Ryan Lucas | KUER 90.1

Ryan Lucas

Ryan Lucas covers the Justice Department for NPR.

He focuses on the national security side of the Justice beat, including counterterrorism, counterintelligence. Lucas also covers a host of other justice issues, including the Trump administration's "tough-on-crime" agenda and anti-trust enforcement.

Before joining NPR, Lucas worked for a decade as a foreign correspondent for The Associated Press based in Poland, Egypt and Lebanon. In Poland, he covered the fallout from the revelations about secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe. In the Middle East, he reported on the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and the turmoil that followed. He also covered the Libyan civil war, the Syrian conflict and the rise of the Islamic State. He reported from Iraq during the U.S. occupation and later during the Islamic State takeover of Mosul in 2014.

He also covered intelligence and national security for Congressional Quarterly.

Lucas earned a bachelor's degree from The College of William and Mary, and a master's degree from Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland.

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 4:49 p.m. ET

Prosecutors could bring more charges in the case of two Soviet-born associates of Rudy Giuliani — although it wasn't precisely clear when, what or who else might be involved after a conference in New York City on Monday.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman face charges of conspiracy, false statements and falsification of records in connection with two alleged schemes to violate U.S. election laws. But it's their work helping Giuliani dig up dirt in Ukraine that has put the pair under intense public scrutiny.

Updated at 3:20 p.m. ET

Roger Stone, a veteran Republican political operative and longtime confidant of Donald Trump's, was found guilty of all counts by a federal jury in Washington, D.C., on Friday in his false statements and obstruction trial.

The verdict, announced after two days of deliberations by the jury of nine women and three men, adds another chapter to Stone's long and colorful history as a self-described dirty trickster.

When William Barr's name surfaced as a possible replacement for Jeff Sessions as attorney general, Republicans and Democrats alike greeted the news with a measure of relief.

If Barr took over he'd replace a frequent target of the president's ire in private, on Twitter and in television interviews.

As a prominent Republican lawyer who had served as attorney general before, Barr was viewed as an establishment figure who could restore stability to a Justice Department caught in the middle of Washington's bitter political fight over the Russia investigation.

Updated at 4:37 p.m. ET

The Justice Department's review of the origins of the Russia probe has become a criminal investigation, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to NPR.

It is unclear what prompted the shift from an administrative review to a formal criminal investigation, when the change took place or what potential crime is under investigation.

The change drew immediate criticism from Democrats, who have accused Attorney General William Barr of turning the Justice Department into a political weapon for President Trump.

Updated at 7:15 p.m. ET

Two Florida-based businessmen who helped President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in his efforts to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden in Ukraine have been arrested and charged with campaign finance violations in a separate matter.

Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET

Majority Democrats in the House subpoenaed President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, on Monday for documents related to his communications with Ukraine.

The House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena for information about the role Giuliani played in Trump's request of Ukraine's president to investigate the family of former Vice President Joe Biden.

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.

One of America's most recent espionage cases started with a friendly hello over the Internet.

It ended with a jury in Virginia finding former CIA officer Kevin Mallory guilty of spying for China. The Mallory case — a rare counterintelligence investigation to go to trial — provides a lesson in how Chinese spies use social media to try to recruit or co-opt Americans.

For the head of the Justice Department's National Security Division, John Demers, it also highlights a broader point.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

With the clock counting down to Election Day 2020, what are the FBI and other national security agencies doing to protect against the foreign interference that marred the 2016 campaign?

They say they're doing a lot.

Lessons learned

American officials acknowledge they were caught a bit flat-footed in 2016 by Russia's active measures operation. U.S. intelligence agencies saw various pieces of what the Russians were up to, officials say, but did not put it all together until it was too late.

Updated at 5:01 p.m. ET

A federal jury on Wednesday found the prominent Washington lawyer Greg Craig, who worked for two Democratic presidents, not guilty of making false statements to the Justice Department about work he did for the Ukrainian government.

Jurors acquitted Craig after only about five hours of deliberations following a 2 1/2-week trial.

Walter Yovany-Gomez evaded authorities for years before the FBI put him on its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.

Gomez, a member of the MS-13 street gang, was wanted in connection with a brutal murder in Plainfield, N.J., that took place in May 2011. Police almost nabbed him a month afterward — but Gomez jumped out a second-story window and escaped.

Investigators finally tracked him down and arrested him in August 2017 in a gym parking lot in Northern Virginia.

Former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig goes on trial Monday, accused of making false statements connected to work he did on behalf of powerful interests in Ukraine.

Updated at 3:59 p.m. ET

The Senate intelligence committee has released its report detailing Russia's targeting of election systems in 2016 along with recommendations for protecting American elections from foreign interference.

