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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 233)

Christina Hendricks, Geoffrey Arend call it quits after 10 years of marriage

After just days over a decade of marriage, actors Christina Hendricks and Geoffrey Arend have announced they are splitting up.

In a joint statement posted to Instagram, the couple said simply, “Today we take our next step together but on separate paths. We will always be grateful for the love we’ve shared and will always work together to raise our two beautiful dogs.”

CHRISTINA HENDRICKS REVEALS POLICE WERE CALLED DURING FILMING OF ‘GOOD GIRLS’ PILOT

The thespian pair married on Oct. 11, 2009.

Back in 2014, Hendricks told Health magazine that she and Arend did not want any children.

CHRISTINA HENDRICKS SAYS SHE DIDN’T ROLES BECAUSE OF HER CURVY BODY

“We got a puppy, that’s my idea of starting a family,” she said.

Westlake Legal Group christina-hendricks-geoffrey-arend Christina Hendricks, Geoffrey Arend call it quits after 10 years of marriage Nate Day fox-news/entertainment/tv fox-news/entertainment/events/divorce fox-news/entertainment/events/couples fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc b0cdf600-1469-5ccd-9cf0-5499360160d9 article

Geoffrey Arend and Christina Hendricks attend the 18th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Award Party at Pacific Design Center on March 7, 2010 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

“It seems like it’s expected that you’d want to have kids,” Hendricks, 44, added. “It’s just very normal for people to say, ‘Well, when you guys have kids…’ And then when I say, ‘Actually I don’t think we’re going to do that,’ people will say, ‘Oh, you say that now…’ It doesn’t bother me, though. And, you know, there’s a small chance I could change my mind.”

Hendricks was nominated for six Emmys for the role of Joan Harris on AMC’s celebrated ’60s drama, “Mad Men.” Arend, 41, plays a supporting role in “Madam Secretary” on CBS.

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Hendricks also stars in NBC’s “Good Girls” and provided the voice of Gabby Gabby the doll in “Toy Story 4.”

Westlake Legal Group f60350b3-christina-hendricks-geoffry1 Christina Hendricks, Geoffrey Arend call it quits after 10 years of marriage Nate Day fox-news/entertainment/tv fox-news/entertainment/events/divorce fox-news/entertainment/events/couples fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc b0cdf600-1469-5ccd-9cf0-5499360160d9 article   Westlake Legal Group f60350b3-christina-hendricks-geoffry1 Christina Hendricks, Geoffrey Arend call it quits after 10 years of marriage Nate Day fox-news/entertainment/tv fox-news/entertainment/events/divorce fox-news/entertainment/events/couples fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc b0cdf600-1469-5ccd-9cf0-5499360160d9 article

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New York City lawmakers approve plan to close Rikers jail complex by 2026

New York lawmakers voted on Thursday to shutter the city’s notorious Rikers Island jail complex, which has become synonymous with violence and neglect. The plan calls for moving inmates to smaller jails throughout the city.

The City Council voted 36-13 to replace the complex of 10 jails on an island in the East River, with four smaller more modern facilities, which would be closer to main courthouses in the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other Democrats support the plan to shut down Rikers, which mainly houses inmates awaiting trial, and replace it with the smaller jails by 2026. That would end Rikers’ decades-long run as one of the world’s largest jails.

On Thursday, de Blasio tweeted, “Our city is a big step closer to closing Rikers Island — and ending the era of mass incarceration.”

“This action today means that New York City is set on a new path,” de Blasio told reporters.

WHAT IS RIKERS ISLAND?

“This is a plan that is about fairness and compassion. It’s about safety. It’s about valuing every human life.”

The plan has a price tag of more than $8 billion. The operating theory behind the plan: that in an age of falling crime rates, huge jails contribute more to public safety problems than they do to solutions.

“Rikers Island is a symbol of brutality and inhumanity and it is time for us to once and for all close Rikers Island,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, a Democrat who shepherded the plan through the governing body. “As a city we must do everything we can to move away from the failed policies of mass incarceration.”

Some critics say they don’t want new jails, though. Said one councilman who voted no, Carlos Menchaca, who voted no, “There is nothing in the plan that guarantees closing Rikers.”

He added, “I do not trust this mayor. Do you?”

BLACK LIVES MATTER ACTIVIST SHAUN KING SAYS MANAFORT DOESN’T DESERVE RIKERS

The vote was disrupted by anti-jail activists who threw flyers from the balcony and chanted, “If you build it they will fill it.”

City officials said a significant drop in the jail population has made it possible to close the existing complex.

Supporters of the jail overhaul have said they anticipate New York City’s jail population will keep dropping because of criminal justice reforms and several district attorneys in the city saying they are no longer prosecuting small-time marijuana possession cases.

Westlake Legal Group AP-Rikers-Island-1 New York City lawmakers approve plan to close Rikers jail complex by 2026 Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/us fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/new-york-city fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/person/bill-de-blasio fox news fnc/us fnc dc8878c8-3b28-593a-be31-3a925b2471ff article

The Rikers Island jail complex, set against the backdrop of the New York City skyline. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Also, police officers have been encouraged to write tickets for minor offenses instead of bringing people to jail.

On the other hand, critics of the plan have said fewer cells may lead to more violent criminals on city streets.

The plan has also received some resistance from residents of neighborhoods surrounding the four new jail sites.

City Council leaders announced Tuesday that they would decrease the heights of the planned jails to win support. A prison skyscraper planned for Lower Manhattan was cut from 45 to 29 stories and City Council member Margaret Chin, a Democrat who represents the area, said the shorter jail tower “will no longer be out of scale with the neighborhood.”

Also, a proposed Brooklyn jail went from 39 to 29 stories.

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Rikers Island has housed jail inmates since the 1930s. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Rikers saw hundreds of stabbings each year and in a 2014 Associated Press investigation dozens of inmate deaths were detailed, including that of a homeless Marine vet who died in a hot cell.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group AP-Rikers-Island-1 New York City lawmakers approve plan to close Rikers jail complex by 2026 Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/us fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/new-york-city fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/person/bill-de-blasio fox news fnc/us fnc dc8878c8-3b28-593a-be31-3a925b2471ff article   Westlake Legal Group AP-Rikers-Island-1 New York City lawmakers approve plan to close Rikers jail complex by 2026 Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/us fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/new-york-city fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/person/bill-de-blasio fox news fnc/us fnc dc8878c8-3b28-593a-be31-3a925b2471ff article

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Union Says G.M. Strike Won’t End Until Workers Vote on Deal

Westlake Legal Group 17motors4-facebookJumbo Union Says G.M. Strike Won’t End Until Workers Vote on Deal Wages and Salaries United Automobile Workers Temporary Employment Strikes Organized Labor General Motors Factories and Manufacturing Automobiles

DETROIT — The longest strike against General Motors in half a century isn’t over yet.

