Philip Ewing

Philip Ewing is an election security editor with NPR's Washington Desk. He helps oversee coverage of election security, voting, disinformation, active measures and other issues. Ewing joined the Washington Desk from his previous role as NPR's national security editor, in which he helped direct coverage of the military, intelligence community, counterterrorism, veterans and more. He came to NPR 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.

Updated at 4:48 p.m. ET

President Trump's legal challenges to the election met with a series of defeats and setbacks on Friday as judges found the Trump campaign's arguments and evidence that there was widespread fraud and irregularities with the vote to be lacking.

Democrats have brought the end of the Trump era into sight — but there are more than 70 days to go before the page actually turns and President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.

In the meantime, the most unusual era in modern American politics is phasing into what could be one of its most tumultuous transitions.

Here's what you need to know about the final act.

Resolution and reconciliation — or not

Federal authorities were cautiously optimistic early Wednesday about having made it through voting season without major disruption by cyberattacks or other malign activity — but they cautioned that could still happen in the coming days.

"We're not out of the woods yet," said one senior official with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who briefed reporters with other U.S. officials on the condition they not be identified.

Foreign interference is a very old problem, but most Americans didn't used to worry much about it and the security of elections.

Now, lessons learned about the Russian attack on the 2016 presidential election have brought the most intense focus ever on the U.S. information environment, elections practices, voter databases and other parts of the infrastructure of democracy.

Updated at 1:01 p.m. ET

Government agencies and political actors across the country remain vulnerable to a spoof email scam like the one blamed on Iran by the U.S. spy boss, cyber-analysts said.

Democrats opposed the current Supreme Court confirmation process even before they knew Judge Amy Coney Barrett would be President Trump's nominee.

Republicans reneged on their earlier stance not to consider a Supreme Court vacancy ahead of an election, Democrats have argued, and they say the choice to do so will damage the Senate's credibility and that of the high court.

In a less sedate, less distinguished and deliberative body than the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republicans would be high-fiving and turning cartwheels over Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Instead they've been doing that only with their rhetoric, heaping her with praise and defending her in ripostes following what the majority members sometimes called inappropriate attacks by Democrats.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, summarized what he called Democrats' fears about Barrett pre-judging issues or cases in the fourth day of the hearing on Thursday: "That's just absurd!"

Democrats are litigating Judge Amy Coney Barrett's record and outlook on voting as the Senate Judiciary Committee wraps up her three days in the spotlight this week.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said she worried about Barrett's longtime closeness with Justice Antonin Scalia in view of Scalia's antipathy toward the Voting Rights Act, which the Supreme Court partly dismantled in a 2013 ruling.

Amy Coney Barrett declined to address whether she believes President Trump has the power to pardon himself, calling it a matter that could come before the Supreme Court after she is confirmed.

"That would be a legal question. That would be a Constitutional question — and so in keeping with my obligation not to give hints, previews or forecasts of how I would resolve a case, that's not one that I can answer," she said.

Republicans condemned what they called inappropriate criticism and questioning about Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett's Catholic identity as her confirmation hearing opened on Monday. Democrats did not bring up her faith in Monday's hearing.

Barrett is a devout Catholic, alumna of Notre Dame and member of a small, conservative faith group called the People of Praise.

Republicans already have all but won the battle to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court thanks to their control of the Senate, but used Monday's confirmation hearing to stress the importance of a judiciary free from political interference and to defend Barrett against attacks on her religion, even as Democrats avoided the topic.

Democrats are unhappy about nearly everything involving the likely confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. About the only thing that could be worse, from their perspective, is if she helps President Trump secure a second term.

Updated at 11:28 a.m. ET

Democrats on Monday executed an old move from the playbook used by a party when it doesn't control the majority during a big hearing: changing the subject.

Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein of California and her colleagues don't have the votes to stop Judge Amy Coney Barrett from being confirmed to the Supreme Court by the Senate Judiciary Committee or the full chamber. All they have is the time they can talk between members of the majority.

The White House must find a way to keep working and show that the government is still operating notwithstanding illness or the absence of the president, a group of former chiefs of staff said on Friday morning.

Updated at 1:55 p.m. ET

Former FBI Director James Comey says that if he knew today what he knew during the Russia investigation, he would have taken a more skeptical view about a key surveillance request.

Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that the subsequent revelations about problems with the surveillance warrant requested against one ex-junior campaign aide to Donald Trump likely would have given him pause in pursuing it.

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