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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.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Updated at 1:52 p.m. ET

President Trump and his allies are harnessing their control over the levers of power to lean harder than ever into their narrative about the FBI, the Justice Department and the Russia imbroglio — while stopping short of actually replacing any more top leaders.

Republicans went on offense Monday by voting to authorize the release of a much-discussed memo that alleges the FBI and Justice Department abused their authority while investigating the Trump camp's connections to Russia.

The House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines Monday to release a controversial memo aimed at bolstering Republicans' attacks against the FBI and Justice Department, over the objections of both.

The decision starts a process seldom, if ever, glimpsed inside Washington's national security world: Now that members of Congress have sought to release the secret document, President Trump has five days to notify the committee of any objection.

This week in the Russia investigations: Trump wanted to fire Mueller — does that matter? Parsing the tea leaves of the palace intrigue. And is this the end of the FBI memo meshugas?

Whoa

President Trump reportedly tried to fire Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller last year, not long after firing FBI Director James Comey. But White House counsel Don McGahn wouldn't go along, so the president backed off.

Updated at 10:31 a.m. ET

So President Trump sought to fire Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller last year — but the White House's top lawyer wouldn't go along. Does that mean Mueller is safe?

Maybe. Maybe not.

The news about Trump's desire to get rid of Mueller only weeks after the president dismissed FBI Director James Comey — but his unwillingness to press the matter — could mean Trump and his advisers feel it's too dangerous to attempt the same play twice.

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