Leaders of union locals voted Thursday to approve a tentative contract agreement with the automaker, but said the strike — already a month old — would continue until workers voted to ratify the deal.

After meeting for more than five hours in Detroit, the group said voting by the 49,000 members of the United Automobile Workers at G.M. plants would begin on Saturday and be completed within a week.

Remaining on strike is likely to be seen as a move by the union leadership to take a hard line with the company, a position that could rally support among the rank and file. In the last contract negotiations, in 2015, some workers complained that the union didn’t fight hard enough and gave in to too many management demands.

The union leadership did not comment after the meeting, which brought together nearly 200 U.A.W. representatives, and it was not clear whether there had been dissension in the room. But it will now be up to those representatives to sell the agreement to members.

According to a summary posted online by the union, the four-year deal includes wage increases, and a formula for allowing temporary workers to become full-time employees. It also provides for workers to reach the same top wage regardless of when they were hired, overhauling a dual-scale system that has produced wide pay disparities.

But the union appeared to fall short of its objectives for reopening plants and bringing jobs back to the United States from Mexico.

The tentative agreement would keep production going at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, a factory for Chevrolets and Cadillacs that G.M. had said it would close. But the deal does not reverse plans for three plants that have been idled, including one in Lordstown, Ohio, though it provides retirement incentives for displaced workers.

Brian Rothenberg, the union’s spokesman, said after Thursday’s meeting that the U.A.W.’s negotiating team “did everything they could” to save jobs.

“This was a strike not just by U.A.W. workers,” he said. “It became a strike for American workers and the middle class.” Workers walked off the job, he added, to secure fair wages and “a fair share of the profits.”

The company’s profits — and its implicit ability to share more of them with workers — were a continuing refrain for the union in the long negotiations with G.M., which started in July. In the last three years, the automaker has reported earnings of $35 billion in North America.

The contract negotiations grew tense at times. The union accused G.M. of not negotiating fairly and assailed the company for seeking to cut off workers’ health insurance during the strike, a move it ultimately did not make.

When the talks appeared to be at a stalemate last week, the chief executive, Mary T. Barra, met with the union’s top negotiators to get discussions back on track.

In announcing the accord on Wednesday, the U.A.W. said it had “achieved major wins.” But ratification is not a foregone conclusion. In the union’s last negotiations with G.M., in 2015, approval of a tentative agreement was delayed for a month and the terms had to be reworked.

A rejection of the proposed contract would be a rebuke to the U.A.W. president, Gary Jones, and his negotiating team.

“If the rank and file vote down an agreement their leaders send them, they also are voting down the leaders,” said Erik Gordon, a business professor at the University of Michigan who follows the auto industry. “Workers may ask whether it was worth being out of work a month to get a deal that could be close to what they would have gotten with no strike and no loss of pay.”

G.M. issued a statement urging the union “to move as quickly as possible through the ratification process, so we can resume operations.”

But for at least another week, the walkout will continue to take a financial toll on the company, its workers and its suppliers. Analysts estimate that the strike has cost G.M. $2 billion in operating profit. Workers are getting by on strike pay of $275 a week.

If the contract is ratified, each full-fledged U.A.W. worker will receive a signing bonus of $11,000, a 3 percent wage increase in the second and fourth years of the contract, and a 4 percent lump sum in the first and third years. Temporary workers would get a signing bonus of $4,500, the same wage increases as full-time workers and the possibility of becoming permanent employees within three years.

A notable provision would allow workers hired since 2007 to reach a top wage of $32 an hour after four years of service, the same maximum as more senior workers. The change would essentially eliminate the two-tier wage system, which the union says is a source of workplace tension.

Since 2007, new hires have started at about $17 an hour and moved to a top wage of $29 over eight years. Workers hired before 2007 earned the top wage of $31 an hour. That left some workers earning far less than more senior colleagues doing similar work.

The two-tier system was introduced when G.M., Ford Motor and Chrysler were struggling and needed to lower labor costs to compete with the nonunion, foreign-owned auto plants that had sprung up across Southern states.

The tentative G.M. deal would also eliminate a $12,000 cap on annual profit-sharing payouts, which could have a significant upside if G.M. continues its recent earnings performance.

Health care benefits are unchanged, with workers paying about 3 percent of the cost.

There were signs of dissent Thursday from union members outside the Renaissance Center office complex, where G.M. has its headquarters and where the union meeting took place. As the union officials arrived, they were greeted by about 30 workers from the Lordstown plant in red T-shirts shouting, “Vote no!”

“It’s no deal for us,” said one of the protesters, Todd Piroch, a Lordstown worker who has been transferred to a plant in Bowling Green, Ky., that assembles Chevrolet’s Corvette sports car. He said he was going to vote against the contract, but said he wasn’t sure workers elsewhere would do so.

“We’re just angry,” he said.

G.M. has promised to invest $7.7 billion in its manufacturing operations in the United States over the next four years, and a further $1.3 billion in ventures with partners, saying those moves would create or preserve 9,000 jobs. But the deal includes no specific promises to expand domestic production or to move manufacturing to the United States from Mexico, both of which were goals of the union going into the negotiations.

Mr. Rothenberg, the union spokesman, said the U.A.W. would make the details of G.M.’s investment plans public soon. In previous years, the union has presented a breakdown of plant-by-plant investments.

One of the union’s main objectives was getting G.M. to reopen the car factory in Lordstown, a goal that President Trump endorsed. But there is no indication that the matter was ever on the table in the contract talks. G.M. stopped production at that plant, and others in Baltimore and in Warren, Mich., as part of a cost-cutting effort that eliminated 2,800 factory jobs and thousands of white-collar positions.

In a statement on Thursday, General Motors said it was looking into building a battery factory near Lordstown that would employ about 1,000 workers. The plant would be built with a partner and unionized, but under a separate contract.

An electric-truck company that hopes to buy the Lordstown plant from G.M. would employ about 400 production workers, the automaker said.

