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Westlake Legal Group > News and News Media (Page 87)

Giuliani Pressed for Turkish Prisoner Swap in Oval Office Meeting

Westlake Legal Group merlin_128860991_515f45cd-79d9-4cb1-8039-df1c6a6e01e9-facebookJumbo Giuliani Pressed for Turkish Prisoner Swap in Oval Office Meeting Zarrab, Reza (1983- ) United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Turkey Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Tillerson, Rex W Sessions, Jefferson B III Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Nuclear Weapons Mukasey, Michael B Iran Giuliani, Rudolph W Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Embargoes and Sanctions Brafman, Benjamin Bharara, Preet Atilla, Mehmet Hakan

During a contentious Oval Office meeting with President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in 2017, Rudolph W. Giuliani pressed for help in securing the release of a jailed client, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader, as part of a potential prisoner swap with Turkey.

The request by Mr. Giuliani provoked an immediate objection from Mr. Tillerson, who argued that it would be highly inappropriate to interfere in an open criminal case, according to two people briefed on the meeting.

The gold trader, Reza Zarrab, had been accused by federal prosecutors of playing a central role in an effort by a state-owned Turkish bank to funnel more than $10 billion worth of gold and cash to Iran, in defiance of United States sanctions designed to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

But at the White House meeting in early 2017, Mr. Giuliani and his longtime friend and colleague, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, pushed back on Mr. Tillerson’s objections.

Rather than side with his secretary of state, Mr. Trump told them to work it out themselves, according to the two people briefed on the meeting. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

In the end, no such prisoner swap took place. But the episode has opened a new chapter in Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to interject himself into the Trump administration’s diplomacy while at times representing clients with a direct interest in the outcome.

The Oval Office meeting occurred before Mr. Giuliani became Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer for the special counsel’s Russia investigation. In recent weeks, Mr. Giuliani’s campaign to press Ukrainian officials to investigate the son of one of Mr. Trump’s political rivals, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., has thrust him into the middle of the House impeachment inquiry. And on Wednesday, two of Mr. Giuliani’s associates in that campaign were arrested on charges of violating federal campaign finance laws.

Mr. Giuliani, in an interview on Thursday, defended his actions in the gold trader case, which were first reported on Wednesday by Bloomberg.

Mr. Giuliani, well known for his hawkish views on Iran, said he had been willing to represent Mr. Zarrab because the proposed prisoner swap would have secured the release of an American pastor who was being held in Turkey on terrorism-related charges the United States considered fabricated.

He likened his efforts — which also included apprising Jeff Sessions, then the attorney general, of what he wanted — to maneuvers during the Cold War to trade enemy spies for Americans detained overseas.

Mr. Giuliani questioned how his actions were any different. “It happened to be a good trade,” he said. “I expected to be a hero like in a Tom Hanks movie.”

But his involvement, as a private citizen and friend of the president in the months after Mr. Trump passed him over for the role of secretary of state, left some in the administration uncomfortable, given the strained and complicated relationship between the United States and Turkey.

Mr. Giuliani’s moves also ran counter to a long-running American effort to curb Iran’s nuclear program as the United States was trying to punish players, like Mr. Zarrab, who helped the regime evade sanctions.

The case, called the single largest evasion of Iranian sanctions in United States history, revolved around a scheme by the Turkish bank in 2012 and 2013 to send billions of dollars in gold and cash to Iran in exchange for oil and natural gas.

Mr. Zarrab, who has Turkish and Iranian citizenship, was arrested in Florida in March 2016 on a family trip to Disney World, and was accused of an illicit operation that relied on false documents and front companies to move the assets to Iran from the accounts of Halkbank, the second-largest state-owned lender in Turkey.

Getting him out of the United States was a high priority for Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, because Mr. Zarrab had information that would later implicate senior bank officials, as well as Turkish government officials, in the scheme.

Indeed, after the prison swap failed, Mr. Zarrab became a key witness and testified that in 2012, Mr. Erdogan, then Turkey’s prime minister, had ordered that two Turkish banks be allowed to participate in the sanction-evasion scheme.

Mr. Giuliani said that he was brought into the effort by Mr. Muskasey, who had been hired by Mr. Zarrab’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman.

The two men had been pressing their case with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office in early 2017 when Mr. Tillerson joined the conversation, according to the two people briefed on the meeting. Mr. Tillerson, who could not be reached for comment, was surprised to find Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Mukasey at what he thought would be a regular private meeting with the president, the people said.

Mr. Trump asked Mr. Giuliani to tell Mr. Tillerson what he wanted, which prompted Mr. Tillerson’s objections.

Mr. Mukasey’s spokesman did not return a request for comment.

Mr. Giuliani, in the interview on Thursday, disputed the account provided to The New York Times of his discussion with Mr. Tillerson about Mr. Zarrab — and the assertion that Mr. Tillerson replied that such a step was inappropriate. But Mr. Giuliani did not specify what aspects of the account he found inaccurate, saying he could not discuss the meeting because of attorney-client privilege.

“This is a completely malicious story coming from the consistent attack on me to try to destroy my credibility,” Mr. Giuliani said.

He added that at the time, “nobody ever complained” to him from the Trump administration about his role in the case.

Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Mukasey were persistent in the effort. Court filings show that they discussed the matter with State Department officials in Turkey before meeting with Mr. Erdogan himself, and that Mr. Sessions and Preet Bharara, then the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, were informed “on a confidential basis.”

Mr. Giuliani argued in court filings that “none of the transactions in which Mr. Zarrab is alleged to have participated involved weapons or nuclear technology, or any other contraband, but rather involved consumer goods, and that Turkey is situated in a part of the world strategically critical to the United States.”

