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 6:07 p.m. ET

The Senate sought to strengthen some protections for those targeted by government surveillance on Thursday with the passage of an amended bill that now faces an uncertain outlook.

Senators voted 80-16 to reauthorize lapsed provisions of the now-notorious Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and also revise some aspects of how it can be used by the Justice Department and the FBI.

In the final days of the Obama administration, someone leaked a key nugget of information to The Washington Post about Michael Flynn, President-elect Donald Trump's national security adviser.

Then, since and today, Trump and Republicans have argued that was an abuse of power and a breach of the law, one that, in their view, needlessly cost Flynn his reputation, his liberty and a fortune in legal fees.

Updated at 5:34 p.m. ET

Former Vice President Joe Biden is on a list of names provided to Senate Republicans by a sympathetic spy boss in connection with the case of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

That was the latest twist in a years-long saga that changed course again this week following action by acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, who declassified the names of a number of people who requested intelligence information in the final days of the Obama administration.

The judge handling the case of former national security adviser Michael Flynn is asking for opinions about what he should do now that the Justice Department wants to drop its prosecution of Flynn.

Judge Emmet Sullivan issued an order on Tuesday soliciting "friend of the court" briefs but did not address the government's reversal or suggest when he might.

Sophisticated fake media hasn't emerged as a factor in the disinformation wars in the ways once feared — and two specialists say it may have missed its moment.

Updated at 3:11 p.m. ET

President Trump's nominee to serve as America's top spy vowed on Tuesday to operate independently in response to bipartisan questions as to whether he could keep politics out of intelligence work.

Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas., assured both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that if confirmed as director of national intelligence, he would not apply a partisan filter to reporting, shade conclusions to please Trump, or apply inappropriate tests to workers in the intelligence community.

American crews have seized haul after haul of drugs since the White House announced "enhanced" operations one month ago — but two broad goals of that strategy are so far unmet.

First, Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro remains in power even after the new counter-narcotics gambit and other attempts by Washington to pressure what many nations consider his illegitimate regime.

The U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort is scheduled to depart New York City on Thursday after deploying there to help with the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. Northern Command announced on Tuesday that the Comfort, which arrived in Manhattan on March 30, would return to its berth in Norfolk, Va.

Testing is the key that will unlock normalization for millions of Americans.

It's the doorway between the disaster response mode of the pandemic and confidence about returning to work, school and life. And it's also still apparently weeks or more away from scaling to a level that will make a big difference for most people in most places.

Precisely how far away isn't clear, although President Trump and a pageant of guests attempted on Monday to sell the idea that victory is just around the corner.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

More than a dozen states have unveiled formal plans to move from coronavirus disaster response and toward reconstruction, the White House said Thursday, but officials also didn't rule out the need for more mitigation.

Vice President Pence said that 16 states have released formal plans about progressing out of the crisis. Many are pursuing a "phased approach" county by county, he said, pointing specifically to Missouri, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Idaho.

Updated at 7:07 p.m. ET

President Trump vowed to sign the latest coronavirus relief legislation nearing the finish line in Washington on Tuesday after it was passed by the Senate.

Members of Congress have reached an agreement on about $484 billion more in relief funding to help small businesses and others hurt by the mitigation measures aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

The House could vote as soon as Wednesday.

Updated at 7:21 p.m. ET

The White House unveiled guidelines on Thursday it said the nation can use to plot a course out of the coronavirus disaster and toward something like normal.

Trump also spoke via teleconference with the governors of the 50 states earlier Thursday to outline his plan for the way they'll proceed with re-opening and normalization.

Updated at 7:43 p.m. ET

Parts of the United States could relax their pandemic mitigation countermeasures before the end of the month, President Trump suggested on Tuesday, although the details aren't clear.

Trump used his daily briefing at the White House to tease the prospect that more than 20 states might be able to re-open in some form or change their practices before May 1 — even though he also said the federal guidelines on social distancing and other practices would stay in effect until then.

Updated at 11:13 a.m. ET

President Trump is expected to specify officially on Tuesday who will help him decide when — and how — portions of the country can get onto a path to normal after the coronavirus disaster.

Trump has said the choices associated with that goal may be the most consequential he'll make as president. He made clear on Monday that he considers them his to make, not those of the council, local officials or state governors.

Updated at 4:36 p.m. ET

President Trump plans to appoint a council to advise him on how best to reopen America after much of the nation went dormant to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Trump said Friday that he plans to announce on Tuesday whom he has named to make recommendations about some kind of path to normalcy.

"I'm going to surround myself with the greatest minds," he said in another marathon news conference at the White House. "We're going to make a decision, and hopefully, it's going to be the right decision."