The company has not indicated that displaced workers from its Lordstown plant would be given preference in hiring at either operation.

G.M. reaffirmed a plan announced in May to invest $700 million in three existing plants in Ohio — in Parma, Toledo and the Dayton area — with an expected net gain of 450 jobs.

“G.M. is committed to future investment and job growth in Ohio,” the company said.

If the G.M. contract is ratified, the U.A.W. will turn its focus to Ford Motor or Fiat Chrysler. Contracts with those manufacturers expired on Sept. 14, but workers continued reporting to assembly lines while the union negotiated with G.M.

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Trump headlines Dallas rally as scrutiny over Ukraine intensifies

President Trump was headlining a campaign rally on friendly turf in Dallas on Thursday, just hours after Energy Secretary and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced he would soon step aside amid scrutiny from House Democrats conducting an impeachment inquiry.

The rally came at a critical time for Trump, whose dealings with the president of Ukraine have been the subject of a quickly unfolding impeachment inquiry run by House Democrats. Perry was subpoenaed earlier Thursday by House committees conducting the probe.

Republicans have raised concerns that they might take a historic beating in Texas in 2020, as more suburban voters have balked at the president. Trump carried the longtime Republican stronghold and its 38 Electoral College votes by only 9 points in 2016 — down from Mitt Romney’s 15-point win in 2012.

WHY IS RICK PERRY STEPPING DOWN?

And, Democrats have pointed to demographic trends as well as the fact that Republican Sen. Ted Cruz won reelection by just over 2 points last year as evidence that the second-most-populous state could soon be in play.

Westlake Legal Group c60d1828-AP19290738607637 Trump headlines Dallas rally as scrutiny over Ukraine intensifies Gregg Re fox-news/world/conflicts/ukraine fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/politics/elections/republicans fox-news/politics/elections/presidential fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning/trump-2020-campaign fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc d190e68f-5bb7-5a56-bc61-7f0e547f0516 article

The line to enter a campaign rally for President Trump forming outside the American Airlines Center on Thursday in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

“I expect President Trump to win Texas by 5 percentage points, not 9 points this time,” Southern Methodist University political science professor Cal Jillson told Politico. “There are long-term demographic changes taking place in the state that eat into Republican support. The major cities like Austin, Houston and Dallas are already leaning blue. Plus, his Republican coalition has been destabilized by his own actions and conduct.”

At the same time, Trump’s campaign and the RNC have been raking in money, raising a record $125 million in the third quarter of this year. By comparison, former President Obama and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) raised just over $70 million in the third quarter of 2011 for his reelection campaign.

The RNC raised a record-setting $27.3 million just last month and had $59.2 million cash as of the end of August, amid the impeachment push against the president  — which has fueled GOP campaign contributions heading into the 2020 election.

This cycle, to date, the RNC has more than doubled the DNC’s fundraising efforts, according to the GOP, which also noted that the Democrats, as of last month, carried $7.3 million in debt.

The campaign continued to haul in cash Thursday. Trump began his trip at a fundraiser in Fort Worth that raised about $5.5 million for Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee benefiting the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. Looking to promote new jobs, Trump then toured the recently built Louis Vuitton plant in Alvarado with his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump.

DEMS STORM OUT OF WHITE HOUSE MEETING WITH TRUMP, SAY HE CALLED PELOSI A ‘NASTY’ NAME AND DECLARED, ‘I HATE ISIS MORE THAN YOU!’

“I’ve seen that before,” Trump told his tour guides while pointing to one of the iconic bags set up on a table.

While Republicans largely have defended Trump, they have sounded alarms over his decision to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria — a move that paved the way for Turkey to invade and assault the Kurds, who’d fought alongside the U.S. in its campaign against Islamic State militants.

Upon landing in Texas on Thursday, Trump credited his threat of sanctions on Turkey and the violence that has unfolded for the announcement of a cease-fire, though critics said Trump green-lit the incursion and put the Kurdish forces in danger by announcing a U.S. troop withdrawal.

Westlake Legal Group AP19290740243974 Trump headlines Dallas rally as scrutiny over Ukraine intensifies Gregg Re fox-news/world/conflicts/ukraine fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/politics/elections/republicans fox-news/politics/elections/presidential fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning/trump-2020-campaign fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc d190e68f-5bb7-5a56-bc61-7f0e547f0516 article

A sea of red hats as supporters of President Trump lined up to enter the campaign rally on Thursday in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

Trump described the cease-fire as an “incredible outcome” that could not have occurred “unless you went somewhat unconventional.”

A White House meeting between Trump and congressional lawmakers to discuss the situation Wednesday devolved into an insult-fest, with the president calling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., a “third-grade politician,” and Pelosi and other top Democrats storming out.

A senior aide for the Democrats told Fox News that Trump began the meeting, which ostensibly had been called by the White House, by remarking that “someone wanted this meeting so I agreed to it.” Trump also was said to have told Pelosi, “I hate ISIS more than you do,” prompting Pelosi to respond, “You don’t know that.”

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Trump and Pelosi continued to trade jabs after the meeting, with each accusing the other of having a meltdown.

As the Democrats walked out, Trump reportedly remarked, “I’ll see you at the polls.”

Westlake Legal Group AP19290738607637 Trump headlines Dallas rally as scrutiny over Ukraine intensifies Gregg Re fox-news/world/conflicts/ukraine fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/politics/elections/republicans fox-news/politics/elections/presidential fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning/trump-2020-campaign fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc d190e68f-5bb7-5a56-bc61-7f0e547f0516 article   Westlake Legal Group AP19290738607637 Trump headlines Dallas rally as scrutiny over Ukraine intensifies Gregg Re fox-news/world/conflicts/ukraine fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/politics/elections/republicans fox-news/politics/elections/presidential fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning/trump-2020-campaign fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc d190e68f-5bb7-5a56-bc61-7f0e547f0516 article

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Rep. McCaul: ‘Common theme’ of Trump envoy’s Ukraine interview is ‘there’s no quid pro quo’

Westlake Legal Group Trump-McCaul_AP-FOX Rep. McCaul: 'Common theme' of Trump envoy's Ukraine interview is 'there's no quid pro quo' fox-news/shows/the-story fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/foreign-affairs fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 68f39c2b-fee4-5e05-8481-c8f9bfea476d

The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee told Fox News Thursday the common theme from U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland‘s closed-door interview was the absence of evidence of a quid pro quo.

