Ayesha Rascoe

After spending 15 years in prison for a drug offense, Randy Rader had almost lost hope that he might get out of prison before his release date in 2023.

If Rader's conviction for 5 grams of crack cocaine — his third drug offense — had happened after 2010, he would have received a much shorter sentence. But the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act, which cut down on the disparity between penalties for crack cocaine and powder cocaine, did not apply to those already serving time.

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And I want to bring in Ayesha Rascoe - covers the White House for NPR. Hi, Ayesha.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Good morning.

GREENE: You were listening there. What stood out to you?

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All right, let's go to the White House now, where our White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe is. Hey, Ayesha.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Hello.

CHANG: So what's been the White House reaction so far? Are you hearing anything there?

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President Trump will meet with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un this week in Vietnam, as he attempts to get Pyongyang to move toward what has been an elusive goal: complete denuclearization.

Trump has maintained that his ultimate goal is to get Kim to relinquish the regime's nuclear program. But, in the lead up to this second summit, he has repeatedly stressed that he's not setting a deadline for North Korea to act.

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We're going to bring in now NPR's White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe, and she is going to give us the update on what's happening now. Ayesha, what have you learned from the White House point of view tonight?

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.

In its quest to blunt the effects of the partial government shutdown, the Trump administration is using broad legal interpretations to continue providing certain services.

Critics argue that the administration is stretching — and possibly breaking — the law to help bolster President Trump's position in his fight with Democrats over funding for a border wall.

Even with the creative use of loopholes and existing funds, though, the actions the administration is taking will be hard to sustain if the shutdown continues to drag on.

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On this first day of 2019, the power in Washington is about to shift. On Thursday, Democrats take the House majority. But the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Updated on Dec. 20 at 2:30 p.m. ET

The Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would reduce federal sentences for certain drug offenses and prepare prisoners for life after incarceration.

If the bill becomes law following passage in the House on Wednesday, a major reason will be the support it received from a surprising booster: President Trump.

In an interview with the Washington Post published online Tuesday, President Trump brushed aside climate change concerns by hailing the state of the environment in the United States.

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Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET

In the final days ahead of potentially pivotal midterm elections, activists are working to get voters to the polls who ordinarily might not show up when the presidency doesn't hang in the balance.

Donors have poured millions of dollars into efforts to turn out more African-Americans, Hispanics and young people for the 2018 elections.

With early voting under way in many states, there are signs that these efforts may be paying off.

With the nation reeling from an epidemic of drug overdose deaths, President Trump signed legislation Wednesday that is aimed at helping people overcome addiction and preventing addictions before they start.

"Together we are going to end the scourge of drug addiction in America," Trump said at a White House event celebrating the signing. "We are going to end it or we are going to at least make an extremely big dent in this terrible, terrible problem."

The opioid legislation was a rarity for this Congress, getting overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers.

Entering the White House as a foreign policy novice, Jared Kushner has leaned on his personal rapport with foreign government leaders to help push the Trump administration's goals.

Before joining the White House, Kushner was a real estate investor in New York City, where personal relationships can help cement deals. But that approach is now being put to the test in light of the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Turkey more than two weeks ago.

Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

It was surreal moment even for a White House accustomed to surreal moments.

During a meeting with President Trump, Kanye West delivered animated and wide-ranging remarks on issues from the 13th Amendment to U.S. manufacturing.

West spoke to reporters for nearly 10 minutes in the Oval Office. Wearing a red "Make America Great Again" hat, he repeatedly complimented Trump, who nodded in agreement.

President Trump says the fight over his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, is about more than just the nation's highest court. He says it's about how America treats the accused.

Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual misconduct decades ago, allegations he adamantly denies.

Trump tweeted Thursday that "Due Process, Fairness and Common Sense are now on trial!"

Central Park Five case

But Trump has not always been such a staunch defender of due process.

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