Domenico Montanaro | KUER 90.1

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 has 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, N.Y., Montanaro is a die-hard Mets fan and college-basketball junkie.

It hit him one day riding his bicycle on the hard sand at the beach during a family vacation. He had taken this ride plenty of times before.

But this time was different for Joe Biden.

On his Asia trip last week, somewhere over Vietnam on Air Force One, President Trump told reporters he had asked Vladimir Putin again if Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

"He said he didn't meddle," the president said. "He said he didn't meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times."

Trump added: "Every time he sees me, he says, 'I didn't do that.' And I believe — I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it. ... I think he is very insulted by it, if you want to know the truth."

Democrats won up and down the ballot Tuesday night, notably in the governors' races in Virginia and New Jersey. The victories were a much needed sigh of relief for a party that hadn't had any high-profile victories at the ballot box during the first year of the Trump presidency — despite his record-low approval ratings.

Here are seven takeaways from what happened Tuesday and what it means:

Donald Trump won the votes of whites without a college degree by a bigger margin than any Republican presidential candidate since 1980. And there is reason for that. He gave voice to a group of people who have felt left behind.

"Every single American will have the opportunity to realize his or her fullest potential," Trump said in his election night victory speech, one year ago this week. "The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."

Updated at 2:16 p.m. ET

The week started with "legal shock and awe," as Carrie Johnson, NPR's Justice correspondent described it on the PBS NewsHour.

It's hard to believe it was only Monday that indictments were handed down stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia.

Hillary Clinton seemed startled by the question.

But asked Monday night at an event promoting her new book what she was going as for Halloween, she said, "I have to start thinking about it. ... I think I will maybe come as the president."

It wasn't clear whether she meant President Trump or just "as president."

That got laughs. But if you're like Clinton and maybe pulling on a Trump mask or a Sean Spicer lectern or maybe even a Hillary Clinton pantsuit for Halloween Tuesday, you'll be like roughly 2 percent of the population.

There is lots to watch this week, from a potentially make-or-break stretch on the tax overhaul President Trump so badly wants to social media network officials testifying about what they knew and when they knew it about Russian-linked ads that may have helped influence the 2016 presidential election.

For the first time, a majority of Republicans are in favor of legalizing marijuana, according to a Gallup poll out Wednesday.

Fifty-one percent of Republicans tell Gallup that, yes, marijuana should be legal, up from 42 percent last year.

Updated at 11:53 a.m. ET.

There is a political crackup happening in America.

There remain two major political parties in this country, but there are stark fissures within each. There seem to be roughly at least four stripes of politics today — the pragmatic left (think: Obama-Clinton, the left-of-center establishment Democrats), the pragmatic right (the Bush-McCain-Bob Corker Republican), the populist right (Trump's America) and the populist left (Bernie Sanders liberals).

Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, one of the four U.S. soldiers killed in a military operation in Niger on Oct. 4, told ABC's Good Morning America that President Trump "made me cry even worse" when he called to offer condolences last week.

The phone call between the president and Johnson has been a source of controversy for a week now, since Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., who listened in on the call, revealed details of the conversation.

You might say George W. Bush wants to make America great again.

In remarks Thursday, he criticized the kind of politics, sentiment and populism that led to President Trump's rise and election — though he never named Trump explicitly.

Updated at 2:20 p.m. ET

Not much of significance has gotten through this Congress, despite the House, Senate and White House all being controlled by the same party — Republicans.

President Trump says, don't blame him.

"We're not getting the job done. And I'm not going to blame myself, I'll be honest," Trump said during short remarks in a Cabinet meeting.

He then shifted away from "we" to "they."

"They're not getting the job done," the president said of Congress.

Back in March, after the first Republican legislative failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, during the Trump presidency, President Trump went before cameras in the Oval Office and revealed some of his thinking when it comes to the politics of health care.

"I've been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode," Trump said. "It is exploding right now."

Updated at 2:49 p.m. ET

Rex Tillerson denied a report out early Wednesday that he considered resigning as secretary of state, but he did not deny another detail in the report — that he called President Trump a "moron."

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, chairman of the influential Foreign Relations Committee, will not seek re-election in 2018.

