Tim Mak | KUER 90.1

Tim Mak

Tim Mak is NPR's Washington Investigative Correspondent, focused on political enterprise journalism.

His reporting interests include the 2020 election campaign, national security and the role of technology in disinformation efforts.

He appears regularly on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and the NPR Politics Podcast.

Mak was one of NPR's lead reporters on the Mueller investigation and the Trump impeachment process. Before joining NPR, Mak worked as a senior correspondent at The Daily Beast, covering the 2016 presidential elections with an emphasis on national security. He has also worked on the Politico Defense team, the Politico breaking news desk and at the Washington Examiner. He has reported abroad from the Horn of Africa and East Asia.

Mak graduated with a B.A. from McGill University, where he was a valedictorian. He also currently holds a national certification as an Emergency Medical Technician.

The IRS sent nearly $1.4 billion in coronavirus relief payments to dead Americans, a new report by an independent government agency shows.

The Government Accountability Office said the error involved almost 1.1 million checks and direct deposits sent to ineligible Americans. The payments were part of the coronavirus aid package passed in March known as the CARES Act.

So far, the IRS has dispersed over 160 million payments — worth nearly $270 billion — to people for coronavirus relief.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

The Transportation Security Administration withheld N95 masks from staff and exhibited "gross mismanagement" in its response to the coronavirus crisis – leaving employees and travelers vulnerable during the most urgent days of the pandemic, a senior TSA official alleges in a new whistleblower complaint.

In the wake of George Floyd's death, a flashpoint in the debates over police reform has been the push to ban chokeholds nationwide. Advocates believe that enshrining a ban into law will deter police violence.

And it's gaining traction. Congressional Democrats have proposed a legislative package that calls for a ban on all neck restraints. President Trump, though he stopped short of full support of a ban, said late last week that police should avoid using chokeholds. And the state of New York passed a law banning the tactic.

Since George Floyd's death in Minneapolis, few communities have teemed with such outspoken frustration as the city just outside President Trump's window — and that dissatisfaction was again on ample display Saturday in Washington, D.C.

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Addressing the nation from the Rose Garden this evening, President Trump said he was beefing up law enforcement around the country.

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Twice now, on March 13 and again on April 27, President Trump gathered some of the country's top corporate executives — from test producers to lab processors to major retailers — to tout his plan to make COVID-19 testing widely available. His vision: Blanket the country in drive-through testing sites.

Marc Short, the chief of staff to Vice President Pence, owns between $506,043 and $1.64 million worth of individual stocks in companies doing work related to the Trump administration's pandemic response — holdings that could run afoul of conflict of interest laws.

Third generation hog farmer Chad Leman, making his daily rounds, points to dozens of 300-pound pigs.

"These pigs should be gone," he said.

He means gone to the meatpacking plant to be processed. But with pork processing plants shut down due to worker safety concerns, he's faced with a grisly task: He needs to kill the pigs to make room for more.

And Leman isn't the only one. With meatpacking plant closures and reduced processing capacity nationwide, America's hog farmers expect an unprecedented crisis: the need to euthanize millions of pigs.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is demanding answers from the Treasury Department and the IRS about improper coronavirus relief checks paid out to deceased taxpayers.

Updated at 10:06 p.m. ET

The IRS has paid out more than $207 billion in coronavirus relief payments to individual taxpayers, as part of the $2 trillion package passed by Congress known as the CARES Act.

And among the recipients of those $1,200 payments are the bank accounts of dead individuals — a problem that could impact millions of American families.

The IRS system for sending out Coronavirus relief payments is vulnerable to fraud, especially with regard to some of the nation's poorest people, according to tax and cybersecurity experts.

Because of the way the system is set up, fraudsters can obtain the Coronavirus payments of a certain segment of vulnerable Americans with just their date of birth, social security number and address — information that is easily available to criminals online.

Millions of Americans fall into this category of vulnerable people.

The National Rifle Association's legal troubles have cost the powerful gun rights group $100 million, according to a recording of the group's board meeting obtained by NPR.

In the January 2020 recording, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre criticizes ongoing investigations by the New York and Washington, D.C., attorneys general, bemoaning "the power of weaponized government." And he told the NRA's board of directors, assembled for the group's winter meeting in January, that the organization has had to make $80 million in cuts to stay afloat.

Sen. Richard Burr's sale of up to $1.7 million in stocks shortly before the recent market crash was one of the lawmaker's only market-beating trades since record keeping began eight years ago, according to a new study.

The new analysis, presented by researchers at Dartmouth College, shows just how unusual the North Carolina senator's transactions were. On a single day, Feb. 13 of this year, Burr unloaded a significant portion of his net worth — a departure from his typically low-volume trading history.

