Ron Elving

Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for NPR.org.

He is also a professorial lecturer and Executive in Residence in the School of Public Affairs at American University, where he has also taught in the School of Communication. In 2016, he was honored with the University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in an Adjunct Appointment. He has also taught at George Mason and Georgetown.

He was previously the political editor for USA Today and for Congressional Quarterly. He has been published by the Brookings Institution and the American Political Science Association. He has contributed chapters on Obama and the media and on the media role in Congress to the academic studies Obama in Office 2011, and Rivals for Power, 2013. Ron's earlier book, Conflict and Compromise: How Congress Makes the Law, was published by Simon & Schuster and is also a Touchstone paperback.

During his tenure as manager of NPR's Washington desk from 1999 to 2014, the desk's reporters were awarded every major recognition available in radio journalism, including the Dirksen Award for Congressional Reporting and the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In 2008, the American Political Science Association awarded NPR the Carey McWilliams Award "in recognition of a major contribution to the understanding of political science."

Ron came to Washington in 1984 as a Congressional Fellow with the American Political Science Association and worked for two years as a staff member in the House and Senate. Previously, he had been state capital bureau chief for The Milwaukee Journal.

He received his bachelor's degree from Stanford University and master's degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of California – Berkeley.

Welcome to the nightmare of being the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president, Joe.

Two women have complained about being touched inappropriately by former Vice President Joe Biden, who has been the leading (if still undeclared) candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.

Biden's poll numbers, while far from overwhelming, have still been the best of the ever-widening Democratic field. So any story that even hints at a Biden scandal is going to lead the newscast and leap to the front page.

Federal judges have sentenced other former aides of Donald Trump to prison, but a filmmaker is seeking a different kind of judgment on Steve Bannon, the onetime guru who thinks he's the one who got Trump elected president.

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A presidential pardon can't be stopped, blocked, vetoed or overturned. So where does this power come from? And is there any limit to it?

Andrew McCabe, the former acting director of the FBI, says President Trump's treatment of the bureau and its probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign was so profoundly disturbing during the spring of 2017 that Justice Department officials discussed contacting Cabinet members to initiate Trump's removal from office under the 25th Amendment.

Updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

As a rule, presidents want to have it both ways in their annual State of the Union addresses.

They want to "reach out to all Americans" with uplifting appeals to unity and bipartisanship. But they can't resist pumping up the pep rally for their party and most loyal supporters.

If that applies to all presidents in all seasons, it surely applied Tuesday night to President Trump, who has found the halfway point of his term to be fraught with political travail.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

And from Don to Ron, let us bring in NPR senior editor and correspondent Ron Elving, a man who has covered many presidents, many State of the Union addresses over the years. Welcome to the studio, Ron.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Mary Louise.

Congratulations, Stacey Abrams, you have just won the most dubious political prize in Washington!

Abrams, a former Democratic leader in the Georgia State Assembly, was named last week to respond to President Trump's State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Who would question that it's a privilege to deliver the opposition party's response to the president's State of the Union address? Well, perhaps you could start with some of the people who have actually done it.

Updated Jan. 24 at 10 p.m. ET

It was nearly midnight Wednesday when President Trump sent the tweet saying he would wait to deliver his "great" State of the Union speech until after the government is fully reopened.

When President Trump addresses the nation from the Oval Office on Tuesday night he will be sharing the space with more than a teleprompter and an array of TV cameras.

The room with the legendary shape will also be filled with ghosts. The spirit of every president in the television age will be alive in the memories of millions watching at home.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Rarely have six words meant so much, and so many different things, to so many.

As the years pass, we edit and compress our memories of presidents and other national figures until only a few salient impressions endure. Most of what we once knew recedes into our cerebral hard disk. That may be especially true for one-term presidents, often remembered more for what turned them out of office than for what got them there.

Would this apply to the one-term president who died Friday, George H.W. Bush? His name was attached to some of the nation's top positions for more than two decades even before his namesake son won the White House twice.

Want to feel old? Consider the fact that babies who were crying in cribs while their parents agonized over Florida's protracted presidential recount in 2000 are now of voting age.

Eighteen years is a long time. Even so, when we think of that time, many of us conjure up memories as sharp as barbed wire, roll our eyes or sigh out loud when anyone mentions "Florida 2000."