And Mr. Mukasey, in an April 2017 court filing, asserted that “senior U.S. officials have remained receptive to pursuing the possibility of an agreement.”

But officials at the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan remained opposed to the Zarrab trade, as did Mr. Tillerson. Mr. Giuliani, in the Thursday interview, said he wasn’t sure why the proposal fell apart.

What’s clear is that Mr. Zarrab pleaded guilty in October 2017 to the charges, and became a key witness in federal criminal cases prosecuted in New York that led to the conviction of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an executive at Halkbank.

During Mr. Atilla’s criminal trial in late 2017, the judge overseeing the case criticized Mr. Giuliani’s role in trying to secure Mr. Zarrab’s freedom, noting that such a move might benefit Iran.

“Most respectfully, the Giuliani and Mukasey affidavits appear surprisingly disingenuous in failing to mention the central role of Iran in the indictment, and indeed, failing to mention Iran at all in their affidavits,” the judge, Richard M. Berman, said, citing statements in which the men suggested Mr. Zarrab’s release might help the United States.

Mr. Atilla was sentenced to 32 months in prison. But he was released early from jail in July and then returned to Turkey, where he was greeted at the airport like a hero in Istanbul by Turkey’s treasury and finance minister, Berat Albayrak, who is also Mr. Erdogan’s son-in-law. Mr. Zarrab’s whereabouts have not been disclosed by the United States government.

The American pastor, Andrew Brunson, was also released, without a trade involving Mr. Zarrab, in October 2018. The move was credited with an overall improvement in relations between Mr. Trump and Mr. Erdogan.

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Author Peter Schweizer defends New York Times op-ed against Biden campaign after criticism

Westlake Legal Group Biden-Scheweizer_AP-FOX Author Peter Schweizer defends New York Times op-ed against Biden campaign after criticism Victor Garcia fox-news/world/conflicts/ukraine fox-news/shows/the-story fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 9104ed60-991f-5aae-959e-20d6cc76b554

Author Peter Schweizer defended his New York Times op-ed on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s involvement with Ukraine after Biden’s campaign released a letter blasting the paper for giving the author “top billing.”

“The Biden reaction is not a surprise because their entire strategy on this, Martha, has been to attack me to generate a lot of heat but no light,” Schweizer said on “The Story with Martha MacCallum” Thursday.

“They’ve not answered any serious questions about this at all with any journalists.”

The deputy manager of Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign slammed The Times Wednesday in a letter to the newspaper’s executive editor — focusing on the expanding Ukraine controversy.

HILLARY ON BIDEN-UKRAINE ALLEGATIONS: ‘FAIR GAME’ TO QUESTION JUDGMENT, BUT ‘NO EVIDENCE’ OF WRONGDOING’

The letter, written by Kate Bedingfield to Dean Baquet, criticizes the paper for publishing Schweizer’s Wednesday op-ed, titled, “What Hunter Biden Did Was Legal – That’s the Problem,” according to CNN.

In his piece, Schweizer asserts Biden was “self-dealing” in Ukraine while vice president.

Bedingfield in the letter criticizes The Times’ Ukraine coverage and decries the paper’s “active participation” in a “smear campaign” against Biden.

Schweizer told MacCallum that The Times reached out to him to write the op-ed and that the piece was not the only fact-checked by his Government Accountability Institute but that “every word” was also fact-checked by The Times.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

The author also disagreed with the Biden campaign’s notion that allegations brought up in his book “Secret Empires” were debunked and that Schweizer was “digging” for political reasons.

“We looked at both sides of the aisle. The Biden material though is particularly troubling because it had never been exposed before… the number of deals and the size of the deals that Hunter Biden had in China had never been exposed before,” Schweizer said, bringing up new allegations regarding Hunter’s business dealings with China.”

Fox News’ Brie Stimson contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Biden-Scheweizer_AP-FOX Author Peter Schweizer defends New York Times op-ed against Biden campaign after criticism Victor Garcia fox-news/world/conflicts/ukraine fox-news/shows/the-story fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 9104ed60-991f-5aae-959e-20d6cc76b554   Westlake Legal Group Biden-Scheweizer_AP-FOX Author Peter Schweizer defends New York Times op-ed against Biden campaign after criticism Victor Garcia fox-news/world/conflicts/ukraine fox-news/shows/the-story fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 9104ed60-991f-5aae-959e-20d6cc76b554

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U.S. and Kurdish soldiers: Side by side just days ago, battling ISIS, now the Kurds are under attack

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close U.S. and Kurdish soldiers: Side by side just days ago, battling ISIS, now the Kurds are under attack

Turkey launched airstrikes, fired artillery aimed at crushing Kurdish fighters in northern Syria on Wednesday after U.S. troops pulled back from the area, paving the way for an assault on forces that have long been allied with the United States. (Oct. 9) AP, AP

WASHINGTON – Two days before President Trump announced that he would pull U.S. military back from the border zone in Syria, Americans and their Kurdish allies had removed senior ISIS fighters from the battlefield, according to a U.S. official who was not authorized to speak publicly.

The capture of the two fighters occurred as part of daily regular commando raids U.S. forces had been running with Kurdish soldiers, the official said.

Trump’s abandonment of Kurdish allies fighting ISIS has shocked members of the U.S. military and left it scrambling to protect American forces in Syria – and to look on as those they worked with side by side only a few days ago are now under attack as Turkey’s military continues to step up assaults on the region. 

Thursday marked the second day of Turkey’s assault on Kurdish forces in the region. Turkey launched the assault because it views a Kurdish militia that dominates the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, as a terrorist group.

