Danielle Kurtzleben

Danielle Kurtzleben is a political reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk. In her current role, she writes for npr.org's It's All Politics blog, focusing on data visualizations. In the run-up to the 2016 election, she will be using numbers to tell stories that go far beyond polling, putting policies into context and illustrating how they affect voters.

Before joining NPR in 2015, Kurtzleben spent a year as a correspondent for Vox.com. As part of the site's original reporting team, she covered economics and business news.

Prior to Vox.com, Kurtzleben was with U.S. News & World Report for nearly four years, where she covered the economy, campaign finance and demographic issues. As associate editor, she launched Data Mine, a data visualization blog on usnews.com.

A native of Titonka, Iowa, Kurtzleben has a bachelor's degree in English from Carleton College. She also holds a master's degree in Global Communication from George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs.

Tuesday was the opposite of a slow news day. It was a mad scramble of a news day, featuring major developments on President-elect Donald Trump's ties to Russia, a contentious confirmation hearing, a death sentence in a high-profile hate-crime case, and President Obama's farewell speech, among other things.

In case you couldn't keep up — and we can't blame you — here's a rundown of some of the biggest news of the day.


1. The Trump-Russia bombshell

Donald Trump has named his son-in-law to a top White House job. Jared Kushner will serve as a senior adviser to the president, and the transition team says he will work with incoming Chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Stephen Bannon "to execute President-elect Trump's agenda."

The announcement also says Kushner will not receive a salary while serving in the Trump administration, which could help alleviate legal problems stemming from federal anti-nepotism law.

The final chapter of the Obama economy drew that much closer to its end on Friday, with the final jobs report of the 44th president's time in office. That report showed the 75th straight month of job growth, with employers adding 156,000 jobs.

Solid, but nothing flashy.

Amid this week's firestorm over Republicans' attempt to weaken the Office of Congressional Ethics (and subsequently, backpedal on that attempt), you may have seen this chart floating around the Internet. It depicts data from Google Trends about Americans' search interest in learning who their congressional representatives are, with a pronounced spike around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

One in five Americans is religiously unaffiliated. Yet just one of 535 members of the new Congress is.

That's what the latest data from the Pew Research Center show on the opening day of the 115th Congress. The nation's top legislative body remains far more male and white than the rest of the U.S. population as well, but religion is one of the more invisible areas where legislators in Washington simply aren't representative of the people they represent.

Update: This post was updated on January 11, 2017, and will continue to be updated as other appointments are made.

At a Wednesday press conference, Donald Trump named one more person to his list of cabinet nominees: David Shulkin, the current under secretary for health at the Department for Veterans Affairs, is Trump's choice to head up that department.

NPR is tracking Trump's Cabinet as it grows, counting up the diversity and experience of his appointees, as well as a few specifics they might have in their resumes.

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.

Every so often, we answer questions from our politics podcast mailbag online. This week, we answer a question from a listener wondering about so-called "faithless electors."


I had a question about a Washington Post opinion article written recently by Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig.

On July 27, Donald Trump created one of the most surreal moments of the presidential campaign, when he encouraged Russians to hack his opponent's email.

"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you'll be able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump said, speaking about Hillary Clinton's deleted emails from her private email account from her time as secretary of state. "I think you'll probably be rewarded mightily by our press."

So it was a bit of a surprise when on Monday morning, he implied in a tweet that hacking hadn't been a major topic during the election:

Everyone called this a "change election," and with the fiercely anti-establishment Donald Trump, Americans certainly got change. But they are still uncertain about what they think of their new Change President.

Forty-one percent of Americans say they approve of how well he has explained his "policies and plans for the future to the American people," according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center.

Donald Trump kicked off his postelection "thank you tour" with a Thursday-night rally that sounded a lot like any of his campaign rallies. He said trade was dangerous, he warned about refugees, and his mention of his former opponent, Hillary Clinton, prompted supporters to chant "lock her up."

As was the case at many times on the campaign trail, Trump's presentation of facts requires some fact-checking and context. Here's a look at the president-elect's Thursday-night speech.

The announcement that President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence helped persuade Carrier to keep 1,000 factory jobs in the U.S. is a pretty big win. After all, they ran on a message of protecting The American Worker, and Trump isn't even in the White House yet.

Consider it another Trump flip-flop: back in October, Donald Trump told a crowd, "I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election, if I win."

What do Democrats in West Virginia and Republicans in California have in common? Many likely knew that their presidential election votes wouldn't "count."

Of course, these votes were counted, but anyone with a minimal knowledge of U.S. politics could have guessed that California would vote Democratic in the presidential election (Clinton won it by 29 points) and that West Virginia would go Republican (Trump won by nearly 42 points).

The annual turkey pardon is a silly tradition, and President Obama knows it. On Wednesday, before pardoning turkeys named Tater and Tot, Obama summed up his feelings about this particular duty.

"It is my great privilege — well, it's my privilege — actually, let's just say it's my job to grant them clemency this afternoon," Obama said.

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