The Washington Post’s National Editor Scott Wilson and Senior Politics Editor Steven Ginsberg today announced the news Congress and federal government team.
We are pleased to announce an expanded and reorganized Congress/PowerPost team that will give The Post a larger and more versatile presence on Capitol Hill at the start of the next administration than it has ever had before.
The team will be led by Amy Gardner, one of National’s most experienced, skilled and determined editors. Amy worked nearly every day this past year on the presidential election, and her reporters benefited every day she did so. Amy has a great news sense and an instinct to respond quickly – then deeply – to what is unfolding. She raises everyone’s game and we cannot think of anyone better to lead this key area of coverage that is essential for The Post to dominate.
The deputy editor of the team will be Rachel Van Dongen, whose creation and stewardship of PowerPost has been a standout achievement. Rachel knows Congress, has a remarkable eye for talent, and understands like few others the particular characteristics of our digital audience. Rachel will continue to guide PowerPost and the Daily 202 while working to expand and deepen the staff’s coverage of Congress and the federal government.
Bob Costa’s instincts and deep sourcing inside Trump world landed us scoop after scoop over the course of this dramatic presidential campaign. Those talents will serve him well as he heads back to the Hill, where he will retain his title as national political reporter, focusing on the Ryan-Trump-McConnell relationship, collaborating regularly with our White House team and traveling the country to connect the politics of Washington with the rest of America.
Mike DeBonis will lead our coverage of the House of Representatives with his indefatigable work ethic and aggressive approach to beat reporting. Mike wrote sharply this year on how congressional Republicans backed away, embraced and backed away again from Trump. In his coverage of congressional campaigns, he led the pack on the growing likelihood that Republicans would retain the Senate majority. He will bring that tenacity to covering all aspects of the House, which will likely be the front line in the fight to repeal Obamacare and implement the Trump agenda. He will focus on House Speaker Paul Ryan’s leadership and relationship to Trump, as well as how Ryan handles the fractious GOP conference.
Karoun Demirjian is a dogged reporter whose coverage of defense, national security and foreign policy on the Hill will take on new importance in the uncharted era of President Trump. Karoun is deeply sourced with the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, and her knowledge of Russia, where she worked as a Post correspondent, brings added expertise to the subject at a time when Trump is redefining the U.S.-Russia relationship. Karoun will also track Trump’s decisions on defense spending and the fate of the Iran nuclear deal.
Paul Kane, the dean of The Post’s congressional team, will take on a new title to reflect his role as guide, mentor and chief analyst: senior congressional correspondent and columnist. Starting in January, Paul will devote his time to his very successful @PKCapitol column, which will become a daily feature chronicling the stories behind the stories on Capitol Hill.
In 2016, Ed O’Keefe reprised the role of the “kiss of death” correspondent (first played in 2012 by Amy Gardner), covering the demise of two Republican presidential campaigns and a failed attempt by renegade GOP delegates to deny the nomination to Trump. Ed is exceptionally versatile: he identified early on Hispanic voter ambivalence toward the candidates – a warning sign that played out on Election Day to the detriment of the Clinton campaign – and co-anchored more than eight hours of Facebook Live/video coverage on election night. As 2017 begins, he will be one-half of our new, two-person Senate team, paying particular attention to a rebuilding Democratic Party on the Hill, and will continue to showcase his on-air talents by partnering regularly with the video staff.
Sean Sullivan spent the campaign cycle chronicling three Republican presidential candidates: Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Trump. Sean showed range and versatility, and proved himself a consummate team player. Among the highlights: stories of Rubio’s complicated personal financial history; Cruz’s failed attempt to sink Trump at the GOP convention; and deep dives into Trump’s way of thinking, including a memorable piece about his tendency to stoke rivalries among aides. Sean will now make up the other half of the Senate team, focusing on Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leadership and how the leadership works with and against Trump.
Kelsey Snell’s deep knowledge of congressional fiscal issues, including the continuing fight over government spending, the federal budget and the debt ceiling, will serve her well as she prepares to expand her role covering the budget, tax reform initiatives and the fate of Obamacare. Kelsey will team up regularly with White House reporters to assemble the big picture of how these annual budget proceedings evolve under Trump and how his administration works with congress when it comes to money and debt – two things the incoming president says he knows a lot about.
Elise Viebeck, whose guidance of our transition coverage has been exceptional, is an elegant and fast writer who can do many things, even at once. She has helped James Hohmann with the social media portion of the Daily 202, she has written profiles and features, and she has broken news, often all on the same day. Elise will become a roving enterprise reporter, using her writing talent and her eye for human stories to bring a new element to our Capitol Hill coverage. Elise will also work closely with Mike DeBonis and our Senate team to report on the Hill’s oversight and investigative committees.
Dave Weigel, who brought his distinct voice and broad knowledge of the far-right and far-left to our 2016 campaign coverage, will do the same on the Hill. He will track Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in the Senate, and the Freedom Caucus in the House. He will look for new movements, new factions and new stars. And he will continue reporting on the so-called alt-right and the fake news industry, tracking its origins and spotlighting its authors in real time.
Amy and Rachel will also run two other essential elements of our congressional and federal coverage:
The Daily 202
James Hohmann, the iron man behind the Daily 202 and its stratospheric success, will continue his pioneering work that has revived what had been a fading newsletter form. On many days, James’s Big Idea has defined the political conversation on Twitter, on the news channels and among our competitors. He will continue to roam Washington and the country, making sense of the day’s happenings and distilling it for not only our core political readers but also for the huge national and international audience he has built.
James will continue to work with Breanne Deppisch, whose research skills and daily contributions to the 202 have been invaluable in building it into the definitive source for Washington insight.
Joe Davidson’s daily column, the Federal Insider, will remain a cornerstone of our coverage of workforce and agency issues, and will continue to broaden in scope to encompass the ways in which Trump’s presidency will change Washington. His column on the transition team’s questionnaire to Energy Department employees is a case in point, a perfect example (and one of his most read pieces of the year) of how he will adapt the Federal Insider to examine the Trump Effect.
Lisa Rein’s indispensable accountability coverage of the federal government will continue. She is a tireless, well-sourced reporter who has broken several big stories this year on federal workplace issues and government waste. Her pieces on sexual harassment in the National Park Service and Merchant Marines stood out. And she understands how the federal bureaucracy works. Since Trump’s election, Lisa has focused intently on the ways he has targeted the federal workforce, as well as GOP plans to investigate climate scientists.
Eric Yoder is the Post’s reigning expert on federal worker pay and benefits, potential targets in a Trump administration and a topic that he will watch closely as Trump seeks to fulfill pledges to freeze and downsize the federal workforce. Eric understands the civil service better than anyone else.