Earlier this week, Trump said he was delivering on a campaign promise to remove U.S. troops from “ridiculous endless wars.” Trump also defended his decision on Wednesday to end U.S. support for the Kurds, saying they had failed to fight with Americans in World War II.

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close U.S. and Kurdish soldiers: Side by side just days ago, battling ISIS, now the Kurds are under attack

Donald Trump is defending his decision to withdraw US troops from Kurd-held areas in northern Syria. A move that led to Turkey launching a military operation on Wednesday. Trump says he “campaigned on ending the endless wars.” (Oct. 9) AP, AP

Casualties reported: Turkish strikes hit civilians as Syria offensive intensifies

The Pentagon has issued  few statement since Trump’s decision, blaming Turkey for acting unilaterally and calling for a “safe zone” to be established in northeastern Syria.

‘None of our allies can trust us’

The Kurds formed the backbone of the counter-ISIS ground force, backed by the U.S.-led air war, that has retaken virtually all the land seized by Islamic State fighters since 2014. The Kurds have lost 11,000 troops in the fighting and have seen another 20,000 wounded. Their bloodshed and support has led to a kinship understood by many U.S. troops who view the U.S. withdrawal of support as a betrayal of a dedicated ally, the official said.

Who are the Kurds?: A Middle Eastern people with ‘no friends but the mountains’

“None of our allies can trust us anymore,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut Democrat and member of the Armed Services Committee, said in an interview. “The biggest loss here apart from the slaughter of innocent and loyal fighters on our side is the shattering of trust. The loss of our word as a bond. No one can rely on the United States if we abandon our fiercest most loyal allies who have literally shed blood for us.”

Trump’s decision has led to ad hoc measures to protect U.S. troops and attempts to mitigate losses to ISIS, the official said. Among them:

  • A hotline established with Turkey to notify U.S. commanders of areas where bombs will be dropped to ensure American troops are out of harm’s way.
  • The movement of 50 U.S. troops from the area contested by Turkey and the Kurds to two American outposts in Syria. Drones are being flown over the area to protect U.S. forces.
  • Kurds continue to guard about 30 prison camps holding about 10,000 ISIS detainees. About 2,000 of those prisoners are foreign fighters from 50 countries, from China to Canada.

U.S. forces are safe, the official said, and the 50 troops relocated to outposts represent a fraction of the 1,000 remaining in Syria.

‘A reckless gamble’: Four reasons critics decry Trump’s ‘impulsive’ Syria withdrawal

Deaths in Syria, but may be inflated

Turkey launched the assault because it regards a Kurdish militia within the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, as a terrorist group. About 30,000 Kurdish fighters and civilians have been displaced by Turkey’s offensive.

Turkey is expected to turn over the fighting to local forces it backs, the official said. A second U.S. official said Turkey, a NATO ally, has been cut off from receiving U.S. intelligence on the region. 

The Syrian Observatory for Human rights estimates that 16 SDF fighters have been killed and dozens wounded. Erdogan has said “109 terrorists” have been killed. The U.S. official cautioned that both sides may be exaggerating losses or gains for propaganda purposes.

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Turkey-Syria payback: Norway suspends arms sales to Erdogan regime, exposing cracks in NATO solidarity

Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria this week has been met with international condemnation – but it’s also induced something of a schism between members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

On Thursday, Norway’s Foreign Minister Ine Soreide announced in an email to AFP that, given the complexity and ever-changing nature of the situation, “as a precautionary measure” the foreign ministry “will not handle any new demands for exports of defense material or material for multiple uses to Turkey.”

“It is clear there is growing unease among some members regarding Turkey’s actions, and it is likely Norway’s move will be followed by other NATO members as well,” Nile Gardiner, the director of the Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center, told Fox News. “Turkey is being put on notice over its military actions and will be held to account.”

Other experts anticipated that more schisms in the once-tight NATO alliance might follow.

“Turkey may be a NATO ally, but they have consistently not acted like it – and there have to be consequences for that,” said Brad Bowman, the senior director for the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “It is time to align policy toward Turkey with [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s actual actions.”

WHERE DOES MEXICO REALLY GET ITS GUNS?

Moreover, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters Thursday he “counts on Turkey to show restraint and to ensure that their actions in northern Syria are measured and proportionate and avoid even more human suffering.”

“We have to remember that we need to continue to stand together in our common fight against the common enemy, which is ISIS,” he stressed. “We must preserve those gains.”

Westlake Legal Group syria-1 Turkey-Syria payback: Norway suspends arms sales to Erdogan regime, exposing cracks in NATO solidarity Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/world fnc ba32d9fd-a1c9-5d86-b25d-bb5b5915b650 article

Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army fighters heading toward the Syrian town of Tal Abyad from the Turkish border town of Akcakale, Turkey, on Thursday. (AP/DHA)

On Wednesday, in the immediate hours following Turkey’s announcement that its operation had begun, the prime minister of Finland – which is not yet part of the 29-member NATO cohesion – declared the country would “call attention to Turkey’s attack, its impact on refugees in the region and the humanitarian needs of Syria.”

“The government will not grant new arms export licenses to Turkey,” Prime Minister Antti Rinne said in a statement, “or other countries engaged in war.”

Still, it’s unclear what action the United States will take in response to Turkey’s cross-border assault, which is said to have killed more than 100 people in less than two days. In Gardiner’s view, the White House – despite President Trump’s earlier assertions that it would unleash economic fury on Ankara if it targeted the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds – is likely going to sit for a few days and assess the situation.

“The president has sent a clear message to Turkey, and the U.S. clearly has an interest in avoiding conflict between Turkey and the Kurds,” Gardiner said. “ISIS, Russia and Iran all need to be kept at bay, and Turkey needs to be on the same page with it.”

