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.

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.

The Justice Department laid out what it called a series of lies Paul Manafort has told since agreeing to cooperate with the government, but few details are visible in the new court document.

The office of special counsel Robert Mueller filed new documentation on Tuesday that describes what it calls deliberate falsehoods that Manafort has told in support of the government's argument that his plea deal is now void.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Recent days have brought a number of significant revelations in the investigation surrounding President Trump's campaign, his businesses and, as of last night, his inauguration committee.

Updated at 9:47 a.m. ET

Each new dawn seems to bring a major new headline in the Russia investigation, including a number of important courtroom developments this month.

Here's what you need to know about what has happened so far this week in this often complex and fast-moving saga.

Michael Cohen is going to prison, but he says he isn't finished yet

Updated at 3:22 p.m. ET

A Russian woman who schemed to build back-channel ties between the Russian government and the Trump campaign pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday to conspiring to act as a clandestine foreign agent.

Maria Butina also sought to connect Moscow unofficially with other parts of the conservative establishment, including the National Rifle Association and the National Prayer Breakfast.

Last week in the Russia investigations: The special counsel ties up loose ends, but that may not mean the finish line is any closer.

Endings and beginnings

Never mind that it still isn't fully clear what the Russia imbroglio is — what picture all the puzzle pieces are supposed to form when they're put together.

An even more basic question that's just as difficult to answer is: How much longer will it go?

President Trump and his legal team may be close to submitting written answers to questions from Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller, the president has confirmed.

Trump told Laura Ingraham of Fox News that he considers it "ridiculous" that he and his lawyers must go along but "we probably will do something, yes, where we'll respond to some questions."

This week in the Russia investigations: America's cyber-troops may be fighting back against Russia's influence brokers. Will it be enough?

The cyber-troopers

Everyone knows how to picture the special operations troopers of, for example, the Army's elite Delta Force: Rough-looking customers with custom carbines and advanced night vision goggles stepping off the skids of a black helicopter in the middle in the night.

What do America's cyber-forces look like?

The Justice Department has revealed more than ever about the inner workings of Russia's disinformation war against the United States and the West — including how it continues to this day.

A criminal complaint unsealed Friday in the Eastern District of Virginia served both to level charges at a woman accused of serving as the money boss for the operation and to document, in ample detail, how it works.

Updated at 6 p.m. ET

President Trump intervened in a big federal building project to help protect business for his hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, a group of House Democrats alleged on Thursday.

Trump wants to demolish and rebuild the FBI's headquarters, the Democrats say, to preserve the site's government ownership and deny any potential competitors to the Trump International Hotel at the Old Post Office Pavilion up the street.

A wild turn of events on Friday flipped a new FBI investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh from a long shot into a sure thing.

That was one result of an eleventh-hour agreement among the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee after a contentious session of offstage horse-trading.

The panel voted to recommend the embattled Kavanaugh to the full Senate on the condition that the final floor vote not take place until after the FBI conducted a background investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct confronting the nominee.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein remained in his job on Monday afternoon after a visit to the White House that sparked a flurry of reports suggesting he might resign or be fired.

A person close to Rosenstein said he was expecting to be fired after the New York Times story on Friday about his early tenure in office. The deputy attorney general oversees the special counsel's Russia investigation, which has made Rosenstein's job security part of the long-running political battle over the probe.

Updated at 12:35 p.m. ET

President Trump snapped back at Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday with a series of Twitter posts that sarcastically took up Sessions' theme about the importance of political independence at the Justice Department.

"Jeff, this is GREAT, what everyone wants, so look into all of the corruption on the 'other side' including deleted Emails, Comey lies & leaks, Mueller conflicts, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Ohr......" Trump wrote.

Updated at 7:24 p.m. ET

The FBI has fired an embattled special agent who was removed from the Russia inquiry after internal investigators discovered he had criticized then-candidate Donald Trump in text messages with another bureau official.

Peter Strzok had remained on the FBI payroll until his employment finally was terminated on Friday, his attorney said Monday morning.

Updated at 2:14 p.m. ET

President Trump resumed acknowledging Russian election interference on Tuesday and said he fears that this year, it will benefit Democrats.

Trump, who goes back and forth about what he accepts about the years-long campaign of "active measures" against the West, now says the cyberattacks, online agitation and other techniques could be turned against him and Republicans in the 2018 congressional races.

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