Ranking Member Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told “The Story” he is limited in what he can say publicly due to a “gag rule” implemented by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

However, McCaul said Sondland’s testimony backed up President Trump’s phone call transcript.

US ENVOY SONDLAND WORKED WITH GIULIANI ON UKRAINE CORRUPTION STATEMENT, VOLKER TESTIFIED: SOURCES

“In his opening statement, he does refer to [former New York Mayor Rudy] Giuliani operating sort of sometimes in conjunction with the State Department, sometimes not,” he said. “I think what is a common theme with the testimony that’s been made public is there’s no quid pro quo here — and I think that’s very clear from the president’s phone conversation.”

More from Media

McCaul told host Martha MacCallum he was a former federal prosecutor in the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section and said Trump’s phone call had been reviewed by those officials, who purportedly found no criminal violations.

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“I don’t know that’s been talked about very much,” he said.

Sources with firsthand knowledge of former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker’s testimony to House investigators earlier this month told Fox News that Volker said he consulted with Sondland and Giuliani in August regarding a draft statement from Ukraine on corruption.

Fox News’ Gregg Re and Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Trump-McCaul_AP-FOX Rep. McCaul: 'Common theme' of Trump envoy's Ukraine interview is 'there's no quid pro quo' fox-news/shows/the-story fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/foreign-affairs fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 68f39c2b-fee4-5e05-8481-c8f9bfea476d   Westlake Legal Group Trump-McCaul_AP-FOX Rep. McCaul: 'Common theme' of Trump envoy's Ukraine interview is 'there's no quid pro quo' fox-news/shows/the-story fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/foreign-affairs fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 68f39c2b-fee4-5e05-8481-c8f9bfea476d

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Read Mulvaney’s Conflicting Statements on Quid Pro Quo

Westlake Legal Group 17dc-mulvaneytranscript-facebookJumbo Read Mulvaney’s Conflicting Statements on Quid Pro Quo United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Mulvaney, Mick

Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s acting chief of staff, answered questions on Thursday about Mr. Trump’s interactions with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine that are at the center of an impeachment inquiry. Mr. Mulvaney said the United States withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate what the president has long insisted was Kiev’s assistance to Democrats during the 2016 election. Mr. Mulvaney’s remarks, which he later said were misconstrued, undercut Mr. Trump’s own insistence that there was no quid pro quo with Mr. Zelensky.

Around 1 p.m. Eastern time

QUESTION: So the demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he ordered to withhold funding to Ukraine?

MULVANEY: The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation, and that is absolutely appropriate.

QUESTION: Withholding the funding?

MULVANEY: Yeah, which ultimately then flowed. By the way, there was a report that we were worried that the money wouldn’t — if we didn’t pay out the money it would be illegal, okay? It would be unlawful.

____________

QUESTION: But to be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo. It is, funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened as well.

MULVANEY: We do — we do that all the time with foreign policy. We were holding up money at the same time for, what was it, the Northern Triangle countries. We were holding up aid at the Northern Triangle countries so that they — so that they would change their policies on immigration.

____________

MULVANEY: And I have news for everybody. Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy.

____________

QUESTION: But — wait. No, no. On the call, the president did ask about investigating the Bidens. Are you saying that the money that was held up, that that had nothing to do with the Bidens? And you’re —

MULVANEY: Yeah. No, the money held up had absolutely nothing to do with Biden. There’s no — and that was the point I made to you.

QUESTION: — And you’re drawing the distinction? You’re saying that it would be wrong to hold up money for the Bidens —

MULVANEY: — There were three — three factors. Again — I was involved with the — the process by which the money was held up temporarily, okay? Three issues for that: the corruption in the country, whether or not other countries were participating in the support of the Ukraine, and whether or not they were cooperating in an ongoing investigation with our Department of Justice. That’s completely legitimate.

____________

QUESTION: You just said you were involved in the process in which — you know, the money being held up temporarily. You named three issues for that —

MULVANEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: — The corruption in the country, whether or not the country would look — they were assisting with an ongoing investigation of corruption. How is that not an establishment of an exchange, of a quid pro quo? You just seem to continue to be establishing this —

MULVANEY: Those are the terms that you used. I mean, go look at what Gordon Sondland said today in his — in his testimony. It was that — I think in his opening statement he said something along the lines of they were trying to get the — the deliverable. And the deliverable was a statement by the Ukraine about how they were going to deal with corruption, okay? Go read his testimony if you haven’t already. And what he says is, and he’s right, that’s absolutely ordinary course of business. This is — this is what you do when you have someone come to the White House, when you either arrange a visit for the president, you have a phone call with the president, a lot of times we use that as the opportunity to get them to make a statement of their policy or to announce something that they’re going to do. It’s one of the reasons we can’t, you know, you can sort of announce that at — he — on the phone call or at the meeting. This is the ordinary course of foreign policy.


5:52 p.m. Eastern time

“Once again, the media has decided to misconstrue my comments to advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump. Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election. The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server.

“The only reasons we were holding the money was because of concern about lack of support from other nations and concerns over corruption. Multiple times during the more than 30-minute briefing where I took over 25 questions, I referred to President Trump’s interest in rooting out corruption in Ukraine, and ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly and appropriately.

“There was never any connection between the funds and the Ukrainians doing anything with the server — this was made explicitly obvious by the fact that the aid money was delivered without any action on the part of the Ukrainians regarding the server.

“There never was any condition on the flow of the aid related to the matter of the D.N.C. server.”

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City Council Votes To Close New York’s Notorious Rikers Island Jail Complex

Westlake Legal Group ap_19290019230302-ad75d2ef2e361d746e891d811206a1756601480f-s1100-c15 City Council Votes To Close New York's Notorious Rikers Island Jail Complex

The Rikers Island jail complex in New York with the Manhattan skyline in the background. New York City lawmakers voted on Thursday to close the notorious jail complex. Seth Wenig/AP hide caption

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Westlake Legal Group  City Council Votes To Close New York's Notorious Rikers Island Jail Complex

The Rikers Island jail complex in New York with the Manhattan skyline in the background. New York City lawmakers voted on Thursday to close the notorious jail complex.

Seth Wenig/AP

The City Council of New York voted 36-13 Thursday to approve a plan to close the city’s notorious jail complex on Rikers Island by 2026 in favor of four smaller jails spread out across the city.

