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.

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 5:53 p.m. ET

The separation-of-powers standoff between Congress and the executive branch deepened on Wednesday over a dispute about access to materials involving the controversial citizenship question planned for the 2020 census.

The Justice Department notified the House oversight committee that it's withholding documents sought by the panel's chairman because it says they're shielded by executive privilege — the doctrine that permits an administration to conceal some of its internal workings.

Updated at 6:35 p.m. ET

The House has authorized its committee leaders to pursue civil contempt cases to get information for their myriad investigations into President Trump.

Although the vote, 229-191, clears the way for more lawsuits against Cabinet departments, administration officials, bankers, accountants and more, it represented a sidestep from a more aggressive partisan confrontation that might have been.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

The House voted on Tuesday to authorize its committees to sue the Trump administration and others in pursuit of witnesses and documents for their manifold investigations into President Trump.

Updated at 3:25 p.m. ET

The Justice Department is to begin providing documents to the House Judiciary Committee after a dispute over a subpoena — but members of Congress are reserving the ability to continue to pursue contempt litigation down the line.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote Tuesday on a civil contempt resolution against Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn.

Here's what you need to know about what it means and how it came about:

Democrats vs. DOJ

Democrats, who control the majority in the House, want Barr to give them an unredacted copy of the report filed by former special counsel Robert Mueller on his Russia investigation.

They also want the underlying evidence that Mueller's office developed.

Former special counsel Robert Mueller says he would try to be an unappealing witness for Congress, promising he wouldn't say anything he hasn't said before.

House Democrats say that still sounds pretty good.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., reaffirmed on Wednesday that he continues to want Mueller to speak before his panel.

"Let's just say I'm confident he'll come in soon," Nadler told reporters.

He also emphasized that Mueller should testify in the open, not behind closed doors as the former special counsel had mused.

Updated at 3:01 p.m. ET

New tariffs against Mexico will begin to bite next week, President Trump vowed Tuesday, unless the White House is satisfied that Mexico's government is acting with new alacrity to stop migrants from crossing into the United States.

"This will take effect next week, 5%," Trump said during his visit to London.

Trump said he is open to continuing negotiations with Mexican leaders, including at a meeting scheduled for Wednesday between its foreign minister and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Democratic House members returning from recess this week must tackle another new dilemma over the results of the Russia investigation: what to do about Robert Mueller.

The outgoing Justice Department special counsel has said, in so many words, that he's said all he's got to say and that he does not want to appear in what would likely become a traffic-stopping set-piece hearing before a congressional committee.

Former special counsel Robert Mueller could have declared whether President Trump broke the law if Mueller had wanted — albeit still without the ability to bring any indictment, Attorney General William Barr says in a new TV interview.

Barr told CBS News in an interview scheduled to air on Thursday evening and Friday morning that he believed Mueller had more latitude to state his views than the special counsel may have permitted himself.

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 1:14 p.m. ET

Special counsel Robert Mueller stepped down Wednesday after concluding not only one of the highest-profile investigations in recent history, but one of the most distinctive codas in the career of any top Washington official.

Mueller addressed reporters at the Justice Department in his first public statement since taking over the Russia investigation, ending two years of near-silence even under one of the hottest spotlights ever to burn on a public figure.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

President Trump has handed Attorney General William Barr the keys to the vault.

Trump has authorized Barr to "declassify, downgrade, or direct the declassification or downgrading of information or intelligence" related to the origins of the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, according to an official order.

The White House says that will mean he can be freer to reveal wrongdoing if he finds it. Democrats call it a bid to scare up political "weapons."

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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