Philip Ewing

Philip Ewing is an election security editor with NPR's Washington Desk. He helps oversee coverage of election security, voting, disinformation, active measures and other issues. Ewing joined the Washington Desk from his previous role as NPR's national security editor, in which he helped direct coverage of the military, intelligence community, counterterrorism, veterans and more. He came to NPR 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 1:07 p.m. ET

President Trump ordered a bold strike against Iran this week that jangled the Middle East and Washington, drawing praise from allies, skepticism from critics and, most of all, questions about what comes next.

Updated at 9:27 p.m. ET

House lawmakers voted to impeach President Trump on Wednesday in only the third such rebuke in American history.

The move triggers a trial for Trump in the Senate, expected in January — one in which majority Republicans are likely to permit him to retain his office.

The vote was 230 to 197 on the first of two articles of impeachment — abuse of power — with one member voting present. The House then passed the second article — obstruction of Congress — with a vote of 229 to 198, with one member voting present.

Updated at 10:50 p.m. ET

House Democrats began work on completing their articles of impeachment against President Trump Wednesday evening, setting the stage for a vote by the full House.

The Judiciary Committee convened to amend the impeachment legislation introduced Tuesday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., with its chairman, Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., calling the facts against Trump "overwhelming" and that Congress must act now to protect the integrity of U.S. election and its national security.

Updated at 5:22 p.m. ET

The Justice Department's internal watchdog determined the FBI had sufficient evidence to open the Russia investigation — but sharply criticized the bureau over its surveillance of a former adviser to the Trump campaign.

In his highly anticipated 400-page report, inspector general Michael Horowitz also says he found no evidence of political bias in the FBI's decision to launch its investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Updated at 6:51 p.m. ET

Democrats in the House took the next step toward impeachment on Monday with the presentation of what they call the evidence of President Trump's improper conduct in the Ukraine affair.

"President Trump's persistent and continuing effort to coerce a foreign country to help him cheat to win an election is a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and to our national security," said Daniel Goldman, the Democratic staff counsel who presented the Democrats' case in the Judiciary Committee hearing.

Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET

Wednesday marked the beginning of a new phase in House Democrats' efforts to impeach President Trump.

What members called the fact-finding portion of the process is complete, so the House Judiciary Committee began assessing what action to take and what articles of impeachment to draft, if it decides to draft them.

Updated at 7:02 p.m. ET

The White House pursued a "months-long effort" involving top officials to extract concessions from Ukraine's government aimed at helping President Trump's reelection in 2020, House Democrats charged in a new report.

The marathon of testimony in Democrats' impeachment inquiry this week confirmed that the Ukraine affair, like so many earlier subplots in the era of President Trump, boils down to two big questions:

What do the president's words mean? Can the president do what he did?

The answers to those questions have been a partisan inkblot test since Trump exploded onto the political scene, and now they are burning again as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats decide how they'll move ahead in a showdown over impeachment.

Updated at 4:40 p.m. ET

Fiona Hill, who served as the top Russia expert on the National Security Council before resigning last summer, criticized Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee for advancing theories that Ukraine, and not Russia, interfered with the 2016 presidential election.

Testifying on the third and final day of impeachment hearings before the panel this week, Hill said, "I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests."

Updated at 7:08 p.m. ET

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, tied President Trump directly to conditioning a meeting with the Ukrainian president with "a public statement from President Zelenskiy committing to investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election."

As House Ukraine hearings opened their second week Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there won't be enough votes to remove President Trump in the Senate if Democrats trigger an impeachment trial.

The Kentucky Republican told reporters he would convene a Senate trial as required by the Constitution if he receives articles of impeachment from the House — but he reiterated that he believes Trump would prevail.

"It's inconceivable to me that there would be 67 to remove the president from office," McConnell said.

Updated at 8:40 p.m ET

Two witnesses called by Republicans in the House impeachment inquiry testified Tuesday, indicating they had reservations over the content of President Trump's July 25th phone call with the president of Ukraine, and his desire to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

Updated at 5:21 p.m. ET

A State Department staffer overheard President Trump asking a top diplomat about "investigations" he wanted Ukraine to pursue that he believed might help him in the 2020 election, another senior diplomat told Congress.

That staffer is expected to tell his story directly to House investigators at a closed-door deposition on Friday.

The new subplot about the overheard phone conversation was one of a small number of new details to emerge from Democrats' first open hearing in their impeachment inquiry into Trump on Wednesday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her lieutenants are turning a new page in their impeachment inquiry this week based on a principle familiar to classics scholars: repetitio mater studiorum.