Under the $8 billion plan, the four new or expanded jails will be located in the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens, closer to existing courthouses.

The proposal was born out of the conclusion of Mayor Bill de Blasio and other Democrats that mass incarceration and a massive jail complex are out of step in an era of falling crime rates. About 7,000 inmates are currently housed in Rikers each day, down from a high of almost 22,000 in 1991 during the height of the crack epidemic. The plan calls for a further reduction in the jail population to 3,300 inmates, or more than half, in the next six years.

“What we are doing today will reshape the city for generations to come and impact the lives of every New Yorker,” said City Council speaker Corey Johnson on Thursday. “For decades, our city was unfair to those who became involved in the justice system, and the overwhelmingly majority who were caught up were black and brown men.”

The plan is opposed by the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association and some residents of neighborhoods near the local jail sites.

Others say the move is ill-timed and will put public safety at risk.

“There is simply no way to cut the average daily jail population — which the city itself has described as ‘more violent and difficult to manage’ — that much more without leaving dangerous criminals on the street,” wrote Rafael A. Mangual, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, before the vote to close Rikers.

Proponents of closing Rikers say the move is in keeping with a wave of other criminal justice reforms.

Simple marijuana possession cases are rarely prosecuted. A new state law goes into effect in January outlawing cash bail for most misdemeanors and non-violent felonies. That means fewer people are expected to be jailed while awaiting trial.

Rikers, a complex of 10 jails set on an island between Queens and the Bronx, mainly housed inmates waiting for trial. It is notorious for violence, inhumane conditions and neglect.

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Gordon Sondland, E.U. Envoy, Testifies Trump Delegated Ukraine Policy to Giuliani

WASHINGTON — Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, told House impeachment investigators on Thursday that President Trump delegated American foreign policy on Ukraine to his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, a directive he said he disagreed with but nonetheless followed.

Mr. Sondland, a Trump campaign donor who has emerged as a central figure in the Ukraine scandal, testified under subpoena that he did not understand until later that Mr. Giuliani’s goal may have been an effort “to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 re-election campaign.”

According to a copy of his opening statement to investigators, which was obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Sondland said Mr. Trump refused the counsel of his top diplomats, who recommended that he meet with the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, without any preconditions. The president said the diplomats needed to satisfy concerns that both he and Mr. Giuliani had related to corruption in Ukraine, Mr. Sondland asserted.

“We were also disappointed by the president’s direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani,” Mr. Sondland said. “Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the president’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine.”

His account is at odds with testimony from some foreign policy officials. They have portrayed Mr. Sondland as a willing participant who inserted himself into Ukraine policy even though the country is not in the purview of his posting, and was a key player in Mr. Trump’s efforts to win a commitment from the new Ukrainian government to investigate his political rivals.

It emerged as Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told reporters that the Trump administration withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate whether Kiev helped the Democrats during the 2016 election, an unsubstantiated theory that the president has long espoused. But hours later, Mr. Mulvaney denied what he had said earlier, charging that the news media had misreported his account despite the fact that his words were captured on camera.

“Let me be clear,” Mr. Mulvaney said in his statement backing away from remarks he had made at a news conference. “There was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election,” he said.

Mr. Mulvaney also said there had been nothing wrong with Mr. Trump relying on Mr. Giuliani to conduct foreign policy.

“That’s the president’s call,” he said. “You may not like the fact that Giuliani was involved. That’s great, that’s fine. It’s not illegal, it’s not impeachable.”

Yet Mr. Mulvaney’s public admission, however muddled, and Mr. Sondland’s private testimony confirmed central elements of the saga at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, which is focused on a shadow diplomatic campaign, carried out by Mr. Giuliani at Mr. Trump’s direction, to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Democrats.

Some lawmakers who heard it said Mr. Sondland’s story appeared meant to insulate him from blame. As she emerged from the first two hours of questioning, Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California and a member of the Intelligence Committee, called his remarks “a lot of C.Y.A.” Others said he repeatedly said he could not remember details of relevant events.

Mr. Sondland spent more than nine hours on Capitol Hill taking his turn in the secure rooms of the House Intelligence Committee, as the latest top foreign policy official to appear before impeachment investigators who are digging into a whistle-blower complaint about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. His testimony, which the Trump administration initially sought to block, was a matter of intense interest for the investigators as they tried to fill out a picture of what transpired this summer as Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani ratcheted up the pressure on the Ukrainians to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

Even as Mr. Sondland answered questions, lawmakers and their aides were preparing for a crush of additional closed-door witness depositions in the coming days that will reach further into the diplomatic corps and the White House. They have scheduled sessions with two Pentagon officials, Laura Cooper and Kathryn Wheelbarger, and two top White House budget officials, Russell Vought and Michael Duffey, who could help address lingering questions about whether Mr. Trump’s decision this summer to freeze the aid was tied to the pressure campaign.

Questions about the aid will also likely be put to William B. Taylor Jr., a career diplomat in Ukraine who raised concerns with Mr. Sondland about the aid freeze, and two National Security Council officials, Alexander Vindman and Timothy Morrison. And investigators also plan to interview Philip Reeker, a top European affairs official at the State Department, and Suriya Jayanti, a Foreign Service officer in Kiev.

Testimony from career diplomats and a former top White House foreign policy adviser in recent days has suggested that Mr. Sondland, a wealthy hotelier from Oregon who had no political experience, was at the heart of the effort to go around normal diplomatic channels to pressure the Ukrainians.

But he presented a more complicated account, describing himself as a well-meaning and at times unwitting player who was trying to conduct American foreign policy with Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump standing in the way. He noted several times that he had “the blessing” of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. And he said if White House officials considered his actions inappropriate, as a former top National Security Council testified earlier this week that she did, they never raised the topic with him.

Mr. Sondland said Mr. Trump put him and top diplomats and administration officials dealing with Ukraine in an impossible position, as they tried to conduct diplomacy with an important European ally.

A person familiar with the deposition who was not authorized to discuss it publicly said Mr. Sondland had not tried to shield his conversations with Mr. Trump from investigators, and answered questions from Democratic and Republican staff.

“Please know that I would not have recommended that Mr. Giuliani or any private citizen be involved in these foreign policy matters,” he said. “However, given the president’s explicit direction, as well as the importance we attached to arranging a White House meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelensky, we agreed to do as President Trump directed.”

