Ryan Lucas

Ryan Lucas covers the Justice Department for NPR.

He focuses on the national security side of the Justice beat, including counterterrorism and counterintelligence. Lucas also covers a host of other justice issues, including the Trump administration's "tough-on-crime" agenda and anti-trust enforcement.

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.

President Biden has asked the director of national intelligence to draw up a comprehensive threat assessment on domestic violent extremism in the country as the new administration seeks to tackle what it calls a "serious and growing national security threat."

The move is one of several the White House press secretary announced Friday to address mounting concerns about domestic extremism, particularly in the wake of the violent insurrection more than two weeks ago by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol.

Christopher Wray is staying at the helm of the FBI.

Less than 24 hours after President Biden's press secretary, Jen Psaki, generated speculation about Wray's future after giving a noncommittal response when asked whether Biden had confidence in the FBI director, Psaki made clear that Wray will remain at his post.

"I caused an unintentional ripple yesterday so [I] wanted to state very clearly President Biden intends to keep FBI Director Wray on in his role and he has confidence in the job he is doing," Psaki wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

Updated at 2:30 a.m. ET

President Trump pardoned Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist who was indicted over allegedly defrauding hundreds of thousands of people in an online campaign to raise funds for a southern border wall — one of dozens of acts of clemency in the final hours of his administration.

The lengthy list of 73 pardons and 70 commutations landed after midnight. Trump left the White House for the last time Wednesday morning, skipping the inaugural ceremonies of his successor, President-elect Joe Biden.

When John Demers came in to lead the Justice Department's national security division, the United States was grappling with the fallout from Russia's cyberattack on the 2016 election.

Now, as he and the Trump administration prepare to leave office, the U.S. is dealing with another massive hack that American officials have again pinned on Moscow.

"Well, there is a certain symmetry to all of this," Demers said in an interview with NPR as his time at the Justice Department draws to a close.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Updated at 5:12 p.m. ET

Attorney General William Barr said Monday he sees no reason to appoint a special counsel to lead the ongoing federal investigation into Hunter Biden or to probe further President Trump's claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Attorney General William Barr, an outspoken proponent of conservative values and an expansive view of presidential power, will leave office before Christmas, President Trump announced in a tweet Monday afternoon.

Trump said he and Barr had a "very nice meeting" at the White House and that their "relationship has been a very good one."

Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen will become acting attorney general, Trump said.

On more than one occasion, President Trump has demonstrated his willingness to use his pardon power to pluck a political ally or associate out of legal trouble.

The Justice Department has found no evidence of widespread fraud in this year's election, Attorney General William Barr told The Associated Press on Tuesday in remarks that directly contradict the President Trump's baseless claims that the vote was rigged.

Trump has refused to concede his election loss to Joe Biden and instead has pushed unfounded allegations of systemic fraud to claim the vote was stolen. His lawyers have failed to provide evidence in court to back up the claims and conspiracy theories the president has propagated on Twitter.

Updated at 10:53 p.m. ET

The Justice Department is investigating a possible secret scheme involving a bribe in exchange for a presidential pardon, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.

The 18-page court opinion is heavily redacted, and the names of the individuals under investigation are blacked out, as is the identity of the person to be pardoned under the alleged plan. Still, the filings provide a glimpse into what investigators are probing.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

President Trump has issued a pardon to his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and then recanted. This ends a years-long saga, which NPR's Ryan Lucas has been long following. And he joins us now.

Updated at 4:23 p.m. ET

Of all the perks of being president, Donald Trump may soon miss most the legal protection that it affords.

For four years, Trump has benefited from the de facto immunity from prosecution that all presidents enjoy while in office. But that cloak will pass to Joe Biden when he's sworn in on Jan. 20, leaving Trump out in the legal cold.

A federal judge has denied the Justice Department's attempt to intervene on President Trump's behalf in a defamation lawsuit filed by a woman who alleges he sexually assaulted her in the mid-1990s.

In her memoir published last year, writer E. Jean Carroll accused the president of raping her in the dressing room of a Manhattan department store more than two decades ago.

Trump denied the allegations and accused her of lying to sell books.

Updated at 3:24 p.m. ET

The Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit Tuesday against Google alleging the company of abusing its dominance over smaller rivals by operating like an illegal monopoly. The action represents the federal government's most significant legal action in more than two decades to confront a technology giant's power.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The U.S. Justice Department is expected to announce charges this week against two British nationals suspected of being part of a notorious Islamic State cell accused of torturing and beheading Western hostages, according to a law enforcement official.

The two men, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, were captured in Syria in 2018 by Kurdish allies of the U.S. and were transferred to U.S. military custody in Iraq. They are expected to arrive in the U.S. in the near future, setting the stage for one of the biggest terrorism trials in the country in recent years.

Updated at 2:37 p.m. ET

A federal judge ordered the Trump administration's blue-ribbon law enforcement commission on Thursday to cease its work and barred it from releasing a report until a series of legal requirements are met.

The ruling from Senior U.S. District Judge John D. Bates brings a halt to the work of the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice less than a month before its deadline to deliver a final report.

Questions have long swirled about the state of President Trump's finances.

The New York Times appears to have answered at least some of them with a revelatory report over the weekend that says, among other things, that the president paid just $750 in federal income tax in 2016 and 2017.

In President Trump's telling of it, Portland, Ore., is a city under siege by violent radical leftists. He has suggested that only the strong hand of federal law enforcement can save it.

On Fox News this week, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf admonished state and local leaders there and elsewhere for failing to restore law and order, and he touted the administration's response.

Attorney General William Barr did not speak at the Republican National Convention this week, but that doesn't mean he's been sitting silently on the sidelines during this election season.

Barr has done more than a half-dozen TV interviews with national broadcasters since early June in which he has addressed hot-button issues and political fights central to the 2020 campaign.

The Justice Department announced charges Tuesday against two suspected Chinese hackers who allegedly targeted U.S. companies conducting COVID-19 research, part of what the government called long-running efforts to steal American trade secrets and intellectual property.

The 11-count indictment accuses the defendants, Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi, of conducting a hacking campaign that has targeted companies, nongovernmental organizations as well as Chinese dissidents and clergy in the United States and around the world.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Updated at 7:17 p.m. ET

President Trump has removed Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, from office, ending the tenure of a top Justice Department official whose office has overseen the prosecutions of several of the president's associates.

Attorney General William Barr announced the termination Saturday, less than a day after initially suggesting that Berman was resigning — only to be contradicted by Berman himself.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

A federal appeals court appeared skeptical Friday of Michael Flynn's bid to force a judge to dismiss his case after the Justice Department sought to abandon the prosecution.

A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit considered Flynn's case after years of twists and turns that began in the first days of President Trump's administration.

A federal appeals court will hear arguments Friday on Michael Flynn's bid to force a lower court to dismiss the Justice Department's criminal case against the former national security adviser.

The hearing before a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is the latest front in the long-running legal case against Flynn, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr has repeatedly blamed anti-fascist activists for the violence that has erupted during demonstrations over George Floyd's death, but federal court records show no sign of so-called antifa links so far in cases brought by the Justice Department.

NPR has reviewed court documents of 51 individuals facing federal charges in connection with the unrest. As of Tuesday morning, none is alleged to have links to the antifa movement.

Pages