Updated at 10:10 p.m. ET

One month ago today, President Trump declared a national emergency.

In a Rose Garden address, flanked by leaders from giant retailers and medical testing companies, he promised a mobilization of public and private resources to attack the coronavirus.

"We've been working very hard on this. We've made tremendous progress," Trump said. "When you compare what we've done to other areas of the world, it's pretty incredible."

But few of the promises made that day have come to pass.

President Trump has removed the head of a group charged with overseeing the $2 trillion coronavirus package passed by Congress last month.

The coronavirus recovery law requires that an existing inspector general be selected by a council of inspectors general to oversee the response to the pandemic. That council picked Glenn Fine, the acting inspector general at the Department of Defense, to lead the newly formed Pandemic Response Accountability Committee.

American Alan Gross, a prisoner in Cuba for five years during the Obama administration, is accusing Bernie Sanders of commending the communist country when the senator came to visit him behind bars.

Sanders visited Cuba as part of a congressional delegation in 2014, along with Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and Jon Tester.

During the one-hour meeting, Sanders told the prisoner that he didn't understand why others criticized Cuba, Gross said in an interview with NPR.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi believes that the impeachment inquiry underway has uncovered evidence that President Trump's actions amounted to bribery.

Multiple witnesses have alleged that the president leveraged U.S. foreign policy — a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart and security assistance funds appropriated by Congress — for investigations that could benefit him politically.

Updated at 4:29 p.m. ET

Republican members of Congress disrupted the closed-door proceedings of the House impeachment inquiry, preventing a Pentagon official from giving her testimony.

Arguing that the inquiry's interviews should not be held behind closed doors, GOP lawmakers entered the secure area in the Capitol Wednesday where witnesses are typically questioned.

Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET

Ambassador James Jeffrey, the U.S. special envoy for Syria engagement, told senators Tuesday that the Turkish military offensive had led to hundreds of deaths among the Kurdish-led militias in Syria.

That military offensive, which followed President Trump's decision to abruptly withdraw troops from northern Syria, may have also led to a war crime.

The Russian government's interference in the 2016 U.S. elections singled out African Americans, a new Senate committee report concludes.

Using Facebook pages, Instagram content and Twitter posts, Russian information operatives working for the Internet Research Agency had an "overwhelming operational emphasis on race ... no single group of Americans was targeted ... more than African Americans."

Updated at 4:04 p.m. ET

The National Rifle Association acted as a "foreign asset" for Russia in the period leading up to the 2016 election, according to a new investigation unveiled Friday by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

Drawing on contemporaneous emails and private interviews, an 18-month probe by the Senate Finance Committee's Democratic staff found that the NRA underwrote political access for Russian nationals Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin more than previously known — even though the two had declared their ties to the Kremlin.

President Trump said he is willing to get behind some changes to background checks for gun buyers as long as Democrats don't move the goalposts and lead him down a "slippery slope."

The president told reporters on Wednesday that he continues to support new or altered checks, without going into detail, and he acknowledged that he has been taking counsel on the issue from the National Rifle Association.

A new legislative proposal by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., would ban elements of social media he views as addictive.

As Americans are spending more and more time glued to social media apps like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, concerns with technological addiction are merging with rising political anger against Big Tech.

And it's leading to some out-of-the-box thinking.

"Their business model is increasingly exploitative in nature and I think that these are companies that are trying to evade accountability," Hawley told NPR.

The National Rifle Association's sway in the nation's capital may be waning at a time when two mass shootings in Ohio and Texas are reigniting the debate about enacting new gun restrictions.

In the past few months, the gun rights group's president stepped aside; its top lobbyist resigned; and allegations of financial misconduct at the highest levels of the group have burst into the open.

Updated at 12:45 p.m. ET

Members of Congress likely won't confine themselves to former special counsel Robert Mueller's report when they question him next week in two open hearings, staffers said.

Mueller, who is reluctant to appear, has said he would confine himself to what he's already written — but the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence won't.

Updated at 7:05 p.m. ET

The House of Representatives approved a resolution Tuesday evening condemning the president for a series of racist tweets about four Democratic lawmakers.

The vote was mostly along party lines, as the House split 240-187, with four Republicans supporting the nonbinding measure.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been leaving Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hanging.

New Jersey Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski spent some time over the Memorial Day recess getting grilled by some of his most outspoken constituents: the sixth-graders at Warren Middle School.

The precocious students grilled him on the plight of the Uighurs in China, the high level of taxes in the state and his view on gay rights. And then, an 11-year-old named Bodhi Lee stood up to ask a question.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

The Senate approved a $19.1 billion disaster aid package Thursday that includes money for states impacted by flooding, recent hurricanes and tornadoes, as well as money for communities rebuilding after wildfires.

The measure passed overwhelmingly — 85-8.

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