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.

The Justice Department's internal watchdog is set to release a hotly anticipated report next week that is expected to condemn department leaders and the FBI over the investigation during the 2016 presidential campaign into Hillary Clinton's private email server.

The Russia imbroglio has brought Washington, D.C., to a crossroads that could have historic implications for President Trump and the nation.

Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller wants to interview Trump about what he knows and why he has acted in the way he has. The president and his attorneys have all but ruled that out. The president denies any wrongdoing.

Which side will blink?

This week in the Russia investigations: If "collusion" is now fully partisan in the House, the Senate and the public, that is good news for the president.

The politics of the Russia imbroglio took a little-noticed but important break last week for President Trump and the White House.

Updated at 10:19 a.m. ET

President Trump resumed his attacks against Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday following reports that he had asked Sessions to un-recuse himself from the Russia investigation — and after more erosion of Trump's claim that the FBI spied on his campaign.

Trump used his Twitter account to echo the comments of House oversight committee chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who has been using TV appearances to try to offer some nuanced support to Trump.

This week in the Russia investigations: After Trump's "SPYGATE" gambit, what just happened? Good news for Kushner. Mueller to hacks: Get lost.

What just happened?

President Trump or his supporters make an explosive allegation. Washington, D.C., responds with an uproar. An "investigation" ensues. Turns out, the allegations weren't what they appeared.

Updated at 2:12 p.m. ET

President Trump intensified his attack on federal law enforcement as he sought to strengthen his case that the FBI's investigation into whether his campaign conspired with Russia actually amounted to unlawful political snooping.

"I hope it's not so, but if it is, there's never been anything like it in the history of our country," the president said Wednesday.

Updated at 4:16 p.m. ET

Key congressional leaders are set to meet Thursday with federal law enforcement and intelligence bosses amid a slow-motion standoff over secret documents in the Russia investigation, the White House said on Tuesday.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders said that the White House had brokered a meeting at which two key Republican chairmen would hear from the leaders of the Justice Department, FBI and the intelligence community following weeks' worth of requests for the classified material.

Updated at 9:44 a.m.

This week in the Russia investigations: The Senate Judiciary Committee dumps documents about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, the special counsel's office celebrates its first birthday and the GOP escalates its war against the Justice Department.

The enemy within

After chapters on "wiretaps," eavesdropping, "unmasking" and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the new hotness this week was confidential sources.

Updated at 9:42 a.m. ET

Thursday marks one year since the appointment of Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller. Has any public figure in the United States ever become such a partisan lightning rod after having said so little?

The Senate Judiciary Committee unleashed a new tranche of records on Wednesday that offered the most detail yet about one of the most important subplots in the Russia imbroglio.

The more than 2,500 pages in the trove add the most context yet about the meeting that took place on June 9, 2016, in Trump Tower between top Trump campaign aides and a delegation of Russians after an offer of help in the contest against Hillary Clinton.

Updated at 11:59 a.m.

The Senate Judiciary Committee released more than 2,500 pages of documents on Wednesday related to its investigation about a meeting in 2016 between top Trump aides and a delegation of Russians who promised to help the campaign.

The material, which includes interview transcripts and other "exhibits," is available here.

This week in the Russia investigations: Enter Viktor Vekselberg. Who is helping Michael Avenatti? Oleg Deripaska's wings have been clipped — for now.

The Vekselberg matter

Energy baron Viktor Vekselberg has the reputation as a "nice" Russian oligarch.

Updated at 4:24 p.m.

An explosive document released Tuesday by an attorney suing President Trump and his personal lawyer could be the most important public evidence in the Russia imbroglio since Donald Trump Jr. released his emails last year.

Updated at 10:27 p.m. ET

Donald Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, may have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments from both corporate clients and potentially a Russian billionaire, according to new allegations from an attorney suing them.

Michael Avenatti, who represents adult film actress Stormy Daniels, described what he called Cohen's suspicious financial relationships in a document released on Tuesday evening.

New York lawmakers will carry on trying to close a loophole that could shield people from state prosecution if they have received a presidential pardon — without the bill's high-profile champion, former state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Updated at 12:51 p.m.

President Trump's newly aggressive stance toward special counsel Robert Mueller will be the biggest test yet of the work he and allies have carried on for months to shape the political landscape among their supporters.

