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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.

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.

Her work has been honored with awards from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, the Society for Professional Journalists, SABEW, and the National Juvenile Defender Center. 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.

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has sued the Trump administration for what he calls his "unlawful" termination, arguing that his firing last year was the result of improper political interference by the president.

"It was Trump's unconstitutional plan and scheme to discredit and remove DOJ and FBI employees who were deemed to be his partisan opponents because they were not politically loyal to him," the complaint alleges.

President Trump can be a master of distraction, but when it comes to judges, his administration has demonstrated steely discipline.

In the 2 1/2 years that Trump has been in office, his administration has appointed nearly 1 in 4 of the nation's federal appeals court judges and 1 in 7 of its district court judges.

The president recently called filling those vacancies for lifetime appointments a big part of his legacy. Given the relative youth of some of his judicial picks, experts say, those judges could remain on the bench for 30 or even 40 years.

Updated at 4:11 p.m. ET

More than 3,100 people will leave Bureau of Prisons custody starting Friday, part of what Justice Department officials call "a truly monumental effort" to comply with the First Step Act, a criminal justice law passed by Congress last year.

Most of the offenders being freed have been convicted of drug-related crimes and have been living in halfway houses across the United States in preparation for their release, acting BOP chief Hugh Hurwitz told reporters at a news conference in Washington.

Thursday marks one year since a divided Senate confirmed Brian Benczkowski to lead the Justice Department's criminal division.

The 51-48 vote reflected Democrats' worry that he'd try to interfere with the investigation into Russia's attack on the 2016 election.

Things didn't work out that way.

Benczkowski promised to consult with career officials about any possible conflicts with the special counsel probe, but he said this week that never became necessary.

Nearly half the people admitted to state prisons in the U.S. are there because of violations of probation or parole, according to a new nationwide study that highlights the personal and economic costs of the practice.

The Council of State Governments Justice Center said the majority of these violations are for "minor infractions," such as failing a drug test or missing a curfew. Those so-called technical violations cost states $2.8 billion every year, the report says.

Lawyers for the House of Representatives are pushing back on the Justice Department's decision to walk away from a statute barring female genital mutilation — and an unusual argument that lawmakers shouldn't intervene to defend the interests of Congress in the case.

The fight is unfolding over the first federal criminal prosecution for female genital mutilation.

One day in 1981, public corruption prosecutor Reid Weingarten flipped open his newspapers and found himself caught in an unpleasant squeeze.

Supporters of an African American federal judge suspected of taking part in a bribery scheme told reporters that Weingarten was a Ronald Reagan-loving "racist."

Meanwhile, a combative Republican member of Congress under investigation for violating the Ethics in Government Act took to the press to call him a Jimmy Carter "lefty."

Go figure.

Updated at 1:14 p.m. ET

Special counsel Robert Mueller stepped down Wednesday after concluding not only one of the highest-profile investigations in recent history, but one of the most distinctive codas in the career of any top Washington official.

Mueller addressed reporters at the Justice Department in his first public statement since taking over the Russia investigation, ending two years of near-silence even under one of the hottest spotlights ever to burn on a public figure.

Updated at 5:54 p.m. ET

Prosecutors are bringing a slate of new charges against Julian Assange, including alleged violations of the Espionage Act, raising the stakes for his prospective extradition from the United Kingdom.

The release of convicted terrorists after they complete prison sentences is "absolutely a concern," a senior FBI counterterrorism official said — but he sought to assure the public that investigators work to assess those risks months before someone walks out of the gates.

The remarks followed hours after the "American Taliban," John Walker Lindh, exited a prison in Indiana after serving 17 years behind bars for providing support to the Taliban.

Nearly two years ago, authorities arrested a 69-year-old man they said was plotting a mass shooting at a Jacksonville, Fla., mosque. Shauib Karim, who used to keep his distance from the FBI, said that incident changed him.

"We all are kind of negative about law enforcement. We don't interact with them much," Karim recalled.

Updated at 6:18 p.m. ET

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed a special counsel to investigate Russian election interference — a move that enraged President Trump — confirmed on Monday that he is stepping down from his post at the Justice Department.

Rosenstein submitted a letter to Trump that said his resignation will be effective on May 11, likely after the Senate has confirmed the man nominated to replace him, Jeffrey Rosen.

