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Westlake Legal Group > Presidential Election of 2016

Electoral College Members Can Defy Voters’ Wishes, Court Rules

Westlake Legal Group 22faithless-promo2-facebookJumbo Electoral College Members Can Defy Voters’ Wishes, Court Rules United States Politics and Government Presidential Election of 2016 electoral college Decisions and Verdicts Constitution (US) Colorado

In a ruling that kicks at the foundation of how America chooses presidents, a federal appeals court on Tuesday said members of the Electoral College, who cast the actual votes for president, may choose whomever they please regardless of a state’s popular vote.

The ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver said Colorado was out of bounds in 2016 when it canceled the vote of a so-called faithless elector named Michael Baca. Mr. Baca, a Democrat, wrote in the name of John Kasich, a Republican who was Ohio’s governor at the time, even though Hillary Clinton carried Colorado, earning its nine electoral votes. The secretary of state replaced Mr. Baca with another elector who then voted for Mrs. Clinton.

“The text of the Constitution makes clear that states do not have the constitutional authority to interfere with presidential electors who exercise their constitutional right to vote for the president and vice president candidates of their choice,” the court majority wrote in a split ruling by a three-judge panel.

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Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard law professor who founded the group that brought the case, Equal Citizens, said it was the first time a federal appeals court had ruled on whether electors could be bound in how they vote. Many states, including Colorado, have laws requiring electors to pledge that they will support the winner of the popular vote. The Constitution is mute on the subject. The appeals court noted that a handful of faithless electors have broken pledges to vote with their state’s majority since the presidential election of 1796.

Equal Citizens wants the Supreme Court to review the issue before the 2020 election. Because of hyper-partisanship and demographic changes pushing the country into near evenly divided camps, Mr. Lessig said, soon there very likely will be a presidential election that yields a tie or near tie in the Electoral College. Then, many more electors other than Mr. Baca may seek to influence the results, producing chaos.

“Whatever side you’re on, whether you think it’s a good or bad idea for electors to have freedom, the question ought to be resolved before there is a constitutional crisis,” Mr. Lessig said.

Resistance to the role of the Electoral College — which the nation’s founders set up out of fear of too much democracy, and which benefited Southern slaveholding states at the time — has grown stronger among Democrats ever since the 2000 election, when Al Gore won the popular vote but lost in the Electoral College.

President Trump’s Electoral College victory, despite losing the popular vote by nearly three million, only intensified Democrats’ antipathy. (Mr. Trump won states with 306 electoral votes, and Mrs. Clinton 232. But the vote in the Electoral College was 304 to 227, with seven electors defecting, the most ever.)

Democratic candidates for president this year, including Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, have called for the elimination of the Electoral College.

“Every vote matters, and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting, and that means get rid of the Electoral College,” Ms. Warren said while campaigning in March.

In addition, 15 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to award their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. The agreement would go into effect once states representing a majority of 270 electoral votes join the interstate agreement.

Colorado joined the group in March. Even still, its secretary of state, Jena Griswold, a Democrat, opposed the appeals court ruling this week. “This court decision takes power from Colorado voters and sets a dangerous precedent,” she said in a statement. “Our nation stands on the principle of one person, one vote.”

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No One Attacked Trump More in 2016 Than Republicans. It Didn’t Work.

Westlake Legal Group 13dc-memo1-facebookJumbo No One Attacked Trump More in 2016 Than Republicans. It Didn’t Work. United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Mulvaney, Mick Graham, Lindsey Democratic Party Cruz, Ted

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has called President Trump an “existential threat” to the nation.

Senator Kamala Harris has warned on the campaign trail that the president is a racist.

After the mass shooting in El Paso this month, in which a Texas man who confessed to killing 22 people echoed anti-immigrant language promulgated by Mr. Trump and right-wing media outlets, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, as well as former Representative Beto O’Rourke, escalated their verbal attacks on Mr. Trump, labeling him a “white supremacist.”

Each contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination is trying to distinguish himself or herself as the strongest candidate to take on the president. In doing so, the candidates have been eager to be seen as speaking plain truth to what they frame as venal power on issues of race, character and everything else.

“Donald Trump believes climate change is a hoax,” Mr. Sanders wrote on Twitter over the weekend, while campaigning at the Iowa State Fair. “Donald Trump is an idiot.”

But if the steady stream of ad hominem attacks is failing to shock, awe or drive the news, it is in part because there is little left in terms of criticism of Mr. Trump that has not already been volleyed — by his own team.

In 2015, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, labeled Mr. Trump a “race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot” and called him the “ISIL man of the year,” referring to the Islamic State. That was in addition to describing him as a “kook,” “crazy” and a man who was “unfit for office.”

Senator Ted Cruz, the second-to-last man left standing in the ugly 2016 Republican primary race, called Mr. Trump a “pathological liar” who was “utterly amoral,” a “serial philanderer” and a “narcissist at a level I don’t think this country’s ever seen.”

Mick Mulvaney, the former Republican congressman who now serves as the president’s acting chief of staff, in 2016 called him a “terrible human being” who had made “disgusting and indefensible” comments about women.

Revisiting the now hollow critiques from Mr. Trump’s own party — those Republicans have all embraced the president and his agenda, going on to serve in his administration or offer him support from Capitol Hill — is raising questions about whether the search for a killer line on Mr. Trump is a fool’s errand.

“Voters on the whole are completely desensitized to personal attacks on Trump at this point,” said Tim Alberta, the author of “American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump.”

“Rick Perry called him a ‘cancer’ and then became a cabinet secretary,” he said. “It’s not like a swing voter in a battleground state will hear an ad hominem attack on him and suddenly think, ‘I never thought of it that way.’”

Mr. Alberta, who in researching his book spent time Monday-morning quarterbacking the 2016 election with many of the failed Republican candidates, said that “the unlearned lesson from 2016 for Republicans was that every day spent launching ad hominem attacks on Trump was a day not spent pointing to voters how little he knows about actually running the government.”

While the attacks may help Democrats distinguish themselves from one another, they appear to have no effect on Mr. Trump’s poll numbers, according to officials. Mr. Trump’s internal approval ratings, a source familiar with the numbers said, have not shifted by more than 1 percent since April 2018, and hover between 43 and 45 percent.

“Everything is tribal at this point,” said Brendan Buck, a former adviser to Paul Ryan, the former House speaker. “If you’re with him, you’re with him, in spite of or because of the way that he is.” But Mr. Buck said that since 2016, there has been “slippage with women voters, suburban voters — and I think some of it is related to his persona and the way he presents himself” and the character that Democrats are critiquing.

Trump campaign officials shrug off the race to be seen as the biggest Trump critic in the Democratic Party. They view it as an intraparty fight between candidates trying to raise small dollars and qualify for the next presidential debate, but they have tracked no negative effect on Mr. Trump’s standing because of it.

And they have ignored the president’s one Republican opponent, William F. Weld, the former Massachusetts governor waging the longest of long-shot Republican primary challenges, who also appears to be recycling the attacks that failed to stop Mr. Trump’s capture of the party’s nomination in 2016. “Donald Trump is a raging racist,” Mr. Weld said last month. “He’s a complete and thoroughgoing racist.”

Mr. Trump, for his part, has bristled at being labeled a racist, but has not indicated to his allies or advisers that he intends to change his language or reach out to communities of color with a message of unity.

Democratic strategists, however, said there was a difference between a voter’s expectations of a sitting president and a first-time candidate.

“Part of the reasons that voters in 2016 overlooked a lot of these same criticisms of Trump is that they hoped that his schtick was just a schtick,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster. “It’s possible these criticisms will be more meaningful because it’s much harder to have the illusion that these character deficiencies aren’t for real.”

Mr. Garin, who worked for Ralph Northam in 2017 during Mr. Northam’s Democratic primary race for governor of Virginia, said attacking Mr. Trump also helps centrist candidates prove themselves to progressive voters.

Mr. Northam’s primary race opponent, former Representative Tom Perriello, challenged him from the left, Mr. Garin said, “but Ralph said in a commercial that Donald Trump is a narcissistic maniac.”

“That’s all that Democratic primary voters needed to hear to know he was in tune with them,” he added.

Among the Democratic candidates for president, there is an awareness that Mr. Trump will always win in a game of diminishing nicknames and threatening speech. But many of them view it as a moral obligation to attach a label to him.

“At a time when the president’s words are being weaponized by violent extremists, it’s important to speak in direct terms about who he is,” said Sawyer Hackett, the national press secretary for Julián Castro, a presidential candidate and former housing secretary. “He is a racist who fans the flames of white nationalism and white supremacy.”

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How a Trump Ally Tested the Boundaries of Washington’s Influence Game

WASHINGTON — Elliott Broidy had the kind of past that might have given a more traditional White House reason to keep him at a distance: A wealthy businessman, he had pleaded guilty in 2009 to giving nearly $1 million in illegal gifts to New York State officials to help land a $250 million investment from the state’s pension fund.

But on a fall day in 2017, Mr. Broidy was ushered into the West Wing. For about two hours, he met with a handful of the most powerful people on earth, including President Trump, his chief of staff, his national security adviser and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, discussing everything from personnel recommendations to the Republican Party’s finances.

Mostly, though, according to a detailed account he later sent to an associate, Mr. Broidy talked about the Middle East, a subject that had long been important to him personally and was becoming increasingly important to him financially.

As he sat with Mr. Trump, Mr. Broidy promoted a plan for a counterterrorism force backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which he said would be supported by his private security and intelligence company, Circinus, under the leadership of Stanley A. McChrystal, the retired Army general and former commander in Afghanistan.

And at a time when Mr. Broidy was running a multimillion-dollar advocacy campaign to turn Washington against Qatar, a regional rival of the Saudis and the Emiratis, he took the opportunity to tell Mr. Trump that Qatar was part of an “axis of evil,” according to his account of the meeting.

That meeting was one of the high points of a comeback by Mr. Broidy, who after having been shunned by some Republicans in the wake of his 2009 guilty plea had worked himself into Mr. Trump’s inner circle as a top fund-raiser for his 2016 campaign and inauguration.

The stature he suddenly assumed when Mr. Trump won the election allowed him to position himself as a premier broker of influence and access to the new administration. In the process, his international business came to overlap with his efforts to influence government policy in ways that have now made him the subject of an intensifying federal investigation.

But Mr. Broidy’s tour through the White House that day was also further evidence of how Mr. Trump — who initially lacked an established network of high-dollar fund-raisers, held unformed positions on many issues and had difficulty attracting top-tier talent — came to rely on people whose backgrounds and activities would have raised red flags in other campaigns and administrations.

Among them were Paul Manafort, who was the chairman of Mr. Trump’s campaign and was later indicted for lobbying and financial crimes, and Mr. Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates, who also helped run Mr. Trump’s inauguration. Prosecutors are still investigating whether the chairman of the inaugural committee and a close friend of the president, Thomas J. Barrack Jr., violated lobbying laws.

Few figures exploited the moment more ambitiously than Mr. Broidy, whose Oval Office meeting was just one element of a sophisticated effort to amass and exert influence in Mr. Trump’s Washington.

