Carrie Johnson

Carrie Johnson is a Justice Correspondent for the Washington Desk.

She covers a wide variety of stories about justice issues, law enforcement and legal affairs for NPR's flagship programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as the Newscasts and NPR.org.

While in this role, Johnson has chronicled major challenges to the landmark voting rights law, a botched law enforcement operation targeting gun traffickers along the Southwest border, and the Obama administration's deadly drone program for suspected terrorists overseas.

Prior to coming to NPR in 2010, Johnson worked at the Washington Post for 10 years, where she closely observed the FBI, the Justice Department and criminal trials of the former leaders of Enron, HealthSouth and Tyco. Earlier in her career, she wrote about courts for the weekly publication Legal Times.

Outside of her role at NPR, Johnson regularly moderates or appears on legal panels for the American Bar Association, the American Constitution Society, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and others. She's talked about her work on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, PBS, and other outlets.

Her work has been honored with awards from the Society for Professional Journalists and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. She has been a finalist for the Loeb award for financial journalism and for the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news for team coverage of the massacre at Fort Hood, Texas.

Johnson is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Benedictine University in Illinois.

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Updated on Nov. 3 at 11:04 a.m. E.D.T.

President Donald Trump said "I don't remember much" about a March 2016 meeting at which a foreign policy adviser proposed setting up a meeting between then-candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"It was a very unimportant meeting, took place a long time ago," Trump told reporters at the White House before he boarded a helicopter for his trip to Asia.

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Five months into his mandate, Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller III unleashed a legal version of "shock and awe" on Monday with criminal charges against President Trump's former campaign chairman and a guilty plea by a foreign policy aide.

Mueller made no public comment about the charges or the next steps in an investigation that's irritating the White House and riveting the nation. But there are some clues in the court documents about where the former FBI director and his investigators may be heading.

The deputy attorney general strode onto the stage last week in a seventh-floor conference room at the Justice Department to announce criminal charges against two Chinese men who used the Internet to sell deadly synthetic drugs.

"These cases reflect a new and disturbing facet of the opioid crisis in America," Rod Rosenstein, the second-in-command at Justice, told reporters who gathered for what was billed as a major development in the fentanyl epidemic that's afflicting the nation.

Update at 3:05 p.m. ET: The Des Moines Register reports Comey was in Iowa for a family party.

Look who's talking.

Former FBI Director James Comey, who has cultivated a low public profile since his surprise firing last May, confirmed Monday that he is the author of a Twitter account that was previously anonymous — and signaled that he is going to rejoin the national conversation.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for an oversight hearing Wednesday. There's a lot to discuss.

In eight months as the nation's top federal law enforcement official, Sessions has presided over a series of Justice Department reversals — from police oversight and voting rights litigation to protections for the LGBT community.

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Eight months after he packed up his White House office and vacated the premises, President Barack Obama's top lawyer is finally opening up.

In a speech at Columbia University's law school last week, Neil Eggleston told students that "I'm not sure where the lawyers are" in the vetting process for some of President Trump's controversial executive orders, from the travel ban that now covers visitors from six majority-Muslim countries to efforts to withhold federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities.

On the campaign trail last year, after a tragic attack on an Orlando nightclub left 49 people dead, Donald Trump went out of his way to thank the LGBT community, vowing to protect them from violence and tweeting, "I will fight for you."

Years earlier, in an interview with a magazine that reaches a large gay audience, Trump told The Advocate that he supported gay people serving in the military.

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Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET

President Trump has exercised clemency power for the first time in his young presidency to bestow a pardon on former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio, 85, had faced sentencing Oct. 5 for a criminal contempt conviction in connection with his failure to follow a federal court order in a racial profiling case. Justice Department prosecutors argued he indiscriminately targeted Latinos and detained them without evidence they had broken the law.

On the evening of Sept. 11, 2012, intruders attacked the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. They fired machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Buildings there burned. By the following day, four Americans had died, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Now, almost five years after that deadly episode, one man accused in the attack is preparing for trial in Washington, D.C.

A lot of people are counting on special counsel Robert Mueller.

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Federal prosecutors have lots of ways to intensify pressure on the people they're investigating, from early morning FBI raids to leaning on relatives of those under government scrutiny.

But even by those measures, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in last year's presidential election is moving with unusual speed and assertiveness, according to half a dozen legal experts following the probe.

The Justice Department has experienced an "explosion" in the number of referrals, or requests for probes, this year from intelligence agencies over the leak of classified information, prompting the attorney general to consider whether to loosen regulations on when it can subpoena media organizations.

Deputy White House counsel Gregory Katsas is the leading candidate for a judgeship in one of the most important federal appeals courts in the nation, NPR has learned.

While the White House has not yet named its pick for the seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a Katsas nomination would open the door to confirmation hearings that could plumb a series of legal controversies from the first six months of the Trump administration.

Thomas Wheeler, who has been leading the Justice Department's civil rights unit, informed staffers there Thursday that he would be leaving the post, according to two sources familiar with the communication.

Leaving federal government service after decades can be, well, liberating.

Just ask James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, and John Brennan, the former leader of the Central Intelligence Agency. They unloaded on President Trump and the "baffling" way he has embraced Russia while criticizing his own intelligence apparatus during a session at the Aspen Security Forum on Friday in Colorado.

The debate over whether the president of the United States can be charged with a crime is as old as the country itself.

Early evidence comes from the diary of a Pennsylvania senator, who recorded "a heated debate on this very issue" in September 1789, said Hofstra University Law School professor Eric Freedman.

"For those who believe in original intent, we have pretty good evidence of original intent," Freedman said. "The founders just disagreed on the very question."

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If Senate Republicans get their way, former Justice Department lawyer Christopher Wray will soon become the next director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, recently told reporters he hopes the nomination will "not languish" and said it's his plan to get Wray confirmed before the August congressional recess.

But before any votes take place, Wray will have to face a series of questions about his background — and his backbone.

1. Will you be loyal to the justice system or to the president?

Christopher Wray's friends and mentors use one word to describe him: steady.

That trait could come in handy at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where employees have been reeling since President Trump fired Director James Comey two months ago.

Robert Mueller has made no public comment since he was named to lead the Department of Justice investigation into Russian interference in last year's election.

Instead, he has let his actions do the talking. The former FBI director and decorated U.S. Marine has submitted a budget and quietly hired an all-star team that includes 15 Justice Department prosecutors. And, a spokesman for Mueller said, he's not done bringing on new lawyers.

Five years ago, the Justice Department concluded that juvenile courts in Memphis, Tenn., failed to give due process to children.

Civil rights investigators uncovered significant racial disparities, and they reached a deal to fix some of those failings.

John Huber is a career prosecutor in Utah who's served in both Democratic and Republican administrations. This month, the Trump White House nominated him to serve as a U.S. attorney in that state.

But it came as something of a surprise to current and former Justice Department veterans Wednesday when Huber appeared for a news conference in Washington: not in the halls of Justice, but at the White House podium.

Running the Justice Department presents a challenge in any administration. But the Trump era is different.

In just five months, Justice leaders have been under heavy pressure, on everything from the travel ban to the Russia investigation. And one man, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, is bearing the weight.

Here's something you need to know about Rosenstein: He's worked at the Justice Department for his entire career, nearly 27 years.

Last year, Rosenstein told NPR the advice he gives younger lawyers.

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