Ayesha Rascoe

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. In her current role, she covers breaking news and policy developments from the White House. Rascoe also travels and reports on many of President Trump's foreign trips, including his 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and his 2018 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland. 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 President Barack 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.

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.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Updated at 4:30 ET

President Trump leaned into his economic record Friday as he attempted to attract Black voters with a pledge to try to secure more lending for African American business owners.

Trump unveiled what he called the "platinum plan" for Black economic empowerment at a campaign event in Atlanta. But during wide-ranging remarks, Trump spent more time telling people why they shouldn't vote for Democratic rival Joe Biden than he did describing his campaign pitch to African Americans.

President Trump has been arguing that he has been the best president for Black Americans outside of Abraham Lincoln, but with less than 100 days before the election, it's not clear that his campaign to reach African Americans is changing many minds.

Trump won just 8% of the Black vote in 2016. Current polls show the vast majority of Black voters backing Trump's Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. But, in swing states like Wisconsin and North Carolina, where the presidential race could be tight, squeezing out a few more Black votes could make a difference for Trump.

Updated at 4:44 p.m. ET

Former Republican presidential candidate and pizza magnate Herman Cain has died from the coronavirus.

Cain, 74, had been hospitalized since early July after he began having trouble breathing.

"Herman Cain – our boss, our friend, like a father to so many of us – has passed away," aides announced on Cain's website Thursday.

The economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic is stifling a federal program meant to spur new investment in low-income neighborhoods, according to a new survey from an advocacy group that backs the initiative.

Updated at 9:15 p.m. ET

President Trump defended what he called a "very symbolic" photo-op on Monday in front of St. John's Church and dismissed a suggestion that he needed to do more to comfort the nation after the death of George Floyd, saying that cracking down on violent protests was paramount.

Seniors with diabetes will be able to sign up for Medicare plans that cap their co-payments for insulin at $35 a month beginning next year, the White House announced on Tuesday.

The news comes as some polls show Trump's support slipping with seniors, a voting bloc that may play a pivotal role in the November election. In 2016, he won over older voters, but recent polls show him trailing Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

The White House is looking at extending a tax break for investments in certain low-income neighborhoods as it tries to find ways to address the devastating impact of the coronavirus on communities of color in America.

A provision in the 2017 tax cut law allows investors to defer and lower their capital gains taxes through 2026 if they invest their profits into designated "opportunity zones" –- areas struggling with high unemployment and low wages.

Before the coronavirus crisis decimated the U.S. economy, the record-low unemployment rate for African Americans was the backbone of President Trump's reelection pitch to black voters.

It was always a tough sell, given his past performance with African Americans. Now it's even tougher after the pandemic has erased economic gains and forced the campaign to adjust its message in its outreach to black voters.

A top aide to President Trump on Monday delivered a critique of the Chinese government's efforts to clamp down on free speech in a speech delivered in Mandarin and seemingly aimed at the Chinese public.

Deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger, who worked as a journalist in China early in his career, hailed two "brave" Chinese doctors who raised early alarms about the coronavirus and faced retribution from the Chinese government.

President Trump twice received intelligence briefings on the coronavirus in January, according to a White House official. The official tells NPR the briefings occurred on Jan. 23 and Jan. 28.

Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

The White House released a blueprint for states on coronavirus testing on Monday at a daily news conference it spiked and then revived.

The document presents "key strategic considerations" for states, including their roles, the roles of the federal government and local governments, the private sector and monitoring systems, officials said.

An employee of the Federal Emergency Management Agency working on coronavirus response efforts at the agency's Washington headquarters has tested positive for the virus.

The employee tested positive on Monday. FEMA says it's now disinfecting its workspace.

The employee did not have prolonged contact with people on the White House coronavirus task force, the agency said in a statement.

President Trump wants to bring back the tax write-off for business meals and entertainment, but critics say reviving what is known as the "three-martini lunch" tax break is not the answer to the problem that restaurants face right now.

Trump is pushing Congress to restore the measure that gave corporations a tax break for the cost of food and entertainment for clients and potential customers. He says it will give restaurants a leg up when they reopen after the social distancing guidelines for the coronavirus are lifted.

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