Bolstering his own access to the administration, Mr. Broidy enlisted a host of prominent figures to advance the interests of his companies, his clients or his causes. In addition to General McChrystal, there was the former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon; former defense secretaries including Robert M. Gates and Leon E. Panetta; David H. Petraeus, the former C.I.A. director; and the longtime diplomat Dennis B. Ross. They gave paid speeches to groups he was funding, wrote op-eds or advised Mr. Broidy, wittingly or unwittingly becoming public faces of his efforts.

While Mr. Broidy seemed to find a sympathetic audience for his positions in the upper reaches of the administration, including his campaign against Qatar, other efforts appeared to yield little action, like an arrangement to help a Malaysian financier with legal problems in the United States. And some of Mr. Broidy’s proposals, like his plan to help set up the counterterrorism force in the Persian Gulf, went nowhere.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158902074_de96803f-23f3-4fff-bfb3-4b00c21652ca-articleLarge How a Trump Ally Tested the Boundaries of Washington’s Influence Game United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Ross, Dennis B Presidential Election of 2016 Nader, George A (1959- ) Mohammed bin Salman (1985- ) McChrystal, Stanley A Low Jho (1981- ) Lobbying and Lobbyists Inaugurations Government Contracts and Procurement Gates, Robert M foreign agents registration act Circinus LLC Broidy, Elliott Barrack, Thomas J Jr Bannon, Stephen K

Stanley A. McChrystal, the retired Army general, accompanied Mr. Broidy and his team on a trip to the Middle East.CreditSteven Senne/Associated Press

The Justice Department has been investigating, among other issues, whether Mr. Broidy violated the law by not registering as an agent of foreign interests at a time when he was promoting their causes and being paid by them, and whether, in one case, he was paid with laundered money to lobby. The Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, requires Americans to disclose efforts to shape government policy or public opinion on behalf of foreign governments and political interests. Enforcing FARA has become an increasing priority for the Justice Department.

While Mr. Broidy’s advocacy efforts could have benefited his paying clients, his representatives say the efforts were not directed or funded by those clients in a way that would require FARA registration.

“Elliott Broidy has never agreed to work for, been retained or compensated by, nor taken direction from any foreign government directly or indirectly for any interaction with the United States government, ever,” said his lawyer, Chris Clark. “Any implication to the contrary is a lie.”

But the full scope and intensity of Mr. Broidy’s activities, and the investigations into them, are only now coming into focus. Interviews and records show that:

• Federal investigators are homing in on the question of whether his involvement with the government of the United Arab Emirates and the Malaysian financier may have run afoul of FARA.

• Investigators are exploring the financial links between Mr. Broidy, the government of the United Arab Emirates and one of that government’s advisers, George Nader. According to previously unreported banking records, Mr. Nader was paid millions of dollars by the United Arab Emirates as he was working closely with Mr. Broidy on two fronts: to win security and intelligence contracts from the Emirate and Saudi governments, and to direct and fund the campaign in Washington against Qatar.

• Other banking records show that government of the United Arab Emirates continued to pay Mr. Broidy’s company tens of millions of dollars, including a payment of $24 million in late March, even as it became public that prosecutors were looking into his activities.

• Officials from one country with which Mr. Broidy has worked, Angola, say they believed his company was being paid to lobby on their behalf, rather than to provide private intelligence services, as Mr. Broidy’s representatives say.

• His efforts to help his clients in Washington were more extensive than previously known. They involved not just prominent political figures but also payments to influential think tanks, lobbyists and a nonprofit conservative media outlet that produced articles promoting his clients’ agendas and criticizing their rivals.

Four people Mr. Broidy worked with on business or advocacy efforts have been indicted. He resigned as deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee last year after it was revealed he had agreed to pay $1.6 million in hush money to a former Playboy model he impregnated, in a deal arranged by Michael D. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer.

Mr. Broidy’s current situation is a sharp turnabout from two and a half years ago, when he helped raise a record $107 million for Mr. Trump’s inauguration. He offered to arrange inaugural tickets for politicians from Angola, the Republic of Congo and Romania — countries from which he sought intelligence contracts worth as much as $266 million, documents and interviews show.

He greatly increased his giving to Republicans. He socialized with Mr. Trump at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort, where he was a member.

Business was good. Mr. Broidy’s company won deals worth more than $200 million from the United Arab Emirates alone. The company established an office there that employs 60 people who compile intelligence reports for the U.A.E. government.

After The New York Times, The Associated Press and other news media outlets revealed last year that he had marketed his access to the Trump team to prospective foreign clients, his company lost lucrative United States government subcontracts. Members of Congress returned donations, as did the Hudson Institute, a think tank, which returned funding for a research project on Qatari influence. Mr. Ross returned $20,000 in consulting fees he had accepted in early 2018, when he was advising Mr. Broidy on how to pursue contracts with foreign governments and how to shape American foreign policy toward those governments.

Mr. Broidy offered inaugural tickets to politicians from Angola, the Republic of Congo and Romania — countries from which he was seeking defense intelligence contracts worth as much as $266 million.CreditTodd Heisler/The New York Times

“There was a cloud that was created, and it made sense just to dissociate,” said Mr. Ross, who worked on Middle Eastern policy for administrations of both parties.

Some of the activities of Mr. Broidy and his associates are detailed in hundreds of documents and emails from the private accounts of Mr. Broidy and his wife, which were distributed to reporters anonymously starting in early 2018. Mr. Broidy sued Qatar and some of its lobbyists, accusing them of orchestrating the theft and dissemination of those documents, which Qatar denies.

Mr. Broidy’s spokesman, Nathan Miller, said those documents “have been altered and cherry-picked out of context to present a false narrative about his business activities and public educational efforts that were entirely legitimate and legal.”

But this account also relies on dozens of interviews, banking records provided by people familiar with Mr. Broidy’s work and other documents submitted in court cases or obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

“He was certainly trying to influence the administration to adopt a policy that served his political preference,” Mr. Ross said in a July interview with The Times about his work with Mr. Broidy, some of which was subsequently reported by The Daily Beast. “Was he doing it because it would serve his business interests as well? Presumably yes.”

Mr. Broidy, 62, made his own fortune. He grew up middle class in Los Angeles, and paid his way through the University of Southern California by operating a laundromat. After earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance, he went to work for an accounting firm, before he was hired to handle the personal investments of one of the firm’s clients, Taco Bell’s founder, Glen Bell Jr., in the early 1980s.

After about a decade, Mr. Broidy started his own investment firm, Broidy Capital Management. He built a mansion in the hills of Bel Air and established a reputation as a generous philanthropist and pillar of Los Angeles’s Jewish community.

He assembled a large wine collection and indulged a fondness for expensive wristwatches, according to people who know him. They said he boasted that he was among the biggest private buyers of a type of 25-year-old whisky that retails for $1,800 a bottle.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Mr. Broidy’s political and business focus turned toward national security in the United States and Israel.

In 2006, he was appointed by President George W. Bush, for whom Mr. Broidy had become a top fund-raiser, to a homeland security advisory panel and the Kennedy Center board of trustees. In October 2006, Mr. Bush attended a dinner at the Bel Air mansion that raised $1 million for the Republican Party.

Some of the activities of Mr. Broidy and his associates have come to light through the circulation of documents and emails from the private accounts of Mr. Broidy and his wife, Robin Rosenzweig.CreditAlex Berliner/BEI, via Shutterstock

As the 2016 presidential campaign got underway, Mr. Broidy edged back into high-profile electoral politics, supporting a succession of senators seeking the Republican nomination, including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas.

When Mr. Cruz dropped out, Mr. Broidy enthusiastically began raising money for the Trump campaign.

In the weeks before Mr. Trump’s inauguration, Mr. Broidy was in the center of the action.

He helped organize and fund a private breakfast at the Trump International Hotel two days before the inauguration that was attended by 50 to 60 people, according to people familiar with the event.

The guest list featured officials from Africa, Eastern Europe and Arab nations, as well as Republicans with ties to the incoming administration, including Mr. Trump’s choice for national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.

Mr. Broidy teamed with a Nigerian-American entrepreneur to pursue an intelligence contract with the Angolan government. An early draft of the deal called for payments of as much as $64 million over five years, but someone familiar with it said the final contract was for a smaller amount.

He offered to arrange access in Washington for a pair of powerful Angolan officials who had a hand in the contract.

Days before the inauguration, the Angolans paid $6 million to Circinus. And Mr. Broidy escorted an Angolan official, André de Oliveira João Sango, then the director of external intelligence, to introductory meetings with Republican lawmakers.

A couple of days later, Mr. Sango sat at a table adjacent to Mr. Broidy’s at an exclusive “candlelight” donor dinner sponsored by Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee and attended by the president-elect, according to another Angolan official.

While Mr. Broidy’s representatives say he was not required to register as a lobbyist because he did not accept funds for lobbying, Angolan diplomats in Washington saw things differently.

“It was basically to help assist in approaching the Trump administration,” Lucombo Joaquim Luveia, a counselor at the embassy, said of the payment to Circinus.

The Angolan ambassador at the time, Agostinho Tavares, said his impression was that Mr. Broidy “sold the invitation” to the inaugural to Mr. Sango.

Mr. Luveia said that “all those arrangements were back-channeled between the lobbyist Broidy and the central government, at the presidential level., The Angolan president at the time, José Eduardo dos Santos, was replaced last year.

Mr. Broidy also provided access during inauguration week to a pair of Romanian politicians seen as critical to Circinus’s chances for doing business in the country. Mr. Broidy arranged an impromptu introduction to Mr. Trump during an informal dinner at the Trump hotel for Liviu Dragnea, then a powerful Romanian parliamentary leader.

George Nader presented himself as a liaison to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, center, the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, right.Creditvia Shutterstock

Circinus subsequently competed for Romanian government contracts valued at more than $200 million, according to the Romanian news media and people familiar with the contracting process. But the contracts did not materialize. Mr. Dragnea, who was facing unrelated corruption charges in Romania at the time of the inauguration, has since been convicted. And Romanian and American officials have questioned a former Circinus executive in Romania.

Hours after Mr. Trump’s swearing-in, Mr. Broidy was abuzz as he and his wife, holding hands, walked into a late-night party in a private room at the Trump hotel.

He approached a fellow Republican donor and, in a move the donor interpreted as an early flexing of new status, Mr. Broidy suggested it was time to settle a lingering business dispute between them.

“He was exuding hubris,” said the donor, Yuri Vanetik, a characterization disputed by Mr. Broidy’s representatives. “He wanted to show that it was his world now.”

Through the transition and the early days of the administration, Mr. Broidy entertained discussions about using his newfound connections in Washington to help an array of foreign clients.

After being approached by a lawyer working with Russian executives who were under sanctions, Mr. Broidy devised a plan to try to lift the sanctions in exchange for $11 million — a deal that ultimately was not pursued.

Separately, Mr. Broidy discussed helping to end a Justice Department investigation into a flamboyant Malaysian financier who was suspected of embezzling billions of dollars from a Malaysian investment fund.

