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.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

President-elect Biden formally introduced today his nominee to lead the Department of Justice.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORING)

JOE BIDEN: For attorney general of the United States, I nominate a man of impeccable integrity, Judge Merrick Garland.

Federal and state authorities scrambled to send forces to help secure the U.S. Capitol after it was overrun by pro-Trump extremists who stormed the building on Wednesday.

The FBI deployed agents from its Washington Field Office in response to a request for assistance from the U.S. Capitol Police, which is responsible for securing the Capitol complex. The FBI also said it responded to reports of "suspicious devices" and that it continues to investigate.

When John Demers came in to lead the Justice Department's national security division, the United States was grappling with the fallout from Russia's cyberattack on the 2016 election.

Now, as he and the Trump administration prepare to leave office, the U.S. is dealing with another massive hack that American officials have again pinned on Moscow.

"Well, there is a certain symmetry to all of this," Demers said in an interview with NPR as his time at the Justice Department draws to a close.

Updated 11 p.m. ET

President Trump issued dozens more pardons on Wednesday evening to many wealthy and well-connected convicts with ties to his innermost circles, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Republican operative Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father-in-law of Ivanka Trump.

In total, Trump pardoned 26 people and commuted the sentences of three more people — the second consecutive night of what is expected to be a flurry of acts of clemency before he leaves office.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Updated at 5:12 p.m. ET

Attorney General William Barr said Monday he sees no reason to appoint a special counsel to lead the ongoing federal investigation into Hunter Biden or to probe further President Trump's claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Attorney General William Barr, an outspoken proponent of conservative values and an expansive view of presidential power, will leave office before Christmas, President Trump announced in a tweet Monday afternoon.

Trump said he and Barr had a "very nice meeting" at the White House and that their "relationship has been a very good one."

Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen will become acting attorney general, Trump said.

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.

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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Updated at 10:53 p.m. ET

The Justice Department is investigating a possible secret scheme involving a bribe in exchange for a presidential pardon, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.

The 18-page court opinion is heavily redacted, and the names of the individuals under investigation are blacked out, as is the identity of the person to be pardoned under the alleged plan. Still, the filings provide a glimpse into what investigators are probing.

The Justice Department has found no evidence of widespread fraud in this year's election, Attorney General William Barr told The Associated Press on Tuesday in remarks that directly contradict the President Trump's baseless claims that the vote was rigged.

Trump has refused to concede his election loss to Joe Biden and instead has pushed unfounded allegations of systemic fraud to claim the vote was stolen. His lawyers have failed to provide evidence in court to back up the claims and conspiracy theories the president has propagated on Twitter.

Attorney General William Barr has appointed John Durham as special counsel, granting the veteran federal prosecutor protection to pursue his investigation into the origins of the Russia probe into the incoming Biden administration.

Barr made the move in October, two weeks before the election, according to a letter he sent to Congress on Tuesday. The attorney general said he appointed Durham as a special counsel "to provide him and his team with the assurance that they could complete their work, without regard to the outcome of the election."

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

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

President Trump has issued a pardon to his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and then recanted. This ends a years-long saga, which NPR's Ryan Lucas has been long following. And he joins us now.

Updated at 5:49 p.m. ET

President Trump has pardoned his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who spent years enmeshed in an often bizarre legal war with the government that sprang from the Russia investigation.

Trump announced the news Wednesday on Twitter as Americans prepared to observe the Thanksgiving holiday this week.

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.

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

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Five people have been arrested in connection with their roles in what U.S. officials call an aggressive Chinese government operation to track down dissidents and critics of Beijing in the United States and try to repatriate them.

The defendants — Zhu Yon, Hongru Jin, Michal McMahon, Ron Jing and Zheng Congying — were arrested Wednesday morning, officials said. Three other people also facing charges are not in custody and are believed to be in China.

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.

Updated at 2:33 p.m. ET

The Justice Department unsealed charges against six alleged Russian government hackers on Monday and said they were behind a rash of recent cyberattacks — from damaging Ukraine's electrical grid to interfering in France's election to spying on European investigations and more.

The men work for the Russian military intelligence agency GRU — which also led Russian cyber-interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Justice Department officials said Moscow has only sustained or heightened its intensity of effort since then.

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.

Updated at 2:37 p.m. ET

A federal judge ordered the Trump administration's blue-ribbon law enforcement commission on Thursday to cease its work and barred it from releasing a report until a series of legal requirements are met.

The ruling from Senior U.S. District Judge John D. Bates brings a halt to the work of the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice less than a month before its deadline to deliver a final report.

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.

An FBI agent assigned to special counsel Robert Mueller's team told investigators he thought the probe into Michael Flynn was "unclear and disorganized" and that the former national security adviser wasn't conspiring with Russia.

That assessment from William Barnett is contained in a 13-page document summarizing an interview Barnett did on Sept. 17 with Justice Department investigators.

The department provided the summary to Michael Flynn's attorneys, who filed it late Thursday in federal court as part of the ongoing legal fight over his case.

Hunter Biden's position on the board of a Ukrainian energy company was "awkward" and "problematic" at the time his father, Joe Biden, was serving as vice president, two Republican-led Senate committees say in a new report — but the study does not show that it influenced U.S. government policy.

The long-awaited Republican report appeared six weeks ahead of the presidential election. Democrats have dismissed it as a politically motivated effort to try to hamper Biden's 2020 campaign in the race against President Trump.

FBI Director Christopher Wray says individuals who self-radicalize online and take advantage of readily available weapons pose the most significant threat domestically.

Wray was asked during a hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee what domestic group poses the greatest threat to the homeland, and whether it belongs to the political left or the right.

The FBI doesn't see politics in that way, he said.

Pages