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Westlake Legal Group > Pompeo, Mike

Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote

WASHINGTON — President Trump seemed to wash his hands of the conflict between Turkey and America’s Kurdish allies in Syria on Wednesday, generating withering criticism from Republican allies, who rebuked him in a House vote. The day ended with a heated confrontation between Mr. Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump told reporters that the Turkish assault on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria that began after he pulled out American troops “has nothing to do with us.” He declared that the Kurds who battled the Islamic State alongside United States forces for years were “not angels,” but instead essentially self-interested mercenaries who fought because they were paid to.

The president’s comments triggered a strong rebuttal from fellow Republicans who accused him of abandoning friends of the United States and jeopardizing America’s leadership in the region. Mr. Trump then engaged in a sharp exchange at the White House with Democratic congressional leaders, who walked out of a meeting, complaining that he had been more offensive to them than any president in modern times.

During the meeting, according to Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Trump berated her as “a third-grade politician” and suggesting that she would be happy if communists gained influence in the Middle East. Ms. Pelosi told reporters on the White House driveway afterward that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”

Mr. Trump also dismissed his own former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who resigned last year when the president first tried to withdraw troops from Syria. When Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, began to cite Mr. Mattis, a retired Marine general, the president interjected, calling him “the world’s most overrated general,” according to a Democrat briefed on the meeting.

“You know why?” Mr. Trump said. “He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162822540_19578b24-5e6b-48ea-9341-e331f3a2bb59-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Representative Steny H. Hoyer, left and Senator Chuck Schumer at the White House on Wednesday. Ms. Pelosi told reporters that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The confrontation with the Democrats followed a series of public appearances where the president attempted to justify his decision to withdraw a small number of American troops from the border who had been serving as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkey from attacking Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The decision to pull out the troops was seen as an implicit green light to Turkey, which then launched a powerful offensive against the Kurds.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office alongside the visiting president of Italy, Mr. Trump said that the American soldiers he had ordered to pull back were no longer in harm’s way and that “they shouldn’t be as two countries fight over land.”

“That has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said, all but dismissing the Kurdish fighters. “The Kurds know how to fight, and, as I said, they’re not angels, they’re not angels,” he said.

But the president denied that he gave a green light to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey during a phone call last week, citing a letter that he wrote a few days afterward.

“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Mr. Trump said in the letter, which was dated Oct. 9 and obtained by Fox News on Wednesday and confirmed by a White House official. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.”

The president’s comments in the Oval Office and again during a later news conference in the East Room came as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, the president’s new national security adviser, were preparing to fly to Turkey in a bid to persuade Mr. Erdogan to pull back his offensive.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

Republicans and Democrats alike have denounced the president for abandoning the Kurds, who now are fighting Turkish forces in a chaotic battlefield that also has put at risk American troops pulling back from the Syrian border with Turkey. Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the small American force from the border, where they had served as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkish aggression, has been widely criticized as a signal permitting Turkey to launch its offensive.

Mr. Trump insisted his handling of the matter had been “strategically brilliant” and minimized concerns for the Kurds, implying that they allied with the United States only out of their own self-interest. “We paid a lot of money for them to fight with us,” he said. Echoing Mr. Erdogan’s talking points, Mr. Trump compared one faction of the Kurds to the Islamic State and he asserted that Kurds intentionally freed some Islamic State prisoners to create a backlash for him. “Probably the Kurds let go to make a little bit stronger political impact,” he said.

Turkey has been upset about the Kurdish presence across the border in Syria for years because the American-backed militia has ties to a Kurdish guerrilla group known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., that has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. Both Turkey and the United States consider it to be a terrorist organization. Turkey fears the Kurdish-controlled part of northern Syria could be used as a base of operations against its territory.

Mr. Trump dismissed concerns that his decision to pull back had opened the way for Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State to move into the abandoned territory and reassert their influence in the area. “I wish them all a lot of luck,” Mr. Trump said of the Russians and Syrians. Warning of a repeat of the disastrous decade-long Soviet war in Afghanistan, he added, “If Russia wants to get involved in Syria, that’s really up to them.”

Critics in both parties condemned the president’s approach. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, opened his weekly news conference by expressing his “gratitude to the Kurds,” adding, “I’m sorry that we are where we are.”

Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said that by sending Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo to Turkey, Mr. Trump was trying to fix a problem of his own creation, but too late.

“It’s very hard to understand why it is the vice president and secretary of state and others are going to talk with Erdogan and Turkey,” Mr. Romney told reporters. “It’s like the farmer who lost all his horses and goes to now shut the barn door.”

Mr. Trump got into an extended back and forth with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who has been one of the president’s closest allies but emerged as one of the sharpest opponent of his Syria decision After Mr. Trump said the Turkish-Kurdish conflict was of no interest to the United States, Mr. Graham took to Twitter to castigate the president.

“I hope President Trump is right in his belief that Turkeys invasion of Syria is of no concern to us, abandoning the Kurds won’t come back to haunt us, ISIS won’t reemerge, and Iran will not fill the vacuum created by this decision,” Mr. Graham wrote.

“However,” he added, “I firmly believe that if President Trump continues to make such statements this will be a disaster worse than President Obama’s decision to leave Iraq.”

Mr. Trump pushed back on Mr. Graham during his second meeting with reporters, saying that the South Carolina senator should be focusing on investigating the president’s Democratic opponents, including former President Barack Obama. “The people of South Carolina don’t want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, or with Syria,” Mr. Trump said. “Let them fight their own wars.”

Mr. Graham then rebutted Mr. Trump again. “With all due respect for the president, I think I’m elected to have a say about our national security that in my view,” he told reporters who relayed Mr. Trump’s remarks. “I will not ever be quiet about matters of national security.”

“And here’s what I would tell the president,” he added. “You’re doing this against sound military advice. Forget about me. Listen to your own. You’re not.”

The president’s isolation on the issue was on display in the East Room when his guest, President Sergio Mattarella of Italy, was far more critical of Turkey’s incursion than Mr. Trump was. While the president said it had nothing to do with the United States, Mr. Mattarella emphasized that “Italy, aligned with the E.U.’s position, condemns the Turkish operations.”

Even as the president washed his hands of the conflict, his vice president and secretary of state prepared to head to the region to try to stop them from fighting their own wars. Mr. Pompeo said the main goal of meeting with Mr. Erdogan was to secure a cease-fire between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

Amid reports that Turkish forces were moving near the Syrian town of Kobani, which has a large Kurdish population, Mr. Pompeo said he was given a commitment by the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that troops would not enter the town.

“We need them to stand down, we need a cease-fire, at which point we can begin to put this all back together again,” Mr. Pompeo said on Fox Business Network.

Military positions in northern Syria as of Oct. 16

Turkish Army and Syrian opposition Syrian Army deployed U.S. military bases and outposts Russian bases

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-900 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-600 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-335 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

KURDISH

Control

Gov’t

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer

zone

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Sources: Times reporting; Control areas as of Oct. 16 via Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit; Military positions for Russia are from the Institute for the Study of War. | By Allison McCann, Sarah Almukhtar, Anjali Singhvi and Jin Wu

“Our goal isn’t to break the relationship,” Mr. Pompeo said. “It is to deny Turkey the capacity to continue to engage in this behavior. The president said this was a bad deal, it was a bad thing; we’re working to stop it.”

Mr. Pence, who has been spending most of his time on domestic travel promoting policies like the revised trade agreement with Mexico and Canada in states being targeted by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, had scratched all foreign trips from his schedule through the end of the year. The trip to Turkey was unplanned, added at the last minute.

Mr. Pence also has a tense relationship with Mr. Erdogan. He was one of the administration’s leading advocates for the freedom of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who had been detained in Turkey for two years but was freed last fall.

“The president is seeking a cease-fire because he feels that from a humanitarian perspective, this is not good,” said Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff.