A bipartisan Senate bill aimed at pausing U.S. military assistance to Turkey is expected to be introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., as early as next week when Congress returns from recess.

The measure would seek to sanction Erdogan and other top officials.

Turkey has viewed the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as being tightly allied to the PKK, a designated terrorist organization, and a separatist movement that has long waged war with Ankara in the rugged hills of the Turkish state. However, the U.S. – despite its NATO partnership with Turkey – backed and installed the SDF as the primary ground force to root out ISIS from the swaths of Syria that it overtook.

DISPLACED ‘ISIS-SUPPORTING WOMEN’ REVOLT IN SYRIA BORDER CAMP AS TURKISH INCURSION GAINS MOMENTUM

The White House suddenly announced this past Sunday night that U.S. troops were withdrawing from their posts in northern Syria, and analysts quickly warned an escalation between Turkey and the SDF would create a chaotic void which adverse actors could exploit further.

Meanwhile, concerns over the humanitarian crisis on the ground continued to unfold.

According to Robin Fleming, a researcher at the Rojava Information Center, scores of civilians have escaped most of the border towns. Cars have been clogging the roads “with nowhere to go.”

“(Turkey) is targeting military bases and civilian areas, they are trying to create an atmosphere of fear,” she said Thursday afternoon, against a backdrop of bombs and shells blistering the night sky.

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However, Fleming also stressed that those on the ground welcomed Norway’s decision not to export arms and were hopeful others in the international community will follow in their footsteps.

“If more countries take that stance, apply sanctions or even just make a public declaration that they don’t support (Turkish incursion), it could have a big effect,” she added.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6093562963001_6093559127001-vs Turkey-Syria payback: Norway suspends arms sales to Erdogan regime, exposing cracks in NATO solidarity Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/world fnc ba32d9fd-a1c9-5d86-b25d-bb5b5915b650 article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6093562963001_6093559127001-vs Turkey-Syria payback: Norway suspends arms sales to Erdogan regime, exposing cracks in NATO solidarity Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/world fnc ba32d9fd-a1c9-5d86-b25d-bb5b5915b650 article

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What Happened Today in Trump Impeachment Inquiry News

ImageWestlake Legal Group 10dc-giuliani-articleLarge-v3 What Happened Today in Trump Impeachment Inquiry News Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

Rudy Giuliani having coffee with Lev Parnas at the Trump International Hotel in Washington in September.CreditAram Roston/Reuters

  • Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two associates of Rudy Giuliani, were indicted on campaign finance charges. They were part of the pressure campaign on Ukraine to investigate President Trump’s political rivals, including Joe Biden.

  • Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York said Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman “conspired to circumvent the federal laws against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and state office,” including by making donations to a pro-Trump super PAC. Read the indictment.

  • The indictment refers to a “Congressman-1” — identified in campaign finance filings as former Representative Pete Sessions, Republican of Texas — who was the beneficiary of approximately $3 million that the super PAC spent during the 2018 cycle. The men sought Mr. Sessions’s assistance in removing the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, “at least in part at the request of one or more Ukrainian government officials,” according to the indictment. (The men were also seeking political assistance setting up a legal marijuana business in Nevada.)

  • Shortly after the indictment became public, House impeachment investigators issued subpoenas to Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman, compelling them to speak with Congress about their work with Mr. Giuliani in Ukraine.

  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry was subpoenaed for records that could shed light on any role he may have played in Mr. Trump’s attempts to pressure the Ukrainian government. Investigators also want to know whether Mr. Perry tried to influence the management of Ukraine’s state-owned gas company.


Katie Benner, who covers the Justice Department for us, said federal prosecutors probably had the indictment ready to go for a while and were keeping tabs on Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman. When the two got one-way tickets out of the country, she said, the prosecutors realized that they had to move.

My colleague Mike Schmidt got an eyewitness account of the arrests in the Lufthansa lounge in the B concourse of Dulles International Airport on Wednesday. Here’s what he heard:

They were indulging themselves in the free drinks and food while talking on the phone and waiting for their overnight flight to Frankfurt. Around 5:45 p.m., the men and the other first class travelers were invited to board before all the other passengers. As they made their way down a corridor toward their plane, two plainclothes officers stepped out and stopped them.

“We need to see your passports,” one of the officers said.

The passengers took them out, and the officers determined who was standing in front of them. Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman were told to turn around. As they made their way back into the terminal, they were greeted by a phalanx of uniformed and plainclothes officers who arrested them.


At first glance, the two men might seem peripheral to the events that the House is investigating. But they were involved in the Ukraine affair from the beginning, dating to Mr. Parnas’s job as Mr. Giuliani’s fixer in Ukraine.

This evening I stopped by the desk of my colleague Ken Vogel, who revealed Mr. Parnas’s involvement in Mr. Giuliani’s Ukraine efforts, to get a sense of why they matter to the impeachment investigation.

Why are these two men so important to understanding the whole Ukraine scandal?

They were Rudy Giuliani’s enablers and facilitators in his Ukrainian expedition. They connected Mr. Giuliani to the Ukrainian prosecutors who provided both the information and the potential investigations that are at the center of President Trump’s interest in Ukraine. They were at the very front of all of this activity that led to what became the whistle-blower complaint.

Why did that activity raise alarm bells?

Their ability to get Congressman Sessions to take up their cause on such a niche issue that might not have been on his radar — helping to oust the American ambassador to Ukraine — is precisely the type of thing that campaign finance watchdogs warn of when they bemoan the power of money of politics.

How valuable can they be to federal prosecutors, who’ve clearly been investigating them long before the impeachment investigation?

