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.

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 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 4:12 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 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.

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.

Updated at 7:09 p.m. ET

A federal judge ruled against President Trump on Monday in a subpoena dispute not long after the White House said it is seeking to block its former top lawyer from talking to Congress.

The events amounted to a win — and a loss — apiece for Republicans and Democrats in their ongoing high-stakes legal and political war over separation of powers and oversight in the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

The McGahn matter

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

What's behind all the black bars in Robert Mueller's investigation report? Members of Congress could get an answer — eventually.

The executive branch and the legislative branch are deadlocked. The House could vote soon about whether to hold the attorney general — and maybe others — in contempt of Congress.

What does that mean? How did this happen? What could happen next?

Here's what you need to know:

What's behind it all?

Information. Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, want it. The Republican administration of President Trump doesn't want to give it up.

What do members of Congress want?

Updated at 6:52 p.m. ET

The Justice Department's Russia investigation may be over, but the political war over it — who conducted it, how and why — has enough new fuel to rage for several more months.

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