Carrie Johnson

Updated on Nov. 3 at 11:04 a.m. E.D.T.

President Donald Trump said "I don't remember much" about a March 2016 meeting at which a foreign policy adviser proposed setting up a meeting between then-candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"It was a very unimportant meeting, took place a long time ago," Trump told reporters at the White House before he boarded a helicopter for his trip to Asia.

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Five months into his mandate, Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller III unleashed a legal version of "shock and awe" on Monday with criminal charges against President Trump's former campaign chairman and a guilty plea by a foreign policy aide.

Mueller made no public comment about the charges or the next steps in an investigation that's irritating the White House and riveting the nation. But there are some clues in the court documents about where the former FBI director and his investigators may be heading.

The deputy attorney general strode onto the stage last week in a seventh-floor conference room at the Justice Department to announce criminal charges against two Chinese men who used the Internet to sell deadly synthetic drugs.

"These cases reflect a new and disturbing facet of the opioid crisis in America," Rod Rosenstein, the second-in-command at Justice, told reporters who gathered for what was billed as a major development in the fentanyl epidemic that's afflicting the nation.

Update at 3:05 p.m. ET: The Des Moines Register reports Comey was in Iowa for a family party.

Look who's talking.

Former FBI Director James Comey, who has cultivated a low public profile since his surprise firing last May, confirmed Monday that he is the author of a Twitter account that was previously anonymous — and signaled that he is going to rejoin the national conversation.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for an oversight hearing Wednesday. There's a lot to discuss.

In eight months as the nation's top federal law enforcement official, Sessions has presided over a series of Justice Department reversals — from police oversight and voting rights litigation to protections for the LGBT community.

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Eight months after he packed up his White House office and vacated the premises, President Barack Obama's top lawyer is finally opening up.

In a speech at Columbia University's law school last week, Neil Eggleston told students that "I'm not sure where the lawyers are" in the vetting process for some of President Trump's controversial executive orders, from the travel ban that now covers visitors from six majority-Muslim countries to efforts to withhold federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities.

Prisoner advocates convened at an unusual spot this week: President Trump's White House.

Earlier this year, Trump promised to crack down on "American carnage" and decried the "public safety crisis" facing many American cities. His attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has directed federal prosecutors to take a tough approach to drug criminals, seeking mandatory-minimum prison terms for them.

The Justice Department has notified Senate investigators that it will not make FBI officials available for interviews because doing so could pose conflicts with the work of special counsel Robert Mueller.

Leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee had sought to meet with the FBI's chief of staff, James Rybicki, and the executive assistant director of its national security branch, Carl Ghattas, as part of their review into the dismissal of then-FBI Director James Comey earlier this year.

On the campaign trail last year, after a tragic attack on an Orlando nightclub left 49 people dead, Donald Trump went out of his way to thank the LGBT community, vowing to protect them from violence and tweeting, "I will fight for you."

Years earlier, in an interview with a magazine that reaches a large gay audience, Trump told The Advocate that he supported gay people serving in the military.

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Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit


Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit


Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit


Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit


Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET

President Trump has exercised clemency power for the first time in his young presidency to bestow a pardon on former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio, 85, had faced sentencing Oct. 5 for a criminal contempt conviction in connection with his failure to follow a federal court order in a racial profiling case. Justice Department prosecutors argued he indiscriminately targeted Latinos and detained them without evidence they had broken the law.

Former FBI Director James Comey is scheduled to deliver a convocation address at Howard University next month, part of a series of lectures he has been invited to give during the coming academic year at the historically black college.

Howard officials said Comey had agreed to donate $100,000, his full compensation as the school's King Endowed Chair in Public Policy, to a scholarship fund for students who come from foster homes.