Mara Liasson

President Trump hosted Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at the White House Tuesday. Both leaders took questions from reporters.

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Well, last night had all the pomp and circumstance that only a State of the Union can provide. President Trump delivered his second last night, weaving together partisan attacks and some calls for unity.

(SOUNDBITE OF 2019 STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS)

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President Trump was asked a pretty extraordinary question over the weekend. It came from Fox News host Jeanine Pirro. She asked Trump if he has ever worked for Russia. The president did not exactly say no. He did say this.

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OK, now let's bring in NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Hey, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi there.

CHANG: So you've also read the resignation letter Mattis released. What about it stood out to you?

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And today a pro-Trump super PAC called Great America Alliance released this ad attacking Broward County election supervisor Brenda Snipes.

(SOUNDBITE OF AD)

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Keeping control of the House would validate President Trump's governing style and mean full speed ahead for Hill Republicans to move his agenda. But if the GOP loses its majority it will need to to go on defense to protect Trump.

When the Democrats lost the House in 2010, they rapidly saw President Barack Obama's legislative agenda die.

Veteran Democratic strategist Paul Begala doesn't think it's hyperbolic to say that "everything" is at stake for Democrats heading into Tuesday's elections.

"They always say it's the most important election of your life," he says, explaining that in the past two years, Democrats learned the consequences of being "completely shut out" as the GOP controlled both Congress and the White House.

If Democrats fail to take back the House and make significant gains at the state level, they'll be shut out again, without a say in legislation and judicial appointments.

In one respect, this is a typical midterm election — a race shaped as a referendum on the president and the party in power.

But there are so many ways in which this election is anything but typical. We've seen a surge in first-time candidates, especially women and minorities. In the past several midterms, the party in power was relatively complacent compared with the party hoping to be in power. Heading into Election Day, Democrats have an enthusiasm edge, but Republicans have been getting steadily amped up, too.

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In TV commercials and on debate stages across America, the attacks are now blistering as candidates see Election Day coming up fast.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

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The lawyer for Christine Blasey Ford wants something more than a she-said, he-said hearing.

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President Trump and his supporters have often complained about the "deep state" — a supposedly shadowy cabal of opposition bureaucrats buried deep within the government. But perhaps the biggest impediment to the president isn't the deep state at all. It's the "shallow state" — which exists right below Donald Trump at the Cabinet level.

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Ohio's special election yesterday to fill a congressional seat offers a textbook example of a razor-thin margin. Republican Troy Balderson holds a lead of less than 1 percent in a reliable GOP district. Last night, though, he claimed victory.

Democrats are playing a very weak hand in the battle over Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. They're locked out of power in Washington, D.C, and can't block the nomination thanks to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's decision in 2017 to end the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations.

Trump's Week

Jul 20, 2018

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President Trump wrapped up a tumultuous appearance at NATO in Brussels with an unscheduled press conference this morning.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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Yesterday, President Trump asked a question on Twitter - what good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy? This morning, when the president was talking about NATO at the NATO summit in Brussels, very different message.

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