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.

President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen acknowledged on Thursday that he schemed to rig online polls that sought to make Trump seem like a more plausible presidential candidate.

The story was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. In a tweet following the report, Cohen said he sought to help Trump's political aspirations, having been directed by the candidate.

The Justice Department laid out what it called a series of lies Paul Manafort has told since agreeing to cooperate with the government, but few details are visible in the new court document.

The office of special counsel Robert Mueller filed new documentation on Tuesday that describes what it calls deliberate falsehoods that Manafort has told in support of the government's argument that his plea deal is now void.

Updated at 1:10 p.m. ET

President Trump's nominee to serve as attorney general vowed to permit Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller to complete his work and said it was "very important" for the public and Congress to know the results.

Updated at 1:05 p.m. ET

President Trump on Monday denied that he has been trying to conceal details about his discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin after a pair of explosive press reports over the weekend.

"I never worked for Russia," Trump told reporters. "It's a disgrace that you even asked that question because it's a whole big fat hoax. It's just a hoax."

Updated at 4:49 p.m. ET

President Trump's nominee to become the next attorney general began his round of visits to Capitol Hill on Wednesday as Washington prepared for a changing of the guard at the Justice Department.

William Barr was scheduled to meet with at least three key Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans ahead of his confirmation hearing scheduled for next week.

The Russia imbroglio is barreling into another year that could deliver even more revelations and political heat than the last one — and maybe even a big finale.

The criminal cases of several key players are unresolved, new charges could be ripe, and House Democrats are set to sweep into Washington with huge ambitions about how to use their investigative and oversight powers now that they wield the majority.

Here's what you need to know:

Updated at 10:45 p.m. ET

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a living Marine Corps legend who made history by securing special permission from Congress to lead the Pentagon, is stepping down after a slow freeze-out by President Trump.

Drift between the two men reached a point at which Mattis objected so strongly to the president's policy choices that he opted to resign rather than go along.

Updated at 7:25 p.m. ET

A federal judge delayed sentencing former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his talks with Russia's ambassador.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said he has significant outstanding questions about the case, including how the government's Russia investigation was impeded and the material impact of Flynn's lies on the special counsel's inquiry.

Editor's Note: This story has been edited to make it clear that it is analysis and that the allegations of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians remain unproven.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Recent days have brought a number of significant revelations in the investigation surrounding President Trump's campaign, his businesses and, as of last night, his inauguration committee.

Updated at 3:22 p.m. ET

A Russian woman who schemed to build back-channel ties between the Russian government and the Trump campaign pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday to conspiring to act as a clandestine foreign agent.

Maria Butina also sought to connect Moscow unofficially with other parts of the conservative establishment, including the National Rifle Association and the National Prayer Breakfast.

Updated at 9:47 a.m. ET

Each new dawn seems to bring a major new headline in the Russia investigation, including a number of important courtroom developments this month.

Here's what you need to know about what has happened so far this week in this often complex and fast-moving saga.

Michael Cohen is going to prison, but he says he isn't finished yet

Updated at 4:13 p.m. ET

A federal judge sentenced Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen to three years in prison on Wednesday following Cohen's guilty pleas to a number of political and finance crimes.

Those three years would be followed by three years of supervised release, and Cohen also is subject to forfeiture of $500,000, restitution of $1.4 million and fines totaling $100,000.

Cohen had asked for leniency. He said in court, however, that he accepts responsibility for his actions.

Last week in the Russia investigations: The special counsel ties up loose ends, but that may not mean the finish line is any closer.

Endings and beginnings

Never mind that it still isn't fully clear what the Russia imbroglio is — what picture all the puzzle pieces are supposed to form when they're put together.

An even more basic question that's just as difficult to answer is: How much longer will it go?

Two of Donald Trump's former top aides are looking at years in federal prison — and Trump and his camp allegedly are connected to many of the crimes in which they've been charged.

Those were among the big takeaways from the release of court documents on Friday evening in a pair of cases that have ensnared Trump's former longtime personal lawyer and the veteran political pro who ran his presidential campaign for a time in 2016.

