Ryan Lucas

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.

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.

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Updated at 7:15 p.m. ET

Two Florida-based businessmen who helped President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in his efforts to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden in Ukraine have been arrested and charged with campaign finance violations in a separate matter.

Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET

Majority Democrats in the House subpoenaed President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, on Monday for documents related to his communications with Ukraine.

The House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena for information about the role Giuliani played in Trump's request of Ukraine's president to investigate the family of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Updated at 5:25 p.m. ET

President Trump told Ukraine's president that "a lot of people want to find out" about the activities of former Vice President Joe Biden's family in Ukraine and asked its leader to be in touch with lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General Bill Barr.

That's according to a briefing for correspondents about the contents of the July 25 phone call, on Wednesday at the Justice Department.

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One of America's most recent espionage cases started with a friendly hello over the Internet.

It ended with a jury in Virginia finding former CIA officer Kevin Mallory guilty of spying for China. The Mallory case — a rare counterintelligence investigation to go to trial — provides a lesson in how Chinese spies use social media to try to recruit or co-opt Americans.

For the head of the Justice Department's National Security Division, John Demers, it also highlights a broader point.

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With the clock counting down to Election Day 2020, what are the FBI and other national security agencies doing to protect against the foreign interference that marred the 2016 campaign?

They say they're doing a lot.

Lessons learned

American officials acknowledge they were caught a bit flat-footed in 2016 by Russia's active measures operation. U.S. intelligence agencies saw various pieces of what the Russians were up to, officials say, but did not put it all together until it was too late.

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Updated at 5:01 p.m. ET

A federal jury on Wednesday found the prominent Washington lawyer Greg Craig, who worked for two Democratic presidents, not guilty of making false statements to the Justice Department about work he did for the Ukrainian government.

Jurors acquitted Craig after only about five hours of deliberations following a 2 1/2-week trial.

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The Justice Department's inspector general has a report out today on former FBI Director James Comey. The report sharply criticizes Comey and his handling of memos he wrote about his interactions with Donald Trump.

Walter Yovany-Gomez evaded authorities for years before the FBI put him on its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.

Gomez, a member of the MS-13 street gang, was wanted in connection with a brutal murder in Plainfield, N.J., that took place in May 2011. Police almost nabbed him a month afterward — but Gomez jumped out a second-story window and escaped.

Investigators finally tracked him down and arrested him in August 2017 in a gym parking lot in Northern Virginia.

Former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig goes on trial Monday, accused of making false statements connected to work he did on behalf of powerful interests in Ukraine.

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Updated at 3:59 p.m. ET

The Senate intelligence committee has released its report detailing Russia's targeting of election systems in 2016 along with recommendations for protecting American elections from foreign interference.

The committee's final report on election security appeared Thursday as the 2020 presidential race gets underway in what promises to be a bitter and divisive election battle.

Updated at 3:37 p.m. ET

An American citizen suspected of becoming a sniper and weapons trainer for the Islamic State has been brought back to the United States and charged with aiding the terrorist group.

The charges against Ruslan Maratovich Asainov are contained in a criminal complaint unsealed Friday in federal court in the Eastern District of New York.

Updated at 3:14 p.m. ET

Donald Trump took part in phone calls with his then-personal lawyer Michael Cohen as the attorney and other aides scrambled to arrange hush payments to a woman in 2016 to buy her silence about an alleged sexual relationship with Trump.

Those details come from hundreds of pages of court papers — warrant applications, affidavits and other related materials — made public on Thursday.

A federal judge on Tuesday barred President Trump's longtime informal adviser, Roger Stone, from posting on Instagram or other social media platforms through the end of his trial.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson concluded that Stone had violated an earlier gag order with a series of social media posts and media contacts over the past several months.

"Mr. Stone, what am I supposed to do with you?" Jackson said during a more than two-hour hearing. "Whether the problem is you can't follow simple orders or won't, I need to help you out."

Judges on a federal appeals court grilled President Trump's lawyer and the counsel for the House of Representatives on Friday over Trump's effort to block a subpoena ordering his accounting firm to turn over financial records.

The Democratic-led House oversight committee requested the information from Trump's longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, in April. The panel's subpoena seeks financial records and other documents related to Trump's personal and business finances dating to 2011.

Updated at 5:14 p.m. ET

Former White House communications director Hope Hicks declined to answer questions related to her time in the Trump administration during her closed-door testimony on Capitol Hill Wednesday, frustrating Democrats and leading some to say they will go to court to compel her testimony.

The session lasted eight hours and included a one-hour lunch break.

Updated at 11:47 a.m. ET

A Russian woman who plotted to infiltrate conservative political circles and open back channel lines of communication as part of an unofficial influence campaign was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Friday.

Maria Butina pleaded guilty in December to one count of conspiracy to act as a Russian agent in the U.S. without registering with the Justice Department. She faced up to five years in prison.

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