The financier, Low Taek Jho, known as Jho Low, transferred $6 million to the law firm of Mr. Broidy’s wife, Ms. Rosenzweig, to finance the effort, according to a guilty plea for bank fraud by a former Justice Department employee in a related case.

Allies of Mr. Low also talked with Mr. Broidy about using his connections to force the extradition of a Chinese dissident living in the United States, according to the court filings.

Mr. Broidy’s lawyers said their client never discussed assisting Mr. Low in any criminal matters and never lobbied to resolve the civil issues facing the financier.

Mr. Trump took office signaling a new approach to the Middle East, setting off a scramble by governments in the region to assure that their voices would be heard by the new administration. A key figure in Mr. Broidy’s activities was Mr. Nader.

An American citizen born in Lebanon, Mr. Nader, 60, entered Mr. Broidy’s life at a fortuitous moment for both men and for Mr. Nader’s patrons — primarily Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, though Mr. Nader also presented himself as a liaison to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

To the princes, whose countries are closely allied, Mr. Broidy was a perfect messenger to try to turn the new American administration against Qatar.

Rick Gates, the former deputy chairman of the Trump campaign, is one of a number of Trump aides to have run into legal problems.CreditErin Schaff for The New York Times

And to Mr. Broidy, Mr. Nader was a perfect messenger to pitch Circinus’s services to the wealthy governments of the Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Not long after meeting at the Trump hotel during inauguration week, Mr. Broidy and Mr. Nader were exchanging messages about Circinus’s efforts to win hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of defense contracts with the Persian Gulf nations, and discussing the anti-Qatar campaign, according to documents and interviews.

Mr. Nader wired Mr. Broidy $2.4 million in three installments, starting less than three months after the inauguration, for the anti-Qatar public policy effort. Mr. Broidy contributed his own money, according to people familiar with the campaign. They said other donors contributed as well.

Mr. Broidy donated to two Washington think tanks — the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Hudson Institute — to fund conferences he intended to be critical of Qatar. Featured speakers included the former defense secretaries Mr. Panetta and Mr. Gates, as well as Mr. Bannon and Mr. Petraeus.

Mr. Gates and Mr. Bannon were paid about $100,000 each, while Mr. Petraeus was paid $50,000, according to interviews and contracts, which stipulated that Mr. Gates and Mr. Petraeus would meet privately with Mr. Broidy on the sidelines of the conference. The think tanks paid the speakers and were reimbursed by Mr. Broidy. Mr. Nader helped arrange Mr. Bannon’s appearance, The Daily Beast reported.

Mr. Broidy assured the think tanks that he was using only his own money and that it was not from foreign sources, according to people familiar with the conferences, who said he did not disclose that he was simultaneously pursuing business in the region.

But updates sent by Mr. Broidy to Mr. Nader list Circinus as the entity overseeing the advocacy campaign, which included plans for the conferences, op-eds, articles and congressional and media outreach, including to the Fox News host Sean Hannity, a favorite of Mr. Trump.

One update lists the Emirati and Saudi governments as the “clients” of the campaign, and a senior Saudi general, Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, who would later be blamed by his country’s leadership for the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as a consultant. Mr. Broidy’s lawyers say that the updates were early drafts and that references to the involvement of Circinus and the Saudi and Emirati governments were errors that were corrected in subsequent drafts.

Banking records obtained by The Times show that, months after the first think-tank conference, and days before the second, Mr. Nader received the first of two payments of about $5 million worth of Emirati currency from an entity controlled by the government of the United Arab Emirates.

“Any payments by the U.A.E. to Mr. Nader had absolutely nothing to do with the conferences or the broader educational initiative,” said Tim McCarten, a lawyer with the firm Latham & Watkins, who represents both Mr. Nader and Mr. Broidy. Mr. McCarten declined to specify the purpose of the payments.

The second $5 million payment came months after Mr. Nader began cooperating with prosecutors looking into whether Emirati money was funneled into Mr. Trump’s political operation.

The Justice Department has asked witnesses about the funding of the anti-Qatar campaign, as well as whether foreign money flowed into Mr. Trump’s inaugural.

In April, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn issued a subpoena for documents from the inaugural committee naming Mr. Broidy and companies with which he is associated, as well as Mr. Nader. Among others named were Mr. Dragnea, the Angolan politician Mr. Sango and Angola’s current president, João Lourenço. Mr. Lourenço previously served as the head of the Angolan Defense Ministry, and was also invited by Mr. Broidy to attend the inauguration, but did not go, according to the Angolan diplomats.

Leon E. Panetta, a former defense secretary, is among the prominent figures Mr. Broidy enlisted to advance the interests of his companies, his clients or his causes.CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

Mr. Nader was charged in June with possession of child pornography, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

The direct impact of the anti-Qatar advocacy campaign is not clear. It coincided with Mr. Trump’s public criticism of Qatar, and his expression of support for Qatar’s rivals, the Emiratis and the Saudis, though his administration attempted to walk back some of the criticism.

Mr. Broidy paid $10,000 a month to a Democratic firm, Bluelight Strategies, which worked to harness the center-left to press the administration to be tough on Qatar, according to emails and interviews.

Mr. Broidy gave $25,000 to a nonprofit group called the Jewish Institute for National Security of America to write op-eds and host news conferences criticizing Qatar, including with a retired Air Force general, Charles F. Wald.

Another nonprofit listed by Mr. Broidy as part of the advocacy campaign, the American Media Institute, received $240,000 from Mr. Broidy in 2017, according to its tax returns. Mr. Broidy and his allies were in close contact with the group’s staff as it produced articles and op-eds that advanced the interests of his clients and prospective clients, including the government of Malaysia, while criticizing their rivals, including Qatar and the Chinese dissident.

Richard Miniter, the institute’s chief executive, said its decisions were based on news judgment, rather than Mr. Broidy’s wishes. “We get tons of ideas from both donors and nondonors, but there were no conditions on the grant to do those stories,” he said.

Mr. Miniter said he was unaware before being alerted by The Times of overlap between Mr. Broidy’s business and the subjects he wanted covered.

In correspondence around the time of the Hudson Institute conference, Mr. Broidy cited Mr. Panetta and General Wald — as well as General McChrystal — as members of Circinus’s team.

The men or their representatives say those claims were exaggerated or false.

General McChrystal acknowledged that he accompanied Mr. Broidy and his team on a trip to the Middle East, where they met with Prince Mohammed bin Zayed in the summer of 2017.

The trip came after Mr. McChrystal was offered $100,000 by Mr. Broidy, according to documents and interviews.

When Mr. Broidy later dropped the general’s name in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump interjected to say that “he thinks highly of General McChrystal,” according to Mr. Broidy’s readout.

Mr. McChrystal said he accompanied Mr. Broidy to the United Arab Emirates because it seemed as if his company was pursuing worthwhile work. But he said he declined a subsequent offer for a leadership role in the company because “it didn’t fit into my time or my interests to do any more.”

Mr. Panetta’s office said he “is not and has never been involved in” Mr. Broidy’s business.

General Wald said he turned down Mr. Broidy’s invitation to join Circinus because he felt the company’s work was “mercenary,” and because of concerns about Mr. Broidy.

“Broidy is playing for both political and financial reasons,” he said, “and it’s hard to figure out which one he is interested in mostly.”

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In Epstein Tweets, Trump Revisits a Favored Conspiracy Genre: Murder

Westlake Legal Group merlin_158974509_eb6e8dad-ed72-4163-834d-89309d9ec072-facebookJumbo In Epstein Tweets, Trump Revisits a Favored Conspiracy Genre: Murder United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Scalia, Antonin Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2016 Nunberg, Sam Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Cruz, Ted Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bill

President Trump has long used his fame and platform to amplify conspiracy theories and undermine his political enemies by muddying the waters when it comes to facts.

For years, he has helped to erode voter faith in institutions by invoking the idea of a sinister force — such as the “deep state” or a rigged electoral system — that is thwarting the will of the people in an attempt to undermine him.

But a macabre subgenre of Mr. Trump’s fondness for conspiracy theories has been to accuse, directly or indirectly, his political enemies of murder.

In the heat of the 2016 Republican primary, Mr. Trump elevated an unsubstantiated rumor, published by the Trump-friendly National Enquirer, insinuating that the father of one of his rivals, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, had been involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Earlier that year, he fed into the idea that Antonin Scalia, a Supreme Court justice who died in his sleep in 2016, could have actually been murdered in his bed.

On Saturday, two and a half years into his presidency and hours after Jeffrey Epstein, the financier accused of sex trafficking, was found dead in a federal jail cell in Manhattan, Mr. Trump once again weighed in by elevating an online conspiracy theory that the Clintons were linked to his death.

Mr. Epstein “had information on Bill Clinton & now he’s dead,” Terrence Williams, a comedian and Trump supporter, wrote on Twitter on Saturday. Mr. Williams also noted that “for some odd reason, people that have information on the Clintons end up dead.” Mr. Trump promptly shared the baseless insinuation online by retweeting it to his 63 million followers.

Mr. Trump, who is entering the thick of election season, has yet to find any candidate in the crowded Democratic field whom he delights in invoking as much as his forever foils, Bill and Hillary Clinton, the onetime reigning couple of Democratic politics who have been the subject of conspiracy mongering on the right for decades.

Even though the Clintons have retreated from politics, “it’s one of those things that continue to live on,” said Douglas Brinkley, the historian.

Mr. Trump’s decision to weigh in on the case of Mr. Epstein’s apparent suicide, even while his own Justice Department is investigating, also had a political imperative behind it, Mr. Brinkley said. “The first thing Trump wanted to do was put Bill Clinton into the mix,” he added. “Make it about Bubba, not about the Donald.”

Mr. Clinton and Mr. Epstein were first linked in 2002, when it was reported that the former president took his first of four trips aboard Mr. Epstein’s private jet, for a trip related to Mr. Clinton’s work on his foundation, according to a Clinton spokesman, and Mr. Clinton has stressed that he has not been in touch with Mr. Epstein in over a decade.

But Mr. Trump has his own long history with Mr. Epstein, one he has been playing down since before he began his presidential campaign. The two New Yorkers were friends through the 1990s, and into the 2000s, and in at least one instance, were even caught on camera ogling women together at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s Palm Beach, Fla., estate. The source of their eventual falling out — which Mr. Trump has highlighted more than the friendship itself — has been in dispute.

Whether he believes the theories he promotes or not, Mr. Trump knows that many people will latch onto them, lured by the idea that a hidden force is controlling fate.

“He revels in conspiracy theories because he knows it gives him quick and easy traction with the masses — they’re easily swayed by the notion that there is an organized group getting over on them,” said Timothy L. O’Brien, a journalist and one of Mr. Trump’s biographers. “Because he never feels remorse or guilt about peddling these fables, he dives right in even when he knows better.”

On Saturday, when the news of Mr. Epstein’s death broke, Mr. Trump was at his New Jersey golf club, where he plans to spend his vacation and where, accompanied by few aides, he often uses Twitter more freely than when he is at the White House.

