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Westlake Legal Group > Presidential Election of 2020 (Page 30)

Back Home, House Democrats Tread Carefully on Impeachment and 2020

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Orange County was the epicenter of the 2018 House Democratic takeover, where Republicans lost four seats in what was once the heart of Ronald Reagan conservatism in California. On Saturday night, as three of the victorious Democrats were honored at an annual political dinner, a new battle was on everyone’s minds: How to protect those gains in 2020 by selling voters on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump.

At the dinner, Representative Harley Rouda warned Democrats not to “sit on our laurels.” Representative Mike Levin solemnly said “the times have found us.” And Representative Gil Cisneros, who came out for the inquiry only last week, plugged his campaign website twice to ask for donations and noted, “The Republicans are coming after me now.”

A tricky balancing act is now underway for House Democrats as they return to their districts for a two-week recess that will double as a crucial time to frame a coast-to-coast debate over impeachment and the nation’s priorities.

Even as surveys showed more Americans embracing an impeachment investigation, voters talked mostly about issues like health care and the economy over the weekend at town hall meetings and party gatherings with House Democrats. Those members, especially in battleground districts, responded by highlighting their policy accomplishments and goals — while at the same time attempting to shape public opinion on impeachment and prepare voters for coming G.O.P. attacks.

That Democratic messaging challenge came into sharp relief during interviews with voters like Donna Artukovic, a retired teacher who was volunteering at the Orange County dinner. Ms. Artukovic expressed nervousness about what an impeachment battle could mean for Democratic candidates.

“I am afraid it’s going to hurt them,” she said. “A lot of people — even who don’t like Trump — don’t like impeachment.”

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Westlake Legal Group 2020-presidential-candidates-promo-1548014688187-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v57 Back Home, House Democrats Tread Carefully on Impeachment and 2020 Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Slotkin, Elissa Rouda, Harley Presidential Election of 2020 Kim, Andy (1982- ) impeachment Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party

Representative Andy Kim of New Jersey, a Democrat who ousted a Republican incumbent in 2018 by focusing on issues like health insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions, held a town hall-style meeting in his district on Saturday where only one voter asked about impeachment (and even then, it was part of a multipronged question). In an interview afterward, Mr. Kim noted the paucity of questions on a topic that has engulfed Washington.

Referring to his constituents, he said: “They don’t want us to stop working on lower prescription drug costs and health care costs; they want us to move forward on infrastructure and jobs.”

As committed as he is on those goals, Mr. Kim said, he will also seek to draw on his experience as a former National Security Council member — which included sitting in on President Barack Obama’s calls to world leaders — to explain his views to voters on a matter like President Trump’s phone conversation this summer with the president of Ukraine.

“That’s hopefully what they’ll judge me on,” he said, “whether or not I was able to do this with a level of professionalism that’s distant from the partisanship they so badly despise.”

The House Democrats’ decision to undertake an impeachment investigation has already upended the presidential campaign, presenting both risks and opportunities to Mr. Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, whose son’s work for a Ukrainian gas company prompted Mr. Trump’s extraordinary intervention. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s change of heart on impeachment, following months of reluctance to pursue an inquiry in the face of polls showing public resistance, has injected just as much uncertainty into the Democrats’ effort to retain the House.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161738691_6184f55f-c701-46a4-b341-c992bf6242b4-articleLarge Back Home, House Democrats Tread Carefully on Impeachment and 2020 Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Slotkin, Elissa Rouda, Harley Presidential Election of 2020 Kim, Andy (1982- ) impeachment Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party

Representative Mike Levin speaking at the dinner in Orange County.CreditAllison Zaucha for The New York Times

It was new support for the impeachment inquiry from first-term lawmakers that steeled Ms. Pelosi to back the inquiry. But it is these same lawmakers who handed Democrats their 40-seat victory last year and who are taking a political leap of faith by backing the impeachment investigation.

The question that could determine their chances for re-election in 2020, and those of their Republican counterparts in both chambers who are defending the president, is whether the new evidence detailing Mr. Trump’s political overtures to Ukraine is enough to change public opinion of a president whose standing has been remarkably consistent despite his norm-breaking conduct.

The first independent polling since Democrats began the inquiry carries reassuring news for them — as well as some cautionary signs. A CBS News survey released Sunday indicated that 55 percent of Americans support an impeachment investigation, with Democrats now overwhelmingly supportive and independents about evenly divided. But only 42 percent of those surveyed said Mr. Trump deserved to be impeached, with 22 percent saying it was too soon to determine. This uncertainty is why House Democratic leaders are at pains to emphasize that they are not yet seeking to impeach Mr. Trump, but rather that they want to conduct a thorough investigation into his actions with the Ukranians.

