Tamara Keith | KUOW News and Information

Tamara Keith

Fifteen months into the Trump presidency, the first state dinner, in honor of French President Emmanuel Macron, will be a big moment for first lady Melania Trump, who has kept a lower profile than many of her predecessors.

"It's much more than just a dinner," said Kate Andersen Brower, author of First Women: The Grace and Power of America's Modern First Ladies and a forthcoming book about vice presidents.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller notified President Trump's lawyers last month that the president is being investigated as part of the Russia probe, but a source familiar with the situation says they were told Trump was not a criminal target at that time.

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Breaking news out of the White House tonight. President Trump's national security adviser is stepping down. Trump tweeted that Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster will be replaced by former ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.

Updated at 4:20 p.m. ET

John Dowd, the veteran attorney leading President Trump's outside legal team, has tendered his resignation, marking a shakeup just as Trump had turned his Twitter ire on special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation.

Dowd declined to explain why he was leaving the team that is helping the president deal with the Russia investigation. But a source familiar with Dowd's thinking says he was tired and frustrated, in a draining job with not enough resources and with a client who was not taking his advice.

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Updated on March 29 at 4:50 p.m. ET

With his decision to replace VA Secretary David Shulkin, President Trump is once again setting records for turnover. No elected first-term president in the past 100 years has had this much Cabinet turnover this early in his presidency. And since the establishment of the secretary of Veterans Affairs as a Cabinet position in 1989, Shulkin has served the shortest of any secretary, with the exception of those who came on board to serve out the tail end of a president's term.

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Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET

Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress and director who alleges she had a sexual relationship with President Trump more than a decade ago and was paid $130,000 not to talk about it, is offering to give the money back to speak freely.

Trump And North Korea

Mar 9, 2018

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In the boardroom on The Apprentice, the stakes seemed high. A quick decision from Donald Trump could end with winning, losing and embarrassment on network TV.

But in the Cabinet Room at the White House, people's lives and livelihoods are at stake.

In recent weeks, as President Trump led televised listening sessions about school safety and immigration in the Cabinet Room, former Apprentice producer Bill Pruitt watched with a feeling of familiarity or, as he puts it, "a minor form of PTSD."

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.

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President Trump is losing another key member of his senior White House staff. His top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, is stepping down. His departure comes less than a week after Trump's longest-serving aide, Hope Hicks, announced she's leaving.

Updated at 7:06 p.m. ET

President Trump, in a joint news conference with the Swedish prime minister, acknowledged Russian "meddling" in the 2016 presidential election and said his administration is working to counteract any interference in elections in 2018 — even as he downplayed the effect of Russia's 2016 influence campaign.

"The Russians had no impact on our votes whatsoever," Trump said. "But certainly there was meddling and probably there was meddling from other countries and maybe other individuals."

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Updated on March 2 at 10:47 a.m. ET

The White House convened a summit on the opioid epidemic Thursday, where first lady Melania Trump said she is proud of the what the administration has already accomplished on the issue, but that "we all know there is much work still to be done."

Although he had not been expected to participate, President Trump briefly joined the event.

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It didn't take long for attention to turn from the resignation of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter to scrutiny of how chief of staff John Kelly handled the allegations of spousal abuse lodged against his close aide.

And as a chief of staff, that spotlight is not where you want to be.

"Frankly, the last thing you can afford to do as chief of staff to the president is become the headline rather than the person working in the background," said Leon Panetta, a White House chief of staff in the Clinton administration who also knows Kelly well.

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