national security

Dozens of national security specialists clustered inside a Washington hotel on a chilly December morning, warming up with coffee and checking out booths set up by intelligence agencies and defense contractors.

There were clues that the target audience for this event was a little broader than the usual D.C. security crowd: The unicorn logo behind the podium. A pop-up shop selling workplace fashion. Free child care. Talk of a line at the women's restroom.

Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET

A foreign service officer detailed to work in the office of Vice President Pence testified behind closed doors on Thursday in the ongoing House impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Jennifer Williams was assigned to work on European and Russian issues with the vice president's team in the spring. She is the first person from the vice president's office to testify in the probe of whether the president withheld military aid from Ukraine while seeking a political favor.

Updated at 12 p.m. ET

The impeachment inquiry into President Trump turned its spotlight on Monday on four top White House officials, asking them to testify behind closed doors as Democrats probe whether Trump held up military aid as leverage to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

But none of them showed up, citing legal advice.

President Trump's efforts to pressure the government of Ukraine didn't sit well with some key members of his administration.

One of them, whose identity remains unverified, felt strongly enough to write down his concerns about the president's actions in a whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community's inspector general.

But he wasn't the only one who spoke up.

Updated at 11:25 p.m. ET

Tim Morrison, the top Russia official on President Trump's National Security Council, who is scheduled to testify in the impeachment inquiry on Thursday, is set to leave his White House post imminently, three sources familiar with the plan told NPR.

The top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council repeatedly raised concerns with his superiors and lawyers about President Trump's demands that Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who is a veteran of the Iraq War and expected to testify Tuesday as part of the House impeachment inquiry, listened in on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

The crowded room was awaiting one word: "Fire."

Everyone was in uniform; there were scheduled briefings, last-minute discussions, final rehearsals. "They wanted to look me in the eye and say, 'Are you sure this is going to work?' " an operator named Neil said. "Every time, I had to say yes, no matter what I thought." He was nervous, but confident. U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency had never worked together on something this big before.

Updated at 10:22 p.m. ET

In a shake-up of the top ranks of U.S. national intelligence, President Trump announced Thursday that he will name Joseph Maguire, the current Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, as the nation's acting top intelligence official.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, one of the last remaining survivors of President Trump's original national security team, will leave the administration on August 15, the president said in a tweet on Sunday.

Robert Mueller's appearance in Congress this week will be a hinge moment — the question is which way it might swing the political trajectory in Washington.

The Democrats who have negotiated for months to get Mueller to appear, and wound up compelling him with a subpoena, want Americans to watch the former special counsel tell his story on Wednesday in TV-friendly soundbites that erode support for President Trump.

The growing popularity of FaceApp — a photo filter app that delights smartphone users with its ability to transform the features of any face, like tacking on years of wrinkles — has prompted Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer to call for a federal investigation into the Russia-based company over what he says are potential national security and privacy risks to millions of Americans.

Drones have become an increasingly popular tool for industry and government.

Electric utilities use them to inspect transmission lines. Oil companies fly them over pipelines. The Interior Department even deployed them to track lava flows at Hawaii's Kilauea volcano.

But the Department of Homeland Security is warning that drones manufactured by Chinese companies could pose security risks, including that the data they gather could be stolen.

Updated at 7:13 p.m. ET

The U.S. Army issued a tweet ahead of Memorial Day weekend with a question for service members and veterans: "How has serving impacted you?"

Among the thousands of responses: harrowing tales of trauma, depression and sexual assault.

In a thread, an Army tweet that preceded the question featured a video by Pfc. Nathan Spencer, a scout with the Army's First Infantry Division.

Updated at 11:17 p.m. ET

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen is leaving her post, President Trump announced Sunday as he continues to focus on restricting border crossings amid a recent surge. Nielsen had recently warned a congressional panel of a "catastrophe" on the southern border after the number of crossings hit a 10-year high.

Reality Winner, the former National Security Agency contractor who pleaded guilty to leaking classified intelligence to a media outlet, has been sentenced to more than five years in prison.

On Thursday, a federal judge in Georgia approved a plea deal that called for five years and three months in prison along with three years of supervision after release.

Winner, 26, also will have to complete 100 hours of community service once she is released.

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