Philip Ewing | WGLT

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.

President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and much of officialdom was "in the loop" throughout the Ukraine affair, a key witness told Congress on Wednesday in watershed testimony.

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, rejected the idea that he was part of any back channel or shadow effort.

He said he conferred with the State Department and the National Security Council all this year as he and other envoys worked to try to get concessions for Trump from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

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 5:23 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."

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 4:30 p.m. ET

The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine told Congress on Friday she was recalled after a smear campaign led by President Trump's allies — and Trump criticized her on Twitter even as she testified live on television.

Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch appeared at Democrats' second open impeachment hearing to discuss her career and the circumstances under which her posting to Kyiv was prematurely halted earlier this year.

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."

Updated at 2:21 p.m. ET

White House officials filed the record of President Trump's now-famous call with his Ukrainian counterpart on a "different, more secure system" from the one they normally used, a key witness told House impeachment investigators.

President Trump's friend and political adviser Roger Stone is set to go on trial Tuesday in a proceeding that could reveal just how close Trump world got to the Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Jury selection is scheduled to commence following months of unusual public silence from Stone, who has been gagged by the judge in his case following a flap this year over his posts on social media.

President Trump's efforts to pressure the government of Ukraine didn't sit well with some key members of his administration.

One of them, whose identity remains unverified, felt strongly enough to write down his concerns about the president's actions in a whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community's inspector general.

But he wasn't the only one who spoke up.

House Democrats crossed the Rubicon this week and committed, for the record, to their impeachment inquiry. Although they said impeachment isn't a foregone conclusion, they tried to underscore again that this is serious.

Meanwhile, more confirmations of the facts of the Ukraine affair meant the end of the investigation process may now be in view — and public hearings could be coming next.

Here's what you need to know about the events of a historic week in Washington and what may be around the corner.

Lt. Col. Vindman and Mr. Morrison

Updated at 5:33 p.m. ET

House Democrats won an important victory in federal court on Friday when a judge ordered the Justice Department to surrender now-secret material from the Russia investigation — and, more broadly, validated the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

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.

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.

President Trump deputized lawyer Rudy Giuliani to run a shadow foreign policy for Ukraine outside the State Department, witnesses told Congress this past week — and the White House said people should "get over it."

It has been a busy week. Here's what you need to know about the latest in the Ukraine affair and the impeachment investigation.

Mister mayor

Giuliani has been an important figure in Trump world for years, but what investigators heard was how central he was in the plan to get Ukraine's government to launch investigations that Trump wanted.

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:

Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not rule out a vote by the full chamber on its impeachment inquiry into President Trump — but she restated her belief on Friday that none is required for it to move ahead.

Pelosi, D-Calif., said on a trip to Atlanta that she was unmoved by calls from the White House for a full vote. Trump said earlier in the day that he would send a letter to the speaker, which was expected to demand action by the full House.

House Democrats are set to launch a new phase of their impeachment inquiry on Thursday when former Ambassador Kurt Volker, until recently a top State Department representative to Ukraine, is scheduled to meet with investigators.

Then, on Friday, the intelligence community's inspector general, Michael Atkinson, is due on the Hill.

More witnesses are expected next week, all for depositions behind closed doors with members of Congress and their staff.

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 5:25 p.m. ET

President Trump and his opponents jockeyed for advantage on Monday as Washington girded for a drawn-out conflict over the White House and Ukraine.

Trump and his aides sought to throw the spotlight on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who they said might be connected with what they called "corruption" in Ukraine — although Biden's camp insists those allegations have been debunked.

Updated at 4:53 p.m. ET

President Trump's former campaign manager jousted with House Democrats on the Judiciary Committee Tuesday in a combative hearing that each side hoped might strengthen its narrative about the legacy of the Russia imbroglio.

President Trump spiked the peace negotiations for a war he's desperate to end and sacked the national security adviser who shaped much of his foreign policy in Asia and the Middle East.

Where does the Trump administration's foreign policy go from here?

Until Saturday, one path, at least, appeared clear: Washington was inching closer to some kind of agreement with the Taliban to end the 18-year conflict in Afghanistan.

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.

Americans are preparing more than ever to safeguard voting as the nation looks ahead to the Democratic primaries and the general election next year.

What no one can say for certain today is whether all the work may turn out to be superfluous — or whether it'll be enough.

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?"

Foreign interference didn't begin in 2016. It didn't end with that election. And U.S. officials expect it to remain an issue through the 2020 elections as well.

Here's what you need to know.

Voting systems in the United States have come a long way since the hanging chads of the 2000 recount in Florida — but now cybersecurity is as big a concern as ballot fidelity.

Here's what you need to know.

The good news

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