“We’re not ready to call for an impeachment,” said Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois, who chairs the House Democratic campaign committee and herself represents a district Mr. Trump carried. Ms. Bustos said the party’s message would be: “Let’s get to the truth.”

One reason she and other party leaders are acting carefully is the political standing of the remaining holdouts in the House Democratic caucus: Of the 12 members who have yet to call for even an inquiry, nine are freshman.

And some of these lawmakers, as well as colleagues from similarly competitive districts, are deeply uneasy about seeming too rash.

In a meeting before they left Washington last week, these vulnerable Democrats pressed Ms. Pelosi and her lieutenants to steer some of the more fervently pro-impeachment members of the House Judiciary Committee away from serving as the party’s on-air messengers for the inquiry, according to Democrats familiar with the conversation. And to give lawmakers a more substantive message to take home, Democratic leaders distributed packets on their next major piece of legislation, a prescription drugs pricing bill.

Representative Andy Kim at a town hall on Saturday in Seaside Heights, N.J.CreditBryan Anselm for The New York Times

Representative Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, who represents a red-tinted district, said many voters needed time to make up their minds about impeachment and to understand the gravity of Mr. Trump’s call to Ukraine.

“I don’t think they’re there yet,” said Ms. Slotkin, another freshman, of her district’s voters. “Because there’s been a drip, drip, drip for months on this.”

In some of the more affluent districts that Democrats flipped last year, the first-term lawmakers have received reassurance in recent days that they are making the right decision. Mr. Rouda, Mr. Levin and Mr. Cisneros all said in separate interviews that the calls and emails that had come into their offices in the last week had been overwhelmingly in favor of pursuing impeachment.

And Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota, who was the first freshman lawmaker to come out for the investigation last Monday, said that he received a number of calls from Republicans and independent voters who had pressed him to hold the president accountable.

Mr. Phillips’s fellow Minnesotan, Representative Tom Emmer, a Republican who chairs the party’s House campaign committee, said flatly that House Democrats’ impeachment march “will cost them their majority in 2020.”

Yet the most striking element of the CBS survey may have been the Republican movement on the matter: 23 percent of those surveyed said they supported an inquiry.

While that is a relatively small number, it is likely higher in the more upscale G.O.P. districts, such as the one Mr. Phillips represents outside Minneapolis, and it suggests there is an appetite for at least an examination of Mr. Trump’s actions.

That was apparent at a panel held in Austin, Tex., Saturday in conjunction with the Texas Tribune’s “TribFest.” While Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina, two of Mr. Trump’s stoutest Republican allies in Congress, defended him, Representative Chip Roy of Texas said he wanted “to look at the facts.”

Some Republican strategists believe that the key for Mr. Trump is to make impeachment look like a partisan endeavor, with perceptions falling along the same lines of the country’s existing political polarization. The danger for him, then, is that any cracks among Republican lawmakers on impeachment could muddy this red-and-blue divide that often influences voters to side with their preferred parties.

If Republicans are not entirely united on the question of the investigation, Democrats are closing ranks.

Sarah Hunter, a retiree from Huntington Beach, Calif., said the Democrats she gathered with each day at her local dog park had gone from divided to united on the question.

“This latest thing is so egregious, it is so unbelievable that I do believe it’s time” to pursue an impeachment investigation, said Ms. Hunter, who attended Saturday’s party dinner here, where registered Democrats last month began outnumbering registered Republicans.

In addition to the new converts like Ms. Hunter, Democratic lawmakers have also been hearing from activists like Chris Simoes, a mail courier who attended Mr. Kim’s town hall Saturday on the Jersey Shore. Ms. Simoes said she called the lawmaker’s Washington office every day urging him to support impeachment after the transcript of Mr. Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president was released last week.

“I need Andy to get on board. What are you waiting for?” Ms. Simoes recounted saying. “I kept telling them the same thing: I know he’s in a tough district. I know because we all helped him get elected. It’s a tough decision. But this is a bridge too far.”

The most crucial voter bloc may be the increasingly small share of Americans in the political center. And that’s why Democrats are so determined to frame their actions as an inquiry rather than an impeachment.

“If this is a choice between investigating or stonewalling, a significant majority of independents will want to aggressively pursue this,” said Zac McCrary, a Democratic pollster.

Mr. Levin, the California congressman, said that a survey he commissioned in July showed that voters in his district, which stretches from north of Richard Nixon’s old home in San Clemente south to La Jolla, were slightly more opposed to impeachment than supportive of it. But he suggested more of his constituents were likely on board now because of the stark facts of Mr. Trump’s actions with Ukraine.