Mr. Sondland testified that he, Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy to Ukraine, and Rick Perry, the energy secretary, began coordinating with Mr. Giuliani, who insisted that the Ukrainians put out a statement committing to a series of investigations. The ambassador said he failed to appreciate how Burisma, a company that Mr. Giuliani wanted the Ukrainians to look into, was directly tied to Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son.

Westlake Legal Group impeachment-investigation-tracker-promo-1570214529724-articleLarge-v3 Gordon Sondland, E.U. Envoy, Testifies Trump Delegated Ukraine Policy to Giuliani United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Presidential Election of 2020 Perry, Rick impeachment Giuliani, Rudolph W European Union Burisma Holdings Ltd Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

Subpoenas and Requests for Evidence in the Trump Impeachment Inquiry

The status of the documents and witness testimony being collected by congressional investigators.

“Although Mr. Giuliani did mention the name ‘Burisma’ in August 2019, I understood that Burisma was one of many examples of Ukrainian companies run by oligarchs and lacking the type of corporate governance structures found in Western companies,” Mr. Sondland said. “I did not know until more recent press reports that Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma.”

Hunter Biden’s involvement with Burisma had been widely reported beginning in the spring.

Mr. Sondland said he had ultimately learned that Mr. Giuliani had singled out two topics for investigation by the Ukrainians that could benefit the president politically.

“I did not understand, until much later, that Mr. Giuliani’s agenda might have also included an effort to prompt the Ukrainians to investigate Vice President Biden or his son or to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 re-election campaign,” he told investigators.

Mr. Sondland sought to distance himself from other aspects of the unfolding scandal, as well. He said Marie L. Yovanovitch, whom Mr. Trump abruptly removed as ambassador to Ukraine in May amid a smear campaign against her by the president’s allies, was “an excellent diplomat” whose departure he “regretted.”

“I was never a part of any campaign to disparage or dislodge her,” he said.

Likewise, Mr. Sondland said it was only because he deeply respected Mr. Taylor, a career diplomat who replaced Ms. Yovanovitch in Ukraine, that he tried to assuage his concerns that nothing untoward was being done with respect to the frozen security aid.

In previously released text messages among Mr. Sondland, Mr. Volker and Mr. Taylor, Mr. Taylor was deeply uneasy about what he saw as an effort by Trump aides to use the package of security assistance as leverage over Ukraine for political favors, calling the notion “crazy.”

After calling Mr. Trump directly, Mr. Sondland replied to Mr. Taylor that “The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind” and directed Mr. Taylor to stop texting and call him with any additional concerns.

Mr. Sondland insisted that he was never involved in any potential discussions with the White House about withholding the security aid in exchange for a pledge to investigate. He said Mr. Trump was in a bad mood when he called him to ask about it, and told Mr. Sondland that he wanted “nothing” from the Ukrainians.

On Thursday, Mr. Mulvaney at first confirmed, but later flatly denied, that the aid was held back until Ukraine agreed to investigations Mr. Trump wanted.

Mr. Sondland told the committees that he did not know the substance of a July 25 phone call in which Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Zelensky to investigate Mr. Biden and matters related to the 2016 campaign until a reconstructed account of the call was released publicly in September. He said he spoke with Mr. Trump a day after the call, before Mr. Sondland was to meet with Ukrainian leaders in Kiev, but that the conversation was not “substantive.”

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Mulvaney Says, Then Denies, That Trump Held Back Ukraine Aid as Quid Pro Quo

Westlake Legal Group 17dc-impeachbriefing-mulvaney-facebookJumbo-v2 Mulvaney Says, Then Denies, That Trump Held Back Ukraine Aid as Quid Pro Quo United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2016 Mulvaney, Mick impeachment

WASHINGTON — Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, said Thursday that the Trump administration withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate what the president has long insisted was Kiev’s assistance to Democrats during the 2016 election.

The declaration by Mr. Mulvaney — which he then took back later in the day — undercut Mr. Trump’s repeated denials of a quid pro quo that linked American military aid for Ukraine to investigations that could help him politically.

Mr. Trump had pushed Ukraine to open an investigation into an unsubstantiated theory that Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for hacking Democratic Party emails in 2016 — a theory that would show that Mr. Trump was elected president without Russian help.

A former White House homeland security adviser had told Mr. Trump that the theory had been “completely debunked.” But Mr. Trump demanded that Ukraine take a look, Mr. Mulvaney said.

“The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation,” Mr. Mulvaney told reporters, referring to Mr. Trump. “And that is absolutely appropriate.”

Mr. Mulvaney’s acknowledgment of a tie between military aid and a political investigation came as House Democrats were summoning a stream of witnesses to the Capitol to investigate whether Mr. Trump had pressured Ukraine for his personal political benefit in 2020. Mr. Mulvaney effectively threw the Republican defense of the president into disarray.

Democrats called Mr. Mulvaney’s comments a potential turning point in their impeachment inquiry. “We have a confession,” said Representative Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California.

By day’s end, Mr. Mulvaney had issued a statement flatly denying what he had earlier said at a briefing for reporters in the White House.

“Once again, the media has decided to misconstrue my comments to advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump,” he wrote. “Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election. The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server.”

But in his earlier remarks to reporters, Mr. Mulvaney pointed to “three issues” that explained why officials withheld the aid: corruption in Ukraine, frustration that European governments were not providing more money to Ukraine and the president’s demand that Kiev officials investigate the issue of the Democratic National Committee server.

“Did he also mention to me in passing the corruption related to the D.N.C. server?” Mr. Mulvaney said, referring to Mr. Trump. “Absolutely. No question about that.” He added, “That’s why we held up the money.”

Democrats ridiculed the reversal.

“Mick Mulvaney was either lying then, or he’s lying now,” said Representative Ted Lieu, a California Democrat involved in the inquiry. “I think he’s lying now.”

At the White House, staff members recognized that Mr. Mulvaney had created an entirely new controversy with his remarks. Jay Sekulow, one of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers, said Thursday, “The president’s legal counsel was not involved in acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s press briefing.”

Mr. Mulvaney’s performance headlined another extraordinary day in Mr. Trump’s presidency. Mr. Mulvaney made his remarks after he stepped before the cameras to announce that the leaders of the Group of 7 nations would meet in June at Mr. Trump’s golf resort in South Florida, even as he acknowledged the choice could be seen as self-enrichment. In Texas, Mr. Trump hailed a Middle East cease-fire that would cement Turkey’s goal of pushing Kurds from Northern Syria as “a great day for civilization.”