That phrase is being invoked a lot in light of this year's ultra-tight Florida statewide elections.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

This story was updated as of 6 p.m. Wednesday Nov. 7.

This was a midterm election in which both parties took some lumps, but could also take some satisfaction. And no one is better at taking satisfaction than President Trump.

The president began crowing long before dawn, when midterm election results were still rolling in, taking to Twitter at a moment when the tally was tilting his way.

Well it's finally here. Election Day 2018.

After what seemed like the longest and most anxiety-ridden midterm campaign in memory, today we are ready to choose the House and one-third of the Senate for the 116th Congress, not to mention the great majority of our governors and state legislators.

More than ready, apparently. Early voting has exploded this year in several states. Maybe every midterm electorate feels itself to be really special, but the 2018 iteration has the distinction of looking very, very large.

How much should we worry about Tuesday?

There is nothing more normal than the regular scheduling of midterm elections for governorships, one-third of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

We are about to have a national conversation about the word nationalist.

A word in more or less everyone's vocabulary has suddenly become a flashpoint because, well, because it was claimed by President Trump during a stump speech in Texas on Monday. That alone means people are likely to argue about it.

Imagine if President Trump, on the weekend after the upcoming midterm elections, suddenly forced out Jeff Sessions, Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller.

For the record, that would be the removal of the attorney general, the deputy attorney general and the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

And imagine Trump also shut down the offices occupied by Mueller's team of prosecutors — lock, stock and barrel.

Just like that.

Impossible, you say? Unprecedented? In fact, it is neither.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh may take a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court as early as next week, but only after shattering a rule about the confirmation process that had been set in stone for decades.

It was the rule that said you stood by your judicial record but held on tight to your judicial temperament. It was understood you had a party affiliation, but it shouldn't be worn on your sleeve. And above all, you were not to antagonize anyone.

You could call this the latest in a list of Capitol Hill norms to be lost in the era of President Trump.

Brett Kavanaugh is not the first presidential nominee to have his run to the Supreme Court frozen at the finish line by a woman's accusations.

Throughout this week of turmoil in Washington, the historical backstory has been the 1991 confrontation between Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas and a former colleague named Anita Hill.

It's far from over in the Carolinas, and President Trump is on the way.

As the remnants of Hurricane Florence roll north along the Appalachian Trail, the floodwaters deepen and the death toll rises. The destruction will remain for longer than anyone knows.

And for the victims, the first days of desperation are giving way to despair.

That is why the president is fitting in a visit to the stricken region on Wednesday.

Anyone contemplating the impeachment of a president should read Ken Starr's new book on the case he made for the impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998.

Not that the author of Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation is interested in setting the stage for the next impeachment. His immediate mission here is reshaping our memories of that earlier "national trauma."

For nearly half a century, Bob Woodward of The Washington Post has been reporting on presidents and power. But not since he covered the Watergate scandal in the 1970s has he assayed a presidency in crisis the way he does in Fear: Trump in the White House.

Woodward has published 18 previous books, most of them about presidents. They typically offer a rather doleful view of the world and an unsparing assessment of American political leaders.

Having watched Capitol Hill for more than 30 years, I have now seen Senate confirmation hearings for an even dozen nominees to the Supreme Court. Some have had moments of high drama. All have had an air of meaning and consequence.

Until this week.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In the last couple of years, most of the attention on Senator McCain has been focused on his clashes with President Trump. To talk more about that, we're joined by NPR's Ron Elving. Ron, thanks so much.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Hi, Michel.

The Trump era has already produced many moments of unprecedented strangeness, but perhaps none to match his triumphal visit to West Virginia just hours after two of his key associates were found guilty or pleaded guilty on a total 16 federal counts in two separate proceedings in two courts.

As President Trump enthralled a rally crowd for more than an hour on Fox News Tuesday night, a click to another channel revealed endless tape loops of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen leaving courthouses.

No president of the United States has ever been removed from office by impeachment. But it's hard to watch the news these days without hearing the word.

So, what does it actually take to impeach a president?

In this Ron's Office Hours, NPR's Ron Elving explains the procedure by which the House of Representative and the U.S. Senate remove a sitting president.

The median age in America is roughly 37. So most of the people in this country today have no memory of events in the 1970s, much less the 1950s.

But President Trump does. He has not only memories but also direct personal connections to some of the actors in those eras. And the drama of those times remains vivid to him, or at least worthy of mentioning on Twitter.

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