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.

It can be hard to distinguish among the men wearing grey suits and regulation haircuts on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. But David Margolis always brought a splash of color.

It wasn't his lovably disheveled wardrobe, or his Elvis ring, but something else: the force of his flamboyant personality. Margolis, a graduate of Harvard Law School, didn't want to fit in with the crowd. He wanted to stand out.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said she "fully expects" to endorse the recommendations of career prosecutors and FBI agents investigating the security of Hillary Clinton's email server, but stopped short of recusing herself from the politically charged case.

In an interview in Aspen, Colo., Lynch said she regrets that her unscheduled meeting with former President Bill Clinton on a Phoenix airport tarmac this week has "cast a shadow" over the investigation into his wife's email practices at the State Department.

A strange thing is uniting Democrats and Republicans in Washington: the widespread disapproval of a meeting between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac in Arizona.

An unscheduled meeting between the U.S. attorney general and former President Bill Clinton at an airport in Phoenix on Monday could present some unwanted political problems for both.

The former president, who was waiting to depart the state, boarded Loretta Lynch's government aircraft shortly after she landed in Arizona for a community policing event. Lynch later told reporters there the conversation centered on "his grandchildren."

"It was primarily social and about our travels," including golf he played, Lynch said.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Donald J. Trump, the Republicans' presumptive nominee for the White House, attacked his primary rival Hillary Clinton on Wednesday as "a world-class liar" who allegedly used her government power to pad her bank account and reward special interests.

"Hillary Clinton may be the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency," Trump declared in a speech from New York, as he sought to change the subject after a string of bad news about his campaign's fundraising prowess and personnel moves by pointing the finger at Clinton's long record.

Donald Trump has promised to speak Wednesday about, in his words, "the failed policies and bad judgment of Crooked Hillary Clinton."

The woman leading the federal government's effort to block a North Carolina law that limits the rights of transgender people knows what it's like to feel like an outsider.

Vanita Gupta, 41, is the child of immigrants who left India in search of better economic opportunity. That journey took her as a small child from a McDonald's in London where her family fled racial insults and french fries thrown by bigoted skinheads all the way to the Ivy League.

Criminal penalties for possessing the highly addictive opioid substance that authorities say killed music star Prince could soon be going up, if one senator gets her way.

David Padilla spent nearly 20 years turning himself into a model inmate in federal prison. So when Padilla got called to the warden's office last December, he said, the first thought on his mind was, "Did I do anything wrong?"

Padilla's leg started shaking. Then, he got the news he was about to be freed.

Federal investigators have interviewed top aides to Hillary Clinton about her use of a private email server, the latest advance in an ongoing investigation into whether her email practices as secretary of state may have compromised classified information, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The interviews, of close aides including Huma Abedin, have been conducted by FBI agents, lawyers from the Justice Department's National Security division and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Alexandria, Va.

The nation's top law enforcement officer walked past a barbed-wire fence, through passages lined with rust-colored walls, to meet with a special audience. But this was not a normal meet-and-greet — a stern-looking FBI security detail tracked her every move.

Inside the visitation room in this federal correctional institution, five men in khaki uniforms and black Crocs slippers were waiting to give Attorney General Loretta Lynch a glimpse of their struggles.

A bipartisan group of senators has unveiled a new compromise plan to overhaul the way drug criminals are punished, making one last push for legislative reform before the presidential election all but forecloses action on Capitol Hill.

At a news conference Thursday, one of the plan's biggest supporters, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., proclaimed, "This is the best chance in a generation to reform our federal drug sentencing law."

This week, an unusual coalition of corrections officers and policy experts will come together in Washington, D.C., with one common goal in mind — to limit the use of solitary confinement for juveniles.

The campaign has enlisted some powerful voices to warn about the harms of isolation for young people.

Venida Browder lost her son twice: first to the lock-up at Rikers Island in New York, and then to suicide.

"Solitary confinement is what destroyed my son," she said.

Early this year, President Obama granted clemency to seven men with ties to Iran, part of a high-profile prisoner swap that left some in federal law enforcement circles seeing red. Among the detainees who won release were men accused of breaking export-control laws by shipping sensitive materials to Iran.

But this month, the Justice Department signaled it remains determined to bring cases over export violations, even if it takes a long while for justice.