“It’s another example of something where he should stop and think about the fact that he’s the president of the United States, and stop his thumbs, but he never does,” said Rich Lowry, a columnist and editor of the conservative National Review.

In the murky story of Mr. Epstein’s death, Mr. Trump found particularly fertile soil: the demise of an accused pedophile with powerful friends, whose apparent suicide in a federal Manhattan jail has raised questions about “serious irregularities” and has many people — not just Mr. Trump — speculating in public about what might have really taken place.

“Something stinks to high heaven,” Claire McCaskill, a Democratic former senator from Missouri, wrote on Twitter.

By Monday, however, some of Mr. Trump’s closest advisers sought to tamp down the talk of a conspiracy now that the Justice Department is involved in the investigation.

Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, had suggested on Saturday that he found Mr. Epstein’s death suspicious. But on Monday, he said: “It is best to wait for some key facts like the findings of the autopsy. Withholding judgment is the wisest course to follow. D.O.J. is very motivated to get to the bottom of it.”

Waiting for facts to settle, however, has never been Mr. Trump’s preferred style.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly used conspiracies to bond with his supporters since promoting the false story that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, rather than Hawaii, which helped him rise in the polls in 2011 when he first considered a run for president.

“Conspiracy theories are a perfect tool to emotionally connect with voters and supporters,” said Sam Nunberg, a former campaign aide.

Last year, Mr. Trump promoted accusations that a “criminal deep state” element within the government had planted a spy inside his presidential campaign to try to help Mrs. Clinton win the presidency — a scheme he branded “Spygate.”

And during the 2016 campaign, he promoted the idea of foul play as a reason for Justice Scalia’s death.

“I’m hearing it’s a big topic,” he said then. “It’s a horrible topic but they’re saying they found the pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow,” Mr. Trump told the radio host Michael Savage.

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Why a Race-Baiting Trump Is Courting Black Voters

DETROIT — Mark Greer is a black Detroiter so outraged by President Trump’s regular stream of invective toward people of color that he does his best to avoid exposure to him.

So when he clicked on a YouTube link last month to watch an episode of “The Breakfast Club,” a morning radio show popular with African-Americans, he was angered by an ad that greeted him: a message from Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign.

“It just infuriated me because I felt like they were being slick, trying to slip it in there,” said Mr. Greer, 28, who works for a philanthropic organization. “I know better, but other people who are watching this might go, ‘Hmmm.’”

President Trump’s entire approach to people of color — his attacks on political leaders, his campaign’s social media strategy targeting the black electorate, his ability to fuel black opposition but also demoralize some black voters — is one of the most extraordinary political dynamics of the Trump era. No modern president has ever vilified black Americans or sought to divide people along racial lines like Mr. Trump, while also claiming to be a champion of their economic interests.

The online ad that Mr. Greer saw illustrates the audacious nature of Mr. Trump’s strategy. Even as the president sows racial disharmony, telling four Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back,” and saying “no human being” would want to live in the “rat and rodent infested” city of Baltimore, his re-election campaign is spending money on social media to put Mr. Trump before the eyes of black voters.

The objectives are twofold: First, to try to win over a handful of black voters. The campaign intends to highlight low rates of African-American unemployment and the criminal justice overhaul the president signed, a measure that is already a subject of his campaign’s Facebook advertising.

But the more clandestine hope, and one privately acknowledged by Trump allies, is that the president can make black voters think twice about turning out for Democrats or expending energy on trying to change a system some African-Americans believe is unalterably stacked against them.

For many voters of color in this crucial swing state, Mr. Trump’s racial invective is deeply hurtful on a personal level, but something they have come to expect from a president who has consistently denigrated them.

“I think he can win again,” said Malak Aldasouqi, a 21-year-old Detroit Public Schools intern, who is Muslim and said she often feels disheartened by the president’s attacks on people of color. “It’s a little bit of a no-faith situation because there’s been a lot of times where I’ve felt betrayed by the American people.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158684874_03116aae-c480-4943-b02e-2d5bd1ea3e03-articleLarge Why a Race-Baiting Trump Is Courting Black Voters Voting and Voters Trump, Donald J Race and Ethnicity Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Political Advertising Midterm Elections (2018) Facebook Inc Detroit (Mich) Democratic Party Booker, Cory A Blacks

Malak Aldasouqi of East Lansing, Mich.CreditErin Kirkland for The New York Times

[Make sense of the people, issues and ideas shaping American politics with our newsletter.]

Still, Democrats also sense that the president’s race-baiting presents a unique opportunity. After a disastrous dip in black turnout in 2016 in battleground states like Michigan, Democrats are now working to harness the disdain for Mr. Trump to motivate a group that may prove to be most pivotal in the 2020 election: the low-propensity voters of color who decide late whether or not to cast ballots in the election.

Turnout figures show many stayed home in 2016, an election that marked the first decline in black participation rates in two decades. Increasing black turnout by just a few percentage points in urban areas of states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania could thwart Mr. Trump’s re-election.

And there are already signs that Mr. Trump’s conduct, which has been reminiscent of a 2016 campaign filled with racist tropes, is likely to ensure that outcome.

Longtime black Democratic leaders say the only time they can recall black voters being so engaged in presidential politics was when they had the chance to elect, and then to re-elect, Barack Obama.

“My dental hygienist talked with me about the election for 40 minutes the other day,” Shirley Franklin, a former Atlanta mayor, recalled with wonder, adding: “Some have preferences but a lot don’t. They just say, ‘I want to vote for whoever is going to beat Trump.’ That’s the predominant feeling.”

Early polling also points to a highly engaged black electorate.

A June poll from CNN found that 74 percent of Democratic voters were extremely or very enthusiastic about voting next year, a higher figure than even in the years before Mr. Obama’s two elections. The figure was the same for white and nonwhite Democrats.

Theodore R. Johnson, a scholar at the Brennan Center who has written extensively on black voters, said he was skeptical that African-American turnout would reach Obama-era levels, but noted that “if it just goes up from ’16, Trump is in trouble.” A record 66.6 percent of eligible black voters cast ballots in 2012, but that number fell to 59.6 percent four years later.

Mr. Johnson said the evidence from the Trump era indicates that African-Americans are highly motivated. He pointed to their turnout in the 2017 special Senate election in Alabama and in last year’s midterm elections, in which the black vote jumped 11 percentage points above 2014 levels, the year of the previous midterm.

“He’s very, very disrespectful,” said Teresa Singleton, 55, a Detroit firefighter. “It’s very disrespectful. And I’m just shocked that the No. 1 man in the United States goes through these Twitter attack rages like that. It encourages me to get out and help advocate for someone different in the next election. I feel like it’s my responsibility.”

Teresa Singleton, a Detroit firefighter.CreditErin Kirkland for The New York Times

The Trump campaign said it was eager to deliver its message to black voters.

“President Trump has an excellent record benefitting black Americans, which we will enthusiastically communicate,” said Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman. “Black unemployment has hit an all-time low, paychecks are rising, and the President is providing second chances to people through criminal justice reform.”

The campaign is spending far more on digital advertising to try to influence voters than his Democratic challengers. Since the beginning of 2019, Mr. Trump has spent $14.1 million on Facebook and Google campaigns, according to Bully Pulpit Interactive, a Democratic digital firm. The highest-spending 2020 Democratic candidate is Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has spent $3.2 million.

[Read about how President Trump has often used race for his own personal gain]

Some of that messaging is aimed at black voters using ZIP codes, though no public data tracks the precise amount. The Trump campaign has posted multiple ads on Facebook highlighting the criminal justice legislation, including spots that feature video of the president flashing a thumbs-up in the White House alongside African-Americans after signing the measure.

“Americans from across the political spectrum can unite around prison reform legislation that will reduce crime while giving our fellow citizens a chance at redemption,” reads the message on the screen at the end of one of the ads.

Mr. Trump doesn’t have to convert black voters with that message; just inhibiting enough of them from participating on Election Day would be a victory for his purposes. And leading black officials are already voicing concern that, in addition to Mr. Trump’s own advertising, the combination of strict voter identification laws and even more aggressive foreign interference on social media could suppress black turnout.

The risks for the president are that suburban voters who fled the Republican Party in the midterm elections will come out in force for the 2020 Democratic nominee, and that black and Hispanic voters in cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Phoenix will turn out in far larger numbers than they did in 2016.

Still, Democrats say Mr. Trump’s message is a difficult one to counteract. Opinions about the president and his racially divisive attacks are already baked into the views of many people of color.

Quentin James, who leads a group dedicated to electing black Democrats, said it is precisely because so many African-Americans are inured to Mr. Trump that the party must devote substantial money to energizing one of their most irregular, but vital, constituencies: younger black men.

Democrats say research indicates it is not helpful to invoke Mr. Trump directly to fuel such motivational efforts.

The president’s standing in polls of black voters has not changed since his 2017 defense of neo-Nazis marching on Charlottesville, Va., according to Adrianne Shropshire, the executive director of BlackPAC, a super PAC focused on motivating black voters.

“I do think that using Trump imagery is triggering for black people,” Ms. Shropshire said. “We don’t use it in our advertising.”

Democratic presidential candidates have not settled on how to deal with the man they all hope to replace. While five of the party’s 20 candidates called Mr. Trump a racist during this week’s debates in Detroit, the party’s private polling shows that affixing that label to him is not the most effective way to peel support away from the president.

A poll conducted in June for the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a political arm of the progressive think tank, offered voters six derogatory descriptions of Mr. Trump: ineffective, false promises, for the rich, divisive, corrupt and racist. Among voters surveyed, the ineffective label moved the most voters toward a generic Democratic candidate; the racist label moved the fewest.

Among black voters, the poll found that calling Mr. Trump a racist did not move support to Democrats. Calling him ineffective did.

“This isn’t about just speaking to the obvious, that our president is a racist, it has to be about how are you connected to the struggle of our communities,” Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, one of the five candidates who called Mr. Trump racist during the debates, said in an interview on Friday. “I’ve heard that line from candidates before, but not followed by the kind of from-the-heart talk that I think is really important if there is going to be trust that the next leader really feels us, understands communities of color.”

But Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes of Wisconsin, a state that saw one of the largest drops in African-American turnout between 2012 and 2016, warned his party that the eventual standard-bearer must speak unambiguously about the president’s conduct if he or she wants to energize black voters.

“We still have to have a candidate who won’t be afraid to stand up to him and call him out,” said Mr. Barnes, who is black. He added that the presence of an African-American candidate on the ticket “certainly would be helpful.”

[The latest data and analysis to keep track of who’s leading the race to be the Democratic nominee.]

In Detroit, black voters and officials articulated a desire for Democratic candidates to move beyond the president’s race-baiting and discuss issues pertinent to people’s daily lives.

Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, a Michigan state representative, said of Mr. Trump: “If we start kind of ignoring a lot of the ignorance that he shows, he won’t have as much of a fan base, a following, a platform.”CreditErin Kirkland for The New York Times

“It’s time for us to kind of pull the plug and shift our message and shift our conversation,” Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, a Michigan state representative, said on Tuesday at a gathering she hosted to watch the first night of the debates. “If we start kind of ignoring a lot of the ignorance that he shows, he won’t have as much of a fan base, a following, a platform.”

