Author: Mara Liasson

5 Takeaways From The Stunning Alabama Senate Election

NPR Enlarge this image Democrat Doug Jones greets supporters before his victory speech Tuesday night. Jones defeated controversial Republican Roy Moore to become the first Democratic senator from Alabama in 25 years. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption toggle caption Justin Sullivan/Getty Images In Washington and around the country, Democrats and Republicans are trying to make sense of Doug Jones’ stunning upset in the Alabama Senate race. Jones’ victory in a state that hasn’t sent a Democrat to Washington in almost 30 years was even more shocking than when Republican Scott Brown won the late Ted Kennedy’s seat in a...

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Is A Big, Blue Wave Forming Off The Political Coast?

NPR Enlarge this image Democrat Ralph Northam celebrates his election as governor of Virginia on Nov. 7. Members of both parties are wondering what that race and other recent success for Democrats will mean for the 2018 midterms. Cliff Owen/AP hide caption toggle caption Cliff Owen/AP Democrats’ success in this month’s elections was bigger than expected, and was fueled in part by strong opposition to President Trump. In the last few weeks, there’s been a lot of chatter about whether that means a big, blue wave is forming off the political coast that could potentially crash into the 2018...

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Trump Challenges Cabinet Member’s IQ, Fights Senator He Needs. What Is Going On?

NPR Enlarge this image President Trump speaks to the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on Saturday. Pool/Getty Images hide caption toggle caption Pool/Getty Images The past few days have been particularly chaotic, even for a president who seems to thrive on self-created chaos. There’s been a feud with a key Republican senator, a flare up at a professional football game with President Trump instructing his vice president to walk out when players (on the most activist team in the NFL) knelt during the national anthem, and he even questioned the IQ...

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Here’s What To Watch For When Trump Addresses Congress

President Donald Trump delivers remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 24. Pool/Getty Images Tuesday night, President Trump will address a joint session of Congress for the first time. After a chaotic first month, it will be a chance for Trump to reset his relationship with voters, who currently give him historically-low approval ratings. It will also be a chance for him to reassure congressional Republicans, whose view of the new administration runs the gamut from optimism to unease. Here are five things to watch for when Trump goes to Capitol Hill on Tuesday. 1. Where we’ve come and where we’re going That’s how White House press secretary Sean Spicer described what Trump will discuss on Tuesday night. It may sound vague, but Trump will certainly list his achievements, much as he did in his marathon “I’m not ranting and raving” press conference. He’ll present himself as a man of action, who said what he meant and is now making good on his promises. Trump will likely repeat his claim that he “inherited a mess” — even though no president in 20 years has been left a healthier economy. And he’ll take credit for everything from a booming stock market to the decisions of American companies like Carrier or Intel to retain U.S. jobs or hire new workers. This weekend, Trump congratulated himself for a drop in...

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The Surprises From President Trump’s First Week

President Trump has been accused of constitutional and legal overreach in his first week in office. Some of his actions surprised even his supporters. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP The first week of the Trump administration has been marked by a flurry of executive actions — and lots of bombast and argument with the press. President Trump’s executive actions — in the form of orders and memorandums, which differ slightly — aim to show that President Trump will deliver on the promises made by Candidate Trump. And the actions hit on many of the most contentious issues in American politics: Trump moved to repeal the Affordable Care Act, remove roadblocks from the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, impose a hiring freeze on federal employees, withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and withhold federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities. Along the way, Trump and his surrogates claimed to have drawn the largest-ever inauguration crowd (he didn’t), said that 3 million to 5 million votes were illegally cast (no evidence of that), softened his stance toward the CIA and said that he would announce his pick for the Supreme Court next week. The Senate approved four of his nominees for high-level positions, and 10 others have finished their confirmation hearings and await votes. And it comes as congressional Republicans huddle to figure out...

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Is Donald Trump A Threat To Democracy?

 Harnik/AP Even before he’s sworn in, Donald Trump is putting his own stamp on the role of chief executive. That has some people rejoicing — and others worried about where he’s going to take the country. Here’s why some of Trump’s critics say the president-elect could be a threat to democratic institutions and why others say those fears are overblown. Trump is shaping up to be more than just an activist president. With one tweet he drives down the stock price of a major American company. With another, he unleashes a flood of death threats against a local labor leader who displeased him. Evan McMullin, a former Republican House staffer and CIA operative who ran as an independent for president against Trump, points to Trump’s intervention with the Carrier company. Trump’s involvement led to Carrier agreeing to keep 750 jobs in the U.S. instead of moving them to Mexico. McMullin charged that the Carrier deal showed that Trump has authoritarian instincts. “The most fundamental part of authoritarianism is this idea that what the authoritarian believes should go,” McMullin told NPR. “They are the only authority. It’s the president making decisions about particular companies rather than working within the system to create laws that affect companies in the context of the rule of law.”  But others, even critics of Trump, say the Carrier deal was not necessarily a sign of...

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Has Donald Trump Permanently Altered The Republican Party’s DNA?

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses supporters in Akron, Ohio, on Aug. 22. Angelo Merendino/Getty Images [embedded content] Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is giving his adopted party a lot to think about. He has offered radically different approaches to trade, immigration, the size of government and national defense. Now Republicans are debating whether, win or lose, Donald Trump has permanently altered their party’s DNA. Here are 4 questions that Republicans are grappling with: 1. Is Trump unique? Or is there such a thing as Trumpism? This is the fundamental chicken-and-egg question for Republicans. Did Donald Trump take over the Republican Party only because he’s a billionaire reality TV celebrity who knew better than anyone, ever, how to dominate the media? Or did this all exist already within the party and is there such a thing as Trumpism that will live on regardless of whether Trump himself becomes president? Rather than making the Republican Party different, Trump is reflecting a Republican Party that’s already changed. Some Republicans, like hotly anti-Trump Florida GOP strategist Rick Wilson, think Trump is one of a kind, a black-swan candidate. Wilson, who is an outspoken “Never Trumper” — he’s running the campaign of independent candidate Evan McMullin — points to Sen. Marco Rubio’s primary victory in Florida this week. Carlos Beruff, Rubio’s opponent, was a multi-multimillionaire developer who ran as a Trump mini-me. As Wilson...

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