It depends who the prosecutors are after. The two men could certainly flip and provide plenty of information about Rudy Giuliani. I have a source who saw Mr. Parnas, Mr. Fruman and Mr. Giuliani together not infrequently at the Trump hotel here in Washington.

What about to Congress? They were supposed to be important witnesses in the impeachment investigation this week before they were arrested.

They could be very useful to Congress, but maybe not as much in the impeachment inquiry. They don’t have a ton of access or visibility into Trump himself, so it could be a bit of a bank shot. But in another way, they could be extremely useful. Congress has shown a great interest in the outsourcing of foreign policy, and these guys are right in the middle of that.


On Thursday evening, Mr. Trump will hold a campaign rally in Minneapolis, his first since the impeachment investigation began.

On Friday, House investigators are due to interview the career diplomat and former American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, whose ouster was sought by Mr. Parnas, Mr. Fruman and many in the Trump administration. Despite the White House’s attempts to block cooperation by State Department employees, Ms. Yovanovitch has signaled to House staff members that she is willing to speak to them.


  • The Wall Street Journal reported that career staff members at the Office of Management and Budget questioned whether it was legal to delay aid to Ukraine. The White House then gave a political appointee power to keep the aid on hold.

  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, said today in Kiev that Mr. Trump did not seek to blackmail him over military aid when the two leaders spoke this summer. Mr. Trump and his supporters said Mr. Zelensky’s claim should exonerate the president.

  • George Conway, the husband of Mr. Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, joined 15 other conservative lawyers calling for an “expeditious” impeachment investigation.

  • Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said it was “absolutely not” appropriate for Mr. Trump to seek help from foreign powers for an election.

  • Mr. Trump tweeted this morning that Fox News’s pollsters “suck,” after a poll found 51 percent of voters believe that he should be impeached and removed from office; he added that “@FoxNews is also much different than it used to be in the good old days.” William Barr, the attorney general, met privately Wednesday evening with Rupert Murdoch, the mogul whose holdings include Fox News.

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Rudy Giuliani Planned Vienna Trip 1 Day After Arrested Associates Were Headed There: Report

Westlake Legal Group 5d9fb9272100004207343f30 Rudy Giuliani Planned Vienna Trip 1 Day After Arrested Associates Were Headed There: Report

Rudy Giuliani was reportedly planning to leave Thursday for Vienna, Austria, a day after two of his business associates who helped him with his ealings with Ukraine officials were arrested as they were headed to the same destination.

The Atlantic’s Elaina Plott reported that Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, told her he would not be able to meet Thursday evening for an interview because he was planning to fly to Vienna in the evening. Giuliani told that to the reporter around the same time that his associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested at Dulles International Airport while waiting to board a flight to Vienna with one-way tickets Wednesday night, Plott wrote.

Parnas and Fruman were headed to Vienna when they were arrested, The Wall Street Journal first reported earlier Thursday. The Southern District of New York indicted the two Soviet-born Florida businessmen on federal campaign finance charges for allegedly channeling foreign money and making fraudulent straw donations in order to hide their political contributions and give in excess of campaign contribution limits to Trump and other Republican candidates.

According to Plott, Giuliani texted her late Thursday afternoon declining to comment on why Parnas and Fruman were headed to Vienna, and why he was planning to be there 24 hours later.

In comments to the Journal, Giuliani said that while Parnas and Fruman were going to Vienna on issues “related to their business,” he was only going to meet with them when they returned to Washington.

As the Journal reported, the two men have introduced Giuliani to multiple current and former Ukrainian prosecutors to discuss his attempts at getting the country to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president about such an investigation is at the center of a House impeachment inquiry into him.

Separately, House Democrats leading the inquiry issued subpoenas on Thursday to Parnas and Fruman for documents related to their work with Giuliani. Before their arrest, the House requested that Parnas appear for a deposition on Thursday and Fruman on Friday; their counsel declined the request earlier this week.

Jay Sekulow, another of Trump’s personal lawyers, told reporters on Thursday that Trump has nothing to do with the businessmen’s campaign finance schemes. Trump himself told reporters he doesn’t “know those gentlemen,” but that “it’s possible I have a picture with them.”

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West Virginia mayor restores city’s ‘Christmas Parade’ after protests over name change

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-9ff1589207394a7cbf06aa387bb449a5 West Virginia mayor restores city's 'Christmas Parade' after protests over name change Vandana Rambaran fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/west-virginia fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion fox-news/lifestyle/occasions/christmas fox news fnc/us fnc article 381f1d06-e818-5b25-850b-a533fd89b72b

The mayor of West Virginia‘s capital city has reversed her earlier decision to rename the annual “Charleston Christmas Parade” the “Charleston Winter Parade” after protests.

Mayor Amy Goodwin announced the original name change Monday, saying it would encourage inclusivity. However, the parade’s theme was to remain “Twas The Night Before Christmas.”

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“The City of Charleston is an inclusive community. We want everyone to participate in this parade,” Goodwin said in a video posted to Facebook.

The decision prompted a backlash, with Republican State Senate President Mitch Carmichael urging constituents to plead with Goodwin to reverse the name change. Officials from several churches quickly criticized the decision and said they wouldn’t attend.

On Thursday, Goodwin reversed her original decision “after much consideration and conversation with religious leaders from all faiths and community members.”

“We understand the history and tradition of the parade and we want to continue that for years to come,” she said in a statement posted to Facebook.

“I truly appreciate all the calls, emails and feedback we have received regarding the Charleston parade. However, the kind of vitriol that has come forth since announcing the change in the name of the parade has been truly disappointing and hurtful. But I do respect those individuals’ freedom to deliver that message to my doorstep,” she said.