Mr. Short said that Mr. Pence had no personal relationship with Mr. Erdogan to lean on, although they had met when Mr. Erdogan visited Washington. Mr. Pence’s trip to Ankara to meet with Mr. Erdogan, he said, was “one in which the imprimatur of the vice president is important.”

Former officials described the trip as all risk for Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo and all reward for Mr. Trump. The vice president and secretary of state are now in an awkward position of being sent to stop an invasion after Mr. Trump described it as “not our problem,” while the president looks like he sent a delegation to conduct talks but will ultimately do whatever he wants.

Robert Ford, who was the last American ambassador to serve in Syria before the civil war forced the closing of the United States Embassy in 2012, said it would be counterproductive to punish Turkey to the point of driving it “further into the arms of Russia.”

He also said the United States should not be beholden to long-term interests of Kurdish fighters to carve out a state in eastern Syria, and that the Trump administration “is right to stop the mission creep in U.S. strategy in Syria.”

But given Mr. Erdogan’s widely known interests in invading the Kurdish territory, Mr. Ford said the Trump administration mishandled the delicate diplomacy. He noted that the very day that Mr. Erdogan announced the invasion, Mr. Pompeo was in the region — and could have attempted to head off the military campaign hours earlier with a quick visit to Turkey to meet officials there instead of flying back to Washington.

“The Trump administration is correct to limit our commitment in eastern Syria, but it is very clumsy in managing the policy and the rollout,” said Mr. Ford, now a fellow at the Middle East Institute and Yale University. The mission by Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo comes a full week after the invasion began. “At this late stage,” Mr. Ford said, “it is not clear what the administration can hope to salvage.”

Eileen Sullivan, Katie Rogers and Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote

WASHINGTON — President Trump seemed to wash his hands of the conflict between Turkey and America’s Kurdish allies in Syria on Wednesday, generating withering criticism from Republican allies, who rebuked him in a House vote. The day ended with a heated confrontation between Mr. Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump told reporters that the Turkish assault on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria that began after he pulled out American troops “has nothing to do with us.” He declared that the Kurds who battled the Islamic State alongside United States forces for years were “not angels,” but instead essentially self-interested mercenaries who fought because they were paid to.

The president’s comments triggered a strong rebuttal from fellow Republicans who accused him of abandoning friends of the United States and jeopardizing America’s leadership in the region. Mr. Trump then engaged in a sharp exchange at the White House with Democratic congressional leaders, who walked out of a meeting, complaining that he had been more offensive to them than any president in modern times.

During the meeting, according to Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Trump berated her as “a third-grade politician” and suggesting that she would be happy if communists gained influence in the Middle East. Ms. Pelosi told reporters on the White House driveway afterward that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”

Mr. Trump also dismissed his own former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who resigned last year when the president first tried to withdraw troops from Syria. When Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, began to cite Mr. Mattis, a retired Marine general, the president interjected, calling him “the world’s most overrated general,” according to a Democrat briefed on the meeting.

“You know why?” Mr. Trump said. “He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162822540_19578b24-5e6b-48ea-9341-e331f3a2bb59-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Representative Steny H. Hoyer, left and Senator Chuck Schumer at the White House on Wednesday. Ms. Pelosi told reporters that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The confrontation with the Democrats followed a series of public appearances where the president attempted to justify his decision to withdraw a small number of American troops from the border who had been serving as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkey from attacking Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The decision to pull out the troops was seen as an implicit green light to Turkey, which then launched a powerful offensive against the Kurds.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office alongside the visiting president of Italy, Mr. Trump said that the American soldiers he had ordered to pull back were no longer in harm’s way and that “they shouldn’t be as two countries fight over land.”

“That has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said, all but dismissing the Kurdish fighters. “The Kurds know how to fight, and, as I said, they’re not angels, they’re not angels,” he said.

But the president denied that he gave a green light to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey during a phone call last week, citing a letter that he wrote a few days afterward.

“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Mr. Trump said in the letter, which was dated Oct. 9 and obtained by Fox News on Wednesday and confirmed by a White House official. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.”

The president’s comments in the Oval Office and again during a later news conference in the East Room came as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, the president’s new national security adviser, were preparing to fly to Turkey in a bid to persuade Mr. Erdogan to pull back his offensive.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

Republicans and Democrats alike have denounced the president for abandoning the Kurds, who now are fighting Turkish forces in a chaotic battlefield that also has put at risk American troops pulling back from the Syrian border with Turkey. Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the small American force from the border, where they had served as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkish aggression, has been widely criticized as a signal permitting Turkey to launch its offensive.

Mr. Trump insisted his handling of the matter had been “strategically brilliant” and minimized concerns for the Kurds, implying that they allied with the United States only out of their own self-interest. “We paid a lot of money for them to fight with us,” he said. Echoing Mr. Erdogan’s talking points, Mr. Trump compared one faction of the Kurds to the Islamic State and he asserted that Kurds intentionally freed some Islamic State prisoners to create a backlash for him. “Probably the Kurds let go to make a little bit stronger political impact,” he said.

Turkey has been upset about the Kurdish presence across the border in Syria for years because the American-backed militia has ties to a Kurdish guerrilla group known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., that has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. Both Turkey and the United States consider it to be a terrorist organization. Turkey fears the Kurdish-controlled part of northern Syria could be used as a base of operations against its territory.

Mr. Trump dismissed concerns that his decision to pull back had opened the way for Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State to move into the abandoned territory and reassert their influence in the area. “I wish them all a lot of luck,” Mr. Trump said of the Russians and Syrians. Warning of a repeat of the disastrous decade-long Soviet war in Afghanistan, he added, “If Russia wants to get involved in Syria, that’s really up to them.”

Critics in both parties condemned the president’s approach. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, opened his weekly news conference by expressing his “gratitude to the Kurds,” adding, “I’m sorry that we are where we are.”

Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said that by sending Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo to Turkey, Mr. Trump was trying to fix a problem of his own creation, but too late.

“It’s very hard to understand why it is the vice president and secretary of state and others are going to talk with Erdogan and Turkey,” Mr. Romney told reporters. “It’s like the farmer who lost all his horses and goes to now shut the barn door.”

Mr. Trump got into an extended back and forth with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who has been one of the president’s closest allies but emerged as one of the sharpest opponent of his Syria decision After Mr. Trump said the Turkish-Kurdish conflict was of no interest to the United States, Mr. Graham took to Twitter to castigate the president.

“I hope President Trump is right in his belief that Turkeys invasion of Syria is of no concern to us, abandoning the Kurds won’t come back to haunt us, ISIS won’t reemerge, and Iran will not fill the vacuum created by this decision,” Mr. Graham wrote.

“However,” he added, “I firmly believe that if President Trump continues to make such statements this will be a disaster worse than President Obama’s decision to leave Iraq.”

Mr. Trump pushed back on Mr. Graham during his second meeting with reporters, saying that the South Carolina senator should be focusing on investigating the president’s Democratic opponents, including former President Barack Obama. “The people of South Carolina don’t want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, or with Syria,” Mr. Trump said. “Let them fight their own wars.”

Mr. Graham then rebutted Mr. Trump again. “With all due respect for the president, I think I’m elected to have a say about our national security that in my view,” he told reporters who relayed Mr. Trump’s remarks. “I will not ever be quiet about matters of national security.”

“And here’s what I would tell the president,” he added. “You’re doing this against sound military advice. Forget about me. Listen to your own. You’re not.”

The president’s isolation on the issue was on display in the East Room when his guest, President Sergio Mattarella of Italy, was far more critical of Turkey’s incursion than Mr. Trump was. While the president said it had nothing to do with the United States, Mr. Mattarella emphasized that “Italy, aligned with the E.U.’s position, condemns the Turkish operations.”