"Repetition is the mother of all learning."

President Trump outlined his Ukrainian pressure strategy directly to a top diplomat who was described as being charged with helping to execute it, another key diplomat told House investigators this week.

Meanwhile, sources in the Ukrainian capital told two U.S. news agencies that Kyiv had been pressured directly about American assistance in the spring.

So it was another big week in House Democrats' impeachment investigation of Trump and the Ukraine affair — and for Republicans' increasingly aggressive defense of the president.

Here's what you need to know.

House Democrats are set to resume their impeachment inquiry on Tuesday with a deposition from another diplomat who appeared uneasy with President Trump's strategy to pressure Ukraine for political help.

Ambassador William Taylor, who has been serving as the interim head of the U.S. diplomatic mission to Kyiv, is scheduled to talk behind closed doors with members and staff of the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees.

Each week — and some days, it seems, each hour — brings more clarity to the picture of the Ukraine affair and the political crisis it sparked in Washington over impeachment.

But some of the biggest questions still don't have answers.

Here's a look at where the saga stands, what investigators want to learn and what major decisions still must be reached before the fever breaks.

The Ukraine affair

No one disputes the basic outlines of the Ukraine affair, including President Trump:

A tumultuous week in Washington has set the stage for an intense new congressional investigation into President Trump — and what could prove to be a historic clash between the White House and Congress.

The outlines are now clear about conduct that no one, including Trump, disputes: The president asked his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate the family of Vice President Joe Biden, a potential political rival in the 2020 presidential election.

Updated at 12:08 p.m. ET

The nation's top spy told lawmakers on Thursday that he supports the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the Ukraine affair but said he struggled to deal with how to handle the case inside the Trump administration.

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire told the House intelligence committee in an open hearing that he believed the whistleblower and the spy world's inspector general had acted in good faith and that he has tried to handle a unique situation as best he could.

Updated at 5:25 p.m. ET

President Trump told Ukraine's president that "a lot of people want to find out" about the activities of former Vice President Joe Biden's family in Ukraine and asked its leader to be in touch with lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General Bill Barr.

That's according to a briefing for correspondents about the contents of the July 25 phone call, on Wednesday at the Justice Department.

Updated at 4:57 p.m. ET

President Trump has fired national security adviser John Bolton, the lifelong proponent of American hard power, after months of division between the men over the direction of foreign and national security policy.

Trump announced the news Tuesday on Twitter.

Security experts have warned about the prospect of a new era of high quality faked video or audio, which some commentators worry could have deeply corrosive effects on U.S. democracy.

Here's what you need to know.

What are "deepfakes?"

Former special counsel Robert Mueller did what Democrats wanted him to do on Wednesday — the question now is how much difference that may make.

Mueller's hearings did not feature a telegenic star who could deliver a message as exuberantly as President Trump's opponents hoped.

Updated at 4:56 p.m. ET

Peril from foreign interference in American elections will persist through the 2020 presidential race, former special counsel Robert Mueller warned on Wednesday.

Asked whether Russia would attempt to attack future U.S. elections, as it did in 2016, Mueller replied: "They're doing it as we sit here."

Mueller didn't detail a prescription for how he believes Congress or the United States should respond, but he recommended generally that intelligence and law enforcement agencies should work together.

Former special counsel Robert Mueller is testifying before Congress on Wednesday, and lawmakers have so many questions they may not have enough time to ask them all.

The House judiciary and intelligence committees have scheduled hearings for 8:30 a.m. and noon.

Majority Democrats and minority Republicans are expected to try their utmost to get the most good they can from Mueller — in very different ways.

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 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.

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Prosecutors unsealed bribery charges Thursday against a Chicago banker who made loans to Paul Manafort allegedly expecting they would help him get a top job in the Trump administration.

A grand jury in Manhattan returned an indictment against Stephen Calk, chairman of Federal Savings Bank, in a case with strong echoes of the earlier ones made against Manafort, who has since been convicted and sentenced to prison.

Updated at 1:55 p.m. ET

Negotiations over a potential infrastructure program fizzled on Wednesday as a White House meeting between President Trump and Democrats escalated into blame-trading and political threats — including impeachment.

The president was the first to appear after the session in a Rose Garden availability that he used to renew his call for Democrats to abandon investigations into him if they want to negotiate over improving the nation's roads and bridges or other legislation.

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