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The way some of President Trump's Cabinet officials tell it, their recent negative headlines haven't been about difficulties complying with federal ethics laws, but rather about "the optics."

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, in a House committee's hot seat last month after taking his wife on a government-funded trip to Europe, said, "I do recognize the optics of this are not good. I accept the responsibility for that."

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., questioning Shulkin, snapped back: "It's not the optics that are not good. It's the facts that are not good."

Updated at 3:00 p.m. ET

President Trump announced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired on Tuesday morning in a tweet that followed a year of frequent tension between the two leaders.

President Trump insists his isn't a White House in chaos, but it's hard to deny the near constant churn of key aides, including Tuesday's announced departure of economic adviser Gary Cohn. A full 43 percent of top-level positions in the Trump White House have seen turnover. That is not normal.

In fact, the Trump White House has had more turnover among senior aides in the first 13 1/2 months of Trump's term than his four most recent predecessors had after two years.

Opioids are on the White House agenda Thursday — President Trump plans to talk with members of his administration about the crisis. Meanwhile, all around the United States, state legislators, treatment providers, families and many others will be listening.

WKSU is co-sponsoring a live edition of the NPR Politics Podcast this Friday in Cleveland.

It features NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith, along with podcast partner Scott Detrow, political reporter Asma Khalid, and editor Domenico Montanaro.

Keith has an Ohio connection. She was a reporter at WOSU in Columbus providing local coverage of the 2004 presidential election. 

Keith says, while not every contest hinges on Ohio, we're still an important battleground state.

Richard Cordray
Steve Helber / Associated Press

The first head of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says he’s concerned about the shift in direction for the agency. 

A group of teenagers who say they are desperate for some action on gun control staged a silent "lie-in" outside the White House Monday, in the wake of the deadly Florida school shooting last week.

Updated at 3:22 p.m. ET

The White House's story about who knew what when about accusations of domestic violence against former White House staff secretary Rob Porter has been anything but clear.

Now, House Republicans have decided to open an investigation to get some clarity.

Updated at 3:42 pm ET

FBI Director Christopher Wray said the bureau completed its investigation of White House staff secretary Rob Porter in July, nearly seven months before Porter was forced to resign over allegations of domestic violence from two ex-wives.

That appears to be at odds with the account from White House, which said the Porter investigation was "not complete" at the time of last week's ouster.

The Trump administration is proposing a major shake-up in one of the country's most important "safety net" programs, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. Under the proposal, most SNAP recipients would lose much of their ability to choose the food they buy with their SNAP benefits.

The proposal is included in the Trump administration budget request for fiscal year 2019. It would require approval from Congress.

Updated at 5:53 p.m. ET

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created after the financial crisis to protect Americans from being ripped off by financial firms.

Now, President Trump's interim appointee to run the bureau, Mick Mulvaney, is making radical changes to deter the agency from aggressively pursuing its mission.

Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET

The White House says it "could have done better" in its handling of allegations of domestic abuse against former staff secretary Rob Porter.

Principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah on Thursday called the allegations "troubling" and insisted White House officials took them seriously while suggesting that any missteps in their response were because the "emerging reports were not reflective of the individual who we had come to know."

A Cleveland student places an orange on her tray during lunch.
Ashton Marra / Ideastream

Monday is the final day to comment on proposed changes to federal nutrition standards for school meals. The Trump administration proposed the changes meant to give schools increased flexibility after it said school officials and food providers struggled to meet the standards.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

Nearly all of the seats on the U.S. National Park Service advisory board are vacant following a mass resignation Monday night, with ex-members citing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's unwillingness to meet with them.

Updated at 3:34 p.m. ET

Trump Administration officials at the Department of Health and Human Services are pushing back on a report saying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a mandate to no longer use words and phrases including "fetus," "transgender" and "science-based."

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