And on Capitol Hill, Gordon D. Sondland, the president’s ambassador to the European Union and a wealthy donor to Mr. Trump’s campaign, was implicating the president in the Ukraine scandal by telling lawmakers that Mr. Trump had delegated Ukraine policy to his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Mr. Sondland testified behind closed doors for more than six hours, the latest in a series of current and former diplomats and White House aides who have provided detailed accounts of actions by Mr. Giuliani and others related to Ukraine.

Democratic lawmakers are certain to seize on Mr. Mulvaney’s comments as crucial support of the testimony coming from other witnesses, who have accused the administration of improperly pressuring Ukraine and of sidelining veteran diplomats in favor of Mr. Trump’s political loyalists.

But Mr. Mulvaney was defiant and unapologetic at the suggestion that there was anything wrong with the president’s relying on political loyalists to conduct foreign policy.

“I have news for everybody: Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy,” he said, adding, “Elections have consequences.”

In wide-ranging remarks, Mr. Mulvaney told reporters at the White House that the $391 million in military aid was initially withheld from Ukraine because the president was displeased that European countries were not as generous with their assistance. He also wanted more attention paid to Ukraine’s persistent political corruption.

Mr. Mulvaney denied that the aid for Ukraine was also contingent on its government’s opening an investigation into either former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading Democratic candidate for president, or his younger son, Hunter Biden. Asked whether he did anything to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, Mr. Mulvaney said no.

But the president did pressure Ukraine to re-examine discredited theories that Ukraine, not Russia, had worked to sway the 2016 campaign. Mr. Mulvaney’s mention of a “D.N.C. server” was a reference to an unfounded conspiracy theory promoted by Mr. Trump that Ukraine was somehow involved in Russia’s 2016 theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Mr. Mulvaney tied the server to the Justice Department’s review of the origins of the Russia investigation, led by the United States attorney in Connecticut, John H. Durham, and closely overseen by Attorney General William P. Barr.

“That’s an ongoing investigation,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “So you’re saying the president of the United States, the chief law enforcement person, cannot ask somebody to cooperate with an ongoing public investigation into wrongdoing? That’s just bizarre to me that you would think that you can’t do that.”

But while the Justice Department said last month that Mr. Durham was examining any role that Ukraine might have played in the early stages of the Russia investigation, a department official declined on Thursday to comment on whether he was examining the server conspiracy theory.

Russian military officers hacked Democratic servers to steal thousands of emails in 2016, the intelligence community and the special counsel found, and no one has uncovered evidence of Ukrainian involvement.

Justice Department officials were confused and angry when they heard that Mr. Mulvaney said the White House had frozen aid to Ukraine in exchange for help with the Durham investigation, according to a person familiar with their discussions.

“If the White House was withholding aid in regards to the cooperation of any investigation at the Department of Justice, that is news to us,” a senior Justice Department official said. Mr. Durham was seen leaving the Justice Department around midday Thursday.

Mr. Mulvaney said the president had done nothing improper and had stayed within normal diplomatic channels. He blasted the current and former administration officials who have testified in the impeachment inquiry, describing them as personally opposed to the changes in foreign policy that Mr. Trump had put in place.

“What you’re seeing now, I believe, is a group of mostly career bureaucrats who are saying, ‘You know what, I don’t like President Trump’s politics, so I’m going to participate in this witch hunt that they are undertaking on the hill.’”

Mr. Mulvaney said holding up Ukraine’s aid was a normal part of foreign policy, and he compared it to the foreign aid to Central America that the administration froze until Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras agreed to adopt the immigration policies pressed by Mr. Trump.

Asked whether he had admitted to a quid pro quo, Mr. Mulvaney said, “We do that all the time with foreign policy.”

His answer ignored the distinction — raised by many of the president’s critics — between holding up foreign aid to further American interests and holding up foreign aid to further Mr. Trump’s personal interests.

Senior White House aides like Mr. Mulvaney are often largely immune from congressional subpoenas to discuss their private conversations with the president, but talking about them publicly in such an extended way could undermine that legal protection.

Democrats had already been interested in Mr. Mulvaney’s role in the Ukraine matter after several impeachment witnesses described him as a central player in the effort to hold up the aid in the days before Mr. Trump pressed Ukraine’s president to investigate Mr. Biden.

They also have said they want to know whether Mr. Mulvaney helped prevent a White House meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky until the Ukrainian government agreed to investigate the president’s rivals, including the D.N.C. and the Bidens.

Fiona Hill, the president’s former senior director for European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council, testified that Mr. Mulvaney was part of a trio of Trump loyalists who conducted a rogue foreign policy operation in Ukraine.

Ms. Hill told lawmakers that John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, instructed her in early July to advise the National Security Council’s chief lawyer about the effort by Mr. Mulvaney, Mr. Sondland and Mr. Giuliani.

“I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Mr. Bolton told Ms. Hill to tell White House lawyers, according to two people at Ms. Hill’s deposition, which took place on Monday.

In his remarks on Thursday, Mr. Mulvaney said there was nothing wrong with Mr. Trump’s relying on Mr. Giuliani or others outside of the diplomatic corps to conduct foreign policy.

“That’s the president’s call,” he said. “You may not like the fact that Giuliani was involved. That’s great, that’s fine. It’s not illegal, it’s not impeachable.” He added, “The president gets to set foreign policy, and he gets to choose who to do so.”

Democrats are also eager to know about a May 23 meeting during which career diplomats with responsibility for Ukraine were sidelined in favor of Mr. Sondland, Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy for Ukraine; and Rick Perry, the energy secretary, one witness testified.

George P. Kent, the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, testified Tuesday that Mr. Mulvaney called the White House meeting, according to Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Democrat of Virginia, who was in the room for Mr. Kent’s testimony.

Katie Benner and Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York.

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The Syria-Turkey cease-fire, quid pro quo talk and death of Elijah Cummings: Catch up on a busy Thursday in politics

WASHINGTON – With the passing of a congressional giant, a cease-fire between Turkey and Syria, and new quid quo pro talk from the White House, the nation’s capital was buzzing with news that will have a lasting impact on American politics.

