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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.

While in this role, 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.

Outside of her role at NPR, Johnson regularly moderates or appears on legal panels for the American Bar Association, the American Constitution Society, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and others. She's talked about her work on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, PBS, and other outlets.

Her work has been honored with awards from the Society for Professional Journalists and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. 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.

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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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

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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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.

On the evening of Sept. 11, 2012, intruders attacked the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. They fired machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Buildings there burned. By the following day, four Americans had died, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Now, almost five years after that deadly episode, one man accused in the attack is preparing for trial in Washington, D.C.

A lot of people are counting on special counsel Robert Mueller.

Federal prosecutors have lots of ways to intensify pressure on the people they're investigating, from early morning FBI raids to leaning on relatives of those under government scrutiny.

But even by those measures, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in last year's presidential election is moving with unusual speed and assertiveness, according to half a dozen legal experts following the probe.

The Justice Department has experienced an "explosion" in the number of referrals, or requests for probes, this year from intelligence agencies over the leak of classified information, prompting the attorney general to consider whether to loosen regulations on when it can subpoena media organizations.

Deputy White House counsel Gregory Katsas is the leading candidate for a judgeship in one of the most important federal appeals courts in the nation, NPR has learned.

While the White House has not yet named its pick for the seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a Katsas nomination would open the door to confirmation hearings that could plumb a series of legal controversies from the first six months of the Trump administration.

Thomas Wheeler, who has been leading the Justice Department's civil rights unit, informed staffers there Thursday that he would be leaving the post, according to two sources familiar with the communication.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The debate over whether the president of the United States can be charged with a crime is as old as the country itself.

Early evidence comes from the diary of a Pennsylvania senator, who recorded "a heated debate on this very issue" in September 1789, said Hofstra University Law School professor Eric Freedman.

"For those who believe in original intent, we have pretty good evidence of original intent," Freedman said. "The founders just disagreed on the very question."

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