Still, Charles Ellington, a 55-year-old marketing representative who came to see Mr. Booker at a rally on Thursday, said he would keep his focus on the president. He acknowledged that Mr. Trump is “irritating” — and has been “ever since he was sworn in” — but said that’s all the more reason to show up next year.

“Man, you gotta get out and vote!” said Mr. Ellington. “We can’t sit this one out.”

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Trump Fuels Racial Disharmony, but Courts Black Voters on Facebook

DETROIT — Mark Greer is a black Detroiter so outraged by President Trump’s regular stream of invective toward people of color that he does his best to avoid exposure to him.

So when he clicked on a YouTube link last month to watch an episode of “The Breakfast Club,” a morning radio show popular with African-Americans, he was angered by an ad that greeted him: a message from Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign.

“It just infuriated me because I felt like they were being slick, trying to slip it in there,” said Mr. Greer, 28, who works for a philanthropic organization. “I know better, but other people who are watching this might go, ‘Hmmm.’”

President Trump’s entire approach to people of color — his attacks on political leaders, his campaign’s social media strategy targeting the black electorate, his ability to fuel black opposition but also demoralize some black voters — is one of the most extraordinary political dynamics of the Trump era. No modern president has ever vilified black Americans or sought to divide people along racial lines like Mr. Trump, while also claiming to be a champion of their economic interests.

The online ad that Mr. Greer saw illustrates the audacious nature of Mr. Trump’s strategy. Even as the president sows racial disharmony, telling four Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back,” and saying “no human being” would want to live in the “rat and rodent infested” city of Baltimore, his re-election campaign is spending money on social media to put Mr. Trump before the eyes of black voters.

The objectives are twofold: First, to try to win over a handful of black voters. The campaign intends to highlight low rates of African-American unemployment and the criminal justice overhaul the president signed, a measure that is already a subject of his campaign’s Facebook advertising.

But the more clandestine hope, and one privately acknowledged by Trump allies, is that the president can make black voters think twice about turning out for Democrats or expending energy on trying to change a system some African-Americans believe is unalterably stacked against them.

For many voters of color in this crucial swing state, Mr. Trump’s racial invective is deeply hurtful on a personal level, but something they have come to expect from a president who has consistently denigrated them.

“I think he can win again,” said Malak Aldasouqi, a 21-year-old Detroit Public Schools intern, who is Muslim and said she often feels disheartened by the president’s attacks on people of color. “It’s a little bit of a no-faith situation because there’s been a lot of times where I’ve felt betrayed by the American people.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158684874_03116aae-c480-4943-b02e-2d5bd1ea3e03-articleLarge Trump Fuels Racial Disharmony, but Courts Black Voters on Facebook Voting and Voters Trump, Donald J Race and Ethnicity Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Political Advertising Midterm Elections (2018) Facebook Inc Detroit (Mich) Democratic Party Booker, Cory A Blacks

Malak Aldasouqi of East Lansing, Mich.CreditErin Kirkland for The New York Times

[Make sense of the people, issues and ideas shaping American politics with our newsletter.]

Still, Democrats also sense that the president’s race-baiting presents a unique opportunity. After a disastrous dip in black turnout in 2016 in battleground states like Michigan, Democrats are now working to harness the disdain for Mr. Trump to motivate a group that may prove to be most pivotal in the 2020 election: the low-propensity voters of color who decide late whether or not to cast ballots in the election.

Turnout figures show many stayed home in 2016, an election that marked the first decline in black participation rates in two decades. Increasing black turnout by just a few percentage points in urban areas of states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania could thwart Mr. Trump’s re-election.

And there are already signs that Mr. Trump’s conduct, which has been reminiscent of a 2016 campaign filled with racist tropes, is likely to ensure that outcome.

Longtime black Democratic leaders say the only time they can recall black voters being so engaged in presidential politics was when they had the chance to elect, and then to re-elect, Barack Obama.

“My dental hygienist talked with me about the election for 40 minutes the other day,” Shirley Franklin, a former Atlanta mayor, recalled with wonder, adding: “Some have preferences but a lot don’t. They just say, ‘I want to vote for whoever is going to beat Trump.’ That’s the predominant feeling.”

Early polling also points to a highly engaged black electorate.

A June poll from CNN found that 74 percent of Democratic voters were extremely or very enthusiastic about voting next year, a higher figure than even in the years before Mr. Obama’s two elections. The figure was the same for white and nonwhite Democrats.

Theodore R. Johnson, a scholar at the Brennan Center who has written extensively on black voters, said he was skeptical that African-American turnout would reach Obama-era levels, but noted that “if it just goes up from ’16, Trump is in trouble.” A record 66.6 percent of eligible black voters cast ballots in 2012, but that number fell to 59.6 percent four years later.

Mr. Johnson said the evidence from the Trump era indicates that African-Americans are highly motivated. He pointed to their turnout in the 2017 special Senate election in Alabama and in last year’s midterm elections, in which the black vote jumped 11 percentage points above 2014 levels, the year of the previous midterm.

“He’s very, very disrespectful,” said Teresa Singleton, 55, a Detroit firefighter. “It’s very disrespectful. And I’m just shocked that the No. 1 man in the United States goes through these Twitter attack rages like that. It encourages me to get out and help advocate for someone different in the next election. I feel like it’s my responsibility.”

Teresa Singleton, a Detroit firefighter.CreditErin Kirkland for The New York Times

The Trump campaign said it was eager to deliver its message to black voters.

“President Trump has an excellent record benefitting black Americans, which we will enthusiastically communicate,” said Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman. “Black unemployment has hit an all-time low, paychecks are rising, and the President is providing second chances to people through criminal justice reform.”

The campaign is spending far more on digital advertising to try to influence voters than his Democratic challengers. Since the beginning of 2019, Mr. Trump has spent $14.1 million on Facebook and Google campaigns, according to Bully Pulpit Interactive, a Democratic digital firm. The highest-spending 2020 Democratic candidate is Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has spent $3.2 million.

[Read about how President Trump has often used race for his own personal gain]

Some of that messaging is aimed at black voters using ZIP codes, though no public data tracks the precise amount. The Trump campaign has posted multiple ads on Facebook highlighting the criminal justice legislation, including spots that feature video of the president flashing a thumbs-up in the White House alongside African-Americans after signing the measure.

“Americans from across the political spectrum can unite around prison reform legislation that will reduce crime while giving our fellow citizens a chance at redemption,” reads the message on the screen at the end of one of the ads.

Mr. Trump doesn’t have to convert black voters with that message; just inhibiting enough of them from participating on Election Day would be a victory for his purposes. And leading black officials are already voicing concern that, in addition to Mr. Trump’s own advertising, the combination of strict voter identification laws and even more aggressive foreign interference on social media could suppress black turnout.

The risks for the president are that suburban voters who fled the Republican Party in the midterm elections will come out in force for the 2020 Democratic nominee, and that black and Hispanic voters in cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Phoenix will turn out in far larger numbers than they did in 2016.

Still, Democrats say Mr. Trump’s message is a difficult one to counteract. Opinions about the president and his racially divisive attacks are already baked into the views of many people of color.

Quentin James, who leads a group dedicated to electing black Democrats, said it is precisely because so many African-Americans are inured to Mr. Trump that the party must devote substantial money to energizing one of their most irregular, but vital, constituencies: younger black men.

Democrats say research indicates it is not helpful to invoke Mr. Trump directly to fuel such motivational efforts.

The president’s standing in polls of black voters has not changed since his 2017 defense of neo-Nazis marching on Charlottesville, Va., according to Adrianne Shropshire, the executive director of BlackPAC, a super PAC focused on motivating black voters.

“I do think that using Trump imagery is triggering for black people,” Ms. Shropshire said. “We don’t use it in our advertising.”

Democratic presidential candidates have not settled on how to deal with the man they all hope to replace. While five of the party’s 20 candidates called Mr. Trump a racist during this week’s debates in Detroit, the party’s private polling shows that affixing that label to him is not the most effective way to peel support away from the president.

A poll conducted in June for the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a political arm of the progressive think tank, offered voters six derogatory descriptions of Mr. Trump: ineffective, false promises, for the rich, divisive, corrupt and racist. Among voters surveyed, the ineffective label moved the most voters toward a generic Democratic candidate; the racist label moved the fewest.

Among black voters, the poll found that calling Mr. Trump a racist did not move support to Democrats. Calling him ineffective did.

“This isn’t about just speaking to the obvious, that our president is a racist, it has to be about how are you connected to the struggle of our communities,” Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, one of the five candidates who called Mr. Trump racist during the debates, said in an interview on Friday. “I’ve heard that line from candidates before, but not followed by the kind of from-the-heart talk that I think is really important if there is going to be trust that the next leader really feels us, understands communities of color.”

But Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes of Wisconsin, a state that saw one of the largest drops in African-American turnout between 2012 and 2016, warned his party that the eventual standard-bearer must speak unambiguously about the president’s conduct if he or she wants to energize black voters.

“We still have to have a candidate who won’t be afraid to stand up to him and call him out,” said Mr. Barnes, who is black. He added that the presence of an African-American candidate on the ticket “certainly would be helpful.”

[The latest data and analysis to keep track of who’s leading the race to be the Democratic nominee.]

In Detroit, black voters and officials articulated a desire for Democratic candidates to move beyond the president’s race-baiting and discuss issues pertinent to people’s daily lives.

“It’s time for us to kind of pull the plug and shift our message and shift our conversation,” Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, a Michigan state representative, said on Tuesday at a gathering she hosted to watch the first night of the debates. “If we start kind of ignoring a lot of the ignorance that he shows, he won’t have as much of a fan base, a following, a platform.”

Older voters, who lived through the Jim Crow era, said the president’s conduct was a constant reminder of what life was like for them decades ago.

“I’d like to get close to him, do something to his ass,” said Moses Baldwin, an 89-year-old retired Detroit police officer at Ms. Gay-Dagnogo’s debate watch party. “That’s the way I really feel.”

Moses Baldwin, a retired police officer, in Detroit.CreditErin Kirkland for The New York Times

Charles Ellington, a 55-year-old marketing representative who came to see Mr. Booker at a rally on Thursday, has focused his anger at the president in a different way. Mr. Ellington acknowledged that Mr. Trump is “irritating” — and has been “ever since he was sworn in” — but said that’s all the more reason to show up next year.

“Man, you gotta get out and vote!” said Mr. Ellington. “We can’t sit this one out.”

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

Trump Fuels Racial Disharmony. Will It Motivate or Discourage Black Voters?

DETROIT — Mark Greer is a black Detroiter so outraged by President Trump’s regular stream of invective toward people of color that he does his best to avoid exposure to him.

So when he clicked on a YouTube link last month to watch an episode of “The Breakfast Club,” a morning radio show popular with African-Americans, he was angered by an ad that greeted him: a message from Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign.

“It just infuriated me because I felt like they were being slick, trying to slip it in there,” said Mr. Greer, 28, who works for a philanthropic organization. “I know better, but other people who are watching this might go, ‘Hmmm.’”

