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 4:30 p.m. ET

President Trump has handed Attorney General William Barr the keys to the vault.

Trump has authorized Barr to "declassify, downgrade, or direct the declassification or downgrading of information or intelligence" related to the origins of the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, according to an official order.

The White House says that will mean he can be freer to reveal wrongdoing if he finds it. Democrats call it a bid to scare up political "weapons."

Updated at 5:54 p.m. ET

Prosecutors are bringing a slate of new charges against Julian Assange, including alleged violations of the Espionage Act, raising the stakes for his prospective extradition from the United Kingdom.

Prosecutors unsealed bribery charges Thursday against a Chicago banker who made loans to Paul Manafort allegedly expecting they would help him get a top job in the Trump administration.

A grand jury in Manhattan returned an indictment against Stephen Calk, chairman of Federal Savings Bank, in a case with strong echoes of the earlier ones made against Manafort, who has since been convicted and sentenced to prison.

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 7:09 p.m. ET

A federal judge ruled against President Trump on Monday in a subpoena dispute not long after the White House said it is seeking to block its former top lawyer from talking to Congress.

The events amounted to a win — and a loss — apiece for Republicans and Democrats in their ongoing high-stakes legal and political war over separation of powers and oversight in the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

The McGahn matter

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.

The executive branch and the legislative branch are deadlocked. The House could vote soon about whether to hold the attorney general — and maybe others — in contempt of Congress.

What does that mean? How did this happen? What could happen next?

Here's what you need to know:

What's behind it all?

Information. Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, want it. The Republican administration of President Trump doesn't want to give it up.

What do members of Congress want?

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.

If the political interference documented in special counsel Robert Mueller's report was just the "tip of the iceberg," what else is lurking out of sight beneath the surface?

That was the question posed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in a speech in New York City, one in which he defended his handling of the Russia investigation and suggested there could be much more to it beyond that contained in Mueller's report.

Updated at 5:05 p.m. ET

The House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena on Friday to the Justice Department demanding access to the full work product of special counsel Robert Mueller, including grand jury testimony and other material not made public.

Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said he wants everything by May 1.

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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 3:03 p.m. ET

Former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig was charged with making false statements on Thursday in connection with what authorities called failures to report work for powerful clients in Ukraine.

A grand jury in Washington, D.C., returned an indictment on Thursday that included two charges, the Justice Department said.

In short, the indictment alleges that Craig withheld information he knew he should have given to the Justice Department and deliberately gave it other information he knew was false.

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.

Updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

Attorney General William Barr suggested on Tuesday he would negotiate with leaders in Congress who want to see the secret evidence that underpins special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

Barr reaffirmed to members of the House Appropriations Committee that the first version of the report he plans to release — within one week, he said — would be redacted.

If the leaders of the House and Senate judiciary committees want to see more, the attorney general said, he will play ball.

The leaders of the House Judiciary Committee agreed on Monday to call special counsel Robert Mueller to appear for a hearing. The question now is whether Mueller would agree.

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the panel's ranking member, opened the bidding with a letter in which he asked the chairman, Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., to invite Mueller to testify later this month.

Although the committee expects to hear from Attorney General William Barr, Collins wrote, it must go to the source to learn all it needs to know about the special counsel inquiry.

The headline findings by special counsel Robert Mueller delivered a political shot in the arm for President Trump and Republicans, they say — how long it lasts may depend on the full document.

Attorney General William Barr told Congress that Mueller's office didn't establish a conspiracy between Trump's campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election, nor did it establish — per Barr — that Trump obstructed justice.

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.

Updated at 9:43 p.m. ET

Lawyer Michael Avenatti, who attained national prominence as a legal antagonist of President Trump, has been arrested on federal bank fraud and wire fraud charges.

Prosecutors in California say he embezzled client money to pay his own expenses and debts.

Avenatti was arrested in New York on separate federal charges. He was released released on $300,000 bond, according to The Associated Press.

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.

Robert Mueller may have completed his report, but other investigations into President Trump are expected to carry on for months.

There are, broadly, two kinds: those being undertaken from within the executive branch and those being run by members of Congress — mostly Democrats in control of major committees in the House.

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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.

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