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 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 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.

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.

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 Treasury Department wove a sprawling epic about global power and money on Friday in announcing new sanctions that target some of Russia's most powerful men — including three with ties to Trump world.

The announcement included everything necessary for a first-class soap opera, from arms trafficking to organized crime to the smuggling of millions in cash in suitcases.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the time has come for the United States to shine a light on what Russia is doing:

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