President Trump’s entire approach to people of color — his attacks on political leaders, his campaign’s social media strategy targeting the black electorate, his ability to fuel black opposition but also demoralize some black voters — is one of the most extraordinary political dynamics of the Trump era. No modern president has ever vilified black Americans or sought to divide people along racial lines like Mr. Trump, while also claiming to be a champion of their economic interests.

[Sign up for our politics newsletter and join the conversation about the 2020 presidential race.]

The online ad that Mr. Greer saw illustrates the audacious nature of Mr. Trump’s strategy. Even as the president sows racial disharmony, telling four Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back,” and saying “no human being” would want to live in the “rat and rodent infested” city of Baltimore, his re-election campaign is spending money on social media to put Mr. Trump before the eyes of black voters.

The objectives are twofold: First, to try to win over a handful of black voters. The campaign intends to highlight low rates of African-American unemployment and the criminal justice overhaul the president signed, a measure that is already a subject of his campaign’s Facebook advertising.

But the more clandestine hope, and one privately acknowledged by Trump allies, is that the president can make black voters think twice about turning out for Democrats or expending energy on trying to change a system some African-Americans believe is unalterably stacked against them.

For many voters of color in this crucial swing state, Mr. Trump’s racial invective is deeply hurtful on a personal level, but something they have come to expect from a president who has consistently denigrated them.

“I think he can win again,” said Malak Aldasouqi, a 21-year-old Detroit Public Schools intern, who is Muslim and said she often feels disheartened by the president’s attacks on people of color. “It’s a little bit of a no-faith situation because there’s been a lot of times where I’ve felt betrayed by the American people.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158684874_03116aae-c480-4943-b02e-2d5bd1ea3e03-articleLarge Trump Fuels Racial Disharmony. Will It Motivate or Discourage Black Voters? Voting and Voters Trump, Donald J Race and Ethnicity Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Political Advertising Midterm Elections (2018) Facebook Inc Detroit (Mich) Democratic Party Booker, Cory A Blacks

Malak Aldasouqi of East Lansing, Mich.CreditErin Kirkland for The New York Times

Still, Democrats also sense that the president’s race-baiting presents a unique opportunity. After a disastrous dip in black turnout in 2016 in battleground states like Michigan, Democrats are now working to harness the disdain for Mr. Trump to motivate a group that may prove to be most pivotal in the 2020 election: the low-propensity voters of color who decide late whether or not to cast ballots in the election.

Turnout figures show many stayed home in 2016, an election that marked the first decline in black participation rates in two decades. Increasing black turnout by just a few percentage points in urban areas of states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania could thwart Mr. Trump’s re-election.

And there are already signs that Mr. Trump’s conduct, which has been reminiscent of a 2016 campaign filled with racist tropes, is likely to ensure that outcome.

Longtime black Democratic leaders say the only time they can recall black voters being so engaged in presidential politics was when they had the chance to elect, and then to re-elect, Barack Obama.

“My dental hygienist talked with me about the election for 40 minutes the other day,” Shirley Franklin, a former Atlanta mayor, recalled with wonder, adding: “Some have preferences but a lot don’t. They just say, ‘I want to vote for whoever is going to beat Trump.’ That’s the predominant feeling.”

Early polling also points to a highly engaged black electorate.

A June poll from CNN found that 74 percent of Democratic voters were extremely or very enthusiastic about voting next year, a higher figure than even in the years before Mr. Obama’s two elections. The figure was the same for white and nonwhite Democrats.

Theodore R. Johnson, a scholar at the Brennan Center who has written extensively on black voters, said he was skeptical that African-American turnout would reach Obama-era levels, but noted that “if it just goes up from ’16, Trump is in trouble.” A record 66.6 percent of eligible black voters cast ballots in 2012, but that number fell to 59.6 percent four years later.

Mr. Johnson said the evidence from the Trump era indicates that African-Americans are highly motivated. He pointed to their turnout in the 2017 special Senate election in Alabama and in last year’s midterm elections, in which the black vote jumped 11 percentage points above 2014 levels, the year of the previous midterm.

“He’s very, very disrespectful,” said Teresa Singleton, 55, a Detroit firefighter. “It’s very disrespectful. And I’m just shocked that the No. 1 man in the United States goes through these Twitter attack rages like that. It encourages me to get out and help advocate for someone different in the next election. I feel like it’s my responsibility.”

Teresa Singleton, a Detroit firefighter.CreditErin Kirkland for The New York Times

At the same time, the Trump campaign is spending far more on digital advertising to try to influence voters than his Democratic challengers. Since the beginning of 2019, Mr. Trump has spent $14.1 million on Facebook and Google campaigns, according to Bully Pulpit Interactive, a Democratic digital firm. The highest-spending 2020 Democratic candidate is Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has spent $3.2 million.

Some of that messaging is aimed at black voters using ZIP codes, though no public data tracks the precise amount. The Trump campaign has posted multiple ads on Facebook highlighting the criminal justice legislation, including spots that feature video of the president flashing a thumbs-up in the White House alongside African-Americans after signing the measure.

“Americans from across the political spectrum can unite around prison reform legislation that will reduce crime while giving our fellow citizens a chance at redemption,” reads the message on the screen at the end of one of the ads.

Mr. Trump doesn’t have to convert black voters with that message; just inhibiting enough of them from participating on Election Day would be a victory for his purposes. And leading black officials are already voicing concern that, in addition to Mr. Trump’s own advertising, the combination of strict voter identification laws and even more aggressive foreign interference on social media could suppress black turnout.

The risks for the president are that suburban voters who fled the Republican Party in the midterm elections will come out in force for the 2020 Democratic nominee, and that black and Hispanic voters in cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Phoenix will turn out in far larger numbers than they did in 2016.

Still, Democrats say Mr. Trump’s message is a difficult one to counteract. Opinions about the president and his racially divisive attacks are already baked into the views of many people of color.

Quentin James, who leads a group dedicated to electing black Democrats, said it is precisely because so many African-Americans are inured to Mr. Trump that the party must devote substantial money to energizing one of their most irregular, but vital, constituencies: younger black men.

Democrats say research indicates it is not helpful to invoke Mr. Trump directly to fuel such motivational efforts.

The president’s standing in polls of black voters has not changed since his 2017 defense of neo-Nazis marching on Charlottesville, Va., according to Adrianne Shropshire, the executive director of BlackPAC, a super PAC focused on motivating black voters.

“I do think that using Trump imagery is triggering for black people,” Ms. Shropshire said. “We don’t use it in our advertising.”

Democratic presidential candidates have not settled on how to deal with the man they all hope to replace. While five of the party’s 20 candidates called Mr. Trump a racist during this week’s debates in Detroit, the party’s private polling shows that affixing that label to him is not the most effective way to peel support away from the president.

A poll conducted in June for the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a political arm of the progressive think tank, offered voters six derogatory descriptions of Mr. Trump: ineffective, false promises, for the rich, divisive, corrupt and racist. Among voters surveyed, the ineffective label moved the most voters toward a generic Democratic candidate; the racist label moved the fewest.

Among black voters, the poll found that calling Mr. Trump a racist did not move support to Democrats. Calling him ineffective did.

“This isn’t about just speaking to the obvious, that our president is a racist, it has to be about how are you connected to the struggle of our communities,” Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, one of the five candidates who called Mr. Trump racist during the debates, said in an interview on Friday. “I’ve heard that line from candidates before, but not followed by the kind of from-the-heart talk that I think is really important if there is going to be trust that the next leader really feels us, understands communities of color.”

But Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes of Wisconsin, a state that saw one of the largest drops in African-American turnout between 2012 and 2016, warned his party that the eventual standard-bearer must speak unambiguously about the president’s conduct if he or she wants to energize black voters.

“We still have to have a candidate who won’t be afraid to stand up to him and call him out,” said Mr. Barnes, who is black. He added that the presence of an African-American candidate on the ticket “certainly would be helpful.”

In Detroit, black voters and officials articulated a desire for Democratic candidates to move beyond the president’s race-baiting and discuss issues pertinent to people’s daily lives.

“It’s time for us to kind of pull the plug and shift our message and shift our conversation,” Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, a Michigan state representative, said on Tuesday at a gathering she hosted to watch the first night of the debates. “If we start kind of ignoring a lot of the ignorance that he shows, he won’t have as much of a fan base, a following, a platform.”

Older voters, who lived through the Jim Crow era, said the president’s conduct was a constant reminder of what life was like for them decades ago.

“I’d like to get close to him, do something to his ass,” said Moses Baldwin, an 89-year-old retired Detroit police officer at Ms. Gay-Dagnogo’s debate watch party. “That’s the way I really feel.”

Moses Baldwin, a retired police officer, in Detroit.CreditErin Kirkland for The New York Times

Charles Ellington, a 55-year-old marketing representative who came to see Mr. Booker at a rally on Thursday, has focused his anger at the president in a different way. Mr. Ellington acknowledged that Mr. Trump is “irritating” — and has been “ever since he was sworn in” — but said that’s all the more reason to show up next year.

“Man, you gotta get out and vote!” said Mr. Ellington. “We can’t sit this one out.”

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Trump Friend’s Ties to Mideast at Heart of Lobbying Inquiry

WASHINGTON — As Donald J. Trump was preparing to deliver an address on energy policy in May 2016, Paul Manafort, his campaign chairman, had a question about the speech’s contents for Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a top campaign fund-raiser and close friend of Mr. Trump.

“Are you running this by our friends?” Mr. Manafort asked in a previously undisclosed email to Mr. Barrack, whose real estate and investment firm does extensive business in the Middle East.

[Watch “The Weekly”: The Money Behind the Most Expensive U.S. Inauguration]

Mr. Barrack was, in fact, coordinating the language in a draft of the speech with Persian Gulf contacts including Rashid al-Malik, an Emirati businessman who is close to the rulers of the United Arab Emirates.

The exchanges about Mr. Trump’s energy speech are among a series of interactions that have come under scrutiny by federal prosecutors looking at foreign influence over his campaign, his transition and the early stages of his administration, according to documents and interviews with people familiar with the case.

Investigators have looked in particular at whether Mr. Barrack or others violated the law requiring people who try to influence American policy or opinion at the direction of foreign governments or entities to disclose their activities to the Justice Department, people familiar with the case said.

The inquiry had proceeded far enough last month that Mr. Barrack, who played an influential role in the campaign and acts as an outside adviser to the White House, was interviewed, at his request, by prosecutors in the public integrity unit of the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn.

Mr. Barrack’s spokesman, Owen Blicksilver, said that in expectation of this article, Mr. Barrack’s lawyer had again contacted the prosecutors’ office and “confirmed they have no further questions for Mr. Barrack.”

Mr. Barrack has not been accused of wrongdoing, and his aides said he never worked on behalf of foreign states or entities. Asked about the status of the inquiry, a representative for the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn declined to comment.

The relationship between Mr. Barrack, Mr. Manafort and representatives of the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia, including Mr. al-Malik, has been of interest to federal authorities for at least nine months. The effort to influence Mr. Trump’s energy speech in 2016 was largely unsuccessful.

