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.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The Drug Enforcement Administration has proposed hiring its own prosecutor corps to bring cases related to drug trafficking, money laundering and asset forfeiture — a move that advocacy groups warn could exceed the DEA's legal authority and reinvigorate the 1980s-era war on drugs.

Updated at 7:15 p.m. ET.

The U.S. Justice Department has escalated its approach to so-called sanctuary cities, writing at least eight jurisdictions Friday to put them on notice they could be failing to cooperate with immigration authorities.

Alan Hanson, the acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's grant-making arm, warned the cities that they're required to submit proof that they comply with federal immigration law.

The woman leading the Justice Department's investigation of foreign meddling into the 2016 election and possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia has told staff members she will leave the department in May.

Mary B. McCord has served at the highest levels in the national security unit, either as its leader or chief deputy, for the past three years. A longtime federal prosecutor based in Washington, McCord easily won the confidence of both career lawyers and her supervisors inside the Justice Department.

Updated at 4:23 p.m. ET

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is recommending the White House nominate Washington labor lawyer Eric Dreiband to lead the Justice Department's civil rights division, according to two NPR sources briefed on the hiring process.

As advocates for medical marijuana gather in Washington, D.C., on Friday for an annual conference, supporters of marijuana legalization are worried.

That's because new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been making tough comments about the drug, and there's a lot of uncertainty about how the Trump administration will enforce federal law.

Over his 20 years in the U.S. Senate, Jeff Sessions made no secret of his disdain for marijuana. In his new job as the nation's top federal law enforcement officer, his position on marijuana has not moderated.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered the Justice Department to conduct a broad review of agreements that seek to overhaul troubled police departments. He's says it isn't the federal government's job to manage state and local law enforcement agencies, which is a shift from the Obama administration.

Ask any veteran lawyer about her worst fear, and you'll hear this: the client who digs a hole for himself — and then keeps on digging.

The challenge of defending a difficult client is once again in the news this week as the Justice Department has struggled to convince federal judges that President Trump's executive order, imposing limits on travelers from six majority Muslim countries, is not, in fact, a ban on Muslims.

The FBI director has no plans to leave the post before the end of his 10-year term.

"You're stuck with me for about 6 1/2 years," James Comey said at a cyber conference in Boston on Wednesday, urging conference organizers to invite him to speak again.

In recent days, NPR and other news outlets have reported Comey pressed the Justice Department without success to issue a public denial of President Trump's tweet that the FBI and President Barack Obama wiretapped his phones at Trump Tower.

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Big news from the Justice Department late yesterday - Attorney General Jeff Sessions called a press conference to announce that he will play no role in an investigation into Russian meddling in last year's presidential election.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions pledged to devote federal resources to combat violent crime and to shore up morale across the nation's police departments, on Monday in his first on-the-record briefing as the top U.S. law enforcement officer.

Lawyers for a 17-year-old transgender student and the Gloucester, Va., school board that wants to limit which bathroom he can use don't agree on much.

But both sides have concluded the Trump administration's decision this week to revoke guidance that protects transgender students' ability to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity only heightens the need for a hearing before the nation's highest court.

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The Senate Judiciary Committee once again debated the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions to be attorney general. Democrats on the Republican-controlled committee raised objections to his nomination. The committee met a day after President Trump fired the acting attorney general over her refusal to defend the immigration order banning travel from seven majority Muslim countries.

The U.S. Justice Department said it has "no comment" on whether its Office of Legal Counsel has reviewed any of President Trump's executive orders, which have met with criticism this week because of vague language and possible conflicts with legal precedents.

The department's own website says:

"All executive orders and proclamations proposed to be issued by the President are reviewed by the Office of Legal Counsel for form and legality, as are various other matters that require the President's formal approval."

A newly inaugurated Donald J. Trump delivered a fiercely populist and often dark address, promising to transfer power in Washington from political elites to the people and vowing to put "America first."

Surrounded by members of Congress and the Supreme Court, the nation's 45th president repeated themes from his historic and divisive campaign message, describing children in poverty, schools in crisis and streets pocked with crime and "carnage."

Jeff Sessions donned a "Make America Great Again" cap and joined the campaign trail as one of Donald Trump's earliest supporters on Capitol Hill. But the proximity of the Alabama Republican to the president-elect has got some Democrats worried about how he'd preside at the Justice Department.

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Updated at 4 p.m. ET

The Justice Department's watchdog has launched a sweeping review of conduct by the FBI director and other department officials before the presidential election, following calls from Congress and members of the public.

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions is the first of President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet nominees to get a hearing on Capitol Hill.

The Justice Department is issuing new guidance to federal agents on how to secure eyewitness identifications, an initiative designed to reflect decades of scientific research and bolster public confidence in the criminal justice system, NPR has learned.

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Two intelligence sources say the FBI agrees with the CIA assessment that Russia interfered in the U.S. election, in part to help Donald Trump, clearing up any confusion and other reporting that the agencies weren't in sync.

The entire intelligence community, in fact, is now in alignment that the hacks were partly motivated to try and install Trump as president. The FBI and others continue to say that Russia didn't actually think that was going to happen.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

His Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill are hoping to advance Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions' nomination to serve as U.S. attorney general at warp speed. Leaders at the Senate Judiciary Committee have already announced that confirmation hearings for the nation's next top law enforcement officer will begin Jan. 10, well before Donald Trump's inauguration.

But Democrats and civil rights advocates are signaling that the path for Sessions may not be as rapid, or as smooth, as Republicans would like.

At the CIA and the FBI, conversations about Russian hacks before the U.S. presidential election are moving into quiet spaces or stopping altogether, three sources told NPR.

The agencies are steeling themselves for a congressional investigation that could become one of the most sensitive and politicized in years.

The advice President Obama has offered his successor is mostly under wraps. But the outgoing commander-in-chief made a point of going on the record with this wisdom for President-elect Donald Trump: hire a good lawyer and listen to him.

Trump has selected elections expert Don McGahn as his new White House counsel. McGahn will have a lot of work to do, mostly behind the scenes. Veterans of the office said if the White House counsel is doing their job the right way, hardly anyone knows their name.

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Donald McGahn, a longtime Washington lawyer who once led the Federal Election Commission, to be his White House counsel, his transition team announced Friday.

"Don has a brilliant legal mind, excellent character and a deep understanding of constitutional law," Trump said in a statement, referring to the lawyer who served as both his campaign and transition attorney. "He will play a critical role in our administration, and I am grateful that he is willing to serve our country at such a high-level capacity."

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