Updated at 8:51 p.m. ET

Federal prosecutors have requested a "substantial term of imprisonment" for Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen but asked that a judge consider his cooperation with the special counsel's Russia probe and other investigations in his sentencing.

Updated at 9:38 p.m. ET

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn has provided "substantial" aid in the Russia investigation and beyond — and that merits a judge's consideration at Flynn's sentencing this month, prosecutors said in court papers late Tuesday.

The government said in a memo to a federal judge that it believes sentencing for Flynn should be lenient and that even a sentence without prison time "is appropriate and warranted."

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

Editor's note: An earlier version of this report mischaracterized an answer Donald Trump Jr. gave to Senate investigators in 2017 about the prospective projects his family was negotiating with people in Moscow.

There have been so many big developments this week in the Russia story that it's tough to keep them all straight.

Here's what you need to know.

Cohen admits lying to Congress

What happened? Donald Trump's former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen admitted on Thursday that he and others working for Trump negotiated with important Russians over a possible Trump Tower in Moscow well into the presidential campaign in 2016.

Updated at 3:03 p.m. ET

Donald Trump and his aides continued negotiations about a potential Trump Tower project in Moscow well into the 2016 presidential campaign, his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen acknowledged in a guilty plea in a New York federal court on Thursday.

Updated at 5:17 p.m. ET

A pardon for ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort is not "off the table," President Trump said Wednesday, following a report that Manafort's lawyer has briefed Trump's lawyers about his testimony in the Russia investigation.

Trump told the New York Post that he hasn't talked about clemency for Manafort but that the door remains open.

Updated at 5:31 p.m. ET

A spate of new reports on Tuesday brought new suggestions about ties between Americans in Donald Trump's campaign and the Russians who attacked the 2016 election — but nothing official from the government and only public denials from many of those involved.

The White House declined to address a report on Tuesday that said Paul Manafort, Trump's onetime campaign chairman, met in person with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Critics intensified their pressure on the acting attorney general on Tuesday, but the Justice Department — including the office of special counsel Robert Mueller — says it's carrying out business as usual.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked the Justice Department's watchdog to investigate whether there have been any "unlawful or improper communications" between the White House and acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.

This week in the Russia investigations: President Trump says he, and not his lawyers, completed written questions for the special counsel. Now, the ball is back in Robert Mueller's court.

Paper jam

President Trump says he has finished his open-book, take-home exam.

Updated at 2:13 p.m. ET

President Trump has completed written answers to questions about the Russia investigation from Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller.

The president told reporters on Friday that he wrote the answers, not his lawyers, and that he did so "very easily."

Trump said he suspected some of the questions were designed to be pitfalls and catch him in a "perjury trap" — to induce him to lie about things for which prosecutors might already have contradictory evidence.

This week in the Russia investigations: Sessions is out. Whitaker is in. Rosenstein is still the deputy attorney general — for now. Who is running the Department of Justice?

Main Justice

At the Justice Department's landmark headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue, the big office on the fifth floor is now vacant.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker could make life quite difficult for Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller if he wanted.

The biggest question in Washington is: Will he?

The acting head of the Justice Department took over on Wednesday from former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was forced out after months of verbal abuse by President Trump.

This week in the Russia investigations: Could Roger Stone, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks be in Mueller's crosshairs after Election Day?

Down the stretch

Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller has been running ultraquiet since the end of the summer, but he could resurface soon — and he may make a hell of a splash.

Updated at 6:48 p.m. ET

The office of Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller has notified the FBI about an alleged scheme to discredit Mueller that apparently backfired on Tuesday, a spokesman confirmed.

News organizations including NPR have received information about claims related to the alleged scheme. Reporters have so far not been able to verify them.

When the special counsel's office became aware of them last week, it alerted the FBI, said spokesman Peter Carr. The FBI declined to comment.

The alleged scheme

President Trump and his legal team may be close to submitting written answers to questions from Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller, the president has confirmed.

Trump told Laura Ingraham of Fox News that he considers it "ridiculous" that he and his lawyers must go along but "we probably will do something, yes, where we'll respond to some questions."

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