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.

The Senate is expected to take up three domestic surveillance tools used in national security investigations this week, reviving debate over the provisions two months after letting them expire.

The tussle over renewing the authorities is part of a larger political fight over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, that dates back years but became a headliner during the Russia investigation — even though the tools that expired are not linked to that probe.

Updated at 8:27 p.m. ET

The Justice Department is dropping its case against President Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia's then-ambassador to the United States.

The about-face by the department brings to a close the long-running case against Flynn brought by former special counsel Robert Mueller during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

A 37 year-old district court judge nominated for a seat on the powerful Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit appeared all but certain to be confirmed after a hearing Wednesday — over Democrats' objections.

The nominee, Justin Walker, was hand picked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for the D.C. Circuit court, which is often called the second most important court in the country.

Updated at 3:02 p.m. ET

The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the good side of many Americans but certainly not all Americans. Officials say that fraud related to COVID-19 — such as hoarding equipment, price gouging and hawking fake treatments — are spreading as the country wrestles with the outbreak.

"It's a perfect ecosystem for somebody like a fraudster to operate in," said Craig Carpenito, the U.S. attorney for New Jersey and the head of the Justice Department's COVID-19 price gouging and hoarding task force.

President Trump's former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, is to be released early from federal prison and moved to home confinement because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to a range of financial and campaign finance crimes, as well as lying to Congress.

He is currently serving a three-year sentence at the federal correctional institution in Otisville, N.Y.

Updated at 9:58 a.m. ET

Federal prisons are wrestling with the rapid spread of the coronavirus at more than two dozen facilities across the country in an outbreak that has already claimed the lives of at least seven inmates and infected almost 200 more, as well as 63 staff.

One of the hardest-hit so far is the Federal Correctional Complex in Oakdale, La., located about a three-hour drive west of New Orleans. It's home to two low-security prisons and a minimum security camp, which all told house some 2,000 inmates.

The Department of Justice's internal watchdog has found "apparent errors or inadequately supported facts" in more than two dozen FBI wiretap applications to the secretive domestic surveillance court.

Those findings come from an initial audit by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz of 29 FBI applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, also known as the FISA court.

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The U.S. government has charged Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro with drug trafficking. Attorney General Bill Barr announced the charges earlier this morning. Here he is.

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Businesses controlled by the president, senior executive branch officials or members of Congress will be barred from receiving funds under the huge economic rescue package the Senate could vote on as early as Wednesday, according to the Senate's top Democrat.

Conducting more witness interviews over the phone. Staggering work hours to keep physical distance from co-workers. Wearing protective masks and gloves when executing search warrants or making arrests.

Those are just some of the ways in which the FBI is adjusting to the coronavirus outbreak and the sweeping changes it has imposed on all facets of American life.

The bureau's headquarters in Washington issued a memo to all employees this week that spelled out how the agency will adapt to the new reality.

The Justice Department has dropped its prosecution of two Russian firms linked to interference in the 2016 election after accusing them of gaming the U.S. legal system.

The companies, Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering, were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of the investigation into Moscow's campaign of active measures.

Federal courthouses across the United States are taking steps large and small — including postponing trials and moving courtroom hearings to video conferences — as officials scramble to curtail public gatherings and limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The impact on the federal court system is just one of a thousand ways in which the virus is dramatically altering life in the U.S. and across the world.

Sporting events have been canceled, restaurants ordered temporarily shut to dine-in customers and schools have been told to close for weeks.

Updated at 7:40 p.m. ET

Three domestic surveillance tools used by the FBI in counterterrorism investigations look all but certain to lapse--at least temporarily--after the Senate failed to vote to renew them before they expire this weekend.

The authorities, which the intelligence community says are critical to national security, are set to lapse on Sunday without action by Congress. The Senate adjourned on Thursday evening until Monday without resolving the matter, signaling that the surveillance tools will likely expire.

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Justice Department must give House lawmakers secret grand jury materials from former special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

The 2-1 decision from a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upholds a district court ruling from last year and gives House Democrats a victory in their ongoing legal battles with the Trump administration.

House Democrats on Friday asked the attorney general to turn over documents and to permit more than a dozen current and former employees to testify in connection with a probe of "improper political interference" at the Justice Department.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler made the request in a four-page letter to Attorney General William Barr — the latest chapter in a tumultuous stretch for the Justice Department that has raised concerns on Capitol Hill and in the legal community about the possible politicization of the department.

Amy Berman Jackson has worked in the Washington, D.C., legal world for more than 30 years — as a federal prosecutor, white collar defense attorney and now district court judge.

But it is her current work presiding over several prosecutions stemming from the Russia investigation, including the case against President Trump's longtime friend and informal adviser, Roger Stone, that have put Jackson in the public spotlight on the national stage.

Updated at 3:23 p.m. ET

A federal judge sentenced Roger Stone, a political adviser to President Trump, to more than three years in prison on Thursday amid an uproar about what critics call Trump's interference in the workings of justice.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson found herself in the middle of a political sandstorm as she and the parties closed in on sentencing for Stone following his conviction last year.

Stone also was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and to serve two years of supervised release.

Attorney General William Barr has told people close to him that he has considered resigning over his growing frustration with President Trump and the president's public statements about the Justice Department and its ongoing cases, an administration official tells NPR.

It is unclear whether the attorney general ever informed the president he was considering quitting, and for now, Barr remains at the department's helm. A spokeswoman says he has "no plans to resign."

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We know that Attorney General William Barr did not appreciate President Trump publicly commenting on the work of the Justice Department.

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Updated at 6:56 p.m. ET

Four federal prosecutors withdrew from the Roger Stone case on Tuesday, hours after the Justice Department took the unusual step of intervening in the case to seek a shorter sentence for the longtime ally of the president.

The four prosecutors who filed their papers with the court to withdraw are Aaron Zelinsky, Jonathan Kravis, Adam Jed and Michael Marando.

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Even by the secretive standards of U.S. national security, the court that oversees government surveillance in terrorism and espionage investigations is cloaked in mystery.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, also known as the FISA Court — for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which governs it — operates completely out of sight.

That means secrecy surrounds every case in which the FBI goes to the court to get approval to wiretap an American — or foreigner — on U.S. soil who's suspected of spying for a foreign power or belonging to a terrorist group.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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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.

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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.

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

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Two men linked to President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani have been arrested, that's according to the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan. The men were picked up yesterday at an airport outside of Washington D.C. on campaign finance violations.

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