Goodwin still kept to her message of inclusivity, saying: “To be sure, this city needs everyone included. We need to be kind. We need to work together, and this administration will continue to work every day for a more inclusive community where everyone is welcome to celebrate and come together.”

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Carmichael praised Goodwin’s change of heart, saying in a statement: “Christmas celebrates the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is a central holiday for thousands of Christians in our Capitol City and throughout West Virginia.

“I am thankful Mayor Goodwin listened to her constituents and decided to cancel her plans to rename the parade … People of all faiths, Christian, Judaism, Islam and all other faiths, should never feel as though the government is prohibiting their ability to worship and celebrate their religion. That is what inclusion looks like and that is what West Virginia should look like.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-9ff1589207394a7cbf06aa387bb449a5 West Virginia mayor restores city's 'Christmas Parade' after protests over name change Vandana Rambaran fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/west-virginia fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion fox-news/lifestyle/occasions/christmas fox news fnc/us fnc article 381f1d06-e818-5b25-850b-a533fd89b72b   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-9ff1589207394a7cbf06aa387bb449a5 West Virginia mayor restores city's 'Christmas Parade' after protests over name change Vandana Rambaran fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/west-virginia fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion fox-news/lifestyle/occasions/christmas fox news fnc/us fnc article 381f1d06-e818-5b25-850b-a533fd89b72b

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Uber driver who fatally shot drunken passenger not guilty of murder

Westlake Legal Group uber Uber driver who fatally shot drunken passenger not guilty of murder Morgan Phillips fox-news/us/us-regions/west/colorado fox-news/us/crime fox-news/politics/judiciary/federal-courts fox news fnc/us fnc article 71ee5e1d-3933-5461-9197-a5fb439d7125

The Uber driver who fatally shot a drunken, unruly passenger was found not guilty of murder by a Colorado jury on Thursday.

Michael Hancock, 31, picked up Hyun Kim, 45, outside a karaoke bar in June 2018. Hancock said that during the ride, Kim made unwanted sexual advances and attacked him when he threatened to pull over — the crux of a self-defense defense.

When Hancock arrived at Kim’s destination two miles away, surveillance video showed Kim– who had a blood alcohol content level of .308 when the autopsy was performed — did not get out of the car.

Uber records showed that by the time Hancock shot Kim, the car had traveled about 70 miles from the spot Kim was picked up.

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Defense lawyers said Hancock demanded that Kim enter another address into the Uber app. They said Kim touched Hancock more than once on the leg and became aggressive. Kim punched the driver in the face and reached for the steering wheel and ignition. Prosecutors said Hancock stopped the car, went to the front passenger side where Kim was sitting, and fired 10 bullets from his semi-automatic handgun. At least five struck Kim.

A witness called 911 and Hancock’s defense said Hancock got on the phone, told dispatchers he had been attacked and asked first responders to hurry so Kim might live, according to KMGH-TV.

EL PASO WALMART MASSACRE SUSPECT PLEADS NOT GUILTY TO CAPITAL MURDER CHARGES

Defense lawyer Johnna Stuart said Hancock tried to jump out of his still-rolling car, but Kim attempted to pull him back by his dreadlocks,  prompting Hancock to grab the gun.

Prosecutors said it was possible Kim did not get out at his destination because he was passed out and Hancock drove around to increase the fare. They acknowledged that Kim likely provoked a fight in the car, but said he could have woken up startled and upset about being driven around in the car. Hancock did have an injury above his eyebrow after the killing, but prosecutors said it was not serious enough for him to have reasonably feared for his life.

Uber records showed no previous altercations for either man.

Deputy District Attorney Brenna Zortman said she believed Hancock was sorry for shooting Kim but said the killing was deliberate. “Regret does not negate intent,” she said.

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As the not-guilty verdict was read, Hancock’s family hugged, sobbed and cheered. The attorney who represents Kim’s kin said they plan to file a wrongful-death lawsuit against Uber.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group uber Uber driver who fatally shot drunken passenger not guilty of murder Morgan Phillips fox-news/us/us-regions/west/colorado fox-news/us/crime fox-news/politics/judiciary/federal-courts fox news fnc/us fnc article 71ee5e1d-3933-5461-9197-a5fb439d7125   Westlake Legal Group uber Uber driver who fatally shot drunken passenger not guilty of murder Morgan Phillips fox-news/us/us-regions/west/colorado fox-news/us/crime fox-news/politics/judiciary/federal-courts fox news fnc/us fnc article 71ee5e1d-3933-5461-9197-a5fb439d7125

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Ronan Farrow Goes After NBC News Executives in His New Book

Westlake Legal Group merlin_156418059_5ed593a3-d501-4ca5-8c8f-0041098bf3b5-facebookJumbo Ronan Farrow Goes After NBC News Executives in His New Book Weinstein, Harvey Television Remnick, David Oppenheim, Noah News and News Media NBC News National Broadcasting Co Lack, Andrew Farrow, Ronan #MeToo Movement

In a step-by-step account in his new book, the investigative journalist Ronan Farrow accuses high-level executives and producers at NBC News of interfering with his monthslong effort to report on the film mogul Harvey Weinstein, an investigation that would become part of the prizewinning series he published in The New Yorker after leaving the network in 2017.

The book, “Catch and Kill,” which is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, describes instances when, Mr. Farrow says, top NBC News executives failed to grasp the larger significance of his reporting and instructed him to slow down or halt his pursuit of a story that Mr. Weinstein was trying to squelch.

At one point, Mr. Farrow writes, the president of NBC News, Noah Oppenheim, questioned the newsworthiness of “a movie producer grabbing a lady.”