But the rapid-fire of news that came today, including the latest resignation of a Trump cabinet member, could have proven too much to keep track of. 

With that in mind, here’s a round-up of six of the biggest stories from today:

A congressional legend passed away 

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings died early Thursday at age 68 from “complications concerning longstanding health challenges.” 

He was the son of sharecroppers who went on to become a lawyer, judge, and congressman. He had served on Capitol Hill since 1996 and was a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Cummings was outspoken on civil rights and voter access, a passionate promoter of Democratic policies and a fierce critic of the Trump administration. But, Cummings was also noted for his fair and respectful treatment of his Republican counterparts.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that, “In the House, Elijah was our North Star. He was a leader of towering character and integrity, whose stirring voice and steadfast values pushed the Congress and country to rise always to a higher purpose.” 

Cummings was currently serving as the Chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and played a central figure in the House’s ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Cummings in photos:Maryland congressman Elijah Cummings dies at 68

He and the President had a tiff over the summer after the congressman criticized the administration’s handling of migrant detention centers, and his committee authorized subpoenas for senior White House officials’ electronic communications. The president called Cummings a “brutal bully” and said Baltimore, which Cummings represented, was a “rodent-infested mess.”

More:How Elijah Cummings’ unexpected death could affect the impeachment inquiry

More:‘Enough is enough’: The moments that defined the career of Rep. Elijah Cummings

White House touts cease-fire between Turkey and Syria 

Vice President Mike Pence announced Thursday that Turkey agreed to halt its military assault in Syria for five days in a U.S.-brokered cease-fire that will allow Kurdish forces to withdraw. 

“It will be a pause in military operations for 120 hours,” Pence told reporters at a news conference after a four-hour meeting with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the country.

U.S. troops continue to withdraw from Syria after Trump’s announcement. Some lawmakers and foreign policy experts say the cease-fire announcement has caused confusion in Syria and seems unlikely to hold.

Turkey’s invasion of Syria began shortly after Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the region, causing havoc within the country and putting the Kurds, a US ally, in danger. 

Trump touted the deal via tweet just minutes after Pence’s announcement, suggesting that his imposition of sanctions pushed Erdogan to reverse course. 

“This deal could NEVER have been made 3 days ago. There needed to be some ‘tough’ love in order to get it done,” Trump declared online. 

More:Lindsey Graham to President Trump: `I will hold you accountable’ on Turkey’s actions in Syria

More:‘Don’t be a tough guy:’ Donald Trump pens letter to Turkish President Erdogan after Syria phone call

Rick Perry resigns amid Ukraine scrutiny

Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who has become a focal point of the House impeachment inquiry because of his dealings with Ukraine, resigned Thursday evening. 

Trump said he said he would make the announcement shortly of who the replacement will be. 

“We already have his replacement. Rick has done a fantastic job. But it was time,” Trump told reporters, adding that Perry will stay on until the end of the year. 

Perry is one of Trump’s longest-serving Cabinet secretaries and was a member of Trump’s original cabinet. 

He was subpoenaed last week in the inquiry and is facing a Friday deadline to comply with the congressional subpoenas. House Democrats had demanded he turn over documents related to Trump’s call with Zelensky.

Sondland breaks with Trump in testimony

During testimony before the House impeachment panel investigating President Donald Trump on Thursday, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, told lawmakers he was disappointed that he had to consult with the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on Ukraine policy. 

“It was apparent to all of us that the key to changing the president’s mind on Ukraine was Mr. Giuliani,” Sondland said. “Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the president’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine.”

Pelosi declared a formal impeachment inquiry Sept. 24 after reports about a July phone call where Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate one of his political rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden. 

Sondland’s deposition under subpoena comes more than a week after the State Department blocked his voluntary appearance before the panels. Trump tweeted that he didn’t want Sondland to go before a “kangaroo court.” 

“I did not understand, until much later, that Mr. Giuliani’s agenda might have also included an effort to prompt the Ukrainians to investigate Vice President Biden or his son or to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the President’s 2020 reelection campaign,” his remarks state.

More:House Republicans complain about limited access to closed-door House impeachment investigation sessions

More:Part attorney, part investigator. How Rudy Giuliani’s many roles for Trump could play out in impeachment inquiry

Mulvaney alludes to quid pro quo

The acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged Thursday that financial aid to Ukraine at the center of the House impeachment inquiry was withheld because of the president’s desire for the country to engage in U.S. politics.

During a rare White House press briefing, Mulvaney told reporters, “Did he also mention to me in passing the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely.”

“That’s it,” Mulvaney said. “That’s why we held up the money,” acknowledging that the White House did, in fact, freeze nearly $400 million in US security aid to Ukraine over Trump’s desire to push Ukraine to investigate “corruption” related to a conspiracy theory involving the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computer server.

These comments undercut GOP lawmakers and Trump’s assertion that aid was not withheld in exchange for Ukraine’s help in looking into political foes.

“I have news for everybody: get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy,” Mulvaney stated. 

Mulvaney denied that withholding the aid was linked to the Bidens, though Trump explicitly asked Ukrainian President Zelensky to investigate them during the July 25 phone call.

Leaving a closed hearing, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Mulvaney’s acknowledgment of a quid pro quo “certainly indicates that things have gone from very very bad to much much worse.”

Mulvaney released a statement later Thursday trying to clarify the comments.

More:Trump’s conspiracy theories thrive in Ukraine, where a young democracy battles corruption and distrust

2020 G-7 to be held at Trump resort

The White House announced Thursday that Trump will host world leaders at a G-7 economic summit in 2020 at his Doral golf resort in Miami. 

Democrats and other critics of Trump denounced the decision as nothing more than self-dealing, involving the nation’s foreign policy.

House Democrats said that they will try to make Doral an issue as part of a congressional debate on government spending. The House Appropriations Committee said two provisions in a spending bill would “prevent the President from spending federal funds at Trump properties.”

Hosting the G-7 summit at Doral violates the Constitutional prohibition of emoluments, critics have said, calling it “perhaps the first publicly known instance in which foreign governments would be required to pay President Trump’s private businesses in order to conduct business with the United States.”

More:Behind-the-scenes discord rattles G-7 summit despite Donald Trump’s claim that all is well

Contributing: William Cummings, David Jackson, John Fritze, Bart Jansen, Deirdre Shesgreen, Courtney Subramanian, Nicholas Wu, and Kim Hjelmgaard.

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