An ongoing FBI inquiry into Hillary Clinton's private email server has dogged the Democratic presidential candidate on the campaign trail.

Federal agents want to know if any U.S. secrets were compromised through Clinton's unusual setup when she worked as secretary of state. Clinton has not been named as a target of the FBI probe. But there's a long history of top officials getting scrutiny over classified information (see below).

The Justice Department's No. 3 official, Stuart Delery, is resigning to explore options in the private sector, leaving as the highest-ranking openly gay leader in the agency's history.

The chief judge of the federal district court in Washington, D.C., notified the White House he would retire this week, the same day a Utah woman filed a lawsuit accusing him of assault and predatory sexual behavior 35 years ago, when he was a civil rights prosecutor and she was a 16-year-old eyewitness in a murder case.

On a hot summer night in 1991, in a drug buy gone bad, Shaka Senghor shot a man to death.

He went on to spend 19 years in Michigan prisons — seven of them in solitary confinement, where he grew accustomed to what he calls the smell of "human despair."

"The smell of pepper spray that the officers use to extract the men from their cells mingled with the feces and urine that the men throw at each other out of anger and frustration, and then just that mingled with the smell of institution," Senghor said.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Inmates challenging their confinement in special prison units where their communications are monitored non-stop will get one more chance to revive their case against the Federal Bureau of Prisons Tuesday.

Lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights will try to convince a three-judge panel that placement in a "Communication Management Unit" represents a "fundamental disruption" to their clients' liberty interests, a fate far more troublesome and stigmatizing than the typical response to inmates who misbehave.

The legal world has a new blogger: former constitutional law professor and current President Barack Obama.

The president took to SCOTUSblog, the leading online chronicle of the Supreme Court, on Wednesday to offer some "spoiler-free insights" into what he is seeking in a justice to replace the late Antonin Scalia.

A federal judge said he will allow a conservative watchdog group to take steps to find out whether the State Department and former Secretary Hillary Clinton "deliberately thwarted" an open records law by using a private email server.

The Obama administration has made "virtually no progress" to increase transparency and accountability for its lethal drone program, a new report has concluded, with only months left to spare before the White House hands control of the targeted killing apparatus to a successor.

The report by the nonpartisan Stimson Center said the administration is failing to release fundamental information about the program or to significantly overhaul it — even after a 2015 strike mistakenly left American contractor Warren Weinstein and Italian hostage Giovanni Lo Porto dead.

The unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia and the looming face-off between the White House and the Senate over his replacement have revived proposals that would limit the tenure of U.S. Supreme Court justices.

Legal scholars from both political parties renewed a call Tuesday to reconsider how much time justices spend on the high court. Many of them cited, with disapproval, a bruising and protracted clash building between President Obama and the GOP-controlled Senate over when and how to fill Scalia's vacancy.

The director of the federal government team that interrogates key terrorism suspects has a message for people who want to see a return to waterboarding and other abusive strategies: They don't work.

Frazier Thompson, who leads the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, said research demonstrates that "rapport-based techniques elicit the most credible information."

In an interview at FBI headquarters this week, Thompson added: "I can tell you that everything that we do is humane, lawful and based on the best science available."

A federal judge has ordered the Justice Department to file court briefs by Wednesday explaining why some portion of the remaining Hillary Clinton emails, subject to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Vice News, cannot be produced by Feb. 18.

U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras said after a 30-minute hearing in federal court in Washington, D.C., that the government "has put me between a rock and a hard place" with respect to 7,000 pages of yet-to-be-released Clinton emails from her tenure at the State Department.

The decision by Hillary Clinton to use a private email server as secretary of state has spawned an FBI investigation, multiple congressional inquiries and dozens of private lawsuits that demand copies of her messages. It's also become an issue in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Republicans on the campaign trail have raised the prospect that Clinton could be charged with a crime — even as she downplays the FBI probe and asserts she wants voters to be able to see all of her messages from that time.

The Justice Department has named a veteran prosecutor from Philadelphia as the new leader of its pardon office, which is trying to review more than 9,000 petitions in the final year of the Obama presidency.

Robert Zauzmer, 55, has worked since 1990 at the U.S. attorney's office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Justice Department leaders said Zauzmer represented a "natural choice" for the pardon job, in part because of his experience training prosecutors all over the country in how to evaluate prisoners' requests for early release.

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