Domenico Montanaro

Now that the 2020 Democratic field is pretty much set (barring a last-minute Stacey Abrams or John Kerry bid) with former Vice President Joe Biden getting in Thursday, let's look at what we've learned so far about the field and what to watch for going forward:

1. How far does name identification go? Biden is a huge boulder in the lake, and his entry into the presidential campaign is sending ripples throughout the primary field. So far, he leads the pack. That's largely a product of the fact that people know the former vice president and recognize his name.

Imagine, if you can, a scenario in which Attorney General William Barr declined to put out a four-page letter to Congress describing the Mueller report three weeks ago.

Imagine, too, that he didn't hold a press conference Thursday before the redacted report's release.

Updated at 7:26 p.m. ET

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders released 10 years' worth of tax returns Monday. The documents underscore how much money the populist presidential candidate has earned in recent years, as his public profile has risen.

In an interview with the New York Times before the returns were made public, Sanders dismissed the idea that his newfound wealth undercut his billionaire-bashing message.

Congressional Democrats are embroiled in the fight to try to compel the release of President Trump's tax returns, which he continues to decline to do. But with the deadline to file taxes coming Monday, it's Democratic candidates who are in the spotlight.

Updated Wednesday at 2:15 p.m.

As more 2020 Democrats report their fundraising totals, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders remains ahead in the cash race with the $18.2 million he received from more than 500,000 donors since he entered the presidential campaign in February.

Updated 12:59 p.m. ET

A closely divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that a death row inmate with a rare medical condition is not entitled to an alternative method of execution just because the one the state uses could cause him several minutes of great pain and suffering.

Days after Attorney General William Barr released his four-page summary of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation report, overwhelming majorities of Americans want the full report made public and believe Barr and Mueller should testify before Congress, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

Only about a third of Americans believe, from what they've seen or heard about the Mueller investigation so far, that President Trump is clear of any wrongdoing. But they are split on how far Democrats should go in investigating him going forward.

The Supreme Court appeared sharply divided on the question of whether there's any limit on what the courts can impose on partisan redistricting, also known as gerrymandering, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the newest member of the court, appearing at least somewhat conflicted.

"I took some of your argument in the briefs and the amicus briefs to be that extreme partisan gerrymandering is a real problem for our democracy," Kavanaugh told the lawyers arguing the case, "and I'm not going to dispute that."

There were two headline "principal conclusions" out of Attorney General William Barr's publicly released letter to Congress about the now-concluded Russia probe conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller:

  1. It "did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election."

The U.S. Supreme Court will weigh whether one of those convicted in the "D.C. Sniper" killings should have a lessened sentence.

Lee Boyd Malvo, 34, is currently serving a life term in prison for his role in the 2002 shootings that killed 10 people. The two months of shootings represent one of the most notable attacks to take place in the nation's capital.

The first thing you notice when you see it is that it's big, even huge.

And isn't that appropriate? After all, it's a massive 8-by-16-foot painting of President Trump.

For Trump, it's gotta be big.

"I paint large anyway," said the artist, Julian Raven of Elmira, N.Y. "It just happens that it works with Trump, as well."

The president is making yet another appearance before the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, on Saturday, and one thing is clear – this is his crowd.

Bernie Sanders has again proved he should not be underestimated in a presidential contest.

Despite talk of his coalition potentially fracturing with such a big Democratic primary field, the Sanders faithful showed they've still got his back. In the 24 hours following the Vermont independent's announcement Tuesday that he was again running for president, he raised a whopping $6 million.

More than 6-in-10 Americans disapprove of President Trump's decision to declare a national emergency so he can build barriers along the U.S border with Mexico, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds.

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One year after the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the urgency for new gun restrictions has declined, but roughly half the country is concerned a mass shooting could happen at a school in their community, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds.

In the immediate aftermath of the mass shooting that killed 17 people on Valentine's Day, 71 percent of Americans said laws covering the sale of firearms should be stricter. Now, it's 51 percent.

