, "employee" is more than just a word. That designation triggers an array of transparency and ethical provisions, including a law prohibiting conflicts of interest.

Intel chairman hates spotlight_ but the spotlight found him

WASHINGTON (AP) -- For a man who doesn't like the spotlight, the chairman of the House intelligence committee has secured himself a place in it. Devin Nunes, a Republican congressman from the farmlands of central California, on Wednesday held back-to-back news conferences to discuss typically secret information about U.S. spy agencies intercepting communications of people on President Donald Trump's team.

New Congress, all-GOP, same political divisions

WASHINGTON (AP) -- With control of the White House and Senate and a commanding majority in the House, Republicans were supposed to brush off any challenge from the hardline Freedom Caucus and work their will with impunity. But something happened on the way to governing. Now, House Republican leaders are struggling with the same divisions that plagued them under President Barack Obama.

Feds: Trump DC hotel not in violation of government lease

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The federal agency overseeing Donald Trump's lease for a luxury hotel in Washington ruled Thursday that his inauguration as president doesn't violate terms of the agreement barring government officials from profiting from the property. In a letter to the Trump Organization, General Services Administration Contracting Officer Kevin M.

Mattis says he welcomes approval from Congress for IS fight

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told lawmakers Wednesday that Congress should approve a formal authorization for U.S. military forces to fight the Islamic State militants in Syria, but he wouldn't say whether and when more American troops may be sent to the war-torn nation. Testifying before the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee, Mattis called the Islamic State group a "clear and present danger" and said he wonders why Congress hasn't acted already.

AP Exclusive: Before Trump job, Manafort worked to aid Putin

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Before signing up with Donald Trump, former campaign manager Paul Manafort secretly worked for a Russian billionaire with a plan to "greatly benefit the Putin Government," The Associated Press has learned. The White House attempted to brush the report aside Wednesday, but it quickly raised fresh alarms in Congress about Russian links to Trump associates.

Labor nominee says he won't let politics influence hiring

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Labor Department said Wednesday he won't allow potential political pressure from the administration to influence his hiring decisions and regrets he let that happen on his watch at the Justice Department. But Alexander Acosta, testifying before the Senate Health, Labor, Education and Pensions Committee, said little about what he would do about overtime pay and other issues if confirmed for the job.

New Trump hotels face political fights, ethics questions

NEW YORK (AP) -- You might have expected the Trump Organization to tap the brakes on expansion plans given all the criticism over potential conflicts of interest while its owner sits in the Oval Office. It's hitting the accelerator instead. The company owned by President Donald Trump is launching a chain of new hotels with plans to open in cities large and small across the country.

Q&A on 'unmasking' and leaking classified information

WASHINGTON (AP) -- After FBI Director James Comey publicly has acknowledged the existence of an ongoing counterintelligence investigation into potential links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, the White House introduced a new narrative to push back against the allegations. "Michael Flynn was umasked and then illegally, his identity was leaked out to media outlets," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday.

Venezuela's troubles put US heating oil charity in limbo

Amid continuing economic turmoil, Venezuela skipped heating oil contributions to a Massachusetts-based nonprofit for a second consecutive winter, signaling that the popular program that began with fanfare after Hurricane Katrina may be kaput. The decision by Venezuela's Citgo Petroleum Corp. to bow out of the program founded by Joseph P. Kennedy II, which has helped hundreds of thousands of U.S. residents, coincides with plummeting oil prices and corresponding economic problems in oil-rich Venezuela.

Court: Student prayers OK at school board meetings

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A Texas school board can open its meetings with student-led public prayers without running afoul of the Constitution's prohibition against government-established religion, a federal appeals court ruled Monday. The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld a lower court ruling dismissing a lawsuit against the Birdville Independent School District.

First daughter Ivanka Trump gets West Wing office

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Cementing her role as a powerful White House influence, Ivanka Trump is working out of a West Wing office and will get access to classified information, though she is not technically serving as a government employee, according to an attorney for the first daughter.

Q&A on 'unmasking' and leaking classified information

WASHINGTON (AP) -- After FBI Director James Comey publicly acknowledged Monday the existence of an ongoing counterintelligence investigation into potential links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, the White House introduced a new narrative to push back against the allegations. "Michael Flynn was umasked and then illegally, his identity was leaked out to media outlets," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday.

Gorsuch seen by many as smart, modest nominee for high court

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's poker night in a row house on Cranham Street, Oxford, England, and Neil Gorsuch, studying for yet another degree, is feeling down. His housemates decide that what Gorsuch needs is a girlfriend. Accounts differ on whether it was a dare, goading or a gentle prod, but Gorsuch phones a woman he'd clicked with during a school dinner more than a year earlier -- and she doesn't remember him. Awkward.

Former dairy farmer leads Trump-Russia investigation

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Devin Nunes once said all he wanted to do was work on a dairy farm. Now the Republican from the rural Central Valley of California is running one of the most scrutinized, complex and politically fraught congressional investigations in recent memory.