Even as the president washed his hands of the conflict, his vice president and secretary of state prepared to head to the region to try to stop them from fighting their own wars. Mr. Pompeo said the main goal of meeting with Mr. Erdogan was to secure a cease-fire between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

Amid reports that Turkish forces were moving near the Syrian town of Kobani, which has a large Kurdish population, Mr. Pompeo said he was given a commitment by the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that troops would not enter the town.

“We need them to stand down, we need a cease-fire, at which point we can begin to put this all back together again,” Mr. Pompeo said on Fox Business Network.

Military positions in northern Syria as of Oct. 16

Turkish Army and Syrian opposition Syrian Army deployed U.S. military bases and outposts Russian bases

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-900 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-600 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-335 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

KURDISH

Control

Gov’t

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer

zone

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Sources: Times reporting; Control areas as of Oct. 16 via Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit; Military positions for Russia are from the Institute for the Study of War. | By Allison McCann, Sarah Almukhtar, Anjali Singhvi and Jin Wu

“Our goal isn’t to break the relationship,” Mr. Pompeo said. “It is to deny Turkey the capacity to continue to engage in this behavior. The president said this was a bad deal, it was a bad thing; we’re working to stop it.”

Mr. Pence, who has been spending most of his time on domestic travel promoting policies like the revised trade agreement with Mexico and Canada in states being targeted by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, had scratched all foreign trips from his schedule through the end of the year. The trip to Turkey was unplanned, added at the last minute.

Mr. Pence also has a tense relationship with Mr. Erdogan. He was one of the administration’s leading advocates for the freedom of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who had been detained in Turkey for two years but was freed last fall.

“The president is seeking a cease-fire because he feels that from a humanitarian perspective, this is not good,” said Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff.

Mr. Short said that Mr. Pence had no personal relationship with Mr. Erdogan to lean on, although they had met when Mr. Erdogan visited Washington. Mr. Pence’s trip to Ankara to meet with Mr. Erdogan, he said, was “one in which the imprimatur of the vice president is important.”

Former officials described the trip as all risk for Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo and all reward for Mr. Trump. The vice president and secretary of state are now in an awkward position of being sent to stop an invasion after Mr. Trump described it as “not our problem,” while the president looks like he sent a delegation to conduct talks but will ultimately do whatever he wants.

Robert Ford, who was the last American ambassador to serve in Syria before the civil war forced the closing of the United States Embassy in 2012, said it would be counterproductive to punish Turkey to the point of driving it “further into the arms of Russia.”

He also said the United States should not be beholden to long-term interests of Kurdish fighters to carve out a state in eastern Syria, and that the Trump administration “is right to stop the mission creep in U.S. strategy in Syria.”

But given Mr. Erdogan’s widely known interests in invading the Kurdish territory, Mr. Ford said the Trump administration mishandled the delicate diplomacy. He noted that the very day that Mr. Erdogan announced the invasion, Mr. Pompeo was in the region — and could have attempted to head off the military campaign hours earlier with a quick visit to Turkey to meet officials there instead of flying back to Washington.

“The Trump administration is correct to limit our commitment in eastern Syria, but it is very clumsy in managing the policy and the rollout,” said Mr. Ford, now a fellow at the Middle East Institute and Yale University. The mission by Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo comes a full week after the invasion began. “At this late stage,” Mr. Ford said, “it is not clear what the administration can hope to salvage.”

Eileen Sullivan, Katie Rogers and Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote

WASHINGTON — President Trump seemed to wash his hands of the conflict between Turkey and America’s Kurdish allies in Syria on Wednesday, generating withering criticism from Republican allies, who rebuked him in a House vote. The day ended with a heated confrontation between Mr. Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump told reporters that the Turkish assault on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria that began after he pulled out American troops “has nothing to do with us.” He declared that the Kurds who battled the Islamic State alongside United States forces for years were “not angels,” but instead essentially self-interested mercenaries who fought because they were paid to.

The president’s comments triggered a strong rebuttal from fellow Republicans who accused him of abandoning friends of the United States and jeopardizing America’s leadership in the region. Mr. Trump then engaged in a sharp exchange at the White House with Democratic congressional leaders, who walked out of a meeting, complaining that he had been more offensive to them than any president in modern times.

During the meeting, according to Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Trump berated her as “a third-grade politician” and suggesting that she would be happy if communists gained influence in the Middle East. Ms. Pelosi told reporters on the White House driveway afterward that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”

Mr. Trump also dismissed his own former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who resigned last year when the president first tried to withdraw troops from Syria. When Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, began to cite Mr. Mattis, a retired Marine general, the president interjected, calling him “the world’s most overrated general,” according to a Democrat briefed on the meeting.

“You know why?” Mr. Trump said. “He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162822540_19578b24-5e6b-48ea-9341-e331f3a2bb59-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Representative Steny H. Hoyer, left and Senator Chuck Schumer at the White House on Wednesday. Ms. Pelosi told reporters that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The confrontation with the Democrats followed a series of public appearances where the president attempted to justify his decision to withdraw a small number of American troops from the border who had been serving as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkey from attacking Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The decision to pull out the troops was seen as an implicit green light to Turkey, which then launched a powerful offensive against the Kurds.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office alongside the visiting president of Italy, Mr. Trump said that the American soldiers he had ordered to pull back were no longer in harm’s way and that “they shouldn’t be as two countries fight over land.”

“That has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said, all but dismissing the Kurdish fighters. “The Kurds know how to fight, and, as I said, they’re not angels, they’re not angels,” he said.

But the president denied that he gave a green light to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey during a phone call last week, citing a letter that he wrote a few days afterward.

“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Mr. Trump said in the letter, which was dated Oct. 9 and obtained by Fox News on Wednesday and confirmed by a White House official. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.”

The president’s comments in the Oval Office and again during a later news conference in the East Room came as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, the president’s new national security adviser, were preparing to fly to Turkey in a bid to persuade Mr. Erdogan to pull back his offensive.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

Republicans and Democrats alike have denounced the president for abandoning the Kurds, who now are fighting Turkish forces in a chaotic battlefield that also has put at risk American troops pulling back from the Syrian border with Turkey. Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the small American force from the border, where they had served as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkish aggression, has been widely criticized as a signal permitting Turkey to launch its offensive.

Mr. Trump insisted his handling of the matter had been “strategically brilliant” and minimized concerns for the Kurds, implying that they allied with the United States only out of their own self-interest. “We paid a lot of money for them to fight with us,” he said. Echoing Mr. Erdogan’s talking points, Mr. Trump compared one faction of the Kurds to the Islamic State and he asserted that Kurds intentionally freed some Islamic State prisoners to create a backlash for him. “Probably the Kurds let go to make a little bit stronger political impact,” he said.

Turkey has been upset about the Kurdish presence across the border in Syria for years because the American-backed militia has ties to a Kurdish guerrilla group known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., that has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. Both Turkey and the United States consider it to be a terrorist organization. Turkey fears the Kurdish-controlled part of northern Syria could be used as a base of operations against its territory.

Mr. Trump dismissed concerns that his decision to pull back had opened the way for Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State to move into the abandoned territory and reassert their influence in the area. “I wish them all a lot of luck,” Mr. Trump said of the Russians and Syrians. Warning of a repeat of the disastrous decade-long Soviet war in Afghanistan, he added, “If Russia wants to get involved in Syria, that’s really up to them.”

Critics in both parties condemned the president’s approach. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, opened his weekly news conference by expressing his “gratitude to the Kurds,” adding, “I’m sorry that we are where we are.”

Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said that by sending Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo to Turkey, Mr. Trump was trying to fix a problem of his own creation, but too late.

“It’s very hard to understand why it is the vice president and secretary of state and others are going to talk with Erdogan and Turkey,” Mr. Romney told reporters. “It’s like the farmer who lost all his horses and goes to now shut the barn door.”

