Philip Ewing

Philip Ewing is an election security editor with NPR's Washington Desk. He helps oversee coverage of election security, voting, disinformation, active measures and other issues. Ewing joined the Washington Desk from his previous role as NPR's national security editor, in which he helped direct coverage of the military, intelligence community, counterterrorism, veterans and more. He came to NPR 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 5:51 p.m. ET

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was narrowly reelected leader of the chamber on Sunday, continuing her control of the Democratic majority at a time of questions about the path ahead for Congress and who may take the gavel after her.

Pelosi garnered 216 votes Sunday, seven more than the 209 for House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

The Senate voted Friday to overturn President Trump's veto of the mammoth annual defense bill in an unprecedented act that assures the decades-long continuity for that legislation. It follows a House vote earlier this week.

The outgoing Trump administration still isn't providing information in the way President-elect Joe Biden's lieutenants feel is appropriate for a team poised to take the reins of power, incoming national security adviser Jake Sullivan told NPR on Tuesday.

Sullivan told NPR's Scott Detrow in an exclusive interview that the Defense Department hasn't granted a meeting to the Biden transition since Dec. 18.

Updated at 2:34 p.m. ET

Democrats and President Trump hectored Senate Republicans on Tuesday to take up legislation passed by the House that would increase direct relief payments to many Americans — but the path ahead remains unclear.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., acknowledged when the chamber convened that Trump had called attention to a few big issues, including the disbursements. McConnell said the Senate would "begin a process to bring [those] priorities into focus," without saying how or when.

The House voted on Monday to overturn President Trump's veto of the gargantuan annual defense authorization bill.

The vote, 322-87, was a highly unusual response to a highly unusual move by a president in rejecting the legislation, which sets policies and establishes other priorities every year for the military services.

The Senate's next moves on the matter are still uncertain, but senators were set to return to Washington on Tuesday.

Updated at 10 p.m. ET

The House voted to increase coronavirus disaster relief payments for Americans to $2,000 per person on Monday in a bid by Democrats to capitalize on political divisions among Republicans.

Updated at 7:04 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden is complaining that the outgoing Trump administration has thrown up some "roadblocks" as he and advisers prepare to take the White House.

In prepared remarks Monday in Wilmington, Del., Biden said that he and his team have been frustrated by what he called a lack of cooperation, especially at the Defense Department and with the Office of Management and Budget.

President-elect Joe Biden urged members of Congress to press ahead with their coronavirus relief bill negotiations in a statement that warned of "dire, dire dire" consequences if they fail.

"If we don't act now, the future will be very bleak," Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Del., where he and aides are preparing to assume power next month.

The 2020 elections ran well and were largely free from foreign interference, U.S. officials say.

That doesn't mean the story is over.

Improving elections practices is a "race without a finish line," as Pennsylvania's secretary of state told NPR in 2019, and big questions remain about what's to become of the fast maturing but still partly formed discipline of election security.

Updated at 4:48 p.m. ET

President Trump's legal challenges to the election met with a series of defeats and setbacks on Friday as judges found the Trump campaign's arguments and evidence that there was widespread fraud and irregularities with the vote to be lacking.

Democrats have brought the end of the Trump era into sight — but there are more than 70 days to go before the page actually turns and President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.

In the meantime, the most unusual era in modern American politics is phasing into what could be one of its most tumultuous transitions.

Here's what you need to know about the final act.

Resolution and reconciliation — or not

Updated at 10:17 p.m. ET

President Trump's campaign has unleashed a multipronged legal offensive directed at states where vote counting continued Thursday based on unsupported allegations about fraud and irregularities in the election.

Attorneys for the Trump campaign sought intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court and also filed suit in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada seeking remedies they hoped would help their prospects in those places. In some instances, that included requests for counting to cease altogether or at least pause for a time.

Federal authorities were cautiously optimistic early Wednesday about having made it through voting season without major disruption by cyberattacks or other malign activity — but they cautioned that could still happen in the coming days.

"We're not out of the woods yet," said one senior official with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who briefed reporters with other U.S. officials on the condition they not be identified.

Foreign interference is a very old problem, but most Americans didn't used to worry much about it and the security of elections.

Now, lessons learned about the Russian attack on the 2016 presidential election have brought the most intense focus ever on the U.S. information environment, elections practices, voter databases and other parts of the infrastructure of democracy.

Updated on Oct. 23 at 5:47 a.m. ET

Active Russian cyberattacks are targeting a wide swath of American government networks, including those involved with the ongoing election, federal authorities revealed Thursday.

