post-election

President Obama's final press conference was one of both reflection and subtle rebuke toward incoming President-elect Donald Trump, defending voting rights and a free press, all while reassuring the American people that "at my core, I think we're going to be OK."

All Things Considered co-host Ari Shapiro is on a road trip leading up to the inauguration of Donald Trump on Jan. 20. He is driving through North Carolina and Virginia, on the way to Washington, D.C. These are two swing states that went in opposite directions in November, each by a close margin: North Carolina for Trump, Virginia for Hillary Clinton. As the country faces dramatic changes, we're asking people what they want from that change — and what concerns them.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday in a dispute that advocates describe as the most important case involving public school special education in three decades.

At issue is whether federal law requires public schools to provide more than the bare minimum in special services for children with disabilities. With millions of children qualifying for these services, the court's ruling could have a profound effect.

Even before Barack Obama moved into the White House, he and his team made a choice that made actually selling his policies to the public more difficult.

In December 2008, Obama's economic team gathered in Chicago to map out what would become the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"A dispute, discussion, something breaks out at that meeting. We haven't even come in yet," said Austan Goolsbee, a professor at the University of Chicago, who was a top economic adviser in the early years of the Obama presidency.

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Bernie Sanders thinks he has a pretty good idea why Hillary Clinton and Democrats lost in the 2016 election.

"Look, you can't simply go around to wealthy people's homes raising money and expect to win elections," the Vermont senator, who gave Clinton a surprisingly strong run for the Democratic nomination, told NPR's David Greene in an interview airing on Morning Edition. "You've got to go out and mix it up and be with ordinary people."

Since the Obama administration hasn't been able to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the push has been on to transfer as many of the cleared detainees as possible before Donald Trump becomes president.

The Pentagon announced on Thursday that four prisoners have been released and sent to Saudi Arabia, where they are expected to participate in a rehabilitation program.

On a cold night in January nine years ago, Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses. That first big step on the young senator's unlikely path to the White House was fueled by an army of campaign volunteers, which Obama later called one of his proudest legacies.

"That's what America needs right now," Obama told campaign workers a year later, after he was sworn in as president. "Active citizens like you, who are willing to turn towards each other, talk to people you've never met, and say, 'C'mon, let's go do this. Let's go change the world.' "

When Donald Trump takes to Twitter, some companies shudder.

This week, Ford Motor Co. said it would scrap a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico in favor of expanding an existing one in Michigan. That happened on the same day the president-elect tweeted criticism of General Motors for manufacturing its Chevy Cruze vehicles in Mexico.

Democratic leaders of the California Legislature signaled their intention Wednesday to fight any challenges to state policies by the incoming administration of Donald Trump by hiring as outside legal counsel former Attorney General Eric Holder.

The announcement came in a joint statement issued by California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Republicans in Congress have tried over and over to repeal Obamacare to no avail. Now, they control both houses of Congress, and they've got an ally in the White House. And now the path is much clearer. Here's Donald Trump just before the election.

After a storm of criticism, including from President-elect Donald Trump, House Republicans have reversed themselves and restored the current rules of the Office of Congressional Ethics.

GOP members met Tuesday afternoon and agreed by unanimous consent to withdraw a change to House rules approved late Monday evening, before the new Congress was sworn in, that would have weakened the ethics office, an independent watchdog first established in 2008 under House Democrats.

The House and Senate are back in Washington today for the start of the 115th Congress. With GOP control of both chambers and soon the Oval Office, Republicans are promising an aggressive agenda that will prioritize the repeal of the current president's signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act. The Senate is expected to start that process with a budget resolution this week.

Updated at 10:15 a.m. ET

The House Republican Conference voted Monday night to approve a change to House rules to weaken the independence of the Office of Congressional Ethics and place it under the oversight of the House Ethics Committee, a panel controlled by party leaders.

It will be part of a broader House Rules package to be voted on by the full body on Tuesday after the 115th Congress officially convenes and the House elects a speaker.

Texas could soon follow in the footsteps of Indiana and North Carolina and pass its own "bathroom bill" in the upcoming legislative session. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has made passage of such a bill, which could require transgender Texans to use the restroom which corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate, a priority.

As the 115th Congress is sworn in Tuesday, Republicans will be poised to control Washington with a stronger hand than they have in a decade — with the Senate, House and the White House in GOP control once President-elect Donald Trump takes office on January 20.

This past November, Republicans held their congressional losses to a minimum, helped by an unexpectedly strong GOP wave behind Trump. After losing just two Senate seats, they'll hold a 52-48 edge (two independents caucus with Democrats). In the House, Republicans lost six seats, giving them a 241-194 majority.

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In November, the typically straitlaced Office of Government Ethics surprised observers with a series of tweets mimicking Donald Trump's bombastic style, exclamation points and all: "Brilliant! Divestiture is good for you, good for America!"

Democrats may have lost the House and the Senate over the past eight years, but they always had one thing: President Barack Obama — and his veto pen — in the White House.

That won't be the case next year, when Republicans find themselves with all the power in Washington for the first time since 2006.

The capitol's new power dynamic — and the aggressive agenda Republican leaders are laying out for 2017-- is forcing Democrats to make some tough strategic choices about how they'll work as a minority party.

Dealing with a flood of last-minute pardon requests amounted to one of the biggest surprises of his presidency, George W. Bush once wrote. Bush declared himself "disgusted" by how many people exploited their connections to make personal appeals.

Now, President Obama faces the same set of difficult decisions on the way out the door, with many high-profile applicants requesting clemency in the president's final weeks in office.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest recently warned applicants not to get their hopes up.

President-elect Donald Trump and @realDonaldTrump are contradicting each other.

Wednesday afternoon, Trump emerged from his Mar-a-Lago resort to tell reporters that he and President Obama had spoken on the phone and had "a very nice conversation."

"I appreciate that he called me," Trump said.

The comment came hours after Trump blasted Obama on Twitter.

But asked by reporters Wednesday afternoon how that transition was going, Trump said, "I think very, very smoothly. Very good. You don't think so?" (A "not" was not forthcoming in real life.)

There were two major assumptions about Latino voters throughout the presidential campaign:

(1) a record number of Latinos would show up on Election Day to oppose Donald Trump's candidacy and

(2) the anti-immigration rhetoric that launched Trump's campaign would push conservative-leaning Hispanics to flee the Republican Party.

Neither of those assumptions entirely panned out as expected.

Prediction 1: The Surge?

To glance at some of the political news this week, you'd think it was October.

Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta did Meet the Press over the weekend to talk about Russia hacking the DNC's emails.

Hillary Clinton aide Brian Fallon took to Twitter on Tuesday to question the FBI's investigation into Clinton's emails.

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President-elect Donald Trump is adding another billionaire to the top ranks of his administration.

Trump plans to nominate a wealthy financial executive, Vincent Viola, to be secretary of the Army. Viola would be at least the fourth Trump nominee with a net worth in the billions. And that's not counting Trump's own 10-figure fortune.

President-elect Donald Trump says he will double the nation's growth rate during his time in office. That promise will be difficult to keep.

Trump isn't talking about a temporary boost in growth. He says he can make the economy grow in the long term at a rate of about 4 percent a year.

North Carolina's Legislature is poised to repeal the controversial "bathroom bill," after the Charlotte City Council unanimously voted to repeal its local anti-discrimination measure.

The state law, called House Bill 2 or HB2, was passed in March as a direct response to that Charlotte measure — over the course of 12 hours, in the state's first special legislative session in 35 years.

Now the law might be rolled back in another special session, again following a decision by the Charlotte City Council.

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