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.

New charges against a woman who tried to build bridges between the Russian government and American political leaders via the National Rifle Association delivered a breakthrough in understanding one aspect of the attack on the 2016 election: "infiltration."

After months of questions and speculation as to how or whether the NRA connection might have worked, prosecutors have proffered an answer: The Russian woman, Maria Butina, was the intermediary between Russian government officials and Americans, both in the NRA and elsewhere in politics, according to court documents.

Updated at 9:38 p.m. ET

The Justice Department charged 12 Russian intelligence officers on Friday with a litany of alleged offenses related to Russia's hacking of the Democratic National Committee's emails, state election systems and other targets in 2016.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who announced the indictments, said the Russians involved belonged to the military intelligence service GRU. They are accused of a sustained cyberattack against Democratic Party targets, including its campaign committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Updated at 10:19 a.m. ET

President Trump resumed his attacks against Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday following reports that he had asked Sessions to un-recuse himself from the Russia investigation — and after more erosion of Trump's claim that the FBI spied on his campaign.

Trump used his Twitter account to echo the comments of House oversight committee chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who has been using TV appearances to try to offer some nuanced support to Trump.

Updated at 11:59 a.m.

The Senate Judiciary Committee released more than 2,500 pages of documents on Wednesday related to its investigation about a meeting in 2016 between top Trump aides and a delegation of Russians who promised to help the campaign.

The material, which includes interview transcripts and other "exhibits," is available here.

New York lawmakers will carry on trying to close a loophole that could shield people from state prosecution if they have received a presidential pardon — without the bill's high-profile champion, former state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

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.

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 11:55 a.m. ET

The House intelligence committee concluded its Russia investigation on Friday by releasing a heavily redacted copy of its full report clearing Donald Trump's campaign of any wrongdoing.

Updated at 1:10 p.m. ET

President Trump's nominee to take over the CIA faces a rocky confirmation hearing in the Senate and a narrow political path to secure the job.

Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel is a career intelligence officer widely respected within the agency but tied up inextricably with one of the ugliest chapters in its history.

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 9:15 p.m. ET

House intelligence committee Republicans on Monday cleared President Trump's campaign of colluding with the Russians who attacked the 2016 U.S. election, concluding a probe that minority Democrats had long argued was focused on appeasing the White House.

Updated at 6:17 p.m. ET

President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has lost the top-level security clearance he has been using on an interim basis to do his work inside the White House, according to reports on Tuesday.

Instead, Kushner will begin using a lower level of access to classified information along with other White House staffers who had temporary clearances.

This week in the Russia investigations: More newcomers join Mueller's roll of honor; the feds meet with state officials on election security; and Washington starts thinking about considering some potential planning to defend the 2018 midterms.

Guilty

Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller broke his own record this week for guilty pleas. On Tuesday, Dutch attorney Alex van der Zwaan appeared in federal court and admitted he had lied to investigators about his contacts with Donald Trump's former campaign vice chairman, Rick Gates.

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."

Updated at 7:05 p.m. ET

The House intelligence committee voted without opposition on Monday to declassify a secret Democratic rebuttal to the once-secret Republican memo about alleged surveillance abuses that was unveiled on Friday.

The Democrats' document now goes to the White House, where President Trump will decide whether it should become public.

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.

If 2016 was the bravura opener and 2017 the tension-building second act, 2018 could deliver an action-packed conclusion to the Russia imbroglio.

Or this story might still be getting started.

Even without knowing every surprise the saga might bring in the new year, there are already enough waypoints on the calendar to confirm that 2018 will ratchet up the volume yet again.

Here are four big storylines to watch.