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Philip Ewing

Philip Ewing is NPR's national security editor. He helps direct coverage of the military, the intelligence community, counterterrorism, veterans and other topics for the radio and online. Ewing joined the network 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.

President Trump deputized lawyer Rudy Giuliani to run a shadow foreign policy for Ukraine outside the State Department, witnesses told Congress this past week — and the White House said people should "get over it."

It has been a busy week. Here's what you need to know about the latest in the Ukraine affair and the impeachment investigation.

Mister mayor

Giuliani has been an important figure in Trump world for years, but what investigators heard was how central he was in the plan to get Ukraine's government to launch investigations that Trump wanted.

Each week — and some days, it seems, each hour — brings more clarity to the picture of the Ukraine affair and the political crisis it sparked in Washington over impeachment.

But some of the biggest questions still don't have answers.

Here's a look at where the saga stands, what investigators want to learn and what major decisions still must be reached before the fever breaks.

The Ukraine affair

No one disputes the basic outlines of the Ukraine affair, including President Trump:

The White House removed the core of its Ukraine policy team in the spring and replaced it with "three amigos" considered more reliable for the plan to pressure Kyiv, a senior U.S. diplomat was described as telling House investigators on Tuesday.

That's according to the account Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., gave to reporters about the closed-door deposition by George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary in the State Department's European and Eurasian Bureau.

Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not rule out a vote by the full chamber on its impeachment inquiry into President Trump — but she restated her belief on Friday that none is required for it to move ahead.

Pelosi, D-Calif., said on a trip to Atlanta that she was unmoved by calls from the White House for a full vote. Trump said earlier in the day that he would send a letter to the speaker, which was expected to demand action by the full House.

House Democrats are set to launch a new phase of their impeachment inquiry on Thursday when former Ambassador Kurt Volker, until recently a top State Department representative to Ukraine, is scheduled to meet with investigators.

Then, on Friday, the intelligence community's inspector general, Michael Atkinson, is due on the Hill.

More witnesses are expected next week, all for depositions behind closed doors with members of Congress and their staff.

A tumultuous week in Washington has set the stage for an intense new congressional investigation into President Trump — and what could prove to be a historic clash between the White House and Congress.

The outlines are now clear about conduct that no one, including Trump, disputes: The president asked his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate the family of Vice President Joe Biden, a potential political rival in the 2020 presidential election.

Updated at 12:08 p.m. ET

The nation's top spy told lawmakers on Thursday that he supports the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the Ukraine affair but said he struggled to deal with how to handle the case inside the Trump administration.

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire told the House intelligence committee in an open hearing that he believed the whistleblower and the spy world's inspector general had acted in good faith and that he has tried to handle a unique situation as best he could.

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.

Updated at 5:25 p.m. ET

President Trump and his opponents jockeyed for advantage on Monday as Washington girded for a drawn-out conflict over the White House and Ukraine.

Trump and his aides sought to throw the spotlight on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who they said might be connected with what they called "corruption" in Ukraine — although Biden's camp insists those allegations have been debunked.

Senators thawed a long-frozen dispute over election security this week with an agreement to provide more funding ahead of Election Day next year — but not as much as some Democrats and outside activists say is necessary.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., agreed to add $250 million for election security after having held up earlier legislation.

The money will be used by the federal government and the states, he said, and in a way that McConnell argues is appropriate for the federal system and without unreasonable new mandates from Congress.

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