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.

Questions will linger about President Trump's aborted plan to host peace talks between Afghanistan's elected leader and representatives of the Taliban, but one aspect of that ill-starred rendezvous is relatively easy to understand — the proposed location at Camp David.

The venue, a federal facility in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland about 70 miles northwest of Washington, D.C., has been associated in the past with U.S. presidents and momentous meetings.

Many heads got scratched this week when President Trump doubled down on his erroneous claim that Alabama had been in the path of Hurricane Dorian.

Apparently relying on a map that warned of high winds, or another showing hypothetical paths for the storm, the president over the weekend insisted Alabama was "in the crosshairs." At midweek, sitting in the Oval Office, he held up a map on which someone using a marking pen had ballooned the area of actual hurricane threat to include Alabama.

Week In Politics

Aug 31, 2019

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

We're watching Hurricane Dorian as it heads towards the U.S. and the storm on the economic horizon and clouds of tear gas in the streets of Hong Kong. NPR's senior Washington editor and correspondent Ron Elving joins us. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Updated at 1 p.m. ET

The second night of the Democratic debates in Detroit did not stray from its predicted script: It was open season on front-runner Joe Biden right from the start.

But it was also something of a free-for-all, with every candidate for himself or herself. And the intensity and outcome of the exchanges may have come as a surprise to some of the people onstage.

Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate in Detroit was widely expected to pit the two leading progressives in the field against each other. Instead, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts had each other's backs in fending off the other eight aspirants onstage.

They gave as good as they got, and emerged at least as strong as either was going in. That was particularly good news for Sanders, who had been perceived as ceding ground to Warren in recent months.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

When history looks back on the first round of debates among Democrats in the 2020 presidential cycle, it will see a generational milestone.

Both nights of the twin bill in Miami put the spotlight on a national party in transition, loosening the bonds of its past and looking ahead to new personalities to propel its future.

Michael Wolff's new book about President Trump, Siege: Trump Under Fire, offers many surprising stories — but its power to shock may be limited.

Most Americans have long since decided what they think of Trump. And most people who pay attention to such books have made up their minds about Wolff, as well.

The presidency of Donald Trump reached a new and ominous phase this week in its confrontations with opponents within the government.

Beleaguered by investigations on several fronts, the president made a show of breaking off negotiations with Democrats in Congress on an array of legislative issues and vowing he would not relent until they ended the probes.

The news world is ravenously awaiting the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election interference.

But Attorney General William Barr's two trips to the Capitol last week strongly suggest that the version of the report he releases will only whet the appetites of many in Congress and beyond for more information.

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.

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.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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.

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:

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.

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.

President Trump's choice of Brett Kavanaugh is already the most contentious nomination to the Supreme Court since Clarence Thomas won a 52-48 confirmation vote in 1991.

Thomas' was the closest vote confirming a justice since the 1800s, and it followed a stormy hearing and an adverse vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The process nearly foundered on accusations of sexual harassment and racial prejudice.

But the Senate in that day settled down, and Thomas has served on the court for 27 years – a nearly always silent anchor on the court's right.

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

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.

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.

He also looks at the history of impeachment proceedings, beginning with former President John Tyler in the 1840s and leading up to the House impeachment of former President Bill Clinton in 1998.

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.

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.

The media world that revolves around President Trump is a world of promising news, which is to say news that is mostly about promises.

The stories that dominate front pages and lead newscasts are typically about things that might happen or could happen. And sometimes, these things actually do happen.

Given the attitude with which President Trump has greeted all news of the Russian interference in the 2016 election, his performance in Helsinki on Monday should have come as no surprise.

And yet there was surprise — even shock — when the president of the United States stood onstage alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin and accepted the former KGB officer's denials regarding that interference.

The last thing Washington needs right now is another blockbuster news story.

But here it comes anyway, President Trump's latest choice to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. At a minimum, that person will be the center of attention in Washington through much of the summer and fall, through Senate hearings and deliberations — after which the nominee is highly likely to be confirmed and to serve on the nation's highest court for decades.

When it comes to Washington news stories, it doesn't get much bigger than that.

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