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.

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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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 8:35 p.m. ET

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that President Biden has signed 15 executive actions, part of a flurry of steps he plans to take in the coming days to address his top policy priorities — and to roll back some of former President Donald Trump's initiatives.

White House officials had originally told reporters there would be 17 actions signed, focused on addressing the COVID-19 crisis, the economy, racial justice and climate change.

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.

Former President Barack Obama had six Cabinet members confirmed by the Senate before his Inauguration Day in 2009. President Trump had two. But when President-elect Joe Biden takes office next week, it's unclear whether he'll have any Cabinet members in place.

President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday added three experts to his National Security Council to advise him on homeland security and cybersecurity — two sprawling issues he will grapple with given the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol, and the recent widespread hack into government networks and private companies.

President Trump's national security adviser Robert O'Brien had trimmed the homeland security position from the NSC. But Biden will add it back, putting Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall in the top job, and Russ Travers as her deputy.

Updated at 1:58 p.m. ET

The nation — and world — continued to reel, looking for answers after an angry and violent pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, as television networks showed footage of the rampage on a loop and some called for severe action to be taken against President Trump.

Meanwhile, at the White House, the president prepared to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the nation's highest civilian honor – to three professional golfers: Annika Sorenstam, Gary Player and the late Babe Zaharias.

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NOEL KING, HOST:

President Trump pardoned some more people last night - among them, his friends, his loyalists and his daughter's in-law. NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe is following this one. Good morning, Ayesha.

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Well, President Trump now says he has problems with the COVID relief bill Congress passed earlier this week. Here's Trump last night.

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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.

President Trump is still not conceding that he lost the election, but he's getting closer.

Trump on Monday tweeted that he had directed the General Services Administration to begin the process of transferring the government to President-elect Joe Biden.

Until Monday, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy had declined to take the formal step to allow the Biden team to begin working with federal agencies to prepare for governing. But Trump and Murphy faced increasing pressure to kickstart the transition process.

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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.

Updated 5:30 p.m. ET

Before President Trump left Miami on Thursday for another long day on the campaign trail, he had a private meeting with a supporter with a big following among a group of voters his campaign has been courting all year: rapper Lil Wayne.

Later, Lil Wayne revealed the meeting to nearly 35 million fans on Twitter.

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.

Back on the campaign trail after being hospitalized with the coronavirus, President Trump is seeking to make the case that his first-hand experience with the pandemic is an asset and not a liability.

"To everyone fighting to recover from the virus, I feel your pain because I felt your pain and we will beat this virus together," Trump told a packed crowd in Johnstown, Pa., on Tuesday.

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.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

All right. As we know, President Trump is not the only person at the White House who's been laid up by the coronavirus. There is a cluster of cases tied to the White House, as Dr. Anthony Fauci told CBS News today.

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President Trump returned to the Oval Office on Wednesday for the first time since he was hospitalized last week, the White House confirmed.

It is unclear exactly what preventive measures are being taken to prevent further spread of the virus in the White House complex. Already more than a dozen close aides and associates of the president have tested positive for the coronavirus.

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.

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NOEL KING, HOST:

Vice President Mike Pence, by his own admission, is a low-key presence. But tonight at the debate in Salt Lake City, he'll be one of two people - the other is Kamala Harris - who all eyes will be on. Here's NPR's Ayesha Rascoe.

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.

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