The committee's final report on election security appeared Thursday as the 2020 presidential race gets underway in what promises to be a bitter and divisive election battle.

Updated at 3:37 p.m. ET

An American citizen suspected of becoming a sniper and weapons trainer for the Islamic State has been brought back to the United States and charged with aiding the terrorist group.

The charges against Ruslan Maratovich Asainov are contained in a criminal complaint unsealed Friday in federal court in the Eastern District of New York.

Updated at 3:14 p.m. ET

Donald Trump took part in phone calls with his then-personal lawyer Michael Cohen as the attorney and other aides scrambled to arrange hush payments to a woman in 2016 to buy her silence about an alleged sexual relationship with Trump.

Those details come from hundreds of pages of court papers — warrant applications, affidavits and other related materials — made public on Thursday.

A federal judge on Tuesday barred President Trump's longtime informal adviser, Roger Stone, from posting on Instagram or other social media platforms through the end of his trial.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson concluded that Stone had violated an earlier gag order with a series of social media posts and media contacts over the past several months.

"Mr. Stone, what am I supposed to do with you?" Jackson said during a more than two-hour hearing. "Whether the problem is you can't follow simple orders or won't, I need to help you out."

Judges on a federal appeals court grilled President Trump's lawyer and the counsel for the House of Representatives on Friday over Trump's effort to block a subpoena ordering his accounting firm to turn over financial records.

The Democratic-led House oversight committee requested the information from Trump's longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, in April. The panel's subpoena seeks financial records and other documents related to Trump's personal and business finances dating to 2011.

Updated at 5:14 p.m. ET

Former White House communications director Hope Hicks declined to answer questions related to her time in the Trump administration during her closed-door testimony on Capitol Hill Wednesday, frustrating Democrats and leading some to say they will go to court to compel her testimony.

The session lasted eight hours and included a one-hour lunch break.

Updated at 11:47 a.m. ET

A Russian woman who plotted to infiltrate conservative political circles and open back channel lines of communication as part of an unofficial influence campaign was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Friday.

Maria Butina pleaded guilty in December to one count of conspiracy to act as a Russian agent in the U.S. without registering with the Justice Department. She faced up to five years in prison.

Members of Congress and the public can finally read what special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of investigators found in their 22-month probe into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election.

There is a catch, however: Readers cannot see every word, sentence and paragraph in the massive document.

Updated April 3 at 9:33 a.m. ET

A woman carrying two Republic of China passports has been charged after allegedly lying to Secret Service agents to gain access to President Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club while he was there last weekend.

The woman, Yujing Zhang, has been charged with making false statements and illegally entering a restricted area.

Information about her case appeared in a criminal complaint that became public on Tuesday.

President Trump's onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort is due back in federal court on Wednesday for sentencing in his criminal case in Washington, D.C.

The hearing in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia comes less than a week after Manafort was sentenced to just under four years in prison in a federal case in Virginia.

Seven months ago, a jury convicted President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in a bank and tax fraud trial that grabbed the national spotlight.

On Thursday, a federal judge is scheduled to sentence Manafort for those crimes.

Manafort was found guilty on two counts of bank fraud, five counts of tax fraud and one count of failing to declare a foreign bank account. The jury did not reach a unanimous decision on 10 other charges.

Michael Cohen intends to give Congress an account of what he calls President Trump's "lies, racism and cheating" — including lawbreaking since Trump took office, a person familiar with his plans said on Tuesday.

Updated at 6:34 p.m. ET

A federal judge on Thursday barred Roger Stone from talking publicly about his case after an inflammatory photo was posted on his Instagram account of the judge that included what appeared to be a crosshairs.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson rejected apologies offered by Stone, both in writing and in person at a hearing in Washington, D.C. If Stone violates the order, Jackson warned him, she would be "compelled to adjust your environment."

Updated at 1:38 p.m. ET

A former U.S. Air Force counterintelligence specialist who defected to Iran has been charged with providing classified information to the Islamic Republic, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday by the Justice Department.

Monica Witt, who was born and raised in Texas, allegedly provided Iranian security officials with the code name and classified mission of a U.S. Defense Department special access program.

In May 2014, then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced charges against five members of the Chinese military.

They'd allegedly hacked the computer networks of American companies and stolen everything from intellectual property and trade secrets to the firms' litigation strategies.

Updated at 5:38 p.m. ET

The Justice Department unsealed criminal charges against China's most important telecommunications company on Monday, in a deepening of the ongoing geopolitical chill across the Pacific Ocean.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said Huawei has been indicted on 13 criminal counts and that he is requesting that Canada extradite its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1 on a U.S. warrant.

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