Domenico Montanaro

Domenico Montanaro is NPR's lead editor for politics and digital audience. Based in Washington, D.C., he directs political coverage across the network's broadcast and digital platforms.

Before joining NPR in 2015, Montanaro served as political director and senior producer for politics and law at PBS NewsHour. There, he led domestic political and legal coverage, which included the 2014 midterm elections, the Supreme Court, and the unrest in Ferguson, Mo.

Prior to PBS NewsHour, Montanaro was deputy political editor at NBC News, where he covered two presidential elections and reported and edited for the network's political blog, "First Read." He has also worked at CBS News, ABC News, The Asbury Park Press in New Jersey, and taught high school English.

Montanaro earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Delaware and a master's degree in Journalism from Columbia University.

A native of Queens, NY, Montanaro is a die-hard Mets fan and college basketball junkie.

President Trump just seems to have a thing for strongmen.

He invited the brutal Philippine leader, Rodrigo Duterte, to the White House during a "very friendly" phone call Sunday. On Tuesday, Trump has another call — this one with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep with some of the top stories of this day. David, let's talk taxes.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK, if you insist - it's what I want to talk about every time I wake up in the morning.

Let's get this out of the way: health care and border-wall funding are probably not happening this week.

There isn't even a bill written for health care, and while conservatives like the draft language that's circulating, moderates don't.

It's the same problem Republicans have had from the beginning — appeal to conservatives, lose the moderates; appeal to moderates, lose the conservatives.

It's like a water balloon — no matter which end you push on, it still pops.

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Democrats want to show off a positive election result in Georgia. Democratic Party Chair Tom Perez speaks tonight to Georgia Democrats as he tours the country with Bernie Sanders. Last night, Perez spoke at a rally in Miami.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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And I'm Steve Inskeep with a guide to this day's news. David, where do we start?

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If you thought it was odd that a special election in the Atlanta suburbs got so much national attention, you haven't seen anything yet.

So far, much of the focus has been on Democrat Jon Ossoff — and with good reason. The Democratic base rallied around him and made the election a referendum on President Trump.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And we have a guide to this day's news. David, where do we start?

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Could a real shake-up be coming soon to the Trump White House — and is his chief strategist Steve Bannon the one on the outs?

The president sounds fed up with the infighting, and he appears to be picking sides — predictably with his family. In an interview with the New York Post's Michael Goodwin, Trump seems to push away Bannon.

A special election in Kansas on Tuesday has Republicans sounding worried about an enthusiasm gap in the Trump era.

Trump himself was apparently worried enough that he cut a robo call for Republican state party Treasurer Ron Estes.

There's a school of thought in politics that says there are key strategists who are puppet masters, pulling the strings of a president or politician. Understand them and their influence, and you understand the person in power.

Some of us don't subscribe 100 percent to that notion — and it's especially true when it comes to Donald Trump.

President Barack Obama stepped to the microphone in the White House briefing room and had a job to do — make the case for a major change made by his party's Senate leader to how the chamber works.

"Ultimately, if you got a majority of folks who believe in something, then it should be able to pass," Obama said in 2013 after then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., changed the rules of the Senate to require a simple majority to allow for judiciary nominees other than those for the Supreme Court to proceed to a final vote for confirmation.

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Since the Republican health care bill collapsed a little more than a week ago, President Trump's White House has struggled with a path forward. Trump is dealing with finger-pointing and infighting that threatens to derail his agenda, as well as nagging Russia investigations on Capitol Hill that are raising more questions than answers about his team.

In 2008, candidate Barack Obama ran an ad with this opening line: "The hands that built this nation can build a new economy. The hands that harvest crops can also harvest the wind."

And then it showed men working on roofs: "The hands that install roofs can also install solar panels."

Calls are growing for the Republican chairman of a key intelligence panel to recuse himself.

"There is such a cloud over the chairman's leadership," Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told NPR's Steve Inskeep on Morning Edition.

Schiff was referring to Chairman Devin Nunes, who revealed Monday that he had met with an intelligence official on the White House grounds a day before announcing that there was evidence he had seen to indicate the Trump campaign and transition were scooped up in incidental surveillance.

President Trump was downright low energy.

The look on his face, as he meandered through unscripted remarks Friday after the defeat of the Republican health care plan he supported, told the story. The unusually subdued Trump called the loss a "learning experience." Then he seemed to shrug it all off and said he was moving on.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Donald Trump likes to move fast.

But to this point, for all the bravado, executive actions and tweets, much of Trump's presidency has been showy without a lot of practical effect. For that to change, much could depend on the next three weeks. This critical phase could set his ambitious agenda on course or derail it.

It took a lot to get to this point, but Republicans have released their long-awaited health care bill. (For more on the policy, check out the NPR health team's reporting over at Shots.)

The version that was released is likely to change as the bill goes through committees, but now that it's released, here are four potential challenges President Trump and Republicans face:

1. Health care is complicated

It's a fascinating thing to watch activists in both American political parties grapple with a way forward in the Trump era.

Conservatives gathered outside Washington last week at a convention, the Conservative Political Action Conference, which had been a home for libertarians in recent years. The CPAC annual presidential straw poll has been dominated by people with the last name Paul over the last decade.

3:23 p.m. ET: Perez wins DNC chairmanship, names Ellison deputy

Former Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez won the DNC chairmanship on second round.

It was met by protest from about a dozen Keith Ellison supporters, who chanted, repeatedly, "Not big money, party for the people."

They were shushed and overshouted.

President Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos, struck a defiant tone in brief remarks before conservative activists at a political conference outside Washington, D.C., on Thursday. But she held back on the administration's rescinding of Obama administration guidance to schools on transgender rights.

Updated Dec. 1 at 5:01 p.m. ET

Michael Flynn, President Trump's former national security adviser, pleaded guilty Friday to providing false statements to the FBI. Those are less serious charges than he could have faced, because he is cooperating with special prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigators.

Updated at 9:59 a.m. ET Feb. 14

President Trump's national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned late Monday night amid allegations he inappropriately talked about U.S. sanctions with a Russian official, and later allegedly misled then-Vice President-elect Pence about the conversations. Flynn spoke with the Russian ambassador in December, before Trump was inaugurated.

President Trump is defending the Jan. 29 Yemen raid, in which an American Navy SEAL was killed, as a "winning mission." He is also lashing out at Republican Sen. John McCain, who called the raid a "failure."

Trump chastised McCain for talking to the media about it, saying it "only emboldens the enemy," and whacked McCain for not knowing "how to win anymore."

President Trump has gotten his man at the State Department.

Rex Tillerson was approved by a 56-43 vote Wednesday in the Senate. Four senators who caucus with the Democrats crossed the aisle and joined all of the Republicans in voting for Tillerson. They were Democrats Mark Warner of Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, as well as independent Angus King of Maine.

When the transition from President Obama to President Trump happened officially at noon ET, a lot changed, including the White House website.

Waiting on the new website were six priority areas laid out, including on foreign policy. The entire foreign policy section is literally just 220 words, so it's hard to draw more than a thumbnail sketch about Trump's foreign policy. But it gives the first hint of something of a Trump doctrine.

Donald Trump hasn't held a wide-ranging press conference in 167 days. That streak is expected to be broken Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET, when Trump holds his first news conference since being elected president.

He'd tweeted 1,601 times in that time, as of midnight Wednesday.

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