Carrie Johnson

A lawyer for fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is suing the FBI, the Justice Department and its inspector general for refusing to turn over documents related to McCabe's termination.

McCabe, who worked at the FBI in various roles for more than 20 years, was dismissed only hours before his planned retirement in March, for what the Justice Department called a "lack of candor."

Prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller are asking a judge to limit the kind of information a Russian company and other defendants in an ongoing criminal prosecution are able to review.

Government attorneys Rush Atkinson, Jeannie Rhee and Ryan Dickey warned in court documents that materials in the case could be "disclosed to Russian intelligence services."

In February, a grand jury in Washington, D.C., returned indictments against 13 Russians and three companies for allegedly operating an information warfare campaign that targeted the 2016 election.

Department of Justice and FBI officials are planning another secret briefing for congressional leaders about investigators' use of confidential sources in the early stages of the Russia investigation.

Officials are expected to meet early next week with the leaders of the full House and Senate and the chambers' intelligence committees — the "Gang of Eight" — a senior Justice Department official said.

The official asked not to be identified discussing the preparations for the secret briefing.

If you turn on the TV news these days, it's difficult to miss Michael Avenatti.

The lawyer for porn actress Stormy Daniels has been that way since his days in law school.

Professor Jonathan Turley remembered Avenatti as one of the best students at George Washington University Law School — a guy who stood out in class.

"He first spoke to me about his desire to join a litigation team in his first year and I joked that he might want to find out where his locker is before he joined a litigation team," Turley told NPR.

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Solicitor General Noel Francisco is a familiar face in conservative legal circles. But he could be about to enter a new and uncomfortable period in the national spotlight if he becomes the chief overseer of the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

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In a new interview, fired FBI Director James Comey tells NPR that holding the job in 2016 felt like a 500-year flood. And there was no manual to tell him how to operate in it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

In an interview with NPR's Morning Edition, fired FBI Director James Comey defended his controversial decisions during the 2016 campaign and asserted that the reputation of his agency — which operates under near daily siege from the president and his allies — "would be worse today had we not picked the least bad alternatives."

"I saw this as a 500-year flood, and so where is the manual? What do I do?" he said.

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James Comey says that in the past few years, the reputation of the FBI has grown worse.

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A legal defense fund for fired FBI official Andrew McCabe has more than tripled its financial goals and will soon close up shop, a spokeswoman said Monday.

McCabe's "GoFundMe" page has collected more than $537,000 from nearly 13,000 donors since it was established last week.

The former FBI deputy director was fired in March, only hours before his full law enforcement pension was set to vest on his 50th birthday.

In a statement, McCabe called the outpouring "simply overwhelming."

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

A conservative group funded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch is turning its attention to a new front: promoting federal judges at the grass-roots level. Americans for Prosperity is willing to spend nearly $1 million to confirm judges this year. Those lifetime appointments could reshape the courts for a generation.

"The fact of the matter is that so much of what affects us in our daily lives plays out in the courtroom," said Sarah Field, the group's new vice president for judicial strategy.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is deciding how to handle an internal Justice Department recommendation to fire outgoing FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe over his conduct in 2016 just as McCabe is set to retire this weekend.

The FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility recommended that McCabe be dismissed over an alleged "lack of candor" during an investigation into his contacts with former Wall Street Journal reporter Devlin Barrett, a person close to McCabe confirmed to NPR.

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Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, tax and bank fraud charges in an Alexandria, Va., federal courtroom Thursday afternoon.

Judge T.S. Ellis set a trial date for July 10.

Manafort faces a separate federal trial on Sept. 17 on other charges also brought by special counsel Robert Mueller's office in a Washington, D.C., case.

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Updated at 9:20 p.m. ET

The Justice Department is suing California and two top state officials, accusing them of interfering with federal immigration efforts by passing and enforcing state laws that hinder U.S. operations against undocumented people.

The lawsuit filed late Tuesday in federal court in Sacramento, Calif., points out that the Constitution gives the U.S. government sweeping authority over immigration.

The man leading the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has been keeping busy.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has been on the job for about nine months. But he has already charged 19 people with wrongdoing — and won guilty pleas from the president's former campaign vice chairman and his former national security adviser.

Scholars who focus on politically charged investigations that may lead into the White House have been taking note.

One of President Trump's picks for a seat on the body that sets policy used to punish 70,000 federal criminals every year has publicly called to abolish that agency, the U.S. Sentencing Commission, and has a history of making racially charged remarks about crime.

William G. Otis is a former federal prosecutor in Virginia, special counsel to former President George H.W. Bush and an adviser at the Drug Enforcement Administration. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center.

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We're joined now by NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson, who was listening in to that conversation.

Carrie, what did you hear in there?

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Former White House strategist Steve Bannon frustrated lawmakers this week when he declined to answer many of their questions about his time in the Trump administration.

To hear members of the House Intelligence Committee tell it, Bannon was using the concept of executive privilege to evade legitimate oversight from Congress.

At the podium Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders disagreed.

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A new study finds that a lot of money is flowing into races for state Supreme Court. Millions of dollars are coming from sometimes mysterious donors, and a lot of it goes to negative advertising. Here's NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson.

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