Carrie Johnson | KNKX

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.

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 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.

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 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 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."

This won't be the first time that William Barr, President Trump's nominee to become attorney general, will be involved with what's been called a "witch hunt."

Barr, who is scheduled to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday for his confirmation hearings, ran the Justice Department once before, under President George H.W. Bush.

Prosecutors investigating Russian interference in the last U.S. presidential election suspect former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort shared polling data with a business associate who has links to the Russian intelligence service, according to a new court filing.

The disclosure emerged in a legal brief filed by Manafort's defense lawyers, who are resisting the idea he intentionally lied to special counsel Robert Mueller, lies that the investigators said should torpedo his plea deal.

Updated at 1:25 p.m. ET

The ongoing government shutdown didn't stop the Justice Department's public affairs office from issuing statements this week about cases involving America's Southern border.

Officials in Washington, D.C., instructed field office workers on Dec. 21 that the public affairs unit would "only issue press releases to the extent it is necessary to ensure public safety or national security, such as a terrorist attack or something of similar magnitude."

The Trump administration more than doubled the number of judges it confirmed to federal appeals courts in 2018, exceeding the pace of the last five presidents and stocking the courts with lifetime appointees who could have profound consequences for civil rights, the environment and government regulations.

Updated at 7:25 p.m. ET

A federal judge delayed sentencing former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his talks with Russia's ambassador.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said he has significant outstanding questions about the case, including how the government's Russia investigation was impeded and the material impact of Flynn's lies on the special counsel's inquiry.

Two business associates of former national security adviser Michael Flynn have been charged in connection with an alleged plot to smear a Turkish cleric inside the United States with the aim of getting him extradited.

Bijan Kian, an American who is Flynn's business partner, and Kamil Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish man, were indicted this month by a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia, according to court documents unsealed on Monday.

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

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Updated at 3:22 p.m. ET

A Russian woman who schemed to build back-channel ties between the Russian government and the Trump campaign pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday to conspiring to act as a clandestine foreign agent.

Maria Butina also sought to connect Moscow unofficially with other parts of the conservative establishment, including the National Rifle Association and the National Prayer Breakfast.

Robert Mueller knows how to keep a secret.

As reporters and lawyers for President Trump speculate about the end of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the special counsel threw a curveball this week.

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

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Every year, about 200 Americans are taken hostage somewhere in the world. Their families often feel adrift. A nonprofit group founded by people who have lived through this experience says it wants to help. NPR's justice correspondent Carrie Johnson reports.

Prosecutors are negotiating a potential plea agreement with the Russian woman who was charged over the summer with being a clandestine foreign agent.

The U.S. attorney's office for Washington, D.C., said in a court filing that its lawyers are in talks with counsel for the woman, Maria Butina, who also was charged with alleged conspiracy.

Her lawyers have said she is simply a naive young woman who was "jabbering" about her efforts to influence U.S. politicians.

Updated at 12:00 p.m. ET

The U.S. government may be preparing criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to suggestions in a document filed in an unrelated case.

Assange's name appeared at least twice in papers filed in the Eastern District Court of Virginia, both times appearing to say that Assange has already been made the subject of his own case.

Prosecutors in Virginia say the court document was an error.

The Trump administration has already written the opening chapters of what could be its most enduring legacy: the makeup of the federal courts.

In partnership with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Trump White House has secured lifetime appointments for 29 appeals court judges and 53 district court judges. That's not to mention two Supreme Court nominees.

Updated at 5:34 p.m. ET

Jeff Sessions, the president's earliest and most fervent supporter in Congress, resigned under pressure as attorney general on Wednesday after brutal criticism from the president, bringing an abrupt end to his controversial tenure as the nation's top law enforcement officer.

Sessions noted in his resignation letter to the president that he was stepping down "at your request."

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