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 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, NY, Montanaro is a die-hard Mets fan and college basketball junkie.

Trust in the institutions that have been the pillars of U.S. politics and capitalism is crumbling.

That is one finding from the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, which shows that Americans have limited confidence in its public schools, courts, organized labor and banks — and even less confidence in big business, the presidency, the political parties and the media.

Democrats are celebrating wins in the two biggest races on election night 2017. The party will hold the governors' offices in New Jersey and Virginia. The Virginia race was causing Democrats worry in the final days.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

So, 2018 picked up where 2017 left off with eye-popping palace intrigue mixed with the widening net of the Department of Justice's Russia investigation.

The week's highlights included tabloidlike, tell-all details from the new book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House with explosive on-the-record and blind quotes from White House insiders. The president reacted by eviscerating his former chief strategist Steve Bannon, accusing him of losing his mind and branding him "Sloppy Steve."

You can bet campaign managers for sitting Republican senators up for re-election this year are smiling.

Heck, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is. The official McConnell Senate Committee tweeted a GIF of the grinning majority leader.

In the power struggle among various power centers vying for President Trump's attention, the president was thrown into the arms of McConnell with Trump's evisceration of former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

The Senate returns Wednesday, and President Trump made his way back to Washington on Monday after lying fairly low to end the year in Palm Beach, Fla., at his personal resort.

His first year was a mixed bag of legislative accomplishments (tax overhaul) and failures (health care), the book is still out on his foreign policy posture, and the Russia probe continues.

So what should we expect in 2018? There are four areas of domestic policy the president is particularly focused on, according to the White House — immigration, infrastructure, welfare and health care.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The Russia probe, led by special counsel Robert Mueller, was chosen as the top political story of the year.

It narrowly beat out the sweeping story of fallout from sexual harassment, which touched on every industry, caused the resignations of a senator and members of Congress and continues.

The selection happened through Twitter, where more than 4,700 users voted on the final matchup of a March Madness-style 64-story tournament.

Fallout from sexual harassment, former FBI Director James Comey's firing and the ensuing Russia probe by special counsel Robert Mueller are all in strong positions to be the top political stories of 2017.

Will there be an upset Thursday? Voting begins at 8:30 a.m. ET and will close at noon ET, when voting will begin on the final eight. (VOTE HERE!)

It was a pretty predictable first round of voting in the NPR Top Political Story of the Year Bracket.

The top seeds all advanced easily. The only upset was 10-seeded Anthony Scaramucci's 10 days in the White House breezing past the far-more important New York Truck Attack, which was a 7-seed.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET

So much happened in 2017, it's hard to believe.

Ranking the top stories of the year is nearly impossible, especially with so many consequential, eye-popping and fast-moving things that happened.

Despite some last-minute challenges, Republicans appear to have the votes to give President Trump his first legislative victory.

Final passage of the bill that will reshape the tax system and touch nearly every American is expected early this week, possibly Tuesday or Wednesday.

It will be Trump's first significant legislative accomplishment, not a bad Christmas gift for a president, who often boasts of lesser successes.

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

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Election Day is finally here in Alabama's U.S. Senate race.

Updated at 5:12 p.m. ET

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., deciding to resign from the Senate on Thursday amid allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct now sets off a chain of events that could give Republicans an unexpected target in 2018.

Here's a look at how it would all play out:

What would happen right away?

A day after Michael Flynn, President Trump's former national security adviser, was ensnared — and apparently flipped — in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, another story leaked: "Mueller Removed FBI Agent From Russia Probe Over Anti-Trump Messages."

Coincidence?

Updated at 1:53 p.m. ET

Sen. Al Franken said Monday he would not resign from office after allegations of sexual harassment have been leveled against him.

It's back to work this week for President Trump and Republicans after Thanksgiving — and they have a lot to do.

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The re-examination of sexual misconduct that has swept entertainment and media is now focused more tightly on Congress.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Yes, this White House tradition happened again. The president pardoned a pair of turkeys Tuesday.

They have punny names again — "Wishbone" and "Drumstick."

"Drumstick, you are hearby pardoned," Trump said of the bird that was chosen to be at the ceremony.

Trump then applauded and Drumstick gobbled.

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

President Trump has tweeted boldly about his power to pardon, used it once for a controversial ally, and this week he'll put his pardon pen to use for a couple of turkeys. Literally.

Sexual assault allegations against Roy Moore have reverberated from Alabama to Washington, D.C.

Many Republican leaders have pulled their support from Moore. They include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, the head of National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is in charge of electing GOP senators.

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:

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