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Ayesha Rascoe

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.

Prior to joining NPR, Rascoe covered the White House for Reuters, chronicling Obama's final year in office and the beginning days of the Trump administration. Rascoe began her reporting career at Reuters, covering energy and environmental policy news, such as the 2010 BP oil spill and the U.S. response to the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011. She also spent a year covering energy legal issues and court cases.

She graduated from Howard University in 2007 with a B.A. in journalism.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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NOEL KING, HOST:

On Wednesday night, President Biden will propose a plan for billions of dollars of new spending for childcare, education and paid leave, and he'll ask Congress to help pay for it by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans when they sell stocks and other types of investments.

The proposal, which is certain to face resistance from Republicans and even some Democrats, calls for hiking capital gains taxes for those who make more than $1 million a year to fund what the White House is calling the American Families Plan.

When President Biden welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to the White House on Friday, concerns about the competition posed by China will be front and center in the talks.

It is Biden's first in-person visit with a foreign leader at the White House since he took office, and it sends a signal about how Biden plans to work through alliances to counter China.

The U.S. economy added more than 900,000 jobs last month. For most White House officials, that would be considered a banner number. For Janelle Jones, the top economist at the Labor Department, there is much more work for the Biden administration to do.

Jones, the first Black woman to ever hold her position, says it would take a year of similar jobs reports just to get back to where the economy was before the pandemic. But even then, she says, getting back to the status quo is not enough.

North Korea tested short-range missile systems over the weekend, but the Biden administration is keeping its door open to talks, a diplomatic effort that officials said won't be easy.

Updated at 8:38 p.m. ET

President Biden said on Wednesday that states like Texas and Mississippi are making a big mistake by ending mandates to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at a time when the nation is making a push to boost vaccinations.

"The last thing — the last thing — we need is the Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything's fine, take off your mask. Forget it. It still matters," Biden told reporters as he met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Oval Office.

President Biden plans to welcome Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a delegation of Canadian officials to the White House on Tuesday – a virtual session due to COVID-19 constraints that will try to recreate some of the ceremonial flourishes of an in-person visit to Washington.

Biden and Trudeau plan to discuss the public health and economic crises caused by the pandemic, as well as shared goals on addressing climate change, addressing racism and discrimination, and other issues, a senior U.S. administration official told reporters ahead of the meeting.

The federal government plans to release new guidance next week about how to safely reopen schools in the midst of the pandemic — guidelines that could add new grist to a debate over whether schools should wait until teachers are vaccinated before requiring their return to the classroom.

As the United States has struggled to get the spread of the coronavirus under control, many schools have turned to virtual learning. President Biden has pledged to get most students back to in-person learning by the end of April, but there are questions about how to do so safely.

Updated at 5:03 p.m. ET

President Biden signed an executive action on Monday that administration officials say will close loopholes in "Buy American" policies for the federal government.

The measure is part of Biden's promised push to boost U.S. manufacturing and continues his efforts to sign a slew of executive actions, covering an array of issues, during his first days in office.

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Updated at 3:36 p.m. ET

President Biden signed a series of orders and directives on his second day in office to take charge of stopping the spread of the coronavirussteps that he and his advisers say will start to boost testing, vaccinations, supplies and treatments.

Updated at 2:30 a.m. ET

President Trump pardoned Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist who was indicted over allegedly defrauding hundreds of thousands of people in an online campaign to raise funds for a southern border wall — one of dozens of acts of clemency in the final hours of his administration.

The lengthy list of 73 pardons and 70 commutations landed after midnight. Trump left the White House for the last time Wednesday morning, skipping the inaugural ceremonies of his successor, President-elect Joe Biden.

Update at 2 a.m. ET Wednesday

Perpetrators of a massacre, perjurers, corrupt politicians, money launderers, nonviolent convicted drug dealers and a 1950s moonshine-maker are among those whom President Trump granted clemency on Tuesday, ahead of the Christmas holiday.

In all, Trump granted full pardons to 15 individuals and commuted part or all of the sentences of an additional five.

The Trump administration sanctioned two Iranian officials over the disappearance and probable death of Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent who went missing in Iran in 2007 during an unauthorized mission for the CIA.

The Treasury Department said Mohammad Baseri and Ahmad Khazai, high-ranking officials with Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security, were involved in Levinson's abduction, detention and probable death.

