Carrie Johnson

Carrie Johnson is a Justice Correspondent for the Washington Desk.

She covers a wide variety of stories about justice issues, law enforcement and legal affairs for NPR's flagship programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as the Newscasts and NPR.org.

While in this role, Johnson has chronicled major challenges to the landmark voting rights law, a botched law enforcement operation targeting gun traffickers along the Southwest border, and the Obama administration's deadly drone program for suspected terrorists overseas.

Prior to coming to NPR in 2010, Johnson worked at the Washington Post for 10 years, where she closely observed the FBI, the Justice Department and criminal trials of the former leaders of Enron, HealthSouth and Tyco. Earlier in her career, she wrote about courts for the weekly publication Legal Times.

Outside of her role at NPR, Johnson regularly moderates or appears on legal panels for the American Bar Association, the American Constitution Society, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and others. She's talked about her work on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, PBS, and other outlets.

Her work has been honored with awards from the Society for Professional Journalists and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. She has been a finalist for the Loeb award for financial journalism and for the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news for team coverage of the massacre at Fort Hood, Texas.

Johnson is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Benedictine University in Illinois.

Updated at 5:34 p.m. ET

The team prosecuting President Trump's former campaign chairman has a message for Paul Manafort: no more excuses.

Lawyers working for Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller objected Wednesday to Manafort's bid to delay the trial scheduled for July 25 in Alexandria, Va. To make their case, they cited recorded jail calls and prison logs suggesting Manafort has been getting better treatment than most detainees, not worse.

Updated at 3:33 p.m. ET

The Senate voted 51-48 on Wednesday to confirm Brian Benczkowski as an assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, ending an 18-month delay in which its Criminal Division operated without a permanent leader.

Benczkowski, a Justice Department veteran who held top posts in the George W. Bush administration, had languished for months as critics raised questions about his legal work for a Russian bank and his close ties to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Over a dozen years as a judge on the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., Brett Kavanaugh has weighed in on controversial cases involving guns, abortion, health care and religious liberty.

But after Kavanaugh emerged on President Trump's shortlist for the Supreme Court, a suggestion the judge made in a 2009 law review article swiftly took center stage:

"Provide sitting presidents with a temporary deferral of civil suits and of criminal prosecutions and investigations," Kavanaugh proposed.

Updated at 1:31 p.m. ET

Scott Schools, a top aide to the deputy attorney general, is planning to leave the Justice Department at the end of the week, according to two people familiar with his decision.

The job title for Schools — associate deputy attorney general — belied his importance as a strategic counselor and repository of institutional memory and ethics at the DOJ. Schools has played a critical, if behind-the-scenes, role in some of the most important and sensitive issues in the building.

Michael Cohen, the personal lawyer and longtime fixer for the president who once said he would "do anything" to protect Donald Trump, now says his "first loyalty" rests with his family.

In an interview with ABC News, Cohen acknowledged that he soon could face criminal charges in an ongoing FBI probe of his finances and business dealings. But Cohen told ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos that he respects the prosecutors and the process.

A lawyer for fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is suing the FBI, the Justice Department and its inspector general for refusing to turn over documents related to McCabe's termination.

McCabe, who worked at the FBI in various roles for more than 20 years, was dismissed only hours before his planned retirement in March, for what the Justice Department called a "lack of candor."

Prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller are asking a judge to limit the kind of information a Russian company and other defendants in an ongoing criminal prosecution are able to review.

Government attorneys Rush Atkinson, Jeannie Rhee and Ryan Dickey warned in court documents that materials in the case could be "disclosed to Russian intelligence services."

In February, a grand jury in Washington, D.C., returned indictments against 13 Russians and three companies for allegedly operating an information warfare campaign that targeted the 2016 election.

Department of Justice and FBI officials are planning another secret briefing for congressional leaders about investigators' use of confidential sources in the early stages of the Russia investigation.

Officials are expected to meet early next week with the leaders of the full House and Senate and the chambers' intelligence committees — the "Gang of Eight" — a senior Justice Department official said.

