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 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 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.

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

This week in the Russia investigations: America's cyber-troops may be fighting back against Russia's influence brokers. Will it be enough?

The cyber-troopers

Everyone knows how to picture the special operations troopers of, for example, the Army's elite Delta Force: Rough-looking customers with custom carbines and advanced night vision goggles stepping off the skids of a black helicopter in the middle in the night.

What do America's cyber-forces look like?

The Justice Department has revealed more than ever about the inner workings of Russia's disinformation war against the United States and the West — including how it continues to this day.

A criminal complaint unsealed Friday in the Eastern District of Virginia served both to level charges at a woman accused of serving as the money boss for the operation and to document, in ample detail, how it works.

This week in the Russia investigations: Why aren't the Democrats trying harder to exploit the Mueller investigation? And Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is set to stop by for a little visit to Congress.

The health care election

The president's onetime national security adviser, campaign chairman, campaign vice chairman, campaign foreign policy aide and others have pleaded guilty to federal charges.

Updated at 5:24 p.m. ET

The U.S. government warned about the continued threat of foreign interference on Friday as it unsealed a new criminal complaint against a Russian woman described as the paymistress for Moscow's program of information war — a scheme targeting next month's midterm elections in the U.S.

Updated at 6 p.m. ET

President Trump intervened in a big federal building project to help protect business for his hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, a group of House Democrats alleged on Thursday.

Trump wants to demolish and rebuild the FBI's headquarters, the Democrats say, to preserve the site's government ownership and deny any potential competitors to the Trump International Hotel at the Old Post Office Pavilion up the street.

Updated at 4:15 p.m ET

The White House was "irresponsible" to conflate what it called the threat to U.S. elections from China with the one demonstrated since 2016 by Russia, a group of House Democrats said on Wednesday.

President Trump launched a war of name-calling on Tuesday with adult film actress Stormy Daniels and her attorney as he exulted after a judge threw out Daniels' defamation lawsuit against the president.

Trump said on Twitter that he welcomed the opportunity to take the offense against Daniels — whom he called "Horseface" — and lawyer Michael Avenatti in Texas, where Daniels lives.

This week in the Russia investigations: New reports set the table for the resumption of action if the special counsel's office is waiting until after the midterm elections.

This week in the Russia investigations: 21st century great power competition means the challenge of defending American democracy will get tougher, not easier.

The woods are dark and deep

Americans inside and outside of Washington, D.C., spent the last week transfixed by the drama over President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, but there also were ample reminders about how the rest of the world is not standing still.

FBI special agents spoke with nine people as they investigated allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the White House said on Thursday.

Administration officials declined to detail who had spoken with investigators, but some of the people involved, or their lawyers, have talked on their own about whether or not they have given interviews to the FBI.

President Trump said Monday he wants a "comprehensive" reinvestigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh so long as it is over within the one-week timetable as laid out in the Senate compromise reached Friday.

Trump said it "wouldn't bother me" if FBI investigators talked with all three women who have leveled allegations about sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh — allegations that the federal appeals court judge has denied — or pursue whatever other avenues they deem appropriate.

This week in the Russia investigations: Rosenstein's reprieve, Rob Goldstone has a few more things to add and another paper avalanche on the way from the House intelligence committee.

Horseman, pass by

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein kept his job this week, which was a better outcome for him than he thought.

A wild turn of events on Friday flipped a new FBI investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh from a long shot into a sure thing.

That was one result of an eleventh-hour agreement among the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee after a contentious session of offstage horse-trading.

The panel voted to recommend the embattled Kavanaugh to the full Senate on the condition that the final floor vote not take place until after the FBI conducted a background investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct confronting the nominee.

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