The book, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, portrays the network’s news division as unwilling to expose a rotten Hollywood power structure that ignored the routine sexual misconduct of men who could make or break careers. In addition to Mr. Oppenheim, the president of the division since 2017, Mr. Farrow blames the NBC News chairman, Andrew Lack, for the network’s reluctance to go with his story about such allegations against Mr. Weinstein.

The dispute between the reporter and the executives was highlighted in articles in The Times more than a year ago, when a news producer who worked with Mr. Farrow at NBC News, Rich McHugh, accused the network of interference. He called the handling of the Weinstein story “a massive breach of journalistic integrity.”

NBC News has fought back against that allegation. Mr. Lack and Mr. Oppenheim have said Mr. Farrow’s story was not fit for broadcast by the time he and the network parted ways in August 2017. Mr. Lack made that point again in a memo to the NBC News staff on Wednesday, as details from Mr. Farrow’s book emerged in news reports, saying the author “uses a variety of tactics to paint a fundamentally untrue picture.”

Mr. Farrow had largely kept his silence on his disagreements with NBC News — until “Catch and Kill.”

He started working there as the host of an afternoon show on MSNBC, “Ronan Farrow Daily,” in 2014. After it was canceled in 2015, he started reporting investigative segments for “Today.” In 2017, he embarked on his investigation of Mr. Weinstein.

For years, stories had circulated about the alleged transgressions by Mr. Weinstein, who has denied ever having had nonconsensual sex, but no journalist had been able to work them into publishable form. At several points early in the reporting process, Mr. Farrow writes, his bosses seemed less than enthusiastic about his leads.

He writes that Mr. Oppenheim had a habit of “scrunching his nose and holding journalism at arm’s length” when discussing the Weinstein investigation. He says the head of NBC’s investigative unit, Rich Greenberg, told him to put the story “on the back burner” at one point. Mr. Greenberg disputed that assessment.

Mr. Farrow also describes “tiptoeing” around NBC producers and executives with Mr. McHugh, the producer, as they gathered more material. Mr. Farrow likens the situation to a Catch-22: He needed more reporting, but he no longer felt comfortable doing it openly.

Mr. Farrow came into possession of a portion of a tape recording, made during a New York Police Department sting operation, in which Mr. Weinstein admitted to the Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez that he had groped her. With that, Mr. Greenberg became more enthusiastic, saying, “If this airs, he’s toast,” according to the book. Susan Weiner, NBC News’s top lawyer, also seemed on board after listening to the recording, telling Mr. Farrow he could go to Mr. Weinstein for comment, he writes.

The recording did not prove persuasive to Mr. Oppenheim, however. “My view is that the tape and Harvey Weinstein grabbing a lady’s breasts a couple years ago, that’s not national news,” Mr. Oppenheim said, according to the book. He added that the story was more suited for The Hollywood Reporter.

“For the ‘Today’ show,” Mr. Oppenheim said, according to the book, “a movie producer grabbing a lady is not news.”

Mr. Oppenheim disagreed with how Mr. Farrow characterized their interactions, saying in an interview with The Times, “I’d have to write my own book to refute all the ways Ronan willfully distorts our interactions.”

He added: “We concluded the same thing The New Yorker apparently did. The tape was best used to support that larger claim, alongside on-the-record accounts from at least one victim or witness — which we never got.”

Mr. Farrow also writes of Mr. Weinstein’s campaign to kill the story, an effort that relied on a network of people including the lawyers Charles Harder, David Boies and Lisa Bloom. Also aiding Mr. Weinstein, he writes, were the National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard and the undercover-operations outfit Black Cube.

Mr. Farrow also adds significant detail to the allegations involving Matt Lauer, the star anchor of “Today,” whom NBC fired in November 2017 after an accusation of sexual misconduct. The book includes the first on-the-record interview with Brooke Nevils, who worked at NBC and said Mr. Lauer had raped her on a work trip in 2014.

Mr. Lauer denied her accusation in a statement on Wednesday, saying the sexual encounter between him and Ms. Nevils was “completely consensual.”

As Mr. Farrow continued reporting on Mr. Weinstein in the summer of 2017, he found that he was facing competition from two reporters at The Times, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. At roughly the same time, he writes, his sources were growing impatient, and Mr. Oppenheim slowed down the process, expressing misgivings over whether the Weinstein story was newsworthy.

Mr. Farrow says he was told several times to stop reporting. NBC News disputes that contention.

“It didn’t make sense,” Mr. Farrow writes. “Discouragement was one thing, but there was no rationale, journalistic or legal, for ordering us to stop reporting.”

After Mr. Farrow believed that NBC News would not move forward, he met with David Remnick, the longtime editor of The New Yorker. Mr. Farrow played the audio recording for him and another editor at the magazine, Deirdre Foley Mendelssohn. Their reaction, he says, was the “polar opposite of Oppenheim’s.”

Mr. Remnick made no promises about publication, saying the story needed additional reporting — but he made it clear that if NBC passed on it, The New Yorker would be interested.

“For the first time that summer, a news outlet was actively encouraging me,” writes Mr. Farrow, who took his Weinstein reporting with him to The New Yorker and built on it.

In response, Mr. Oppenheim said in an interview, “We’re the news organization that assigned the story and supported it for seven months.” He defended letting Mr. Farrow leave with what proved to be a significant story.

“We could say to him, ‘No, you can’t leave,’ and face the risk that he would never get his reporting to the place where it was ready for air, in which case we really were worried that he could accuse us of somehow suppressing it,” Mr. Oppenheim said. “Or I could take the competitive blow of not owning it, but allow him to get the material out in the world in the way that he said he wanted to.”