Trump and his attorneys appear to be hardening their attitude toward Mueller's office as discussion continues swirling about a potential presidential interview — whether Trump should agree, or risk a subpoena, or fight it, or invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to give evidence.

This week in the Russia investigations: After a lot of Sturm und Drang, the door appears to be closing on an interview between President Trump and Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller.

The long shot

At the conclusion of another outrageous dust devil week of news, here is the main thing to take away: An interview between President Trump and the team of Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller now appears less likely than ever.

White House attorney Ty Cobb is retiring at the end of this month and veteran Washington lawyer Emmet Flood, who helped President Bill Clinton in his impeachment proceedings in the late 1990s, has signed on to replace him, the White House said Wednesday.

Updated at 11:35 a.m. EDT

The slow-motion showdown between President Trump and Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller has entered a new phase: a knife fight over how, when or whether the two men may meet for an interview.

Direct interaction between the president and the special counsel's office has been possible all along, and in an earlier phase, Trump said he wanted to talk with Mueller — if his lawyers said it was OK.

Updated at 10:34 a.m. ET

Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller may have developed evidence that has not yet been made public about contacts between Donald Trump's campaign and the Russian government as it attacked the 2016 election, based on questions published Monday by The New York Times.

Republicans on the House intelligence committee gave President Trump another clean bill of health this week.

And the committee's Democrats laid out how much they say he has to fear.

Updated July 20, 2018

What are "active measures?"

The Russian government launched a broad influence campaign against the United States starting in 2014. Intelligence professionals call it the latest examples of "active measures," secret tools of statecraft that have been used for centuries and were employed throughout the Cold War.

In recent years they have included many interlocking elements:

What is obstruction of justice?

It's against the law to frustrate or try to frustrate an investigation, even if no underlying crime was committed. Lying to federal investigators is a crime on its own and so is acting more broadly to prevent or delay or otherwise interfere with the course of their work.

It's also politically important: The last two occasions on which Congress has filed articles of impeachment against sitting presidents — against Richard Nixon and later, Bill Clinton — they included allegations about obstruction.

Why is President Trump's campaign being investigated for potentially conspiring with the Russian attack on the 2016 election?

Because of something that happened early in 2016: Trump, a political newcomer who had never served in the military or held elective office, was criticized for his lack of experience and faced pressure to name the team that would advise him on national security and foreign policy. Once he did, people on it began to receive overtures from Russians or their agents.

This week in the Russia investigations: Did we learn anything from James Comey? Michael Cohen opts for discretion in the face of some new legal challenges.

What Comey Says Trump Said Putin Said

President Trump, then-chief of staff Reince Priebus and then-FBI Director James Comey were sitting together in the Oval Office. Trump, in Comey's telling, was monologuing, as the former FBI director says he often did.

New York's attorney general wants lawmakers to change the state's criminal laws so that potential pardons by President Trump wouldn't necessarily protect people from being charged in the state system.

This week in the Russia investigations: How different is the congressional situation now, really? How much might Moscow have depended on straw donors in the United States?

Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral looks lovely in the picture postcards, but the ancient church is sinking.

After another head-spinning week in Donald Trump's Washington, an important new question is about the strength of the foundation under the support the president has enjoyed from another iconic edifice: The United States Capitol.

The Justice Department on Friday detailed its reasons for recommending that former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe be fired in March, just short of his scheduled retirement.

A report by the department's inspector general confirmed that investigators concluded McCabe had violated Justice Department policy by authorizing an aide to talk with the Wall Street Journal about the FBI's probe into the Clinton Foundation — and that McCabe had "lacked candor" in discussing the matter afterward inside the Justice Department.

President Trump's longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen was the subject of a months-long criminal investigation before the FBI raided his home and office this week, according to court documents.

Federal prosecutors made that disclosure on Friday in responding to a request by Cohen for a judge to restrict the government's ability to review the evidence the FBI collected in those raids.

Judge Kimba Wood shouldn't agree, contended the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

This week in the Russia investigations: Mueller sends the feds to meet some international arrivals; new sanctions on some powerful, wealthy Russians; and Mr. Zuckerberg goes to Washington.

Fade in:

A gleaming new Gulfstream G650 — or maybe it's a Sukhoi business jet — sweeps in for a landing at Teterboro Airport, the suburban New Jersey gateway to nearby Manhattan for elite fliers.

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