Mr. Trump got into an extended back and forth with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who has been one of the president’s closest allies but emerged as one of the sharpest opponent of his Syria decision After Mr. Trump said the Turkish-Kurdish conflict was of no interest to the United States, Mr. Graham took to Twitter to castigate the president.

“I hope President Trump is right in his belief that Turkeys invasion of Syria is of no concern to us, abandoning the Kurds won’t come back to haunt us, ISIS won’t reemerge, and Iran will not fill the vacuum created by this decision,” Mr. Graham wrote.

“However,” he added, “I firmly believe that if President Trump continues to make such statements this will be a disaster worse than President Obama’s decision to leave Iraq.”

Mr. Trump pushed back on Mr. Graham during his second meeting with reporters, saying that the South Carolina senator should be focusing on investigating the president’s Democratic opponents, including former President Barack Obama. “The people of South Carolina don’t want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, or with Syria,” Mr. Trump said. “Let them fight their own wars.”

Mr. Graham then rebutted Mr. Trump again. “With all due respect for the president, I think I’m elected to have a say about our national security that in my view,” he told reporters who relayed Mr. Trump’s remarks. “I will not ever be quiet about matters of national security.”

“And here’s what I would tell the president,” he added. “You’re doing this against sound military advice. Forget about me. Listen to your own. You’re not.”

The president’s isolation on the issue was on display in the East Room when his guest, President Sergio Mattarella of Italy, was far more critical of Turkey’s incursion than Mr. Trump was. While the president said it had nothing to do with the United States, Mr. Mattarella emphasized that “Italy, aligned with the E.U.’s position, condemns the Turkish operations.”

Even as the president washed his hands of the conflict, his vice president and secretary of state prepared to head to the region to try to stop them from fighting their own wars. Mr. Pompeo said the main goal of meeting with Mr. Erdogan was to secure a cease-fire between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

Amid reports that Turkish forces were moving near the Syrian town of Kobani, which has a large Kurdish population, Mr. Pompeo said he was given a commitment by the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that troops would not enter the town.

“We need them to stand down, we need a cease-fire, at which point we can begin to put this all back together again,” Mr. Pompeo said on Fox Business Network.

Military positions in northern Syria as of Oct. 16

Turkish Army and Syrian opposition Syrian Army deployed U.S. military bases and outposts Russian bases

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-900 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

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syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

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opposition

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Deir al-Zour

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Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-600 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-335 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

KURDISH

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Gov’t

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Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer

zone

KURDISH

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opposition

Deir al-Zour

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Control

Sources: Times reporting; Control areas as of Oct. 16 via Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit; Military positions for Russia are from the Institute for the Study of War. | By Allison McCann, Sarah Almukhtar, Anjali Singhvi and Jin Wu

“Our goal isn’t to break the relationship,” Mr. Pompeo said. “It is to deny Turkey the capacity to continue to engage in this behavior. The president said this was a bad deal, it was a bad thing; we’re working to stop it.”

Mr. Pence, who has been spending most of his time on domestic travel promoting policies like the revised trade agreement with Mexico and Canada in states being targeted by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, had scratched all foreign trips from his schedule through the end of the year. The trip to Turkey was unplanned, added at the last minute.

Mr. Pence also has a tense relationship with Mr. Erdogan. He was one of the administration’s leading advocates for the freedom of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who had been detained in Turkey for two years but was freed last fall.

“The president is seeking a cease-fire because he feels that from a humanitarian perspective, this is not good,” said Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff.

Mr. Short said that Mr. Pence had no personal relationship with Mr. Erdogan to lean on, although they had met when Mr. Erdogan visited Washington. Mr. Pence’s trip to Ankara to meet with Mr. Erdogan, he said, was “one in which the imprimatur of the vice president is important.”

Former officials described the trip as all risk for Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo and all reward for Mr. Trump. The vice president and secretary of state are now in an awkward position of being sent to stop an invasion after Mr. Trump described it as “not our problem,” while the president looks like he sent a delegation to conduct talks but will ultimately do whatever he wants.

Robert Ford, who was the last American ambassador to serve in Syria before the civil war forced the closing of the United States Embassy in 2012, said it would be counterproductive to punish Turkey to the point of driving it “further into the arms of Russia.”

He also said the United States should not be beholden to long-term interests of Kurdish fighters to carve out a state in eastern Syria, and that the Trump administration “is right to stop the mission creep in U.S. strategy in Syria.”

But given Mr. Erdogan’s widely known interests in invading the Kurdish territory, Mr. Ford said the Trump administration mishandled the delicate diplomacy. He noted that the very day that Mr. Erdogan announced the invasion, Mr. Pompeo was in the region — and could have attempted to head off the military campaign hours earlier with a quick visit to Turkey to meet officials there instead of flying back to Washington.

“The Trump administration is correct to limit our commitment in eastern Syria, but it is very clumsy in managing the policy and the rollout,” said Mr. Ford, now a fellow at the Middle East Institute and Yale University. The mission by Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo comes a full week after the invasion began. “At this late stage,” Mr. Ford said, “it is not clear what the administration can hope to salvage.”

Eileen Sullivan, Katie Rogers and Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

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Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote

WASHINGTON — President Trump seemed to wash his hands of the conflict between Turkey and America’s Kurdish allies in Syria on Wednesday, generating withering criticism from Republican allies, who rebuked him in a House vote. The day ended with a heated confrontation between Mr. Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump told reporters that the Turkish assault on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria that began after he pulled out American troops “has nothing to do with us.” He declared that the Kurds who battled the Islamic State alongside United States forces for years were “not angels,” but instead essentially self-interested mercenaries who fought because they were paid to.

The president’s comments triggered a strong rebuttal from fellow Republicans who accused him of abandoning friends of the United States and jeopardizing America’s leadership in the region. Mr. Trump then engaged in a sharp exchange at the White House with Democratic congressional leaders, who walked out of a meeting, complaining that he had been more offensive to them than any president in modern times.

During the meeting, according to Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Trump berated her as “a third-grade politician” and suggesting that she would be happy if communists gained influence in the Middle East. Ms. Pelosi told reporters on the White House driveway afterward that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”

Mr. Trump also dismissed his own former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who resigned last year when the president first tried to withdraw troops from Syria. When Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, began to cite Mr. Mattis, a retired Marine general, the president interjected, calling him “the world’s most overrated general,” according to a Democrat briefed on the meeting.

“You know why?” Mr. Trump said. “He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162822540_19578b24-5e6b-48ea-9341-e331f3a2bb59-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Representative Steny H. Hoyer, left and Senator Chuck Schumer at the White House on Wednesday. Ms. Pelosi told reporters that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The confrontation with the Democrats followed a series of public appearances where the president attempted to justify his decision to withdraw a small number of American troops from the border who had been serving as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkey from attacking Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The decision to pull out the troops was seen as an implicit green light to Turkey, which then launched a powerful offensive against the Kurds.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office alongside the visiting president of Italy, Mr. Trump said that the American soldiers he had ordered to pull back were no longer in harm’s way and that “they shouldn’t be as two countries fight over land.”

“That has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said, all but dismissing the Kurdish fighters. “The Kurds know how to fight, and, as I said, they’re not angels, they’re not angels,” he said.

But the president denied that he gave a green light to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey during a phone call last week, citing a letter that he wrote a few days afterward.

“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Mr. Trump said in the letter, which was dated Oct. 9 and obtained by Fox News on Wednesday and confirmed by a White House official. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.”

The president’s comments in the Oval Office and again during a later news conference in the East Room came as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, the president’s new national security adviser, were preparing to fly to Turkey in a bid to persuade Mr. Erdogan to pull back his offensive.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

Republicans and Democrats alike have denounced the president for abandoning the Kurds, who now are fighting Turkish forces in a chaotic battlefield that also has put at risk American troops pulling back from the Syrian border with Turkey. Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the small American force from the border, where they had served as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkish aggression, has been widely criticized as a signal permitting Turkey to launch its offensive.

