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 5:21 p.m. ET

A State Department staffer overheard President Trump asking a top diplomat about "investigations" he wanted Ukraine to pursue that he believed might help him in the 2020 election, another senior diplomat told Congress.

That staffer is expected to tell his story directly to House investigators at a closed-door deposition on Friday.

The new subplot about the overheard phone conversation was one of a small number of new details to emerge from Democrats' first open hearing in their impeachment inquiry into Trump on Wednesday.

Updated at 4:37 p.m. ET

The Justice Department's review of the origins of the Russia probe has become a criminal investigation, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to NPR.

It is unclear what prompted the shift from an administrative review to a formal criminal investigation, when the change took place or what potential crime is under investigation.

The change drew immediate criticism from Democrats, who have accused Attorney General William Barr of turning the Justice Department into a political weapon for President Trump.

Updated at 5:33 p.m. ET

House Democrats won an important victory in federal court on Friday when a judge ordered the Justice Department to surrender now-secret material from the Russia investigation — and, more broadly, validated the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Updated at 12:08 p.m. ET

The nation's top spy told lawmakers on Thursday that he supports the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the Ukraine affair but said he struggled to deal with how to handle the case inside the Trump administration.

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire told the House intelligence committee in an open hearing that he believed the whistleblower and the spy world's inspector general had acted in good faith and that he has tried to handle a unique situation as best he could.

Updated at 5:25 p.m. ET

President Trump told Ukraine's president that "a lot of people want to find out" about the activities of former Vice President Joe Biden's family in Ukraine and asked its leader to be in touch with lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General Bill Barr.

That's according to a briefing for correspondents about the contents of the July 25 phone call, on Wednesday at the Justice Department.

Updated at 4:56 p.m. ET

Peril from foreign interference in American elections will persist through the 2020 presidential race, former special counsel Robert Mueller warned on Wednesday.

Asked whether Russia would attempt to attack future U.S. elections, as it did in 2016, Mueller replied: "They're doing it as we sit here."

Mueller didn't detail a prescription for how he believes Congress or the United States should respond, but he recommended generally that intelligence and law enforcement agencies should work together.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has installed a new czar to oversee election security efforts across the spy world, he announced on Friday.

A veteran agency leader, Shelby Pierson, has been appointed to serve as the first election threats executive within the intelligence community, or IC, Coats said.

"Election security is an enduring challenge and a top priority for the IC," said Coats.

Updated at 2:13 p.m. ET

President Trump has conflated an infamous practice in and among political campaigns — "opposition research" — with foreign election interference like that launched by Russia against the United States in 2016.

Are they the same thing? Is foreign interference just a kind of "oppo research," as Trump said in an interview with ABC?

Updated at 4:12 p.m. ET

Special counsel Robert Mueller shut down his Russia investigation on Wednesday in an unusual appearance in which he restated his findings and made clear that he never considered it an option to charge President Trump.

"We are formally closing the special counsel's office," Mueller told reporters at the Justice Department on Wednesday morning.

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.

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