Philip Ewing | KERA News

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.

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 at 11:55 a.m. ET

The House intelligence committee concluded its Russia investigation on Friday by releasing a heavily redacted copy of its full report clearing Donald Trump's campaign of any wrongdoing.

Updated at 2:18 a.m. ET

President Trump acknowledged on Thursday that his longtime attorney Michael Cohen had "represented" him in what he called the "crazy" deal in which Cohen paid $130,000 to buy the silence of a porn actress just before the 2016 election.

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. They 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.

Updated at 11:24 p.m. ET

President Trump pointed his fingers at his own head and said then-national security adviser Michael Flynn had "serious judgment issues," according to a redacted, unclassified version of then-FBI Director James Comey's original memo about his fateful dinner with Trump.

That's one new detail included in copies of the memoranda sent by the Justice Department to Congress on Thursday evening in response to a request from the leaders of the Judiciary and intelligence committees.

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.

The next time Vladimir Putin meets President Trump, he'll be dealing with a very different man — politically, at least.

In the months since the two leaders last were face-to-face, Trump has publicly blamed Russia for its attack on the 2016 election, increased sanctions, kicked out a horde of Russian intelligence officers and closed Russia's last diplomatic mission on the West Coast.

Tumblr has listed a number of accounts linked to Russian social media agitation giving the newest look at a sophisticated effort to sow discord among Americans — including black users.

The blogging service announced that it had discovered more than 80 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, the professional troll farm indicted by Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller.

This week in the Russia investigations: Washington turns its focus to election security. Will it be enough?

The Russia imbroglio is so vast that only parts of it come into focus at one time.

The White House could look for another political booster shot on Thursday if its allies on the House intelligence committee give more detail about how they cleared President Trump's campaign of colluding with Russia's attack on the 2016 presidential election.

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Updated at 12:30 a.m. ET Saturday

Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired outgoing FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on Friday even though he was on the doorstep of retiring and receiving his pension after two decades of service to the bureau.

President Trump responded on Twitter just after midnight Saturday, calling McCabe's firing "a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI - A great day for Democracy."

This week in the Russia investigations: Republicans on the House intelligence committee give President Trump a clean bill of health; Democrats say not so fast. It's a dispute over the basic nature of the Russia imbroglio.

What does Nunes know?

The chairman of the House intelligence committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., enjoys access not only to a huge breadth of information from America's spy agencies but also to some of their deepest secrets. He doesn't need to rely on press reports.

The House intelligence committee has completed its "Choose Your Own Adventure" story about the Russia imbroglio. Republicans wrote a happy ending for President Trump. Democrats wrote a cliffhanger.

Even though members of the committee say they're taking separate ramps off this highway, however, the road goes ever on. Here are 4 more mileposts still to come in the remainder of the Russia imbroglio.

Updated at 1:10 p.m. ET

President Trump's nominee to take over the CIA faces a rocky confirmation hearing in the Senate and a narrow political path to secure the job.

Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel is a career intelligence officer widely respected within the agency but tied up inextricably with one of the ugliest chapters in its history.

Updated at 3:00 p.m. ET

President Trump announced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired on Tuesday morning in a tweet that followed a year of frequent tension between the two leaders.

Updated at 9:15 p.m. ET

House intelligence committee Republicans on Monday cleared President Trump's campaign of colluding with the Russians who attacked the 2016 U.S. election, concluding a probe that minority Democrats had long argued was focused on appeasing the White House.

This week in the Russia investigations: The "FISA abuse" counter-narrative might be running out of steam — and so, apparently, is President Trump's relationship with Attorney General Jeff Sessions; the House and Senate intelligence committees are at daggers drawn; does anybody here know anything about cyber-stuff?

Like a dull knife

The Russia imbroglio is so complex it's sometimes impenetrable. Maneuvering within it politically is much more difficult than any other big story these days.

Updated at 4:31 p.m. ET on March 1

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is trying to defend President Trump in the Russia imbroglio, but Trump has slapped Sessions down — again — for work he says isn't good enough.

Updated at 6:17 p.m. ET

President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has lost the top-level security clearance he has been using on an interim basis to do his work inside the White House, according to reports on Tuesday.

Instead, Kushner will begin using a lower level of access to classified information along with other White House staffers who had temporary clearances.

After nearly a month of pronouncements, melodrama, headlines and strife, Round One of memo mania is finally complete.

House Intelligence Committee Republicans went first with their Feb. 2 salvo that alleged "biased" FBI and Justice Department officials had abused their surveillance powers by withholding information from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Then, on Saturday, committee Democrats released a rebuttal giving their perspective on the story — or at least part of it.

This week in the Russia investigations: More newcomers join Mueller's roll of honor; the feds meet with state officials on election security; and Washington starts thinking about considering some potential planning to defend the 2018 midterms.

Guilty

Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller broke his own record this week for guilty pleas. On Tuesday, Dutch attorney Alex van der Zwaan appeared in federal court and admitted he had lied to investigators about his contacts with Donald Trump's former campaign vice chairman, Rick Gates.

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