Barbara Sprunt

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.

In a highly personal attack, former President Donald Trump blasted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling him an unfit leader of the Republican Party.

"The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political 'leaders' like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm," Trump said in a lengthy statement Tuesday.

"Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again," he added.

Updated 5:43 p.m. ET

David Perdue has taken the first step on the road back to the U.S. Senate, filing paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Monday to set up a potential political comeback in the Peach State in 2022.

"This was simply a necessary legal step that will allow me to continue to keep all options open," Perdue said of his paperwork in a tweet on Tuesday afternoon.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced plans for Congress to establish an outside and independent commission to investigate "the facts and causes" related to the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

In a letter sent to her Democratic colleagues on Monday, the California Democrat said the commission will be modeled on the commission established after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Updated at 11:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday

A majority of senators voted Saturday to convict former President Donald Trump on an impeachment charge of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

But the Democrats' side needed 17 Republicans to join them in order to reach the two-thirds threshold needed to convict.

Following former President Donald Trump's second acquittal in an impeachment trial, House Democratic managers are defending their decision not to forge ahead with seeking witnesses to help make their case.

Former President Donald Trump's legal team called the impeachment process against their client "a complete charade from beginning to end," arguing that the "spectacle" was fueled by a partisan vendetta against the former president.

In his closing remarks, Michael van der Veen claimed Trump's words on the day of the Capitol insurrection were taken out of context.

Updated at 6:03 p.m. ET

In closing arguments on day five of former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial, House managers argued Trump was solely responsible for inciting his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, threatening the safety of lawmakers and democracy itself.

"It's now clear beyond doubt that Trump supported the actions of the mob," lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin said on the Senate floor.

"He must be convicted," said the Maryland Democrat. "It's that simple."

Democratic House impeachment managers wrapped up their arguments Thursday night in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump for his actions leading up to and on the day of the Capitol insurrection.

The trial, which began Tuesday and is Trump's second impeachment trial, comes just over a month after a mob of pro-Trump extremists violently breached the Capitol, leading to the deaths of at least seven people.

House impeachment manager Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., directly rebutted one of the Trump defense team's key claims during his arguments on Day 3 of the Senate impeachment trial: that the trial is politically motivated by Democrats who are concerned about running against Trump in 2024.

On Tuesday, Trump lawyer Bruce Castor made the argument: "We are really here because the majority of the House of Representatives does not want to face Donald Trump as a political rival in the future."

During Day 2 of the Senate impeachment trial, House impeachment manager Rep. Eric Swalwell specifically distinguished between those protesting the Nov. 3 election results and the violent rioters that breached the Capitol building.

"I want to be clear: During this trial, when we talk about the violent mob during the attack, we do not mean every American who showed up at [former] President [Donald] Trump's rally," the California Democrat said.

House Democrats did not mince words in their opening argument on Day 2 of the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump, calling the former president an "inciter-in-chief" who abandoned his sacred oath of office and who "reveled" in the chaos and destruction perpetrated by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

"Donald Trump committed a massive crime against our Constitution and our people and the worst violation of the presidential oath of office in the history of the United States of America," lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin said.

The second impeachment trial of Donald Trump will move forward after the Senate voted Tuesday that the trial of a former president is constitutional.

Trump was impeached by the House last month on a charge of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The Senate vote on Tuesday was 56-44, with six Republicans joining all 50 members of the Democratic caucus.

Updated at 1:07 p.m. ET

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., pledged that Senate Democrats are moving "full steam ahead" on passing coronavirus relief legislation as they convene for the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

Updated on Friday at 2 p.m. ET

Former President Donald Trump made history when he became the first president to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives. Roughly a year ago, the Senate acquitted Trump on two articles — abuse of power and obstruction.

Sen. Richard Shelby, the Alabama Republican who was first elected to the U.S. Senate as a Democrat in 1986, will not seek a seventh term in office in 2022.

"For everything, there is a season," he said in a statement.

"I am grateful to the people of Alabama who have put their trust in me for more than forty years," he said. "I have been fortunate to serve in the U.S. Senate longer than any other Alabamian."

Updated at 7:10 p.m. ET

The House of Representatives has voted to strip Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments, following uproar over her past incendiary comments and apparent support of violence against Democrats.

