Philip Ewing

Philip Ewing is NPR's national security editor. He helps direct coverage of the military, the intelligence community, counterterrorism, veterans and other topics for the radio and online. Ewing joined the network in 2015 from Politico, where he was a Pentagon correspondent and defense editor. Previously he served as managing editor of Military.com and before that he covered the U.S. Navy for the Military Times newspapers.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

President Trump says he would accept information about a political opponent from a foreign government.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I think you might want to listen. I don't - there's nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway - we have information on your opponent - oh, I think I'd want to hear it.

CORNISH: That's the president speaking to George Stephanopoulos of ABC News. Trump also said he wouldn't necessarily tell the FBI about such an offer.

Updated at 5:53 p.m. ET

The separation-of-powers standoff between Congress and the executive branch deepened on Wednesday over a dispute about access to materials involving the controversial citizenship question planned for the 2020 census.

The Justice Department notified the House oversight committee that it's withholding documents sought by the panel's chairman because it says they're shielded by executive privilege — the doctrine that permits an administration to conceal some of its internal workings.

Former special counsel Robert Mueller says he would try to be an unappealing witness for Congress, promising he wouldn't say anything he hasn't said before.

House Democrats say that still sounds pretty good.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., reaffirmed on Wednesday that he continues to want Mueller to speak before his panel.

"Let's just say I'm confident he'll come in soon," Nadler told reporters.

He also emphasized that Mueller should testify in the open, not behind closed doors as the former special counsel had mused.

Updated at 3:01 p.m. ET

New tariffs against Mexico will begin to bite next week, President Trump vowed Tuesday, unless the White House is satisfied that Mexico's government is acting with new alacrity to stop migrants from crossing into the United States.

"This will take effect next week, 5%," Trump said during his visit to London.

Trump said he is open to continuing negotiations with Mexican leaders, including at a meeting scheduled for Wednesday between its foreign minister and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Former special counsel Robert Mueller could have declared whether President Trump broke the law if Mueller had wanted — albeit still without the ability to bring any indictment, Attorney General William Barr says in a new TV interview.

Barr told CBS News in an interview scheduled to air on Thursday evening and Friday morning that he believed Mueller had more latitude to state his views than the special counsel may have permitted himself.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Updated at 4:12 p.m. ET

Special counsel Robert Mueller shut down his Russia investigation on Wednesday in an unusual appearance in which he restated his findings and made clear that he never considered it an option to charge President Trump.

"We are formally closing the special counsel's office," Mueller told reporters at the Justice Department on Wednesday morning.

Updated at 1:14 p.m. ET

Special counsel Robert Mueller stepped down Wednesday after concluding not only one of the highest-profile investigations in recent history, but one of the most distinctive codas in the career of any top Washington official.

Mueller addressed reporters at the Justice Department in his first public statement since taking over the Russia investigation, ending two years of near-silence even under one of the hottest spotlights ever to burn on a public figure.

Updated at 1:55 p.m. ET

Negotiations over a potential infrastructure program fizzled on Wednesday as a White House meeting between President Trump and Democrats escalated into blame-trading and political threats — including impeachment.

The president was the first to appear after the session in a Rose Garden availability that he used to renew his call for Democrats to abandon investigations into him if they want to negotiate over improving the nation's roads and bridges or other legislation.

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

What's behind all the black bars in Robert Mueller's investigation report? Members of Congress could get an answer — eventually.

Updated at 6:52 p.m. ET

The Justice Department's Russia investigation may be over, but the political war over it — who conducted it, how and why — has enough new fuel to rage for several more months.

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Updated at 7:24 p.m. ET

When President Trump learned two years ago that a special counsel had been appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election, he was distraught.

Trump "slumped back in his chair and said, 'Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm f***ed,' " according to the report by special counsel Robert Mueller that was released Thursday in redacted form.

Updated at 12:33 p.m. EST

The Justice Department says it plans to release special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Thursday morning. Here's what you need to know.

What is it?

Updated at 9:57 p.m. ET

The Justice Department announced Thursday that it is charging Julian Assange, setting the stage for a historic legal showdown with the controversial founder of WikiLeaks.

The unsealing of an indictment dated more than a year ago followed a whirlwind reversal of fortune for Assange, who was ejected from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he confined himself for years, and then hauled into custody by officers of the Metropolitan Police.

Updated at 5:22 p.m. ET

Attorney General William Barr has launched his own informal inquiry about the origins of the Russia investigation, he confirmed to senators on Wednesday.

Barr told members of a Senate Appropriations Committee panel that he wants to understand how and why key decisions were made about the counterintelligence investigation opened by the FBI in the summer of 2016.

He said he isn't "putting a panel together" and the effort may not result in a criminal investigation or the finding of a crime.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has given the Trump Train a shot of rocket fuel, the president's allies say, and now Republicans want to turn that momentum into payback.

President Trump suggested on Monday that he wants new investigations into the workings of the FBI and Justice Department and his political opponents.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he wants to know more about "the other side of the story," including former President Bill Clinton's infamous meeting on the airport tarmac with then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch in 2016.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's work is done, but the Russia imbroglio likely has a few more encores before the curtain closes.

Attorney General William Barr notified Congress on Sunday of a huge milestone in the saga: Mueller has submitted a report that did not find that President Trump's campaign conspired with the Russians who interfered in the 2016 election.

Updated at 6:56 p.m. ET

Special counsel Robert Mueller did not find evidence that President Trump's campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election, according to a summary of findings submitted to Congress by Attorney General William Barr.

"The Special Counsel's investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election," Barr wrote in a letter to leaders of the House and Senate judiciary committees on Sunday afternoon.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

OK, let's bring in now NPR's national security editor Phil Ewing, who has been listening to that conversation. Hey, Phil.

PHIL EWING, BYLINE: Hi, Ailsa.

Updated April 2 at 4:52 p.m. ET

Special counsel Robert Mueller's report has been a long time in the making.

Mueller was appointed in the spring of 2017 by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.

Updated at 7:46 p.m. ET

Attorney General William Barr received a report on Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller about the findings from Mueller's investigation into the Russian attack on the 2016 presidential election.

Updated at 3:16 p.m. ET

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort received a total sentence of about 7 1/2 years in federal prison on Wednesday following the guilty plea in his Washington, D.C., conspiracy case.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson effectively added about 3 1/2 years in prison to the sentence Manafort received last week from a different judge in the Eastern District of Virginia.

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Members of Congress have some questions this week for Michael Cohen.

President Trump's former personal lawyer is set to begin a three-day marathon on Tuesday that will take him behind closed doors with the Senate intelligence committee, then before an open session of the House oversight committee on Wednesday and then to a closed House intelligence committee session on Thursday.

A federal judge imposed a gag order on Friday in the case of Republican political consultant Roger Stone.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered that lawyers and others in the case must not talk about it publicly in ways that "pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice" and specifically they must not use the area outside court in Washington, D.C., as a venue for those kinds of statements.

Updated at 5:32 p.m. ET

Attorney General William Barr swore his oath of office on Thursday following his confirmation by the Senate earlier in the afternoon.

Senators voted 54-45 to confirm Barr to resume the post he first occupied in the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts then administered Barr's oath in a ceremony at the White House.

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was afraid he would be fired and his replacement might attempt a cover-up to protect President Trump, he said in an interview recorded with CBS.

After then-FBI Director James Comey was fired, McCabe feared he would be next, he said in a clip released on Thursday.

Updated at 11:54 a.m. ET

Republican political consultant Roger Stone pleaded not guilty in federal court on Tuesday in Washington, D.C., to obstruction and other charges unsealed last week.

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