Ryan Lucas

Ryan Lucas covers the Justice Department for NPR.

He focuses on the national security side of the Justice beat, including counterterrorism, counterintelligence and the investigations into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Lucas also covers a host of other justice issues, including the Trump administration's "tough-on-crime" agenda and its fight against sanctuary city policies.

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.

It has been called a "criminal cabal" rife with corruption. It's been said that its leaders need to be taken out in "handcuffs." And its reputation, one high-placed official has charged, is "in tatters."

The FBI has come under criticism before, but the ongoing barrage of allegations has left its current and former officials shaken. It also has fueled concerns that the bureau's reputation with the public could begin to crumble.

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Updated at 6:50 p.m. ET

The nation's top spy bosses scrambled to the White House early Thursday to urge President Trump to restate his support for a controversial surveillance law after he spent the morning trashing it on Twitter.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, White House chief of staff John Kelly and national security adviser H.R. McMaster all convened in the Oval Office with the president to urge him to row back his criticism. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., also joined in by telephone.

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is scrapping Obama-era guidelines that essentially removed marijuana from the list of federal drug enforcement priorities as more states legalized it.

In guidance issued Thursday, Sessions rescinded those policies and instead will permit individual U.S. attorneys to decide how aggressively to go after marijuana in their jurisdictions.

Sessions, a former Alabama senator, has long viewed pot as a public menace and a source of street crime.

President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is suing the Justice Department and special counsel Robert Mueller, alleging that Mueller has exceeded his mandate by investigating matters unrelated to the 2016 election.

Manafort and business associate Rick Gates face money laundering and other charges as part of the special counsel's investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Both have pleaded not guilty.

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Lulu Garcia-Navarro is off for the holidays. I'm Lauren Frayer.

Updated at 5:01 p.m. ET

This week alone, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has visited three states to push the Justice Department's efforts to crack down on what he describes as a crime wave sweeping the nation.

Updated at 1:45 a.m. ET Wednesday

Members of Congress have not made life easy for the leaders of the Justice Department this month, and FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was next in line on Tuesday.

McCabe testified behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

His appearance follows attacks by President Trump and Republican allies on him specifically, the FBI, the Justice Department and special counsel Robert Mueller, including accusations of political bias.

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While many aspects of the Justice Department's Russia investigation remain shrouded in secrecy, one thing at this point is clear: Special counsel Robert Mueller isn't finished yet.

That raises the question about where he might be heading.

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Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is trying to sway public opinion of his case by working with a Russian collaborator who has ties to Russia's intelligence services, special counsel Robert Mueller's office said in court papers Monday.

Mueller's team said it learned last week that Manafort has been working with a Russian compatriot on a newspaper column that prosecutors say violates a gag order by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson. Attorneys in the case were instructed not to talk about it in public.

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The number of hate crimes reported last year rose by 4.6 percent compared to the previous year, according to data released Monday by the FBI.

The total tally of hate crimes in 2016 was 6,121, compared to 5,850 in 2015. More than half of those incidents were motivated by the victim's race.

The FBI statistics are based on voluntary reporting by nearly 16,000 local law-enforcement agencies. Civil-rights groups, however, say the figures are deeply flawed because of what they say is systemic under-reporting.

A former national security adviser to the Trump campaign says he had concerns about Carter Page's visit to Moscow in the summer of 2016 — chief among them the possibility that he would embarrass the campaign.

J.D. Gordon also told NPR that Page as well George Papadopoulos, who recently pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his own Russia contacts, were marginal figures in the Trump world. Both men served as members of the then-candidate's foreign policy team, but they were not central figures with a meaningful voice, he said.

Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page told a number of his campaign colleagues and supervisors about his dealings with Russians, he told members of Congress last week.

One of them was Jeff Sessions, then an Alabama senator and early Trump endorser and now the attorney general. Sessions has denied he was aware of anyone in the campaign communicating or dealing with Russians who were interfering with the election.

A federal judge on Thursday ordered President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his business associate Rick Gates to remain under home confinement and GPS monitoring for now.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson decided to keep in place the restrictions that were put on the two men at their initial court appearance on Monday. Jackson said the unsecured bonds set earlier this week — $10 million for Manafort and $5 million for Gates — may not be enough to ensure the two men remain in the court's jurisdiction. She set a bail hearing for Monday.

Facebook, Google and Twitter appeared in a Capitol Hill marathon before the Senate and then House Intelligence Committees. At today's hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the public got a clearer view of how Russia operated online to interfere in the 2016 presidential campaign.

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Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on Monday was charged by the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in last year's U.S. election.

Manafort was charged along with his long time business associate, Rick Gates. In addition, George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser, has pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents about his contacts with Russians.

Updated at 4:20 p.m. ET

Apparent Russian agents began reaching out to Donald Trump's presidential campaign as early as March 2016, the Justice Department established in documents released Monday, with appeals for partnership and offers of help including "dirt" on Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton.

That case is made in charging documents in the case of then-Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

A long-simmering fight is back on this week over the role of the infamous Donald Trump dossier after a new report that confirmed that the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign helped fund it.

The battle over the unverified dossier is a crucial front in the broader political fight over the Trump White House, the public's perceptions of the president and his stunning election win.

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The Justice Department said Tuesday that it has indicted two Chinese nationals suspected of manufacturing and then distributing in the U.S. a synthetic opioid that officials say kills thousands of Americans every year.

The two suspects, Xiaobing Yan and Jian Zhang, face a raft of charges, including conspiracy to distribute large quantities of fentanyl and drugs with a similar chemical makeup in the U.S. through the mail or international delivery services.

Two weeks ago, bump stocks were just an odd-sounding firearm attachment largely unknown outside gun enthusiast circles.

That all changed early last week with the deadly shooting in Las Vegas, where police discovered a dozen of the devices in the shooter's hotel room overlooking the city's neon-lit Strip. Now, Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun groups are asking for a fresh look at the legality of bump stocks.

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If James Comey was looking for a smooth landing in his new job after his rocky departure from the FBI, he may not have found it as a lecturer at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

For more than nine months, Twitter and Facebook have tried to dodge the intense public scrutiny involved with the investigation into Russian interference in last year's presidential election.

Now they're in the spotlight.

Congressional investigators are digging in on Russia's use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies to try to influence the 2016 campaign.

Updated at 5:09 p.m. ET.

The Senate Intelligence Committee said it would require a longtime attorney for Donald Trump to appear in a future open session after his statement for a closed one on Tuesday began appearing beforehand in the press.

Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., said they had "postponed" a closed-door meeting between Michael Cohen and committee staffers.

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