The official asked not to be identified discussing the preparations for the secret briefing.

Updated at 9:15 a.m. ET on June 1.

The special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has cost nearly $17 million dollars so far, according to a new report from the Justice Department.

Robert Mueller's team of prosecutors and FBI special agents has spent by far the most money on covering salaries, followed by rent and information technology services, the statement of expenditures says.

If you turn on the TV news these days, it's difficult to miss Michael Avenatti.

The lawyer for porn actress Stormy Daniels has been that way since his days in law school.

Professor Jonathan Turley remembered Avenatti as one of the best students at George Washington University Law School — a guy who stood out in class.

"He first spoke to me about his desire to join a litigation team in his first year and I joked that he might want to find out where his locker is before he joined a litigation team," Turley told NPR.

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Government lawyers defended the way they obtained the search warrants used to seize evidence from Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort in a lengthy court hearing on Wednesday in Washington.

Manafort's attorneys had told Judge Amy Berman Jackson they believed the warrants were invalid — in one case, for example, lawyers argued that a person listed on the lease of a storage unit didn't have permission to permit FBI special agents to peek inside.

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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein dismissed threats from antagonists in Congress on Thursday following months of tension between the Justice Department and conservative supporters of President Trump.

Rosenstein appeared at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. to celebrate Law Day and was asked about threats from members of Congress, including the putative "articles of impeachment" about him drafted by allies of Trump.

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Updated at 11:53 a.m. EDT

Fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has created a legal defense fund to help him pay to deal with congressional investigations, contacts with the U.S. Attorney's Office and a possible wrongful termination and defamation case he may file against the Trump administration.

The trustees for the fund include former judges John Martin and James Robertson and the former police leader in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, Charles Ramsey.

Updated at 4:44 p.m. ET

The Justice Department inspector general has asked prosecutors in Washington, D.C., to examine whether former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe should face criminal charges.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz has referred McCabe to the U.S. Attorney's Office for Washington, D.C., according to a source familiar with the matter. The source asked not to be identified as discussing the sensitive ongoing case.

Nearly a year after President Trump fired James Comey, the former FBI director is out with a new memoir, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, And Leadership. Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep and NPR Justice Correspondent Carrie Johnson talked to Comey about his book, his role in shaping the outcome of the 2016 election and where the FBI's credibility stands. Here's the full transcript of their conversation.

In an interview with NPR's Morning Edition, fired FBI Director James Comey defended his controversial decisions during the 2016 campaign and asserted that the reputation of his agency — which operates under near daily siege from the president and his allies — "would be worse today had we not picked the least bad alternatives."

"I saw this as a 500-year flood, and so where is the manual? What do I do?" he said.

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Forty years of institutional memory walked out of the Justice Department last month.

Lawyer Douglas Letter joined the DOJ in 1978. For decades, he defended controversial policies advanced by Democrats and Republicans in the executive branch.

Now, he may be suing over them.

Letter, 64, reflected on his long government service on a sunny morning last week at the Georgetown Law Center, where he will be working and teaching national security law.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, tax and bank fraud charges in an Alexandria, Va., federal courtroom Thursday afternoon.

Judge T.S. Ellis set a trial date for July 10.

Manafort faces a separate federal trial on Sept. 17 on other charges also brought by special counsel Robert Mueller's office in a Washington, D.C., case.

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Updated at 9:20 p.m. ET

The Justice Department is suing California and two top state officials, accusing them of interfering with federal immigration efforts by passing and enforcing state laws that hinder U.S. operations against undocumented people.

The lawsuit filed late Tuesday in federal court in Sacramento, Calif., points out that the Constitution gives the U.S. government sweeping authority over immigration.

The man leading the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has been keeping busy.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has been on the job for about nine months. But he has already charged 19 people with wrongdoing — and won guilty pleas from the president's former campaign vice chairman and his former national security adviser.

Scholars who focus on politically charged investigations that may lead into the White House have been taking note.

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We're joined now by NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson, who was listening in to that conversation.

Carrie, what did you hear in there?

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