Franco Ordoñez

Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.

Ordoñez has received several state and national awards for his work, including the Casey Medal, the Gerald Loeb Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Journalism. He is a two-time reporting fellow with the International Center for Journalists, and is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and the University of Georgia.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Updated at 10:10 a.m. ET

Unwilling to admit defeat but with his time in office at its end, President Trump left the White House early Wednesday, skipping the Inauguration Day ceremony that generations of outgoing presidents have attended — a symbolic peaceful transfer of power that had been made all but impossible by his actions after losing the election to Joe Biden.

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.

A clash has broken out between factions at the White House over whether to extend an expiring freeze on various temporary work visas, including those used by foreign high-tech workers and by au pairs, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

The measure, which President Trump signed earlier in 2020, is due to expire at the end of the year, on Thursday.

Updated at 9:25 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden plans to name Lloyd Austin, the retired U.S. Army four-star general, as his pick for secretary of defense in his incoming administration, two sources familiar with the decision confirmed to NPR.

Austin joins a growing and diverse list of nominees for Biden's cabinet, which the president-elect has said he wants to reflect the diversity of America. If confirmed, Austin would be the first African American to lead the department.

President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate former congressman and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as secretary of Health and Human Services, according to a source familiar with transition discussions who is not authorized to speak on the record.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Updated at 6:15 p.m. ET

The United States has had 77 Treasury secretaries in the last 231 years. So far, they've all been men.

That's about to change.

President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to head the Treasury Department, a source close to the transition told NPR on Monday

If confirmed, Yellen would play a leading role in shaping economic policy as the United States continues to dig its way out of the deep hole caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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President Trump has been unusually silent since he lost the election. It's been more than a week since he's spoken publicly.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

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.

Vice President Pence has tested negative for the coronavirus, a spokesman says, after President Trump announced his own positive test.

Devin O'Malley, the vice president's spokesman, told NPR that Pence is tested every day.

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LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The Trump administration's decision to entrust $765 million of taxpayer money to Eastman Kodak raised several questions about the financial vetting of the struggling camera company even before the deal was put on hold amid an investigation into potential insider trading.

President Trump tapped into the emotions and nostalgia of a bygone era, charging that Kodak would lead U.S. efforts to bring pharmaceutical manufacturing back to the United States.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

And let's pick up on the question of quite how the White House and the sitting president are going to react to today's big news of the pick of Kamala Harris. I want to bring in NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez.

Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET

The renewed surge in coronavirus cases has left some states once again scrambling to find supplies of masks, gowns, gloves and other medical supplies. The shortages have drawn attention to President Trump's plan to help rebuild the national stockpile of these supplies — a plan that involves a little-known foreign investment agency.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will not release a set of documents this week aimed at giving schools advice on how to reopen to students after coronavirus shutdowns, NPR has learned. Instead, the full set will be published before the end of the month, a CDC spokesperson says.

"These science and evidence-based resources and tools will provide additional information for administrators, teachers and staff, parents, caregivers and guardians, as together we work towards the public health-oriented goal of safely opening schools this fall," the spokesperson said.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

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.

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President Trump and his Chinese counterpart spoke about Trump's reelection prospects "frequently," former national security adviser John Bolton told NPR.

According to Bolton, Chinese President Xi Jinping lamented that Trump couldn't run for a potential third term, to which Trump "said yes," Bolton recounted.

White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said on Tuesday that she is encouraged by the latest data showing declines in new cases of the virus, hospitalizations and deaths across all but a few areas of the United States.

Updated at 6 p.m. ET

President Trump used a medical equipment distribution center in the battleground state of Pennsylvania on Thursday as a backdrop to announce he will use an international development finance agency to rebuild the U.S. stockpile of medical supplies depleted by the coronavirus pandemic.

President Trump said the existing coronavirus social distancing guidelines that are set to expire with the end of April on Thursday will not be extended further, as more governors begin steps to lift restrictions and reopen their economies.

The administration said the existing social distancing recommendations are being incorporated by governors into their new future plans.

"They'll be fading out, because now the governors are doing it," Trump said.

Updated at 8:45 p.m. ET

President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday aimed at addressing concerns about meat shortages.

The order invokes the Defense Production Act to ensure beef, pork, poultry and egg plants keep running.

Vice President Pence says comments he made last month about coronavirus testing were misunderstood by the public.

At issue: test distribution versus test completion.

Pence joined President Trump on Monday to announce a federal "blueprint" to help states ramp up their testing of the virus. Testing is seen as crucial for states to begin to lift social and economic restrictions.

Vice President Pence is slated to leave the confines of Washington twice this week — the latest in a series of trips the White House is using as test runs for President Trump to get back on the road after the coronavirus brought political travel to a screeching halt.

Two leading former federal health officials who served in recent Republican and Democratic administrations are spearheading a call for a $46 billion public health investment in a future coronavirus aid package in order to safely reopen the economy.

New White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is working with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to see how to reduce wage rates for foreign guest workers on American farms, in order to help U.S. farmers struggling during the coronavirus, according to U.S. officials and sources familiar with the plans.

Opponents of the plan argue it will hurt vulnerable workers and depress domestic wages.

Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, criticized governors Thursday, saying they don't have a handle on their own supplies of masks and ventilators needed to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

In a rare appearance in the White House briefing room, Kushner urged governors and some senators to be more resourceful in their own states instead of looking first to the federal government for help.

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