Updated 4:14 p.m. ET

President Trump said on Tuesday that he's not "happy" with a potential budget deal being worked out by congressional negotiators but added that he doesn't think there will be another partial government shutdown.

President Trump delivered a wide-ranging State of the Union address Tuesday night that went an hour and 21 minutes. That's the third-longest ever.

So what should we make of Trump's third address to Congress, and in a year when Democrats are gearing up for a crowded primary to decide who will face Trump in 2020?

1. Trump did not acknowledge the new political reality in Washington

The Democratic presidential field is big.

There has been no shortage of reaction to former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz's declaration that he is seriously considering running — as an independent — for president.

In this game of who would blink first in this shutdown showdown, it was, perhaps surprisingly, President Trump.

Late Wednesday night, the president tweeted saying he would defer to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and not deliver a State of the Union address until the government is back open.

With the Supreme Court now having five justices who are less likely to approve of gun regulations and laws, it granted a major gun case Tuesday for the first time in nearly a decade.

The court granted a right-to-carry case out of New York that pits the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association against the City of New York. New York bans transporting permitted handguns outside city lines, even if the gun is not loaded and is locked in a container. The guns currently can only be taken to the handful of shooting ranges within city limits.

Updated at 5:28 p.m. ET

With negotiations over reopening the government at a standstill, President Trump offered to back temporary protections for some immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, many of whom are now adults, in exchange for funding for a wall on the Southern border.

In a White House speech on Saturday, Trump also offered to extend the Temporary Protected Status program that blocks deportation of certain immigrants fleeing civil unrest or natural disasters.

While the longest government shutdown in U.S. history continues, President Trump's approval rating is down, and there are cracks showing with his base.

A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds Trump's approval rating down and his disapproval rating up from a month ago. He currently stands at 39 percent approve, 53 percent disapprove — a 7-point net change from December when his rating was 42 percent approve, 49 percent disapprove.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has no remaining signs of cancer after her surgery last month, requires no additional treatment, but will miss oral arguments at the court next week to rest, the Supreme Court said Friday.

While odds for a recovery from the surgery she had are good, they go way up if the subsequent pathology report shows no cancer in the lymph nodes. On Friday, the court released a written statement saying there is no additional evidence of cancer.

Updated at 3:55 p.m. ET

Three-quarters of Americans say the government shutdown, now tied for the longest in U.S. history, is "embarrassing for the country," including a majority of Republicans, a new NPR/Ipsos Poll finds.

President Trump delivered the first Oval Office address of his presidency Tuesday night — and it came in the midst of a protracted partial government shutdown.

There were a lot of questions going into the address, but there were at least as many afterward — especially, and most importantly: What now?

So what did we learn from the president's address and the rare Democratic response? Here are seven insights:

Happy New Year, it's already 2020. Or might as well be.

This is how elections work in this country — the presidential campaign cycle begins the year before the presidential election, and when it's a potentially large field, it pushes further and further back.

And that is what's happening. Elizabeth Warren, the progressive senator from Massachusetts, got a lot of attention for her New Year's Eve video announcement that she had launched an exploratory bid for president.

When we set out to try to look back on the year that was in politics, we started with a list that grew ... and grew ... and grew. After a couple of days, the list was just shy of 100 news events. That's about one notable story every three days.

Strap in, the 2020 presidential campaign is about to start in earnest.

The Democratic National Committee announced Thursday that it will hold its first sanctioned debate in June 2019. There will be 12 Democratic primary debates, one a month from then on, skipping August 2019.

Updated at 3:51 p.m. ET

Heading into the 2020 Democratic primaries, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll has a warning for Democrats: Americans are largely against the country becoming more politically correct.

As President Trump continues to threaten to potentially shut down the government over his border wall, Americans would prefer to see him compromise to prevent gridlock, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll.

By a 21-point margin — 57 percent to 36 percent — Americans think the president should compromise on the wall to avoid a government shutdown, rather than stand firm. About two-thirds of Republicans say the opposite, and the president has been focused on maintaining his base.

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