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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.

Updated at 7:24 p.m. ET

The FBI has fired an embattled special agent who was removed from the Russia inquiry after internal investigators discovered he had criticized then-candidate Donald Trump in text messages with another bureau official.

Peter Strzok had remained on the FBI payroll until his employment finally was terminated on Friday, his attorney said Monday morning.

This week in the Russia investigations: The White House is trying to burn the clock to get into a better political position to handle the Russia imbroglio. Why it might — or might not — work.

Time trouble

In the championship chess match that is the Russia imbroglio, President Trump and the White House are hoping that Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller has stumbled into what players call "time trouble."

What if, this time around, a wave of foreign interference is aimed at helping Democrats take control of Congress?

It's an idea that has been batted around a great deal since 2016. It is based on the thesis that Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn't actually care about either party. What he wants is chaos, strife, deadlock and a corrosion of faith in U.S. political institutions.

This week in the Russia investigations: Michael Cohen goes rogue; what would it mean if it is determined he is telling the truth? And, the effort to impeach Rod Rosenstein sputters in the House — for now.

President Trump is open to visiting Russia if President Vladimir Putin extends a formal invitation, the White House said on Friday.

Putin said in South Africa earlier in the day that he has already talked with Trump about a visit to Russia, although it did not appear that the Russian government has gone through the official protocols involved with following up.

The effort of some House conservatives to impeach the deputy attorney general sputtered within Congress on Thursday, but the political story will likely rage on.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and other GOP leaders made clear that the House would not schedule a vote to impeach Rod Rosenstein as a small group of his opponents had formally proposed on Wednesday.

"I don't think we should be cavalier with this process or with this term," Ryan told reporters.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others hailed Rosenstein, and he appeared to remain safe in his job.

Updated at 3:50 p.m. ET

Russian President Vladimir Putin won't visit the United States this year after all, the White House said Wednesday, following an earlier invitation by President Trump after their recent summit in Helsinki.

"The president believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over, so we've agreed that it will be after the first of the year," national security adviser John Bolton said in a statement released by the administration.

Updated at 2:14 p.m. ET

President Trump resumed acknowledging Russian election interference on Tuesday and said he fears that this year, it will benefit Democrats.

Trump, who goes back and forth about what he accepts about the years-long campaign of "active measures" against the West, now says the cyberattacks, online agitation and other techniques could be turned against him and Republicans in the 2018 congressional races.

Updated at 10:06 a.m. ET

A hot, newly released document offers a sliver of new understanding to the Russia imbroglio — but has not dislodged warring partisans from their long-term deadlock about evidence and surveillance in the case.

This week in the Russia investigations: Two big questions about the second-most famous Russian in the world and Rod Rosenstein fires a warning shot.

Finnish fallout

No Hollywood screenwriter could get away with turning in a treatment for this week. The studio bosses would roll their eyes and ask for the story to be more plausible.

A pyrotechnic week of geopolitical intrigue has yielded new clarity about the whys and wherefores of the Russia imbroglio, including one insight straight from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Why did Putin order the campaign of "active measures" that have been directed against the United States and the West since before the 2016 election?

Updated at 4:34 p.m. ET

Charges accusing a woman of trying to build bridges between the Russian government and American political leaders via the National Rifle Association have delivered a breakthrough in understanding one aspect of the attack on the 2016 election: "infiltration."

Updated Saturday at 10:45 a.m. ET

This week in the Russia investigations: Six insights about the latest master blast from special counsel Robert Mueller.

The big one

As the noted counterintelligence analyst Kenny Loggins once said: "This is it."

Updated at 9:38 p.m. ET

The Justice Department charged 12 Russian intelligence officers on Friday with a litany of alleged offenses related to Russia's hacking of the Democratic National Committee's emails, state election systems and other targets in 2016.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who announced the indictments, said the Russians involved belonged to the military intelligence service GRU. They are accused of a sustained cyberattack against Democratic Party targets, including its campaign committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign.

This week in the Russia investigations: "Please don't interfere!" Senate Republicans tell Moscow. Peter Strzok heads back into the lion's den. Is Mueller farming out work? The Senate intel committee supports the intelligence community.

"Putin's fine ... We're all fine"

Members of a Republican delegation to Russia over the Independence Day holiday said they made a clear request of their hosts: Don't attack any more American elections.

This week in the Russia investigations: President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court could play an important role down the road in the Russia imbroglio.