In the hours before President Trump began to realize that he may not get to "Make America Great Again, Again," the former reality television star who stunned the world in 2016 with his improbable leap to the White House allowed for a moment of candor.

"You know, winning is easy. Losing is never easy. Not for me, it's not," Trump told reporters on Election Day, his voice hoarse from an unforgiving three-week marathon of rallies.

Now, the world is seeing just how difficult it is for a man who built his brand on winning to lose.

The Trump administration abruptly dumped the leaders of three agencies that oversee the nuclear weapons stockpile, electricity and natural gas regulation, and overseas aid during the past two days, drawing a rebuke from a prominent Republican senator for one of the decisions.

The sudden departures included:

  • Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, the first woman to oversee the agency in charge of the nuclear stockpile. She was required to resign on Friday.

Updated at 4 a.m. ET

The 2020 presidential election remained up in the air early Wednesday after tight races, strong turnout and record amounts of mail-in voting left millions of legitimate votes still to be counted, and races in six key states too close to call.

Democratic candidate Joe Biden urged patience until "every vote is counted," but President Trump railed against the extra time required to count the ballots, falsely accusing Democrats of trying to steal the election from him.

President Trump is racing from tarmac to tarmac in the final weeks of the campaign, holding large rallies to blast out an array of closing arguments — buckshot style — for a second term in office.

So far, most of the stops have been in swing states — Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nevada. But he has also held rallies in Iowa and Georgia, states he won easily in 2016 in a sign the electoral map has shifted on him.

Updated at 9:05 p.m. ET

President Trump was back on the campaign trail on Monday, telling a packed outdoor rally in Florida that he feels "powerful" after his bout with the coronavirus.

Trump spoke for about an hour to an enthusiastic crowd, at an event that his campaign billed as the start of a breakneck stretch of travel leading up to the Nov. 3 election.

Trump stuck to much of his usual stump speech, but he did touch on the illness that led to him being hospitalized just over a week ago. He said he's feeling good now.

Vice President Pence, famous for happily ceding the spotlight to his boss, takes a rare turn in center stage on Wednesday, squaring off with Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California at the vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City.

It's a moment fraught with political peril, coming just after President Trump was hospitalized for the coronavirus — the pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans this year, sent the economy spiraling, and shaken voter confidence that they have what it takes to fix the crisis.

The White House is struggling on Monday to show that it has a burgeoning public health and political crisis under control as President Trump enters his third day of aggressive and experimental treatment for the coronavirus.

Updated at 10:40 p.m. ET

President Trump on Thursday dismissed complaints from a former aide to the White House coronavirus task force as coming from a disgruntled staffer who had been dismissed with cause.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

President Trump promised a convention that would be uplifting and positive as a response to the Democrats. There were a lot of moments last night that did not seem to fulfill that promise.

(SOUNDBITE OF 2020 REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION)

President Trump has been arguing that he has been the best president for Black Americans outside of Abraham Lincoln, but with less than 100 days before the election, it's not clear that his campaign to reach African Americans is changing many minds.

Trump won just 8% of the Black vote in 2016. Current polls show the vast majority of Black voters backing Trump's Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. But, in swing states like Wisconsin and North Carolina, where the presidential race could be tight, squeezing out a few more Black votes could make a difference for Trump.

Updated at 4:44 p.m. ET

Former Republican presidential candidate and pizza magnate Herman Cain has died from the coronavirus.

Cain, 74, had been hospitalized since early July after he began having trouble breathing.

"Herman Cain – our boss, our friend, like a father to so many of us – has passed away," aides announced on Cain's website Thursday.

The economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic is stifling a federal program meant to spur new investment in low-income neighborhoods, according to a new survey from an advocacy group that backs the initiative.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The White House is looking at extending a tax break for investments in certain low-income neighborhoods as it tries to find ways to address the devastating impact of the coronavirus on communities of color in America.

A provision in the 2017 tax cut law allows investors to defer and lower their capital gains taxes through 2026 if they invest their profits into designated "opportunity zones" –- areas struggling with high unemployment and low wages.

Before the coronavirus crisis decimated the U.S. economy, the record-low unemployment rate for African Americans was the backbone of President Trump's reelection pitch to black voters.

It was always a tough sell, given his past performance with African Americans. Now it's even tougher after the pandemic has erased economic gains and forced the campaign to adjust its message in its outreach to black voters.

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