Mr. Trump insisted his handling of the matter had been “strategically brilliant” and minimized concerns for the Kurds, implying that they allied with the United States only out of their own self-interest. “We paid a lot of money for them to fight with us,” he said. Echoing Mr. Erdogan’s talking points, Mr. Trump compared one faction of the Kurds to the Islamic State and he asserted that Kurds intentionally freed some Islamic State prisoners to create a backlash for him. “Probably the Kurds let go to make a little bit stronger political impact,” he said.

Turkey has been upset about the Kurdish presence across the border in Syria for years because the American-backed militia has ties to a Kurdish guerrilla group known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., that has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. Both Turkey and the United States consider it to be a terrorist organization. Turkey fears the Kurdish-controlled part of northern Syria could be used as a base of operations against its territory.

Mr. Trump dismissed concerns that his decision to pull back had opened the way for Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State to move into the abandoned territory and reassert their influence in the area. “I wish them all a lot of luck,” Mr. Trump said of the Russians and Syrians. Warning of a repeat of the disastrous decade-long Soviet war in Afghanistan, he added, “If Russia wants to get involved in Syria, that’s really up to them.”

Critics in both parties condemned the president’s approach. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, opened his weekly news conference by expressing his “gratitude to the Kurds,” adding, “I’m sorry that we are where we are.”

Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said that by sending Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo to Turkey, Mr. Trump was trying to fix a problem of his own creation, but too late.

“It’s very hard to understand why it is the vice president and secretary of state and others are going to talk with Erdogan and Turkey,” Mr. Romney told reporters. “It’s like the farmer who lost all his horses and goes to now shut the barn door.”

Mr. Trump got into an extended back and forth with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who has been one of the president’s closest allies but emerged as one of the sharpest opponent of his Syria decision After Mr. Trump said the Turkish-Kurdish conflict was of no interest to the United States, Mr. Graham took to Twitter to castigate the president.

“I hope President Trump is right in his belief that Turkeys invasion of Syria is of no concern to us, abandoning the Kurds won’t come back to haunt us, ISIS won’t reemerge, and Iran will not fill the vacuum created by this decision,” Mr. Graham wrote.

“However,” he added, “I firmly believe that if President Trump continues to make such statements this will be a disaster worse than President Obama’s decision to leave Iraq.”

Mr. Trump pushed back on Mr. Graham during his second meeting with reporters, saying that the South Carolina senator should be focusing on investigating the president’s Democratic opponents, including former President Barack Obama. “The people of South Carolina don’t want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, or with Syria,” Mr. Trump said. “Let them fight their own wars.”

Mr. Graham then rebutted Mr. Trump again. “With all due respect for the president, I think I’m elected to have a say about our national security that in my view,” he told reporters who relayed Mr. Trump’s remarks. “I will not ever be quiet about matters of national security.”

“And here’s what I would tell the president,” he added. “You’re doing this against sound military advice. Forget about me. Listen to your own. You’re not.”

The president’s isolation on the issue was on display in the East Room when his guest, President Sergio Mattarella of Italy, was far more critical of Turkey’s incursion than Mr. Trump was. While the president said it had nothing to do with the United States, Mr. Mattarella emphasized that “Italy, aligned with the E.U.’s position, condemns the Turkish operations.”

Even as the president washed his hands of the conflict, his vice president and secretary of state prepared to head to the region to try to stop them from fighting their own wars. Mr. Pompeo said the main goal of meeting with Mr. Erdogan was to secure a cease-fire between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

Amid reports that Turkish forces were moving near the Syrian town of Kobani, which has a large Kurdish population, Mr. Pompeo said he was given a commitment by the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that troops would not enter the town.

“We need them to stand down, we need a cease-fire, at which point we can begin to put this all back together again,” Mr. Pompeo said on Fox Business Network.

Military positions in northern Syria as of Oct. 16

Turkish Army and Syrian opposition Syrian Army deployed U.S. military bases and outposts Russian bases

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-900 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-600 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-335 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

KURDISH

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Gov’t

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Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer

zone

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opposition

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Sources: Times reporting; Control areas as of Oct. 16 via Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit; Military positions for Russia are from the Institute for the Study of War. | By Allison McCann, Sarah Almukhtar, Anjali Singhvi and Jin Wu

“Our goal isn’t to break the relationship,” Mr. Pompeo said. “It is to deny Turkey the capacity to continue to engage in this behavior. The president said this was a bad deal, it was a bad thing; we’re working to stop it.”

Mr. Pence, who has been spending most of his time on domestic travel promoting policies like the revised trade agreement with Mexico and Canada in states being targeted by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, had scratched all foreign trips from his schedule through the end of the year. The trip to Turkey was unplanned, added at the last minute.

Mr. Pence also has a tense relationship with Mr. Erdogan. He was one of the administration’s leading advocates for the freedom of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who had been detained in Turkey for two years but was freed last fall.

“The president is seeking a cease-fire because he feels that from a humanitarian perspective, this is not good,” said Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff.

Mr. Short said that Mr. Pence had no personal relationship with Mr. Erdogan to lean on, although they had met when Mr. Erdogan visited Washington. Mr. Pence’s trip to Ankara to meet with Mr. Erdogan, he said, was “one in which the imprimatur of the vice president is important.”

Former officials described the trip as all risk for Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo and all reward for Mr. Trump. The vice president and secretary of state are now in an awkward position of being sent to stop an invasion after Mr. Trump described it as “not our problem,” while the president looks like he sent a delegation to conduct talks but will ultimately do whatever he wants.

Robert Ford, who was the last American ambassador to serve in Syria before the civil war forced the closing of the United States Embassy in 2012, said it would be counterproductive to punish Turkey to the point of driving it “further into the arms of Russia.”

He also said the United States should not be beholden to long-term interests of Kurdish fighters to carve out a state in eastern Syria, and that the Trump administration “is right to stop the mission creep in U.S. strategy in Syria.”

But given Mr. Erdogan’s widely known interests in invading the Kurdish territory, Mr. Ford said the Trump administration mishandled the delicate diplomacy. He noted that the very day that Mr. Erdogan announced the invasion, Mr. Pompeo was in the region — and could have attempted to head off the military campaign hours earlier with a quick visit to Turkey to meet officials there instead of flying back to Washington.

“The Trump administration is correct to limit our commitment in eastern Syria, but it is very clumsy in managing the policy and the rollout,” said Mr. Ford, now a fellow at the Middle East Institute and Yale University. The mission by Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo comes a full week after the invasion began. “At this late stage,” Mr. Ford said, “it is not clear what the administration can hope to salvage.”

Eileen Sullivan, Katie Rogers and Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Former Top State Dept. Aide Tells Impeachment Investigators He Quit Over Ukraine

Westlake Legal Group 16dc-impeach-facebookJumbo Former Top State Dept. Aide Tells Impeachment Investigators He Quit Over Ukraine Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Pompeo, Mike

A former top aide to Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, told impeachment investigators on Wednesday that he resigned because he was upset that the Trump administration had wrestled Ukraine policy away from career diplomats, according to three people familiar with his closed-door deposition to the House Intelligence Committee.

In several hours of continuing testimony, Michael McKinley, who until last week was a senior adviser to Mr. Pompeo, described his mounting frustration with how politicized the State Department had become under President Trump, saying that the last straw for him was the ouster of Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine whom Mr. Trump ordered removed.

Mr. McKinley’s testimony was the latest in a string of accounts given by top career diplomats and administration officials to impeachment investigators about how experts were sidelined as the president pursued his own agenda on Ukraine, including in a July telephone call when Mr. Trump asked President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

Taken together, the interviews have corroborated many aspects of the intelligence whistle-blower complaint that prompted the impeachment inquiry, which alleged that Mr. Trump abused his power to enlist a foreign government for his own political gain.

