Ryan Lucas | WYPR

Ryan Lucas

Ryan Lucas covers the Justice Department for NPR.

He focuses on the national security side of the Justice beat, including counterterrorism and 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.

On more than one occasion, President Trump has demonstrated his willingness to use his pardon power to pluck a political ally or associate out of legal trouble.

Updated at 4:23 p.m. ET

Of all the perks of being president, Donald Trump may soon miss most the legal protection that it affords.

For four years, Trump has benefited from the de facto immunity from prosecution that all presidents enjoy while in office. But that cloak will pass to Joe Biden when he's sworn in on Jan. 20, leaving Trump out in the legal cold.

A federal judge has denied the Justice Department's attempt to intervene on President Trump's behalf in a defamation lawsuit filed by a woman who alleges he sexually assaulted her in the mid-1990s.

In her memoir published last year, writer E. Jean Carroll accused the president of raping her in the dressing room of a Manhattan department store more than two decades ago.

Trump denied the allegations and accused her of lying to sell books.

Updated at 3:24 p.m. ET

The Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit Tuesday against Google alleging the company of abusing its dominance over smaller rivals by operating like an illegal monopoly. The action represents the federal government's most significant legal action in more than two decades to confront a technology giant's power.

The U.S. Justice Department is expected to announce charges this week against two British nationals suspected of being part of a notorious Islamic State cell accused of torturing and beheading Western hostages, according to a law enforcement official.

The two men, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, were captured in Syria in 2018 by Kurdish allies of the U.S. and were transferred to U.S. military custody in Iraq. They are expected to arrive in the U.S. in the near future, setting the stage for one of the biggest terrorism trials in the country in recent years.

Questions have long swirled about the state of President Trump's finances.

The New York Times appears to have answered at least some of them with a revelatory report over the weekend that says, among other things, that the president paid just $750 in federal income tax in 2016 and 2017.

In President Trump's telling of it, Portland, Ore., is a city under siege by violent radical leftists. He has suggested that only the strong hand of federal law enforcement can save it.

On Fox News this week, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf admonished state and local leaders there and elsewhere for failing to restore law and order, and he touted the administration's response.

Attorney General William Barr did not speak at the Republican National Convention this week, but that doesn't mean he's been sitting silently on the sidelines during this election season.

Barr has done more than a half-dozen TV interviews with national broadcasters since early June in which he has addressed hot-button issues and political fights central to the 2020 campaign.

The Justice Department announced charges Tuesday against two suspected Chinese hackers who allegedly targeted U.S. companies conducting COVID-19 research, part of what the government called long-running efforts to steal American trade secrets and intellectual property.

The 11-count indictment accuses the defendants, Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi, of conducting a hacking campaign that has targeted companies, nongovernmental organizations as well as Chinese dissidents and clergy in the United States and around the world.

Updated at 5:14 p.m. ET

A federal judge denied bail Tuesday for Ghislaine Maxwell, a longtime confidant of disgraced financier and convicted sexual offender Jeffrey Epstein, saying she posed a "substantial" risk of flight before her trial on sexual exploitation charges.

The judge set a tentative trial date of July 12, 2021.

Updated at 7:17 p.m. ET

President Trump has removed Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, from office, ending the tenure of a top Justice Department official whose office has overseen the prosecutions of several of the president's associates.

Attorney General William Barr announced the termination Saturday, less than a day after initially suggesting that Berman was resigning — only to be contradicted by Berman himself.

A federal appeals court appeared skeptical Friday of Michael Flynn's bid to force a judge to dismiss his case after the Justice Department sought to abandon the prosecution.

A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit considered Flynn's case after years of twists and turns that began in the first days of President Trump's administration.

A federal appeals court will hear arguments Friday on Michael Flynn's bid to force a lower court to dismiss the Justice Department's criminal case against the former national security adviser.

The hearing before a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is the latest front in the long-running legal case against Flynn, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr has repeatedly blamed anti-fascist activists for the violence that has erupted during demonstrations over George Floyd's death, but federal court records show no sign of so-called antifa links so far in cases brought by the Justice Department.

NPR has reviewed court documents of 51 individuals facing federal charges in connection with the unrest. As of Tuesday morning, none is alleged to have links to the antifa movement.

Attorney General William Barr is sending specialized teams of federal agents to help control protests in Washington, D.C., and Miami, and the FBI is setting up command posts in cities across the country as demonstrations against George Floyd's death move into a second week.

The Justice Department has closed investigations into stock sales made by three senators shortly before financial markets tanked because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to an individual familiar with the matter.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga.; and James Inhofe, R-Okla., were notified of the decision on Tuesday. The Justice Department's insider-trading investigation into another senator, North Carolina Republican Richard Burr, remains open, the individual said.

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.

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.

As COVID-19 begins to hit jails and lockups around the country, the Trump administration is coming under growing pressure to release elderly and other particularly vulnerable inmates in the federal prison system to mitigate the risk of the virus' spread.

Already, three inmates and three staff at federal correctional facilities across the United States have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. In detention centers at the state and local level, including in New York City's jail system, confirmed cases of COVID-19 are on the rise.

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.

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