Updated at 7:38 p.m. ET

President Trump and congressional Democrats appeared to have a ways to go on Wednesday before they could agree on details for more relief spending for the coronavirus disaster.

Updated at 7:18 p.m. ET

President Trump acknowledged that he learned only recently about a warning earlier this year from a top adviser about the risks of the coronavirus — but he defended his actions on Tuesday at a news conference.

"I couldn't have done it any better," Trump said about his and the administration's handling of the pandemic.

Updated at 7:50 p.m. ET

President Trump said "we certainly want to try" to lift restrictions on life in the U.S. by April 30 but he made no definitive commitment at a news conference on Monday at the White House.

Trump sought to walk a tightrope between grim warnings about a new spike in fatalities forecast for the coming weeks and upbeat exuberance about how well he said the response is going.

"Tremendous progress has been made in a very short period," Trump said.

Updated at 7:37 p.m. ET

The government has gone to work disbursing the billions of dollars Washington has committed to sustain the economy after the deep shock it has undergone in the pandemic, the White House promised on Thursday.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Jovita Carranza, head of the Small Business Administration, vowed that some of the first systems for loans or payments would be up and running as soon as Friday.

Updated at 7:40 p.m. ET

America must brace for 100,000 or more people to die in the coming months in the coronavirus pandemic, the White House's response team warned Tuesday.

"As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top immunologist helping to steer White House policy on the disaster. "No one is denying the fact that we are going through a very, very difficult time right now."

Updated at 6:15 p.m. ET

President Trump warned Americans on Monday to prepare for more disruption and death as he and other authorities extended mitigation procedures for several more weeks amid the widening coronavirus disaster.

Trump acknowledged on Sunday that his goal for a return to normalcy by Easter won't happen, and he extended the federal guidelines for social distancing and mitigation to April 30. He said on Monday that the pandemic will take longer than he hoped to abate.

The hospital ship USNS Comfort got underway from its pier in Norfolk, Va., on Saturday after a pomp-filled benediction by President Trump complete with a coterie of American flags and a military band.

The ship is scheduled to arrive in New York City on Monday to offer its roughly 1,000 hospital beds as surge capacity for the region hardest hit by the coronavirus disaster.

Patients without the disease can get treatment aboard the ship, the president said, freeing up treatment centers ashore for sufferers in the pandemic.

President Trump ordered General Motors and health care vendor Ventec to begin producing ventilators on Friday, invoking a Cold War-era law that grants him such authority.

Trump, who complained earlier on Friday about what he called problems with GM and its CEO, Mary Barra, said in a statement that the automaker was taking too long to conclude the deal.

Updated at 6:37 p.m. ET

President Trump told governors his administration is working on publishing guidelines for state and local governments to use to determine whether to increase or relax social distancing rules to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The announcement came ahead of the White House's regular news conference on its response to the pandemic.

Updated at 12:18 p.m. ET

The Justice Department unsealed criminal charges against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and other regime heavies on Thursday in connection with alleged narcoterrorism and drug smuggling into the United States.

Attorney General William Barr announced the charges at the Justice Department in Washington with some officials in attendance and others connected via teleconference — precautions taken because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated at 1:50 a.m. ET Thursday

The White House's pandemic task force convened another briefing on Wednesday afternoon amid a tense denouement for legislation aimed at helping an economy poleaxed by the disaster.

Last-minute objections on Wednesday delayed the Senate vote until late in the evening, when it passed on a vote of 96 to 0.

The United States and China are locked in a struggle over influence and messaging about the coronavirus pandemic even as governments around the world struggle to control the outbreak.

This week, Washington claimed a small victory.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus hailed comments by China's ambassador walking back an earlier false claim in Beijing that the U.S. Army had introduced the coronavirus to its epicenter in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Updated at 7:35 p.m. ET

In his Tuesday afternoon briefing with the coronavirus task force, President Trump couched earlier comments about the need to reopen the U.S. economy within weeks, emphasizing that the decision would ultimately be data driven and made in consultation with public health experts.

The president said he still wants Americans working again by Easter Sunday, something he first said during a virtual town hall with Fox News earlier in the day. But he was much more circumspect over whether that would be possible from a medical standpoint.

Updated at 8:03 p.m. ET

On Monday evening, President Trump stressed what he called the need to reopen America for business even as he said the government also would continue tackling the spiraling coronavirus pandemic.

The White House's team will make an assessment after next week as to how effective social distancing and other mitigation measures have been in stifling the spread of the virus, said Vice President Pence.

Updated at 12:54 a.m. ET

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House agreed Friday on relief legislation in response to the national emergency over the coronavirus pandemic.

The House passed the measure by an overwhelming vote Friday night.

The breakthrough followed hours of negotiations between the speaker and the administration, including more than a dozen phone calls on Friday between Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about the priorities for the package.

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