Tamara Keith | KUER 90.1

Tamara Keith

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.

Previously Keith covered congress for NPR with an emphasis on House Republicans, the budget, taxes, and the fiscal fights that dominated at the time.

Keith joined NPR in 2009 as a Business Reporter. In that role, she reported on topics spanning the business world, from covering the debt downgrade and debt ceiling crisis to the latest in policy debates, legal issues, and technology trends. In early 2010, she was on the ground in Haiti covering the aftermath of the country's disastrous earthquake, and later she covered the oil spill in the Gulf. In 2011, Keith conceived of and solely reported "The Road Back To Work," a year-long series featuring the audio diaries of six people in St. Louis who began the year unemployed and searching for work.

Keith has deep roots in public radio and got her start in news by writing and voicing essays for NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday as a teenager. While in college, she launched her career at NPR Member station KQED's California Report, where she covered agriculture, the environment, economic issues, and state politics. She covered the 2004 presidential election for NPR Member station WOSU in Columbus, Ohio, and opened the state capital bureau for NPR Member station KPCC/Southern California Public Radio to cover then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In 2001, Keith began working on B-Side Radio, an hour-long public radio show and podcast that she co-founded, produced, hosted, edited, and distributed for nine years.

Keith earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master's degree at the UCB Graduate School of Journalism. Keith is part of the Politics Monday team on the PBS NewsHour, a weekly segment rounding up the latest political news. Keith is also a member of the Bad News Babes, a media softball team that once a year competes against female members of Congress in the Congressional Women's Softball game.

Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET

Ancient state unemployment systems that struggled to handle the first round of COVID-19 relief payments could take months or more to adopt a White House proposal for modifying the benefits, according to memos obtained by NPR.

Such a lag could mean that the roughly 30 million people currently collecting pandemic-related unemployment benefits would see their income drop from a weekly average of $900 to an average of $300 per week.

The Committee To Defend The President, a pro-Trump super PAC, is returning a $1,000 political contribution from Earl Holt III, a white nationalist whose racist web posts were cited by the white man who killed nine Black parishioners at a historic church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015. A lawyer for the super PAC quickly said the funds were being returned after the group was alerted to the donation by NPR.

Updated at 9:59 p.m. ET

As the number of coronavirus cases started spiking again this month, the White House keyed in on a different number — one that paints a more rosy picture of the pandemic: the case fatality rate.

When asked about rising cases at a recent briefing, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany quickly parried. "We're seeing the fatality rate in this country come down," said McEnany. "That is a very good thing."

President Trump has a message for suburban voters. And it's not a subtle one.

"They want to destroy our suburbs," Trump recently warned in a call with supporters.

"People have worked all their lives to get into a community, and now they're going to watch it go to hell," he said from the South Lawn of the White House.

Trump has been issuing increasingly dire and outlandish warnings about what Democrats will do to the suburbs. He warns suburbanites will face rising crime and falling home values if they elect Joe Biden.

Updated at 6:12 p.m. ET

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, said recent White House attacks on his record are backfiring, calling the episode "bizarre" in interviews with The Atlantic.

Updated at 2:45 p.m. ET

President Trump once again questioned the expertise of his top public health officials Monday morning, retweeting a conspiracy theory from former game show host Chuck Woolery, who suggested that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the "Media, Democrats [and] our Doctors" are lying about COVID-19 in an effort to hurt Trump in November's general election.

Presidents seeking a second term generally campaign on a unifying message, highlighting the work they've done and what they hope to accomplish for the American people in the years ahead.

President Trump is choosing instead to reprise the most divisive and racialized themes of his 2016 campaign. But he's doing it at a very different time for the nation, in the midst of a pandemic, recession and racial reckoning.

"You would think that he was a challenger running against an incumbent who had done a terrible job," said Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster.

President Trump, in a speech Friday at Mount Rushmore that lasted more than 40 minutes, focused on statues and "cancel culture" and accused his political opponents of fascism. But he spared just a few words for the pandemic that has killed 130,000 Americans, thanking "the doctors, nurses and scientists working tirelessly to kill the virus." And that was it.

A day after defending his right to hold campaign events in the midst of spikes in coronavirus cases, Vice President Pence and the Trump campaign are postponing two events he was to headline next week in Florida and Arizona.

The states are two of the hardest hit in recent days, and health officials have encouraged people to avoid large in-person gatherings. The events have been postponed "out of an abundance of caution," two campaign officials told NPR.

It's a remarkable reversal for Pence, who on Friday forcefully defended his plan to move forward with the campaign events.

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

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

If you're a supporter of President Trump, longing for the excitement and MAGA-kinship of a big rally, Trump's campaign has built the next best thing. It's a massive digital operation that creates an interactive world where Trump is flawless and Republicans are saviors, while Democrats and Joe Biden are wrong and dangerous.

They encourage supporters to "forget the mainstream media" and get their "facts straight from the source," an insular information ecosystem featuring prime time programming, accessed in its most pure form through the new Trump 2020 app.

Updated at 7:00 p.m. ET

As President Trump attempts to project an image of America rising out of quarantine and beginning to reopen, he traveled on Tuesday to an Arizona factory that's expanded into production of N95 face masks to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

And while the trip was in part meant to tell a positive story about the Trump administration's response, it also highlights the challenges of the moment.

At a time when jigsaw puzzles may be harder to come by than toilet paper, the hot new item in the Trump campaign online store is a 200-piece puzzle, featuring a faintly smiling President Trump standing in front of an American flag, giving two thumbs up.

The $35 puzzle is just the latest example of the campaign capitalizing on in-the-moment merchandise.