Updated at 1:01 p.m. ET

Government agencies and political actors across the country remain vulnerable to a spoof email scam like the one blamed on Iran by the U.S. spy boss, cyber-analysts said.

Updated at 8:33 p.m. ET

Iranian influence specialists are behind threatening emails sent to voters in Alaska and Florida, U.S. officials said on Wednesday evening and suggested that more such interference could be in store from Russia.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said the U.S. intelligence community believes Iranian and Russian operatives obtained voter-record information, which enabled Iran to target some people with intimidating emails based on party registration about how they'd better vote for President Trump "or else."

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.

Democrats opposed the current Supreme Court confirmation process even before they knew Judge Amy Coney Barrett would be President Trump's nominee.

Republicans reneged on their earlier stance not to consider a Supreme Court vacancy ahead of an election, Democrats have argued, and they say the choice to do so will damage the Senate's credibility and that of the high court.

In a less sedate, less distinguished and deliberative body than the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republicans would be high-fiving and turning cartwheels over Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Instead they've been doing that only with their rhetoric, heaping her with praise and defending her in ripostes following what the majority members sometimes called inappropriate attacks by Democrats.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, summarized what he called Democrats' fears about Barrett pre-judging issues or cases in the fourth day of the hearing on Thursday: "That's just absurd!"

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said he could only find a single case in which Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett didn't follow the precedent of her 7th Circuit Court of Appeals — and that was one in which the Supreme Court itself had established a new doctrine, he said.

Crapo ticked through a series of statistics on Wednesday during a portion of the hearing in which he tried to puncture what he called Democrats' implications that Barrett, notwithstanding her emphasis about "textualism," might actually prove to be a more activist member of the Supreme Court.

Democrats are litigating Judge Amy Coney Barrett's record and outlook on voting as the Senate Judiciary Committee wraps up her three days in the spotlight this week.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said she worried about Barrett's longtime closeness with Justice Antonin Scalia in view of Scalia's antipathy toward the Voting Rights Act, which the Supreme Court partly dismantled in a 2013 ruling.

Amy Coney Barrett declined to address whether she believes President Trump has the power to pardon himself, calling it a matter that could come before the Supreme Court after she is confirmed.

"That would be a legal question. That would be a Constitutional question — and so in keeping with my obligation not to give hints, previews or forecasts of how I would resolve a case, that's not one that I can answer," she said.

Amy Coney Barrett told Democrats Tuesday that she would take recusal seriously if any case reaches the Supreme Court involving President Trump's election — then stated more strongly that she would not be Trump's "pawn."

Delaware Sen. Chris Coons revived the question about an election dispute during his portion of the hearing on Tuesday afternoon. The judge said she wanted to make as clear as possible that she would be her own woman.

Republicans control the Senate and they are in lockstep behind Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, which means they don't need to convince one another, or any Democrats, about supporting her.

That left members free Tuesday on the second day of her confirmation hearing to digress, as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz did, from a sharply argued indictment of Democrats, whom he accused of abandoning democracy, to pleasant get-to-know-you questions with Barrett about whether she plays an instrument (the piano) or speaks a foreign language.

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett acknowledged on Tuesday that she would at least evaluate the case for recusing herself if a dispute involving the outcome of the presidential election reached the high court this year.

Barrett told Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. that she couldn't state anything before the fact about what she might do — but she did concede that there could be a situation in which she might review those protocols and evaluate recusal, then decide.

Democrats are putting a new twist on an old game Tuesday in the second day of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearings.

In a traditional hearing, members of Congress ask the nominee questions about cases or issues and the nominee tries as much as possible to avoid answering them. Barrett, as so many of her predecessors did, is offering broad guidelines and general statements but trying to avoid committing to anything specific.

Republicans condemned what they called inappropriate criticism and questioning about Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett's Catholic identity as her confirmation hearing opened on Monday. Democrats did not bring up her faith in Monday's hearing.

Barrett is a devout Catholic, alumna of Notre Dame and member of a small, conservative faith group called the People of Praise.

Republicans already have all but won the battle to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court thanks to their control of the Senate, but used Monday's confirmation hearing to stress the importance of a judiciary free from political interference and to defend Barrett against attacks on her religion, even as Democrats avoided the topic.

Democrats are unhappy about nearly everything involving the likely confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. About the only thing that could be worse, from their perspective, is if she helps President Trump secure a second term.

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