The Times and The New Yorker shared the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in public service for exposing wealthy and powerful sexual predators, including Mr. Weinstein, for articles by Ms. Kantor, Ms. Twohey, Mr. Farrow and others.

After his departure from the network in 2017, Mr. Farrow writes, Mr. Weinstein sent a cheerful email to Mr. Oppenheim, which Mr. Farrow republishes in “Catch and Kill.” In the note, Mr. Weinstein congratulated Mr. Oppenheim on adding Megyn Kelly to the NBC News lineup, calling her program “smart, smart, smart.” Mr. Oppenheim wrote back, according to Mr. Farrow, saying, “Thanks Harvey, appreciate the well-wishes!”

After the exchange, Mr. Farrow writes, Mr. Weinstein sent Mr. Oppenheim a bottle of Grey Goose vodka.

In response, Mr. Oppenheim said, “I receive unsolicited emails from all sorts of odious people and routinely reply politely.” He added that everyone at NBC News was “acting with integrity,” and that Mr. Farrow “has refused to even entertain that possibility.”

After Mr. Farrow’s articles on Mr. Weinstein appeared in The New Yorker starting in the fall of 2017, he reported for the magazine on the many accounts of sexual misconduct against the CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves and the New York State attorney general Eric Schneiderman. Both men lost their jobs.

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House Impeachment Investigators Subpoena Rick Perry on Ukraine

Westlake Legal Group 10dc-impeach-facebookJumbo House Impeachment Investigators Subpoena Rick Perry on Ukraine United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Parnas, Lev impeachment House Committee on Intelligence Giuliani, Rudolph W Fruman, Igor Federal Bureau of Investigation

WASHINGTON — House investigators pounded the Trump administration and its allies on Thursday with new subpoenas, aggressively challenging a White House pledge to starve their impeachment inquiry of evidence and witnesses with fresh demands for documents from Rick Perry, the energy secretary, and testimony from two associates of Rudolph W. Giuliani.

The subpoena to Mr. Perry instructed him to turn over by next Friday any records that would shed light on the role he appears to have played in President Trump’s attempts to pressure the Ukrainian government to open corruption investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son. Investigators also want answers on whether Mr. Perry tried to influence the management of Ukraine’s state-owned gas company.

They demanded that Mr. Giuliani’s associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, appear for a deposition next Wednesday and hand over records related to their work with Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, who is at the center of the president’s pressure campaign on Ukraine. That subpoena came just hours after the men were indicted on campaign finance charges that touched on their work in Ukraine.

The House investigation has set off a constitutional clash, as the White House has signaled that it will stonewall all requests for witnesses and documents. The latest subpoenas emerged as criticism of the president’s actions in the Ukraine matter continued to grow. Asked whether it was proper for the president to solicit foreign interference in the political process, H.R. McMaster, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, responded, “Of course it is not appropriate.”

Speaking at an event in Washington on Thursday, Mr. McMaster said it was up to Congress “to make a judgment as to whether or not that happened.”

It was unclear how the indictment unsealed on Thursday morning would influence the impeachment inquiry. Mr. Parnas had been scheduled to appear for a deposition on Capitol Hill on Thursday and Mr. Fruman on Friday. But even before their arrests, their lawyer, John M. Dowd, had indicated that they would not comply voluntarily.

The subpoenas issued by the House Intelligence Committee to Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman makes no mention of the federal indictment. The F.B.I. arrested the two men as they were about to board an international flight late Wednesday, and on Thursday federal prosecutors charged them with funneling foreign money to government officials and campaigns in an effort to influence American policy, including toward Ukraine.

In a letter to Mr. Dowd, the three House chairmen wrote that as private citizens, Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman were “required by law to comply with the enclosed subpoenas.” It was signed by Representative Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee; Representative Elijah E. Cummings, the chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee; and Representative Eliot L. Engel, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

“They may not evade requests from Congress for documents and information necessary to conduct our inquiry,” the chairmen wrote. “They are not exempted from this requirement merely because they happen to work with Mr. Giuliani, and they may not defy congressional subpoenas merely because President Trump has chosen the path of denial, defiance and obstruction.”

The indictments could complicate congressional attempts to get them to testify, raising such issues as whether lawmakers will grant immunity to them that would ban the use of their testimony as criminal evidence.

Also, an assertion of Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination is a lawful basis to avoid answering questions despite a subpoena.

The New York Times reported in May that the two men helped connect Mr. Giuliani to Ukrainian prosecutors who provided him information related to the investigations he wanted into Mr. Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a debunked conspiracy about Ukrainian meddling to aid Democrats in the 2016 election.

The federal indictment in Manhattan made no mention of Mr. Giuliani, but stated that the men worked with one or more Ukrainian government officials to try to secure the removal of Marie L. Yovanovitch as the United States’ ambassador to the country.

Mr. Giuliani was seeking Ms. Yovanovitch’s removal, as well, and ultimately the White House called her back to Washington early, having deemed her insufficiently loyal to the president.

Other work by Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman also appeared to overlap with Mr. Perry’s interest in the Ukrainian gas company, Naftogaz.

House investigators are scheduled to hear from Ms. Yovanovitch on Friday in a private deposition, but as of midday Thursday, it remained unclear if the State Department would try to block her testimony. Democrats were prepared to issue a subpoena to increase pressure if needed.

The indictment may also significantly complicate Mr. Giuliani’s ability to serve as a face of the president’s defense. Senate Republicans allied with the president have said they might host a public hearing with Mr. Giuliani in an effort to showcase his accusations against the Bidens and undercut the House’s impeachment narrative. Now they may simply decide he is too toxic to expose to public questioning.

Charlie Savage and Peter Baker contributed reporting.

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