Ryan Lucas

Ryan Lucas covers the Justice Department for NPR.

He focuses on the national security side of the Justice beat, including counterterrorism, counterintelligence and the investigations into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Lucas also covers a host of other justice issues, including the Trump administration's "tough-on-crime" agenda and its fight against sanctuary city policies.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Former special counsel Robert Mueller is speaking before the House Judiciary Committee right now.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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.

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Well, Democrats already thought they had plenty to grill William Barr about today when he comes to testify before Congress.

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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.

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It has been roughly 22 months since special counsel Robert Mueller began his investigation into the 2016 election. Along the way, he's charged 34 people, including 25 Russians. More than seven have been found guilty of crimes.

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We're expecting a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report to be released tomorrow. Lawmakers and the public alike will get the chance to read for themselves what the special counsel unearthed, disregarded and concluded. And while fights over the report are going to keep going, this release is the culmination of investigations that go back nearly three years, reaching across continents and into President Trump's inner circle. NPR justice reporter Ryan Lucas takes us back to the beginning.

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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.

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