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.

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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Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, made a rare appearance during yesterday's coronavirus briefing. He criticized governors for not having a handle on their supplies of masks and ventilators.

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Two weeks ago, President Trump entered the White House briefing room and announced an aggressive plan to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Stay home for 15 days, he told Americans. Avoid groups of more than 10 people. "If everyone makes this change, or these critical changes, and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus," he said.

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The nation's 15 days of social distancing are nearly over. And while many states have issued stay-at-home orders for much longer periods of time, new guidance from the White House coronavirus task force is due soon.

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The United States and China are locked in a struggle over influence and messaging about the coronavirus pandemic even as governments around the world struggle to control the outbreak.

This week, Washington claimed a small victory.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus hailed comments by China's ambassador walking back an earlier false claim in Beijing that the U.S. Army had introduced the coronavirus to its epicenter in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Updated at 3:37 p.m. ET

The Food and Drug Administration is trying to clear the way to expand the types of medicines or treatments available during the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump said Thursday.

Early trials have begun for a prospective coronavirus vaccine, and the FDA also is working to permit patients to have access to medicines approved for use in other countries or for other uses.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn stressed that the agency is moving as quickly as it can while still following protocol to ensure safety standards are met.

Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET

President Trump on Friday declared that the coronavirus pandemic is a national emergency, a designation that frees up as much as $50 billion in federal assistance to state and local governments overwhelmed by the spread of the virus, and makes it easier to surge medical resources to areas that need them most.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Olympia, Wash., on Thursday to meet with the governor and health officials and express support for the region that has been hit hardest by coronavirus.

"By being there on the ground, I want to assure the people of Washington State, people of California, people that are in the communities that are being impacted by the virus, that we're with them," Pence told reporters, pledging federal resources to help.

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President Trump took full advantage of the large television audience for his State of the Union speech on Tuesday to make his case for reelection in November, touting the strong economy and delighting Republicans in the room with a series of made-for-TV moments.

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The Senate impeachment trial kicked off today with arguments about the rules for the hours of arguments and debate to come in the days ahead. Today we got our first preview of President Trump's defense from White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET

President Trump on Thursday defended students who feel they can't pray in their schools — and warned school administrators they risk losing federal funds if they violate their students' rights to religious expression.

Trump held an event in the Oval Office with a group of Christian, Jewish and Muslim students and teachers to commemorate National Religious Freedom Day. The students and teachers said they have been discriminated against for practicing their religion at school.

Updated on Jan. 17 at 9:30 p.m. ET

President Trump has picked some high-wattage lawyers to round out his defense team for the Senate impeachment trial — a group of attorneys who are as comfortable in front of the television cameras as they are in courtrooms.

Ken Starr, a Fox news commentator whose special counsel investigations led to President Bill Clinton's impeachment, will join the team. Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz also will help deliver opening arguments.

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The U.S. Department of Defense says Iran has launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against American military forces in Iraq. This attack against U.S. forces comes after Iranian leaders vowed to retaliate for the killing of an Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani. NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez joins us here in the studio.

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President Trump has often surrounded himself with lawyers whom he sees as being good on television. But Pat Cipollone, the attorney who will play a leading role in Trump's Senate impeachment trial defense, is better known for working behind the scenes.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

During a surprise Thanksgiving Day visit to troops stationed in Afghanistan, President Trump said that his administration has reopened peace talks with the Taliban, nearly three months after he abruptly canceled them. Trump made the announcement at a rally staged at Bagram Airfield outside Kabul, where he exchanged handshakes and posed for photographs with U.S. troops.

Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET

A foreign service officer detailed to work in the office of Vice President Pence testified behind closed doors on Thursday in the ongoing House impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Jennifer Williams was assigned to work on European and Russian issues with the vice president's team in the spring. She is the first person from the vice president's office to testify in the probe of whether the president withheld military aid from Ukraine while seeking a political favor.

Updated at 12 p.m. ET

The impeachment inquiry into President Trump turned its spotlight on Monday on four top White House officials, asking them to testify behind closed doors as Democrats probe whether Trump held up military aid as leverage to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

But none of them showed up, citing legal advice.

Updated at 11:25 p.m. ET

Tim Morrison, the top Russia official on President Trump's National Security Council, who is scheduled to testify in the impeachment inquiry on Thursday, is set to leave his White House post imminently, three sources familiar with the plan told NPR.

Updated at 8:45 p.m. ET

President Trump has told Republican allies in the Senate that he would like to nominate immigration hard-liner Ken Cuccinelli as his next Homeland Security secretary, but has said he does not believe Republican Senate leaders would back the choice, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

Cuccinelli, the former attorney general of Virginia, has made enemies in his own party. He used to lead a group that raised money to challenge incumbent Republican senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Ambassador William Taylor delivered an explosive opening statement to congressional investigators Tuesday.

Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, described a shadow foreign policy operation being led by President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani where U.S. aid to Ukraine was contingent on the country undertaking investigations that could help Trump in his campaign for reelection in 2020.

Updated at 10:02 p.m. ET

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan is leaving his post, the latest casualty at the department responsible for protecting U.S. borders.

President Trump said in a tweet Friday night that McAleenan had done an "outstanding job" but that he wanted to "spend more time with family and go to the private sector."

Trump added that he would announce a new acting secretary next week.

Updated at 6:21 p.m. ET

President Trump now says China should investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Trump brought up China, just days before restarting trade talks with Beijing, while answering questions about his call with his Ukrainian counterpart and what specifically he hoped Ukraine would do about the Biden family.

The whistleblower complaint released Thursday charges that White House officials attempted to limit access to potentially damaging details about President Trump's call with Ukraine's president by using a classified system reserved for highly sensitive information.

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President Trump will return to the world's biggest stage this week to address heads of state at a time when U.S. global leadership is seen as waning.

When he takes the stage at the United Nations General Assembly for the third time on Tuesday, Trump is expected to "affirm America's leadership role" and "underscore that America is a positive alternative to authoritarianism," said a senior administration official.

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