The special counsel’s two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has ended and federal prosecutors in Manhattan have signaled that it is unlikely they would file additional charges in a separate hush money investigation that ensnared members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle.

But as the scrutiny of Mr. Barrack indicates, prosecutors continue to pursue questions about foreign influence. Among other lines of inquiry, they have sought to determine whether Mr. Barrack and others tried to sway the Trump campaign or the new administration on behalf of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, two closely aligned countries with huge stakes in United States policy.

Between Mr. Trump’s nomination and the end of June, Colony Capital, Mr. Barrack’s real estate investment and private equity firm, received about $1.5 billion from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates through investments or other transactions like asset sales, Mr. Barrack’s aides said. That included $474 million in investment from Saudi and Emirati sovereign wealth funds, out of $7 billion that Colony raised in investment worldwide.

An executive familiar with the transactions had provided The New York Times with somewhat different figures last year.

Investigators have also questioned witnesses about Mr. Barrack’s involvement with a proposal from an American group that could give Saudi Arabia access to nuclear power technology. And they have asked about another economic development plan for the Arab world, written by Mr. Barrack and circulated among Mr. Trump’s advisers.

Aides to Mr. Barrack, who is of Lebanese descent and speaks Arabic, said he had always acted as an independent intermediary between Persian Gulf leaders and the Trump campaign and administration, never on behalf of any foreign official or entity.

“The ideas he was giving voice to were his ideas,” said Tommy Davis, Mr. Barrack’s former chief of staff, who continues to work for him. “These are ideas that he has been advocating for decades.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_138491229_be193c2e-3c62-4ed0-8759-054baa703c3a-articleLarge Trump Friend’s Ties to Mideast at Heart of Lobbying Inquiry United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United Arab Emirates Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2016 Persian Gulf Middle East Manafort, Paul J Lobbying and Lobbyists Inaugurations foreign agents registration act Ethics and Official Misconduct Colony Capital LLC Barrack, Thomas J Jr

President Trump with Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates.CreditAndrew Harnik/Associated Press

He said Mr. Barrack had no incentive to lobby on behalf of any particular country or countries in the Persian Gulf because his business interests and policy concerns span the entire region and countries at odds with one another.

Nor is there any evidence, Mr. Barrack’s aides said, that either Mr. Barrack or his Los Angeles-based company has profited from his efforts.

“There is zero pay to play here,” Mr. Blicksilver, Mr. Barrack’s spokesman, said. “That is supported by the facts and the numbers.”

For Mr. Barrack, 72, the inquiry has unfolded amid a series of other setbacks. A friend of Mr. Trump since the 1980s, he had anticipated that his efforts to elect Mr. Trump, help run his transition team and manage his inauguration would land him a prominent role in the administration.

But Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, blocked Mr. Barrack from becoming a special envoy to the Middle East. A proposed role as a kind of superambassador to Central and South America did not materialize either.

At the same time, Colony Capital encountered substantial difficulties after a troubled merger drove down its stock price and forced a series of management changes.

Mr. Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 was a high point for Mr. Barrack: The inaugural committee he led set records for the amount of money raised and spent to celebrate an inauguration.

But critics claimed the inaugural became a hub for peddling access to foreign officials and business leaders, or people acting on their behalf. The United States attorney’s office in Manhattan opened an investigation into possible violations of campaign finance law, focusing partly on whether foreigners, who were barred from contributing to the $107 million inaugural fund, illegally funneled donations through Americans.

Questions about whether Mr. Barrack complied with the Foreign Agents Registration Act, commonly known as FARA, arose during the Russia inquiry led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and were referred to the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn.

Three of the six former Trump aides who were charged by the special counsel acknowledged violating the foreign lobbying statute in their guilty pleas: Mr. Manafort, Rick Gates, who served as deputy campaign chairman for Mr. Trump in 2016, and Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser.

But while the Justice Department has been trying for several years to step up criminal enforcement of FARA requirements, such cases are typically difficult to prove. Whether someone is acting at the behest of a foreign official “is a very hard thing to investigate or to decide,” Adam S. Hickey, the deputy assistant attorney general in charge of the national security division, said in a recent interview.

Central to the inquiry into Mr. Barrack are his dealings with Mr. al-Malik, who is well connected in the court of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates widely known by his initials, M.B.Z., and is close to the prince’s brother, Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, who oversees the United Arab Emirates’ intelligence services. Sheikh Hamdan is considered to be Mr. al-Malik’s patron and a major financier of his business activities.

When Mr. Trump was elected, Mr. al-Malik received a coveted invitation to the inaugural’s most exclusive event — the chairman’s dinner, hosted by Mr. Barrack.

In early 2018, Mr. al-Malik gave an interview and provided documents to federal prosecutors who questioned whether he had been acting as an unregistered foreign agent in the United States, according to two people familiar with the matter. After he was interviewed, Mr. al-Malik left for the United Arab Emirates and has not returned to the United States.

William F. Coffield, a lawyer for Mr. al-Malik, said that he “voluntarily cooperated with the special council’s office,” adding, “They accepted his cooperation and they certainly aren’t going after him.”

Investigators have documented a string of instances in which Mr. Barrack appears to have tried, with feedback from Mr. al-Malik and others, to shape the message of the Trump campaign or new administration in ways that were more friendly to Middle East interests.

Although he was not always successful, Mr. Barrack had substantial sway within the campaign when it was overseen by Mr. Manafort, a longtime friend, and Mr. Manafort’s deputy, Mr. Gates.

Mr. Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 was a high point for Mr. Barrack. The inaugural committee he led set records for the amount of money raised and spent to celebrate an inauguration.CreditChang W. Lee/The New York Times

Mr. Barrack recommended that Mr. Trump hire Mr. Manafort, who rose to campaign chairman before he was fired over a separate foreign lobbying scandal. Mr. Manafort, who was awash in debt and had no income, had hoped that after the campaign Mr. Barrack would use his deep ties to the oil-rich nations to drum up business for them both, according to people familiar with the situation.

In one email to the U.A.E.’s ambassador in Washington, Mr. Barrack promoted Mr. Manafort as someone who was “totally programmed” on the alliance between the Saudis and Emiratis.

Mr. Manafort, in turn, was willing to describe Mr. Barrack to foreign officials as someone who could speak for the campaign on all subjects.

The Times learned of some of Mr. Barrack’s electronic correspondence from people critical of Emirati foreign policy and from people familiar with his work with the Trump campaign.

In early May 2016, Mr. Barrack asked Mr. al-Malik and other Persian Gulf contacts to propose language for a draft of an energy speech that Mr. Trump was to deliver in Bismarck, N.D., that month.

Mr. Barrack’s draft of the speech cited a new generation of leaders in the Gulf region, naming both the Emirati crown prince and his ally, Mohammed bin Salman, then deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi prince, often referred to by his initials, M.B.S., has now consolidated his control of the kingdom.

Mr. Barrack’s aides said he tried to influence Mr. Trump’s address because he cares deeply about United States relations with the Persian Gulf region and was worried that Mr. Trump’s inflammatory campaign messaging would damage them. Among other provocative statements, Mr. Trump had vowed that, if elected, he would bar Muslims from entering the United States.

When Mr. Trump and a campaign speechwriter rejected Mr. Barrack’s draft, Mr. Manafort wrote to Mr. Barrack, “Send me an insert that works for our friends and I will fight for it.”

In the end, to Mr. Barrack’s disappointment, Mr. Trump made only a passing reference to the need to work with “gulf allies” on “a positive energy relationship as part of our antiterrorism strategy.”

A few days later, Mr. Manafort emailed Mr. Barrack that “on the platform issue there is another chance to make our gulf friends happy.” He was referring to language in the Republican Party platform to be approved at the convention where Mr. Trump would formally become the nominee.

In late June, Mr. Manafort alerted Mr. Barrack that Mr. Trump had softened his stance on a Muslim ban. Mr. Barrack quickly forwarded the email to Yousef al-Otaiba, the Emirates’ powerful ambassador in Washington.

Then in July, Mr. Barrack informed Mr. Otaiba that the Trump team had removed language from the proposed Republican platform that would have called for the disclosure of redacted pages related to Saudi Arabia in a report on the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

“Really confidential but important,” he wrote, enclosing campaign emails on the subject. “Please do not distribute.”

Two days later, Congress released the passages, which detailed contacts between Saudi officials and some of the hijackers.

Mr. Barrack tried to set up a meeting that summer between Mr. Manafort and Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi deputy crown prince, but it was canceled at the last moment.

The month after Mr. Trump clinched the Republican nomination, Mr. Barrack traveled to the Persian Gulf and met with the Saudi prince and the Emirati crown prince, aides said. At a dinner meeting in Saudi Arabia, he was briefed on the kingdom’s economic plan.

In a subsequent text to Mr. Manafort, Mr. Barrack sounded elated.

“Amazing meetings. Off the map,” he wrote. “A lot to talk about and do.”

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

Federal Inquiry of Trump Friend Focused on Foreign Lobbying

WASHINGTON — As Donald J. Trump was preparing to deliver an address on energy policy in May 2016, Paul Manafort, his campaign chairman, had a question about the speech’s contents for Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a top campaign fund-raiser and close friend of Mr. Trump.

“Are you running this by our friends?” Mr. Manafort asked in a previously undisclosed email to Mr. Barrack, whose real estate and investment firm does extensive business in the Middle East.

Mr. Barrack was, in fact, coordinating the language in a draft of the speech with Persian Gulf contacts including Rashid al-Malik, an Emirati businessman who is close to the rulers of the United Arab Emirates.

The exchanges about Mr. Trump’s energy speech are among a series of interactions that have come under scrutiny by federal prosecutors looking at foreign influence over his campaign, his transition and the early stages of his administration, according to documents and interviews with people familiar with the case.

Investigators have looked in particular at whether Mr. Barrack or others violated the law requiring people who try to influence American policy or opinion at the direction of foreign governments or entities to disclose their activities to the Justice Department, people familiar with the case said.

The inquiry had proceeded far enough last month that Mr. Barrack, who played an influential role in the campaign and acts as an outside adviser to the White House, was interviewed, at his request, by prosecutors in the public integrity unit of the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn.

Mr. Barrack’s spokesman, Owen Blicksilver, said that in expectation of this article, Mr. Barrack’s lawyer had again contacted the prosecutors’ office and “confirmed they have no further questions for Mr. Barrack.”

Mr. Barrack has not been accused of wrongdoing, and his aides said he never worked on behalf of foreign states or entities. Asked about the status of the inquiry, a representative for the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn declined to comment.

The relationship between Mr. Barrack, Mr. Manafort and representatives of the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia, including Mr. al-Malik, has been of interest to federal authorities for at least nine months. The effort to influence Mr. Trump’s energy speech in 2016 was largely unsuccessful.

The special counsel’s two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has ended and federal prosecutors in Manhattan have signaled that it is unlikely they would file additional charges in a separate hush money investigation that ensnared members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle.