While Mr. McKinley told lawmakers that he did not have detailed knowledge about the Ukraine matter, he said the handling of the issue was emblematic of a troublesome trend at the State Department, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe a closed-door deposition. He spoke of his frustration with Rex W. Tillerson, the former secretary of state, saying he had gutted the department, and praised Mr. Pompeo for his leadership.

But Mr. McKinley said he was alarmed at how poorly diplomats were treated. Ms. Yovanovitch, a 30-year veteran of the Foreign Service, testified privately last week that she was abruptly removed from her post after a monthslong push by Mr. Trump to get rid of her on the basis of “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”

Democratic lawmakers who participated in the questioning of Mr. McKinley said he fit the mold of other witnesses the impeachment inquiry has interviewed.

“Another career Foreign Service officer with a 33-year career trying to do the right thing,” said Representative Harley Rouda, Democrat of California, as he left the deposition. Mr. Rouda said that Mr. McKinley, like some other witnesses, provided the committees with an opening statement.

Mr. Trump complained about the impeachment inquiry Wednesday during a meeting with Italy’s president at the White House, accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of doing “this country a great disservice” and predicting that Democrats would lose the 2020 presidential election because the party pursued his impeachment.

The president called Representative Adam B. Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, “purely fraudulent” and said that Republicans have been treated by Democratic lawmakers with “great disrespect.”

Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina, said after he left the hearing room that Mr. McKinley had been both “complimentary of Secretary Pompeo,” and made clear he was “supportive” of Ms. Yovanovitch.

Mr. Pompeo has defended the administration’s actions regarding Ukraine, saying that the impeachment inquiry has sparked a “silly gotcha game” in Washington.

Mr. McKinley appeared voluntarily before the committee, which did not issue a subpoena to compel his testimony, according to an official involved in the inquiry.

He arrived on Capitol Hill Wednesday as the House’s impeachment inquiry accelerated, with daily, hourslong depositions that Democratic lawmakers hope will expose the activities of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, to pressure Ukraine’s government to dig up damaging information about Mr. Trump’s political rivals.

The steady stream of diplomats and White House officials have appeared before the committees despite Mr. Trump’s vow not to cooperate with the inquiry. Mr. McKinley’s testimony further sets the stage for Thursday’s expected deposition of Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union and a Trump loyalist.

In the past week, witnesses have described a shadow foreign policy led by Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Sondland and Rick Perry, the secretary of energy, that was designed to sideline the diplomats with formal responsibility over relations with Ukraine.

Kurt D. Volker, who served as Mr. Trump’s envoy to Ukraine before resigning late last month, was back at the Capitol Wednesday after testifying two weeks ago for more than eight hours.

Mr. Volker’s return on Wednesday, which had not been disclosed earlier, was for the purpose of reviewing the transcript of his earlier deposition, according to a person familiar with the situation. It is not unusual for witnesses in congressional investigations to be given an opportunity to review the official transcript of what they said.

Mr. Volker was not expect to provide additional testimony to lawmakers on Wednesday.

Julian Barnes contributed reporting.

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Former Top State Dept. Aide Tells Impeachment Investigators He Quit Over Ukraine

Westlake Legal Group 16dc-impeach-facebookJumbo Former Top State Dept. Aide Tells Impeachment Investigators He Quit Over Ukraine Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Pompeo, Mike

A former top aide to Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, told impeachment investigators on Wednesday that he resigned because he was upset that the Trump administration had wrestled Ukraine policy away from career diplomats, according to three people familiar with his closed-door deposition to the House Intelligence Committee.

In several hours of continuing testimony, Michael McKinley, who until last week was a senior adviser to Mr. Pompeo, described his mounting frustration with how politicized the State Department had become under President Trump, saying that the last straw for him was the ouster of Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine whom Mr. Trump ordered removed.

Mr. McKinley’s testimony was the latest in a string of accounts given by top career diplomats and administration officials to impeachment investigators about how experts were sidelined as the president pursued his own agenda on Ukraine, including in a July telephone call when Mr. Trump asked President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

Taken together, the interviews have corroborated many aspects of the intelligence whistle-blower complaint that prompted the impeachment inquiry, which alleged that Mr. Trump abused his power to enlist a foreign government for his own political gain.

While Mr. McKinley told lawmakers that he did not have detailed knowledge about the Ukraine matter, he said the handling of the issue was emblematic of a troublesome trend at the State Department, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe a closed-door deposition. He spoke of his frustration with Rex W. Tillerson, the former secretary of state, saying he had gutted the department, and praised Mr. Pompeo for his leadership.

But Mr. McKinley said he was alarmed at how poorly diplomats were treated. Ms. Yovanovitch, a 30-year veteran of the Foreign Service, testified privately last week that she was abruptly removed from her post after a monthslong push by Mr. Trump to get rid of her on the basis of “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”

Democratic lawmakers who participated in the questioning of Mr. McKinley said he fit the mold of other witnesses the impeachment inquiry has interviewed.

“Another career Foreign Service officer with a 33-year career trying to do the right thing,” said Representative Harley Rouda, Democrat of California, as he left the deposition. Mr. Rouda said that Mr. McKinley, like some other witnesses, provided the committees with an opening statement.

Mr. Trump complained about the impeachment inquiry Wednesday during a meeting with Italy’s president at the White House, accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of doing “this country a great disservice” and predicting that Democrats would lose the 2020 presidential election because the party pursued his impeachment.

The president called Representative Adam B. Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, “purely fraudulent” and said that Republicans have been treated by Democratic lawmakers with “great disrespect.”

Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina, said after he left the hearing room that Mr. McKinley had been both “complimentary of Secretary Pompeo,” and made clear he was “supportive” of Ms. Yovanovitch.

Mr. Pompeo has defended the administration’s actions regarding Ukraine, saying that the impeachment inquiry has sparked a “silly gotcha game” in Washington.

Mr. McKinley appeared voluntarily before the committee, which did not issue a subpoena to compel his testimony, according to an official involved in the inquiry.

He arrived on Capitol Hill Wednesday as the House’s impeachment inquiry accelerated, with daily, hourslong depositions that Democratic lawmakers hope will expose the activities of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, to pressure Ukraine’s government to dig up damaging information about Mr. Trump’s political rivals.

The steady stream of diplomats and White House officials have appeared before the committees despite Mr. Trump’s vow not to cooperate with the inquiry. Mr. McKinley’s testimony further sets the stage for Thursday’s expected deposition of Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union and a Trump loyalist.

In the past week, witnesses have described a shadow foreign policy led by Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Sondland and Rick Perry, the secretary of energy, that was designed to sideline the diplomats with formal responsibility over relations with Ukraine.

Kurt D. Volker, who served as Mr. Trump’s envoy to Ukraine before resigning late last month, was back at the Capitol Wednesday after testifying two weeks ago for more than eight hours.

Mr. Volker’s return on Wednesday, which had not been disclosed earlier, was for the purpose of reviewing the transcript of his earlier deposition, according to a person familiar with the situation. It is not unusual for witnesses in congressional investigations to be given an opportunity to review the official transcript of what they said.

Mr. Volker was not expect to provide additional testimony to lawmakers on Wednesday.

Julian Barnes contributed reporting.

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Former Top State Dept. Aide Tells Impeachment Investigators He Quit Over Ukraine

Westlake Legal Group 16dc-impeach-facebookJumbo Former Top State Dept. Aide Tells Impeachment Investigators He Quit Over Ukraine Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Pompeo, Mike

A former top aide to Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, told impeachment investigators on Wednesday that he resigned because he was upset that the Trump administration had wrestled Ukraine policy away from career diplomats, according to three people familiar with his closed-door deposition to the House Intelligence Committee.