Freefall

Nearly two years into the international hall of mirrors that is the Russia imbroglio, one thing has remained constant: There is no way to know what new madness each sunrise might bring.

In campaign season, eventually the election takes place, new public officials are installed, and life moves on. When legislators try to govern, they either pass the bill or don't, and life moves on.

Updated at 4:27 p.m.

A senior FBI investigator whose personal opposition to Donald Trump has become a huge public embarrassment for the Justice Department made a marathon visit to Congress on Wednesday.

Deputy Assistant FBI Director Peter Strzok talked for several hours behind closed doors with the House Judiciary Committee. The committee issued a subpoena to compel him to appear even though Strzok had said he would speak voluntarily.

This week in the Russia investigations: A Justice Department report impacts Washington like a meteor; the inspector general confirms the presence of likely fraudulent intelligence; a special agent's words could be a political gift to President Trump.

Aftermath

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz has painted his masterpiece.

Updated at 11:06 a.m. ET

The Justice Department's internal watchdog agency unveiled a doorstop-sized report Thursday that provides an inflection point — but no closure — in the never-ending war over the 2016 presidential campaign and its aftermath.

The Russia imbroglio is a tale told out of order about a puzzle with pieces missing. Without knowing what goes in the blank spaces, it's impossible to know what to make of the whole thing.

The broadest outline has become clear: Russian President Vladimir Putin sought vengeance against the United States and the West after what he perceived as an outrageous overstep by Washington, D.C., into his own front yard in 2014 after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Justice Department's internal watchdog is set to release a hotly anticipated report next week that is expected to condemn department leaders and the FBI over the investigation during the 2016 presidential campaign into Hillary Clinton's private email server.

The Russia imbroglio has brought Washington, D.C., to a crossroads that could have historic implications for President Trump and the nation.

Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller wants to interview Trump about what he knows and why he has acted in the way he has. The president and his attorneys have all but ruled that out. The president denies any wrongdoing.

Which side will blink?

This week in the Russia investigations: If "collusion" is now fully partisan in the House, the Senate and the public, that is good news for the president.

The politics of the Russia imbroglio took a little-noticed but important break last week for President Trump and the White House.

Updated at 10:19 a.m. ET

President Trump resumed his attacks against Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday following reports that he had asked Sessions to un-recuse himself from the Russia investigation — and after more erosion of Trump's claim that the FBI spied on his campaign.

Trump used his Twitter account to echo the comments of House oversight committee chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who has been using TV appearances to try to offer some nuanced support to Trump.

This week in the Russia investigations: After Trump's "SPYGATE" gambit, what just happened? Good news for Kushner. Mueller to hacks: Get lost.

What just happened?

President Trump or his supporters make an explosive allegation. Washington, D.C., responds with an uproar. An "investigation" ensues. Turns out, the allegations weren't what they appeared.

Updated at 2:12 p.m. ET

President Trump intensified his attack on federal law enforcement as he sought to strengthen his case that the FBI's investigation into whether his campaign conspired with Russia actually amounted to unlawful political snooping.

"I hope it's not so, but if it is, there's never been anything like it in the history of our country," the president said Wednesday.

Updated at 4:16 p.m. ET

Key congressional leaders are set to meet Thursday with federal law enforcement and intelligence bosses amid a slow-motion standoff over secret documents in the Russia investigation, the White House said on Tuesday.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders said that the White House had brokered a meeting at which two key Republican chairmen would hear from the leaders of the Justice Department, FBI and the intelligence community following weeks' worth of requests for the classified material.

Updated at 9:44 a.m.

This week in the Russia investigations: The Senate Judiciary Committee dumps documents about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, the special counsel's office celebrates its first birthday and the GOP escalates its war against the Justice Department.

The enemy within

After chapters on "wiretaps," eavesdropping, "unmasking" and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the new hotness this week was confidential sources.

Updated at 9:42 a.m. ET

Thursday marks one year since the appointment of Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller. Has any public figure in the United States ever become such a partisan lightning rod after having said so little?

The Senate Judiciary Committee unleashed a new tranche of records on Wednesday that offered the most detail yet about one of the most important subplots in the Russia imbroglio.

The more than 2,500 pages in the trove add the most context yet about the meeting that took place on June 9, 2016, in Trump Tower between top Trump campaign aides and a delegation of Russians after an offer of help in the contest against Hillary Clinton.

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