But as the scrutiny of Mr. Barrack indicates, prosecutors continue to pursue questions about foreign influence. Among other lines of inquiry, they have sought to determine whether Mr. Barrack and others tried to sway the Trump campaign or the new administration on behalf of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, two closely aligned countries with huge stakes in United States policy.

Between Mr. Trump’s nomination and the end of June, Colony Capital, Mr. Barrack’s real estate investment and private equity firm, received about $1.5 billion from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates through investments or other transactions like asset sales, Mr. Barrack’s aides said. That included $474 million in investment from Saudi and Emirati sovereign wealth funds, out of $7 billion that Colony raised in investment worldwide.

An executive familiar with the transactions had provided The New York Times with somewhat different figures last year.

Investigators have also questioned witnesses about Mr. Barrack’s involvement with a proposal from an American group that could give Saudi Arabia access to nuclear power technology. And they have asked about another economic development plan for the Arab world, written by Mr. Barrack and circulated among Mr. Trump’s advisers.

Aides to Mr. Barrack, who is of Lebanese descent and speaks Arabic, said he had always acted as an independent intermediary between Persian Gulf leaders and the Trump campaign and administration, never on behalf of any foreign official or entity.

“The ideas he was giving voice to were his ideas,” said Tommy Davis, Mr. Barrack’s former chief of staff, who continues to work for him. “These are ideas that he has been advocating for decades.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_138491229_be193c2e-3c62-4ed0-8759-054baa703c3a-articleLarge Federal Inquiry of Trump Friend Focused on Foreign Lobbying United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United Arab Emirates Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2016 Persian Gulf Middle East Manafort, Paul J Lobbying and Lobbyists Inaugurations foreign agents registration act Ethics and Official Misconduct Colony Capital LLC Barrack, Thomas J Jr

President Trump with Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates.CreditAndrew Harnik/Associated Press

He said Mr. Barrack had no incentive to lobby on behalf of any particular country or countries in the Persian Gulf because his business interests and policy concerns span the entire region and countries at odds with one another.

Nor is there any evidence, Mr. Barrack’s aides said, that either Mr. Barrack or his Los Angeles-based company has profited from his efforts.

“There is zero pay to play here,” Mr. Blicksilver, Mr. Barrack’s spokesman, said. “That is supported by the facts and the numbers.”

For Mr. Barrack, 72, the inquiry has unfolded amid a series of other setbacks. A friend of Mr. Trump since the 1980s, he had anticipated that his efforts to elect Mr. Trump, help run his transition team and manage his inauguration would land him a prominent role in the administration.

But Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, blocked Mr. Barrack from becoming a special envoy to the Middle East. A proposed role as a kind of superambassador to Central and South America did not materialize either.

At the same time, Colony Capital encountered substantial difficulties after a troubled merger drove down its stock price and forced a series of management changes.

Mr. Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 was a high point for Mr. Barrack: The inaugural committee he led set records for the amount of money raised and spent to celebrate an inauguration.

But critics claimed the inaugural became a hub for peddling access to foreign officials and business leaders, or people acting on their behalf. The United States attorney’s office in Manhattan opened an investigation into possible violations of campaign finance law, focusing partly on whether foreigners, who were barred from contributing to the $107 million inaugural fund, illegally funneled donations through Americans.

Questions about whether Mr. Barrack complied with the Foreign Agents Registration Act, commonly known as FARA, arose during the Russia inquiry led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and were referred to the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn.

Three of the six former Trump aides who were charged by the special counsel acknowledged violating the foreign lobbying statute in their guilty pleas: Mr. Manafort, Rick Gates, who served as deputy campaign chairman for Mr. Trump in 2016, and Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser.

But while the Justice Department has been trying for several years to step up criminal enforcement of FARA requirements, such cases are typically difficult to prove. Whether someone is acting at the behest of a foreign official “is a very hard thing to investigate or to decide,” Adam S. Hickey, the deputy assistant attorney general in charge of the national security division, said in a recent interview.

Central to the inquiry into Mr. Barrack are his dealings with Mr. al-Malik, who is well connected in the court of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates widely known by his initials, M.B.Z., and is close to the prince’s brother, Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, who oversees the United Arab Emirates’ intelligence services. Sheikh Hamdan is considered to be Mr. al-Malik’s patron and a major financier of his business activities.

When Mr. Trump was elected, Mr. al-Malik received a coveted invitation to the inaugural’s most exclusive event — the chairman’s dinner, hosted by Mr. Barrack.

In early 2018, Mr. al-Malik gave an interview and provided documents to federal prosecutors who questioned whether he had been acting as an unregistered foreign agent in the United States, according to two people familiar with the matter. After he was interviewed, Mr. al-Malik left for the United Arab Emirates and has not returned to the United States.

William F. Coffield, a lawyer for Mr. al-Malik, said that he “voluntarily cooperated with the special council’s office,” adding, “They accepted his cooperation and they certainly aren’t going after him.”

Investigators have documented a string of instances in which Mr. Barrack appears to have tried, with feedback from Mr. al-Malik and others, to shape the message of the Trump campaign or new administration in ways that were more friendly to Middle East interests.

Although he was not always successful, Mr. Barrack had substantial sway within the campaign when it was overseen by Mr. Manafort, a longtime friend, and Mr. Manafort’s deputy, Mr. Gates.

Mr. Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 was a high point for Mr. Barrack. The inaugural committee he led set records for the amount of money raised and spent to celebrate an inauguration.CreditChang W. Lee/The New York Times

Mr. Barrack recommended that Mr. Trump hire Mr. Manafort, who rose to campaign chairman before he was fired over a separate foreign lobbying scandal. Mr. Manafort, who was awash in debt and had no income, had hoped that after the campaign Mr. Barrack would use his deep ties to the oil-rich nations to drum up business for them both, according to people familiar with the situation.

In one email to the U.A.E.’s ambassador in Washington, Mr. Barrack promoted Mr. Manafort as someone who was “totally programmed” on the alliance between the Saudis and Emiratis.

Mr. Manafort, in turn, was willing to describe Mr. Barrack to foreign officials as someone who could speak for the campaign on all subjects.

The Times learned of some of Mr. Barrack’s electronic correspondence from people critical of Emirati foreign policy and from people familiar with his work with the Trump campaign.

In early May 2016, Mr. Barrack asked Mr. al-Malik and other Persian Gulf contacts to propose language for a draft of an energy speech that Mr. Trump was to deliver in Bismarck, N.D., that month.

Mr. Barrack’s draft of the speech cited a new generation of leaders in the Gulf region, naming both the Emirati crown prince and his ally, Mohammed bin Salman, then deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi prince, often referred to by his initials, M.B.S., has now consolidated his control of the kingdom.

Mr. Barrack’s aides said he tried to influence Mr. Trump’s address because he cares deeply about United States relations with the Persian Gulf region and was worried that Mr. Trump’s inflammatory campaign messaging would damage them. Among other provocative statements, Mr. Trump had vowed that, if elected, he would bar Muslims from entering the United States.

When Mr. Trump and a campaign speechwriter rejected Mr. Barrack’s draft, Mr. Manafort wrote to Mr. Barrack, “Send me an insert that works for our friends and I will fight for it.”

In the end, to Mr. Barrack’s disappointment, Mr. Trump made only a passing reference to the need to work with “gulf allies” on “a positive energy relationship as part of our antiterrorism strategy.”

A few days later, Mr. Manafort emailed Mr. Barrack that “on the platform issue there is another chance to make our gulf friends happy.” He was referring to language in the Republican Party platform to be approved at the convention where Mr. Trump would formally become the nominee.

In late June, Mr. Manafort alerted Mr. Barrack that Mr. Trump had softened his stance on a Muslim ban. Mr. Barrack quickly forwarded the email to Yousef al-Otaiba, the Emirates’ powerful ambassador in Washington.

Then in July, Mr. Barrack informed Mr. Otaiba that the Trump team had removed language from the proposed Republican platform that would have called for the disclosure of redacted pages related to Saudi Arabia in a report on the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

“Really confidential but important,” he wrote, enclosing campaign emails on the subject. “Please do not distribute.”

Two days later, Congress released the passages, which detailed contacts between Saudi officials and some of the hijackers.

Mr. Barrack tried to set up a meeting that summer between Mr. Manafort and Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi deputy crown prince, but it was canceled at the last moment.

The month after Mr. Trump clinched the Republican nomination, Mr. Barrack traveled to the Persian Gulf and met with the Saudi prince and the Emirati crown prince, aides said. At a dinner meeting in Saudi Arabia, he was briefed on the kingdom’s economic plan.

In a subsequent text to Mr. Manafort, Mr. Barrack sounded elated.

“Amazing meetings. Off the map,” he wrote. “A lot to talk about and do.”

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House Panel Approves Subpoena for White House Emails From Private Accounts

Westlake Legal Group 25dc-oversight-facebookJumbo House Panel Approves Subpoena for White House Emails From Private Accounts United States Politics and Government Trump, Ivanka Presidential Election of 2016 Kushner, Jared House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform E-Mail

WASHINGTON — The House Oversight Committee voted Thursday to authorize a subpoena for all work-related texts and emails sent or received by White House officials on personal accounts, part of a long-running probe into whether senior administration aides have violated federal records laws by using private messaging services for official business.

The 23-to16 vote, divided along party lines, puts into the cross hairs President Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, both of whom have admitted through an attorney to using personal accounts in the course of their work. The effort is also a turnabout of sorts for House Republican efforts in 2016 to highlight Hillary Clinton’s use of personal emails for her official work as secretary of state.

“The committee has obtained direct evidence that multiple high-level White House officials have been violating the Presidential Records Act by using personal email accounts, text messaging services and even encrypted applications for official business — and not preserving those records in compliance with federal law,” said Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland and the chairman of the committee. “What we do not yet know is why these White House officials were attempting to conceal these communications.”

The broad subpoena includes all communications — even messages that contained classified material — sent or received by White House employees, including employees in the National Security Council. It specifically names Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff.

The committee first requested those messages in March 2017 under the Republican leadership of Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, after reports that multiple White House officials, including Ms. Trump, were using encrypted apps to conduct administration business. CNN reported last October that Mr. Kushner had communicated with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia using WhatsApp, and a lawyer for Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump confirmed to the committee in March that they both used private email accounts for White House business.

The White House has not produced a single document in response, Mr. Cummings said. The Presidential Records Act requires that nearly all communications with White House staff on official matters be preserved and that officials who use personal accounts either copy or forward an official account on all such messages.

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the panel, painted the efforts as a partisan attack on Mr. Trump.

“They are so desperate to get the President. They just can’t help themselves,” Mr. Jordan wrote Wednesday on Twitter.

Just last month, Mr. Jordan and two other Republicans called on the committee to renew its examination of Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Democrats on the committee slammed Republicans’ opposition to the authorization and charged them with hypocrisy after Republicans demanded thousands of Mrs. Clinton’s private emails as part of the Benghazi investigation. Mr. Trump made Mrs. Clinton’s private email server a central line of attack in his 2016 campaign for president.

“We received those documents, and I called for them to be made public,” Mr. Cummings said. “Our approach today should not be different merely because Donald Trump is president.”

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