In several hours of continuing testimony, Michael McKinley, who until last week was a senior adviser to Mr. Pompeo, described his mounting frustration with how politicized the State Department had become under President Trump, saying that the last straw for him was the ouster of Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine whom Mr. Trump ordered removed.

Mr. McKinley’s testimony was the latest in a string of accounts given by top career diplomats and administration officials to impeachment investigators about how experts were sidelined as the president pursued his own agenda on Ukraine, including in a July telephone call when Mr. Trump asked President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

Taken together, the interviews have corroborated many aspects of the intelligence whistle-blower complaint that prompted the impeachment inquiry, which alleged that Mr. Trump abused his power to enlist a foreign government for his own political gain.

While Mr. McKinley told lawmakers that he did not have detailed knowledge about the Ukraine matter, he said the handling of the issue was emblematic of a troublesome trend at the State Department, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe a closed-door deposition. He spoke of his frustration with Rex W. Tillerson, the former secretary of state, saying he had gutted the department, and praised Mr. Pompeo for his leadership.

But Mr. McKinley said he was alarmed at how poorly diplomats were treated. Ms. Yovanovitch, a 30-year veteran of the Foreign Service, testified privately last week that she was abruptly removed from her post after a monthslong push by Mr. Trump to get rid of her on the basis of “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”

Democratic lawmakers who participated in the questioning of Mr. McKinley said he fit the mold of other witnesses the impeachment inquiry has interviewed.

“Another career Foreign Service officer with a 33-year career trying to do the right thing,” said Representative Harley Rouda, Democrat of California, as he left the deposition. Mr. Rouda said that Mr. McKinley, like some other witnesses, provided the committees with an opening statement.

Mr. Trump complained about the impeachment inquiry Wednesday during a meeting with Italy’s president at the White House, accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of doing “this country a great disservice” and predicting that Democrats would lose the 2020 presidential election because the party pursued his impeachment.

The president called Representative Adam B. Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, “purely fraudulent” and said that Republicans have been treated by Democratic lawmakers with “great disrespect.”

Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina, said after he left the hearing room that Mr. McKinley had been both “complimentary of Secretary Pompeo,” and made clear he was “supportive” of Ms. Yovanovitch.

Mr. Pompeo has defended the administration’s actions regarding Ukraine, saying that the impeachment inquiry has sparked a “silly gotcha game” in Washington.

Mr. McKinley appeared voluntarily before the committee, which did not issue a subpoena to compel his testimony, according to an official involved in the inquiry.

He arrived on Capitol Hill Wednesday as the House’s impeachment inquiry accelerated, with daily, hourslong depositions that Democratic lawmakers hope will expose the activities of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, to pressure Ukraine’s government to dig up damaging information about Mr. Trump’s political rivals.

The steady stream of diplomats and White House officials have appeared before the committees despite Mr. Trump’s vow not to cooperate with the inquiry. Mr. McKinley’s testimony further sets the stage for Thursday’s expected deposition of Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union and a Trump loyalist.

In the past week, witnesses have described a shadow foreign policy led by Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Sondland and Rick Perry, the secretary of energy, that was designed to sideline the diplomats with formal responsibility over relations with Ukraine.

Kurt D. Volker, who served as Mr. Trump’s envoy to Ukraine before resigning late last month, was back at the Capitol Wednesday after testifying two weeks ago for more than eight hours.

Mr. Volker’s return on Wednesday, which had not been disclosed earlier, was for the purpose of reviewing the transcript of his earlier deposition, according to a person familiar with the situation. It is not unusual for witnesses in congressional investigations to be given an opportunity to review the official transcript of what they said.

Mr. Volker was not expect to provide additional testimony to lawmakers on Wednesday.

Julian Barnes contributed reporting.

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Ex-Aide Saw Gordon Sondland as a Potential National Security Risk

Westlake Legal Group 16dc-sondland1-facebookJumbo Ex-Aide Saw Gordon Sondland as a Potential National Security Risk United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Pompeo, Mike Mulvaney, Mick Fiona Hill Espionage and Intelligence Services Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Bolton, John R

WASHINGTON — A former top White House foreign policy adviser told House impeachment investigators this week that she viewed Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, as a potential national security risk because he was so unprepared for his job, according to two people familiar with her private testimony.

The adviser, Fiona Hill, did not accuse Mr. Sondland of acting maliciously or intentionally putting the country at risk. But she described Mr. Sondland, a hotelier and Trump donor-turned-ambassador, as metaphorically driving in an unfamiliar place with no guardrails and no GPS, according to the people, who were not authorized to publicly discuss a deposition that took place behind closed doors.

Ms. Hill, the former senior director for European and Russian affairs at the White House, also said that she raised her concerns with intelligence officials inside the White House, one of the people said.

Mr. Sondland’s lawyer declined to comment.

In her testimony, Ms. Hill described her fears that Mr. Sondland represented a counterintelligence risk because his actions made him vulnerable to foreign governments who could exploit his inexperience. She said Mr. Sondland extensively used a personal cellphone for official diplomatic business and repeatedly told foreign officials they were welcome to come to the White House whenever they liked.

Ms. Hill said that his invitations, which were highly unusual and not communicated to others at the White House, prompted one instance in which Romanian officials arrived at the White House without appointments, citing Mr. Sondland.

Ms. Hill also testified that Mr. Sondland held himself out to foreign officials as someone who could deliver meetings at the White House while also providing the cellphone numbers of American officials to foreigners, the people said. Those actions created additional counterintelligence risks, she said.

Mr. Sondland is scheduled to meet privately with impeachment investigators himself on Thursday, despite directions from the State Department and the White House that he and other witnesses should not cooperate with an investigation because the president and his senior advisers view it as illegitimate. Mr. Sondland’s lawyer has indicated that his client will testify.

Other aspects of Ms. Hill’s explosive testimony that have been previously reported as well as details offered by other officials who have spoken to investigators put Mr. Sondland at the center of a parallel foreign policy toward Ukraine. Sidelining career experts and the former American ambassador to Kiev, Mr. Sondland, other political appointees close to the president and Mr. Trump’s private lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani sought to pressure Ukraine’s new government to open investigations into Democrats that would benefit the president politically.

Ms. Hill said that she and her boss, John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, were so concerned by what they saw that Ms. Hill alerted White House lawyers. She told the committees that Mr. Bolton wanted to make clear that he was not part of whatever “drug deal” that Mr. Sondland and Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, were crafting on Ukraine, and that on another occasion Mr. Bolton compared Mr. Giuliani to “a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.”

Ms. Hill testified that she and Mr. Bolton were moved to act after Mr. Sondland revealed during a July 10 meeting that there was an agreement with Mr. Mulvaney that Mr. Trump would meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine if his government opened the investigations the White House sought. Mr. Sondland also mentioned Burisma, the Ukrainian energy firm that had appointed Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., to its board.

A White House meeting would be a sought-after prize for Mr. Zelensky, conferring legitimacy on his new government and demonstrating American support as Ukraine battles Russian-backed separatists in its east.

Ms. Hill left the White House in July, before Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky that prompted the whistle-blower complaint that set off the Ukraine scandal.

Earlier this month, Kurt D. Volker, the former special envoy for Ukraine, produced to investigators text messages with Mr. Sondland and other American and Ukrainian officials that showed Mr. Sondland was deeply enmeshed in efforts to secure investigations from the Ukrainians that could help the president politically.

Michael S. Schmidt contributed reporting.

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Bolton Objected to Ukraine Pressure Campaign, Calling Giuliani ‘a Hand Grenade’

WASHINGTON — The effort to pressure Ukraine for political help provoked a heated confrontation inside the White House last summer that so alarmed John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, that he told an aide to alert White House lawyers, House investigators were told on Monday.