Thursday's vote was 230-199, with 11 Republicans joining with all Democrats to back the resolution.

House Republicans have decided to keep Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney in her leadership role during a secret ballot vote Wednesday night, NPR's Kelsey Snell has confirmed. 145 members voted to keep her in the role, with 61 members voting to strip her of the position.

Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House, had come under fire from many in her party following her vote to impeach Trump.

Updated at 5:34 p.m. ET

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has broken his silence on Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, condemning her incendiary remarks but stopping short of naming any party disciplinary action toward her. The Democratic-led House announced earlier on Wednesday that it would move forward with a resolution to punish Greene.

Updated at 8:23 p.m. ET on Monday

A group of Republican senators met with President Biden on Monday evening to detail a smaller counterproposal to his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, an alternative they believe could be approved "quickly by Congress with bipartisan support."

Updated 5 p.m. ET

Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, a Republican who announced he won't seek reelection in 2022, warned the Biden administration and congressional Democrats not to move forward on a large new round of coronavirus relief legislation without GOP support, saying such a move "poisons the well."

Updated 5:40 p.m. ET

After senators were sworn in Tuesday afternoon as jurors in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, Sen. Rand Paul quickly pressed for a vote to force lawmakers on the record over the issue of the trial's constitutionality.

The Senate voted 55-45 to reject the Kentucky Republican's argument that the impeachment trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office.

Updated 12:45p.m. ET

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, has announced he will not run for a third term in 2022 and instead will retire at the end of his term.

"This is a tough time to be in public service," Portman said in a statement Monday morning, citing hyper-partisanship in Congress.

"I don't think any Senate office has been more successful in getting things done, but honestly, it has gotten harder and harder to break through the partisan gridlock and make progress on substantive policy, and that has contributed to my decision."

Updated at 7:55 p.m. ET

At about 7 p.m. ET Monday, House impeachment managers delivered to the Senate an article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump, a move that prompts preparations for a historic trial.

The Senate has voted to confirm Avril Haines to be director of national intelligence, making her President Biden's first Cabinet-level official to receive Senate confirmation. The vote was 84-10.

Her confirmation comes after Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., briefly held up the process, asking for a written response from her about a question during her confirmation hearing a day earlier.

"I no longer object," Cotton said Wednesday evening, noting that Haines had provided him with a response.

Updated at 5:06 p.m. ET

Democrats officially took control of the Senate as Georgia's two new Democratic senators-elect were sworn in Wednesday afternoon, cementing a 50-50 split, with Vice President Harris serving as the tiebreaking vote in her new role as president of the the Senate.

Harris administered the oath of office to Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff hours after her own swearing-in.

For the first time since the Jan. 6 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly denounced President Trump and his supporters for instigating the insurrection.

"The mob was fed lies," McConnell, R-Ky., said in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon.

"They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government, which they did not like."

Updated at 3:49 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, appeared before a Senate panel Tuesday to begin his confirmation process, vowing to do everything he can so that an attack on the Capitol like the one on Jan. 6 "will not happen again."

Mayorkas, who would be the first Latino and first immigrant to lead that department, was previously the head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a DHS agency, during the Obama administration. He then served as deputy secretary of DHS.

Updated at 10 a.m. ET Tuesday

What do Walt Disney, Whitney Houston, Dolley Madison and Frederick Douglass have in common? They're part of an extensive list of 244 people that President Trump says he wants to honor as statues in the proposed "National Garden of American Heroes."

But with just two days left before he leaves office, Trump has run out of time to build the garden, which has not received any funding from Congress, and is highly unlikely to be pursued by incoming President-elect Joe Biden's administration.

President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission and Rohit Chopra to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to a statement from Biden's transition team Monday morning.

The pair's selection marks a triumph for progressives who have pushed for more aggressive oversight of the financial industry.

Gensler is a top financial regulator known for taking on big banks and trading houses after the Dodd-Frank financial reforms enacted after the 2008 financial crisis.

Updated at 1:10p.m. ET

The inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States is going to look vastly different than those of his predecessors, given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and heightened security concerns after a mob of pro-Trump extremists violently breached the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago.

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