Franco Ordoñez

Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.

Ordoñez has received several state and national awards for his work, including the Casey Medal, the Gerald Loeb Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Journalism. He is a two-time reporting fellow with the International Center for Journalists, and is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and the University of Georgia.

Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET

President Trump on Thursday defended students who feel they can't pray in their schools — and warned school administrators they risk losing federal funds if they violate their students' rights to religious expression.

Trump held an event in the Oval Office with a group of Christian, Jewish and Muslim students and teachers to commemorate National Religious Freedom Day. The students and teachers said they have been discriminated against for practicing their religion at school.

President Trump is finalizing his defense team for his Senate impeachment trial as the process draws nearer.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway outlined the leadership of the team on Friday while also teasing that more changes could come.

"We're ready for it," Conway said. "We have a defense team in place. And our defense team will go on offense also."

President Trump's national security adviser said tensions with Iran won't slow his plans to shrink the size of the National Security Council.

In an exclusive interview with NPR, Robert O'Brien said he expects to have trimmed about a third of the ranks at the National Security Council by the end of next month.

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The U.S. Department of Defense says Iran has launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against American military forces in Iraq. This attack against U.S. forces comes after Iranian leaders vowed to retaliate for the killing of an Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani. NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez joins us here in the studio.

President Trump and his Russian counterpart have the coming year to deal with an expiring nuclear treaty that will lapse just after the end of his first term.

Trump hasn't ruled out renewing the treaty, known as New START. But he has made it clear that he would rather strike a bigger deal that includes different kinds of nuclear weapons — and that also brings China into the fold.

President Trump has often surrounded himself with lawyers whom he sees as being good on television. But Pat Cipollone, the attorney who will play a leading role in Trump's Senate impeachment trial defense, is better known for working behind the scenes.

President Trump's new national security adviser is warning of an information security doomsday scenario for U.S. allies that allow Chinese telecommunications company Huawei to build their next generation 5G networks.

Robert O'Brien said countries that allow Huawei in could give China's communist government backdoor access to their citizens' most sensitive data.

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Updated at 4 p.m. ET

During a surprise Thanksgiving Day visit to troops stationed in Afghanistan, President Trump said that his administration has reopened peace talks with the Taliban, nearly three months after he abruptly canceled them. Trump made the announcement at a rally staged at Bagram Airfield outside Kabul, where he exchanged handshakes and posed for photographs with U.S. troops.

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Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET

A foreign service officer detailed to work in the office of Vice President Pence testified behind closed doors on Thursday in the ongoing House impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Jennifer Williams was assigned to work on European and Russian issues with the vice president's team in the spring. She is the first person from the vice president's office to testify in the probe of whether the president withheld military aid from Ukraine while seeking a political favor.

Updated at 12 p.m. ET

The impeachment inquiry into President Trump turned its spotlight on Monday on four top White House officials, asking them to testify behind closed doors as Democrats probe whether Trump held up military aid as leverage to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

But none of them showed up, citing legal advice.

Updated at 11:25 p.m. ET

Tim Morrison, the top Russia official on President Trump's National Security Council, who is scheduled to testify in the impeachment inquiry on Thursday, is set to leave his White House post imminently, three sources familiar with the plan told NPR.

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Updated at 11 a.m. ET

Investigators in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump hoped to talk to Charles Kupperman on Monday. But the former White House official failed to show up.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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The Trump administration is withdrawing hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines against some immigrants in the country illegally who have sought refuge in churches.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has withdrawn the fines, ranging from $300,000 to nearly $500,000 for five immigrants living in sanctuary conditions around the country, according to the National Sanctuary Collective, which works with the families.

Updated at 9:15 p.m. ET

Immigration hard-liners inside and outside the White House are fighting to keep Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Morgan in the running for the top job at the Department of Homeland Security after their candidacies hit a snag.

Democrats onstage during their party's presidential debate were quick to condemn President Trump's abrupt and unilateral decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria. But their responses as to what role the U.S. should play in the region were generally cloudier.

Trump's decision last week appeared to set in motion a Turkish incursion into northern Syria and the advancement of Turkish-backed militias against Kurdish forces that had helped the United States battle ISIS.

A disturbing video depicting President Trump shooting, stabbing and setting on fire critics and the media was played at a conference held by a pro-Trump group at his Miami resort.

The video rampage was shown during a three-day conference held by American Priority at Trump's National Doral Miami, according to the organizers.

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