When President Trump tapped Vice President Mike Pence to lead the coronavirus task force in late February, it was a moment of growing pressure. Stocks were tanking, and Trump needed to show he was elevating the federal response to the pandemic.

A former Trump White House aide says Pence was the obvious choice, one of the few people left in the administration that Trump trusts, and someone with the stature to coordinate across agencies.

Updated at 11:15 a.m. ET

With near-daily task force briefings, President Trump has delivered an ever-evolving message to the American public about the coronavirus pandemic.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with an entry for Jan. 14 with statements from WHO about human-to-human transmission.

On Tuesday, President Trump said he's suspending U.S. funding for the World Health Organization. He said the agency has "mismanaged" the pandemic, has been slow to respond to the crisis and is "China-centric."

We looked at the public record to see what Trump and the WHO had to say over the past 15 weeks about the coronavirus pandemic. Here's a timeline highlighting key quotes.

Jan. 5

It has been only a month since President Trump held his last campaign rally. It was March 2 when several thousand people squeezed into a North Carolina arena to cheer on a confident president seeking reelection at a time of peace and prosperity.

Trump touted the record low unemployment rate to rousing applause, repeating the theme of his 2020 campaign.

"Jobs are booming in our country, incomes are soaring, poverty has plummeted, confidence is surging," said the president.

Two weeks ago, President Trump entered the White House briefing room and announced an aggressive plan to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Stay home for 15 days, he told Americans. Avoid groups of more than 10 people. "If everyone makes this change, or these critical changes, and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus," he said.

The coronavirus crisis was gaining steam when President Trump announced via tweet on a Friday night that he was replacing his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, with North Carolina congressman and frequent confidante Mark Meadows.

Nearly three weeks later, Meadows is still transitioning into his new job and hasn't yet resigned from Congress.

He may have been inside the room at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday for White House negotiations with senators on the $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package — but he still had one foot back in his old job.

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

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

President Trump on Friday stopped in at the Atlanta headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency marshaling the response to coronavirus — a major political test for his administration.

The trip itself was almost derailed by coronavirus fears, and mixed signals about what was happening created an on-again, off-again drama that played out in front of television cameras. The chaotic impression clashed with the White House quest to show that the public health crisis is under control.

Last week, even as he responded to growing fears about coronavirus, President Trump had his eye on the markets. At the start of what turned out to be a terrible week for stock prices, Trump tweeted that coronavirus was "very much under control" and implied that stock market losses were overdone.

"The stock market is up 80%, in some cases much higher than that," Trump said. "401(k)s are at record levels." But if you look at the Dow Jones Industrial Average, it was up by 56% on Feb. 22, compared with the date of Trump's election. Some of those gains were erased in the past week.

Updated at 1 p.m. ET

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., the man largely responsible for making his state's presidential caucuses a prominent early contest, has declined the opportunity to defend caucus systems in an interview with NPR.

"I will talk about that after Super Tuesday, after when we get California and Texas out of the way," Reid said. "Right now, we're gonna make the best we can of the system we have."

When President Trump stands before Congress on Tuesday to deliver his State of the Union address, he will be a president impeached, but not yet acquitted.

Traditionally, the State of the Union address is the most important and most-watched speech of the year for a president. Doing it in the midst of an impeachment trial adds another political dimension.

President Clinton faced a similar situation in 1999. He delivered his State of the Union on the very day his legal team began presenting his impeachment defense to senators.

Updated at 12:58 p.m. ET

The White House is offering a fiery legal response to the articles of impeachment, in an executive summary of a legal brief obtained by NPR.

Decrying a "rigged process" that is "brazenly political," President Trump's legal team accuses House Democrats of "focus-group testing various charges for weeks" and says that "all that House Democrats have succeeded in proving is that the President did absolutely nothing wrong."

Updated on Jan. 17 at 9:30 p.m. ET

President Trump has picked some high-wattage lawyers to round out his defense team for the Senate impeachment trial — a group of attorneys who are as comfortable in front of the television cameras as they are in courtrooms.

Ken Starr, a Fox news commentator whose special counsel investigations led to President Bill Clinton's impeachment, will join the team. Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz also will help deliver opening arguments.

On the night that the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump, he delivered a two-hour campaign rally speech that took a detour — into the bathroom. His long riff about plumbing, household appliances and lightbulbs had the crowd in Battle Creek, Mich., cheering and laughing along.

"I say, 'Why do I always look so orange?' You know why: because of the new light," Trump said in a complaint about energy-efficient lightbulbs. "They're terrible. You look terrible. They cost you many, many times more. Like four or five times more."

Impeachment is the ultimate form of censure, a permanent mark on a president. But there's little indication that President Trump has been chastened by last week's impeachment vote. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Trump is leaning in, attacking political opponents in deeply personal terms and setting records for rally length and the sheer volume of his tweets.

"I think it's the new 'not normal' that we're in right now," said Doug Heye, a former House Republican leadership aide.

In late 1987, Joe Biden was in the midst of two high-stakes battles: one for the Democratic presidential nomination, and another, as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to try to stop President Reagan's nominee to the Supreme Court, Robert Bork.

His fight for the presidential nomination would end abruptly, dealing Biden his biggest political setback up until that point. But Biden was successful in the other battle, as he thwarted Bork's nomination to the high court.

Plagiarism charges against Biden

Tucked inside a must-pass defense bill expected to make its way through the Republican-controlled Senate next week is a sweeping policy change: 12 weeks of paid parental leave for all 2.1 million federal employees.

It's not a surprise that Carolyn Maloney, a Democratic congresswoman from New York, would be celebrating the move. She's been working to get it passed for two decades, after her own experience in the workplace.

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