Mr. Bolton got into a sharp exchange on July 10 with Gordon D. Sondland, the Trump donor turned ambassador to the European Union, who was working with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, to press Ukraine to investigate Democrats, according to testimony provided to the investigators.

Westlake Legal Group impeachment-investigation-tracker-promo-1570214529724-articleLarge-v3 Bolton Objected to Ukraine Pressure Campaign, Calling Giuliani ‘a Hand Grenade’ Zelensky, Volodymyr Yovanovitch, Marie L United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Pompeo, Mike National Security Council Hill, Fiona (1965- ) Giuliani, Rudolph W Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates

Subpoenas and Requests for Evidence in the Trump Impeachment Inquiry

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

Mr. Bolton instructed Fiona Hill, the senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs, to notify the chief lawyer for the National Security Council that Mr. Giuliani was working with Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, on a rogue operation with legal implications, Ms. Hill told the investigators, according to two people familiar with her closed-door testimony.

“I am not part of whatever drug deal Rudy and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Mr. Bolton, a Yale-trained lawyer, told Ms. Hill to tell White House lawyers, according to the testimony.

It was not the first time Mr. Bolton expressed grave concerns to Ms. Hill about Mr. Giuliani. “Giuliani’s a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up,” Ms. Hill quoted Mr. Bolton saying during an earlier conversation.

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Former Trump Aide Fiona Hill Speaks to Impeachment Investigators on Ukraine

WASHINGTON — Fiona Hill, President Trump’s former top Russia and Europe adviser, met with House impeachment investigators on Monday prepared to testify that she and other officials objected strenuously to the removal of the ambassador to Ukraine, only to be disregarded.

Ms. Hill, who stepped down from the White House’s National Security Council staff over the summer, viewed the recall of Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch from Kiev as an egregious abuse of the system by allies of Mr. Trump who were seeking to push aside a perceived obstacle, according to a person familiar with Ms. Hill’s account. Ms. Yovanovitch told the investigators in closed-door testimony last week that the president had personally pushed for her ouster for months, based on “false claims.”

The removal of Ms. Yovanovitch has emerged as a key episode in the narrative under examination by the House as part of its impeachment inquiry against Mr. Trump. A career diplomat, Ms. Yovanovitch was targeted by Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and other allies who were seeking to press Ukraine to investigate Mr. Trump’s Democratic rivals.

Ms. Hill’s interview kicked off what promises to be another active week of investigation by the House, where Democrats opened a formal impeachment inquiry late last month based on an intelligence officer’s whistle-blower complaint that alleged that Mr. Trump had abused his power to try to enlist Ukraine to interfere on his behalf in the 2020 election.

The recall of the ambassador was a case study in how Mr. Giuliani and his allies pursued their goals by sidelining or circumventing the government officials, like Ms. Yovanovitch and Ms. Hill, who were formally overseeing policy toward Ukraine. Ms. Hill was kept out of the loop by Mr. Giuliani and the president’s allies as they negotiated separately with Ukrainian officials, including on issues clearly in her area of responsibility.

Ms. Hill was the first person who worked in the White House to be deposed by House investigators and appeared despite the administration’s declaration last week that it would refuse to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry or allow its staff to do so. The White House did not attempt to stop Ms. Hill from testifying, according to the person familiar with her account, but White House lawyers exchanged letters with Ms. Hill’s lawyer about precedents regarding the confidentiality of presidential communications.

[Rudy Giuliani was a zero-tolerance mayor who cleaned up New York as he inflamed racial tensions. He was hailed as “America’s Mayor” after 9/11. Now, he’s at the center of the Trump impeachment inquiry. Watch “The Weekly,” our new TV show.]

The House Intelligence Committee issued a last-minute subpoena Monday morning to compel Ms. Hill to speak with the investigators, according to an official involved in the investigation. The arrangement was similar to one used last week to secure Ms. Yovanovitch’s cooperation, allowing both witnesses to more easily justify ignoring the White House’s clear opposition to cooperation with the House inquiry.

Ms. Hill, who was described as sensitive to the concerns of executive confidentiality, may limit her answers regarding direct interactions with the president. But her testimony has been highly anticipated, in part because she has a long history as a skeptic of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia who nonetheless worked for two years for Mr. Trump as he made friendship with the Russian leader a high priority.

Ms. Hill brought no opening statement to Monday’s session, unlike Ms. Yovanovitch and Kurt D. Volker, the former special envoy for Ukraine, when they were interviewed by House investigators. The interview was taking place behind closed doors, but parts or all of it may be made public later. Unlike Mr. Volker, she had no documents, emails or text messages to turn over because she left them behind when she stepped down.

Westlake Legal Group impeachment-investigation-tracker-promo-1570214529724-articleLarge-v3 Former Trump Aide Fiona Hill Speaks to Impeachment Investigators on Ukraine Zelensky, Volodymyr Yovanovitch, Marie L United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Pompeo, Mike National Security Council Hill, Fiona (1965- ) Giuliani, Rudolph W Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates

Subpoenas and Requests for Evidence in the Trump Impeachment Inquiry

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

Hers was the first of an active week of investigative work on Capitol Hill, where Democrats have scheduled closed-door sessions with a number of officials who could shed light on Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. George P. Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state who deals with the region, is scheduled to testify on Tuesday. Gordon D. Sondland, the Trump donor turned ambassador to the European Union who inserted himself into the Ukraine portfolio, is due to testify on Thursday.

Ms. Hill is a widely respected, British-born former Brookings Institution scholar and intelligence officer. She is the author, with Clifford Gaddy, of “Mr. Putin,” a critical biography of the Russian leader, and she served as senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs on the National Security Council staff from 2017 until last summer.

She turned over her duties to her successor on July 15 and left on July 19, just days before the July 25 telephone call in which Mr. Trump pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate conspiracy theories about Ukrainian help to Democrats in the 2016 election and supposed corruption by former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Ms. Hill was prepared to testify that she opposed the idea of the phone call because she did not understand its purpose. While it was described as a congratulatory call following parliamentary elections in Ukraine, Mr. Trump had already made a congratulatory call to Mr. Zelensky in April following his own election.

Ms. Hill has told associates that while she was the president’s top adviser on Russia and Ukraine, she was cut out of decisions and discussions as Mr. Giuliani and others ran a shadow diplomacy intended to benefit Mr. Trump’s political position.

She was not told that Mr. Trump would use the July 25 call to press for an investigation into Mr. Biden nor did she know about the president’s decision to withhold $391 million in American assistance to Ukraine until shortly before her departure, according to the person informed about her account.

Her testimony would not establish a quid pro quo between the suspended aid and Mr. Trump’s pressure for investigations, the person said. But she would confirm that the administration leveraged a coveted White House invitation for Mr. Zelensky to a commitment to investigate corruption, which was seen as code for investigating Democrats.

Ms. Hill took her objections to the treatment of Ms. Yovanovitch, who was targeted by Mr. Giuliani and conservative media outlets, to John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, as well as others. Mr. Bolton shared her concerns, according to the person, and was upset at Mr. Giuliani’s activities, which she viewed as essentially co-opting American foreign policy toward Ukraine.

Ms. Yovanovitch, a 33-year veteran of the foreign service who served under Republican and Democratic administrations, including three times as an ambassador, told House investigators last week that she was abruptly told to get “on the next plane” home last spring, ending her tour in Ukraine.

While the deputy secretary of state told her she had “done nothing wrong,” her removal, she testified, appeared to be based “on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives,” a reference to Mr. Giuliani and some of his associates.

Two associates of Mr. Giuliani were charged on Thursday with campaign finance violations connected to their efforts to push Ms. Yovanovitch out. They raised money for Pete Sessions, then a Republican member of Congress from Texas, and Mr. Sessions then pressed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to fire Ms. Yovanovitch for privately expressing “disdain” for the Trump administration. Ms. Yovanovitch denied ever expressing that sentiment.

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