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 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 11:22 a.m.

No wonder James Clapper always seemed so grouchy.

The longtime spy baron became well-known during his stint as director of national intelligence for his profound scowl and sometimes-Zen-like terseness. Now, in his new memoir, Clapper tells why: It is the tale of how the world — at least from his perspective — fell apart.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

Updated at 6:46 p.m. EDT

The Democratic National Committee filed an attention-grabbing lawsuit against the Russian government, WikiLeaks and Donald Trump's presidential campaign that says they conspired to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The suit — which faces legal obstacles because of the Justice Department's investigation into Russia's attack and the difficulties involved with suing a foreign government — develops a theory about alleged collusion between Trump's campaign and the Russians.

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.

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.

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 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 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 8:15 p.m. ET

A federal grand jury has indicted 13 Russians and three Russian entities in connection with the attack on the 2016 presidential election.

The defendants are "accused of violating U.S. criminal laws in order to interfere with U.S. elections and political processes," according to a statement from the special counsel's office. The indictment charges them with "conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants with aggravated identity theft."

America's adversaries are circling like coyotes just beyond the light from the campfire, top intelligence officials warn — but that's not the scariest thing to some members of the Senate intelligence committee.

What bothers them is the need to convince people the coyotes are there.

"My problem is, I talk to people in Maine who say, 'the whole thing is a witch hunt and it's a hoax,' because that's what the president told me," said Sen. Angus King, I-Maine.

This week in the Russia investigations: The much-talked-about memo finally made its public debut.

After a week of hyperpartisan madness that critics warn could shatter key D.C. institutions forever, the inescapable, once-secret spying memo wound up falling like a drop of rain into the Pacific Ocean.

Updated 2:30 p.m. ET

President Trump joined his Republican allies on Friday in piling on with attacks about "bias" in the FBI and the Justice Department as Washington, D.C., waited on tenterhooks for the release of a controversial secret spying memo.

The political hurricane that could bring about the release of a controversial memo on Friday has blown the American ship of state off the map.

Not only has a congressional committee seldom if ever released secrets "owned" by the executive branch. Not only has Washington, D.C., seldom seen a law-and-order party in power commit to such a sustained flogging of its own FBI and Justice Department.

Updated 5:35 a.m. ET Friday:

President Trump ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller last summer — but McGahn refused and threatened to quit himself if the president went ahead, according to an explosive report in The New York Times.

Trump, in brief remarks as he entered the conference hall at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, dismissed the story in what has become his characteristic fashion.

Last week in the Russia investigations: Will "infiltration" be the new "collusion" or "obstruction?" Another skirmish over executive privilege? Is the Russia imbroglio about the money-go-round? And will the shutdown disrupt Mueller's investigation?

The inside game

How much did Russia "infiltrate" political organizations inside the United States as part of its attack on the 2016 presidential election?

This week in the Russia investigations: President Trump rows back on a potential Robert Mueller interview, Sen. Dianne Feinstein releases a big transcript, and Steve Bannon is headed to the House Intelligence Committee.

The exile

Once upon a time, Steve Bannon was among the princes of the universe. Loved by his allies and hated by his foes, he was, most importantly, feared by both.

The infamous Russia dossier was not the sole basis for the FBI's investigation into Donald Trump's ties to Russia, according to a newly public document that notched a tactical win for Democrats inside Washington, D.C.

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