One of the most intriguing parts of the special counsel report on Russian election interference involves the role of WikiLeaks. Prosecutors are continuing to investigate the site and its founder, Julian Assange, who faces a conspiracy charge for an unrelated hack.

Updated at 7:24 p.m. ET

When President Trump learned two years ago that a special counsel had been appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election, he was distraught.

Trump "slumped back in his chair and said, 'Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm f***ed,' " according to the report by special counsel Robert Mueller that was released Thursday in redacted form.

Updated at 11:25 a.m. ET

Federal prosecutors are charging 60 doctors, pharmacists, medical professionals and others in connection with alleged opioid pushing and health care fraud, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

The charges came less than four months after the Justice Department dispatched experienced fraud prosecutors across hard-hit regions in Appalachia.

Updated at 3:03 p.m. ET

Former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig was charged with making false statements on Thursday in connection with what authorities called failures to report work for powerful clients in Ukraine.

A grand jury in Washington, D.C., returned an indictment on Thursday that included two charges, the Justice Department said.

In short, the indictment alleges that Craig withheld information he knew he should have given to the Justice Department and deliberately gave it other information he knew was false.

Updated at 11:07 p.m. ET

Lawyers for former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig say he could be facing an indictment soon connected to his work with Paul Manafort on behalf of their onetime political clients in Ukraine.

Craig's legal team said Wednesday night they believe he may be charged soon by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C., with making false statements to federal investigators.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on Wednesday night.

Updated at 10: 17 a.m.

President Trump's pick to serve as third in command at the Justice Department, overseeing health care and immigration cases, withdrew her name from consideration Thursday evening amid backlash from conservative lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Updated at 9:43 p.m. ET

Lawyer Michael Avenatti, who attained national prominence as a legal antagonist of President Trump, has been arrested on federal bank fraud and wire fraud charges.

Prosecutors in California say he embezzled client money to pay his own expenses and debts.

Avenatti was arrested in New York on separate federal charges. He was released released on $300,000 bond, according to The Associated Press.

Updated at 7:46 p.m. ET

Attorney General William Barr received a report on Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller about the findings from Mueller's investigation into the Russian attack on the 2016 presidential election.

Years from now, when people look back on the aftermath of Russia's attack on the 2016 election, a key part of that history will have been written by women.

Most of the federal judges in Washington, D.C. — who have been quietly managing the grand jury process and presiding over arraignments and guilty pleas for nearly two years — happen to be women.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

Members of Washington's elite legal community decried the "increasing politicization" of the justice system at a particularly sensitive time: as the special counsel probe of Russian election interference edges toward a conclusion.

One of the most prominent members of special counsel Robert Mueller's team investigating Russia's attack on the 2016 presidential election will soon leave the office and the Justice Department, two sources close to the matter tell NPR.

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Updated at 3:16 p.m. ET

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort received a total sentence of about 7 1/2 years in federal prison on Wednesday following the guilty plea in his Washington, D.C., conspiracy case.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson effectively added about 3 1/2 years in prison to the sentence Manafort received last week from a different judge in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe condemned what he called the "relentless attack" that President Trump has waged against the FBI even as it continues scrutinizing whether Americans in Trump's campaign may have conspired with the Russians who attacked the 2016 election.

Updated at 8:07 p.m. ET

A federal judge has ruled that President Trump's former 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort intentionally lied to special counsel Robert Mueller's office after agreeing to cooperate with its investigation into interference by Russia into the last presidential election.

The ruling from Judge Amy Berman Jackson means prosecutors are no longer bound by their plea deal with Manafort, who now faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison.

Updated at 12:58 p.m. ET

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-10 along party lines Thursday to recommend that the full Senate confirm William Barr, President Trump's nominee to take over the Justice Department.

Senators debated Barr's candidacy for hours and focused in particular on the role he will play supervising the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Updated at 9:05 p.m. ET

The Justice Department announced charges on Wednesday against a longtime Republican fundraiser who worked with his Russian girlfriend to try to build back-channel ties between Moscow and Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

Updated at 12:16 p.m. ET

President Trump's nominee to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the nation's second-highest appeals court defended herself amid scrutiny of her collegiate writings about sexual assault, environmental protections and multiculturalism.

Neomi Rao currently leads the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a position that's been described as the Trump administration's "deregulatory czar."

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