He is the first senator to announce retirement plans ahead of next year's election cycle.

"I also believe the most important public service I have to offer our country could well occur over the next 15 months," Corker said in a statement, "and I want to be able to do that as thoughtfully and independently as I did the first 10 years and nine months of my Senate career."

Updated at 3:35 p.m. ET

Republicans are once again waving the white flag on health care.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he is pulling the Republican health care bill because it does not have the votes.

Rather than endure another embarrassing vote that sees his caucus come up short, the senators agreed in a closed-door meeting to shelve the bill.

Sunday was a historic day for the intersection of sports and politics.

Widespread protests in the National Football League, the most popular professional sport in America, were shown on broadcast channels across the country.

Stick to sports? Not this week. Whether sports fans wanted to see it or not, they couldn't avoid politics.

President Trump's poll slide appears to have stabilized.

Trump, who came into office with the lowest recorded approval and favorability ratings of any president, saw a steady decline in the months that followed his inauguration.

Comedian Jimmy Kimmel thwacked the latest Republican health care proposal Tuesday night after one of the senators sponsoring the bill invoked Kimmel's name.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., touted Tuesday on Capitol Hill that his plan passes the "Jimmy Kimmel test."

Race is again proving to be the sharpest dividing line of the Trump era.

This week, President Trump and conservatives went after ESPN, the cable sports network, for comments made by Jemele Hill, who hosts one of the flagship SportsCenter shows.

It all started on Monday when Hill, who is black, tweeted in reply to someone else: "Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists."

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Hill's comment a "fireable offense."

Updated at 1:21 p.m. ET

Welcome to September! Where did the summer go?

It was a rough August for President Trump. His White House staff has been hollowed out; he was roundly criticized for his divisive response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va.; and he heads into fall weakened politically with abysmal approval ratings and doubts about his leadership and presidency.

On Jan. 28, 1986, President Ronald Reagan was supposed to deliver the State of the Union.

Instead, he made a very different address to the nation that day, one that would transform the role of president, making it mandatory thereafter that presidents serve as consoler-in-chief.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

President Trump led an incendiary rally at which he ripped at cultural divides, played to white grievance, defended himself by stretching the truth or leaving out key facts, attacked members of his own party and the media, played the victim and threatened apocalyptic political consequences — all the while ignoring political norms and sensitivities.

The only thing that's surprising is if you're surprised by it.

There is a telling photo that has gotten some attention in social media after Steve Bannon's exit as President Trump's chief strategist. (You can see it above.)

It shows President Trump behind the desk in the Oval Office, surrounded by his top advisers: Seated are Vice President Pence and national security adviser Mike Flynn; standing, from left to right, are chief of staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Steve Bannon and press secretary Sean Spicer.

That was Jan. 28, eight days after Trump was inaugurated.

Today, only Pence remains.

A majority of Americans think President Trump's response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va., was "not strong enough," according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

Fifty-two percent of respondents said so, as compared with just over a quarter (27 percent) who thought it was strong enough.

No single issue has been a greater animating force for the Republican base over the past decade than immigration — except maybe the Affordable Care
Act (aka Obamacare).

And with the failure of GOP health care efforts in Congress and sliding poll numbers this summer, the Trump White House seems to be making a concerted effort to elevate cultural wedge issues, from immigration and a ban on transgender people in the military to affirmative action and police conduct.

Anthony Scaramucci's tenure at the White House was so short that it has inspired a meme about things that lasted longer.

As BuzzFeed noted, they included Kim Kardashian's marriage, being on hold with customer service, instant replay and pimples.

You get the idea.

But "The Mooch" actually accomplished a remarkable amount in such a short time. Don't think so? Let's review:

1. 10 days, four people gone (including himself)

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The new White House chief of staff removed a distraction by firing Anthony Scaramucci. So what's he do with all those other distractions?

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Updated at 8 p.m. ET

He rose from relative state-party obscurity and reached an unlikely pinnacle as the man responsible for the agenda of the president of the United States.

Now, Reince Priebus is out of that job as White House chief of staff in the most significant shake-up of the rocky Trump presidency.

President Trump announced on Twitter on Friday that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has been named to replace Priebus, who says he resigned Thursday.

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