“I explained them the other day to my 7-year-old son,” he said, “and I think he understood them.”

Jonathan Martin reported from Anaheim, Calif., and Catie Edmondson from Seaside Heights, N.J.

More on the Impeachment Inquiry
Trump Was Repeatedly Warned That Ukraine Conspiracy Theory Was ‘Completely Debunked’

Sept. 29, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 29dc-bossert1-promo-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v3 Back Home, House Democrats Tread Carefully on Impeachment and 2020 Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Slotkin, Elissa Rouda, Harley Presidential Election of 2020 Kim, Andy (1982- ) impeachment Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party
Biden Campaign Urges TV Networks to Stop Booking Giuliani

Sept. 29, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 29biden-giuliani-01-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Back Home, House Democrats Tread Carefully on Impeachment and 2020 Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Slotkin, Elissa Rouda, Harley Presidential Election of 2020 Kim, Andy (1982- ) impeachment Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party
Full Document: Trump’s Call With the Ukrainian President

Sept. 25, 2019

Westlake Legal Group trump-phone-transcript-ukraine-promo-1569369870401-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v4 Back Home, House Democrats Tread Carefully on Impeachment and 2020 Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Slotkin, Elissa Rouda, Harley Presidential Election of 2020 Kim, Andy (1982- ) impeachment Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party
Document: Read the Whistle-Blower Complaint

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group whistleblower-complaint-promo-1569502500532-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v6 Back Home, House Democrats Tread Carefully on Impeachment and 2020 Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Slotkin, Elissa Rouda, Harley Presidential Election of 2020 Kim, Andy (1982- ) impeachment Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party

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Pelosi Pushes for Simple Message on Impeachment as Inquiry Barrels Ahead

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_147434778_0dcf2ec2-6dd5-4d79-9854-e5140c202ce2-articleLarge Pelosi Pushes for Simple Message on Impeachment as Inquiry Barrels Ahead United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry tlaib, rashida Presidential Election of 2020 Phillips, Dean B impeachment Gottheimer, Joshua S (1975- ) Eshoo, Anna G Deutch, Ted (1966- ) Craig, Angela D (1972- ) Cicilline, David N

Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, leaving a House Democratic Caucus meeting Wednesday on Capitol Hill.CreditErin Schaff for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a private appeal on Sunday to Democrats not to squander their chance to build public support for a full-scale impeachment inquiry into President Trump, pressing lawmakers to maintain a simple and somber message as she declared “we are ready” to push forward with a politically divisive process.

“The polls have changed drastically about this,” Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, told her colleagues during a private conference call, according to a Democratic aide who listened and described the private conversation on condition of anonymity. “Our tone must be prayerful, respectful, solemn, worthy of the Constitution.”

After months of murky messaging around a confusing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and Mr. Trump’s efforts to derail that inquiry, Democrats believe the new push, centered on Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the leader of Ukraine to dig up dirt on a political rival, gives them a fresh start with the public — a chance to make a clear-cut case that the president deserves to be removed.

Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the Democrat who leads the Intelligence Committee, told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that more subpoenas in the inquiry would be coming as soon as early this week, including one for Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer whom he deputized to follow up with the Ukrainians on investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Congress is now on a two-week recess, and most lawmakers are back home in their districts. Party leaders sent the rank and file home on Friday with instructions and talking points cards aimed at emphasizing the gravity of the moment. They contained two central messages for lawmakers to deliver to constituents: Mr. Trump abused his office, and Democrats would follow the facts.

“We want to keep this simple,” said Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who heads the party’s messaging arm, clutching talking points cards headlined “No One Is Above the Law.” He added: “This is not complicated. This is misconduct that the president has admitted to.”

Only a month ago, Ms. Pelosi told Democrats in another confidential conference call that the public support for an impeachment inquiry simply did not exist. But in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday evening, she said changed circumstances had altered her calculus.

“We could not ignore what the president did. He gave us no choice,” she said, adding: “I always said we will follow the facts where they take us, and when we see them, we will be ready. And we are ready.”

More than half of Americans — and an overwhelming number of Democrats — say they approve of the inquiry, according to a CBS News poll released Sunday. But the survey found a partisan split, with most Democrats calling the president’s handling of Ukraine illegal and most Republicans calling Mr. Trump’s actions proper — or, if improper, at least legal.

The week-old inquiry is barreling forward, even with lawmakers out of town for a two-week recess. Mr. Schiff, appearing on the ABC program “This Week,” said Sunday that the whistle-blower who triggered the inquiry would testify “very soon.”

But Mr. Schiff hinted the committee might not call Mr. Giuliani, the bombastic former New York mayor who was essentially running a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine on behalf of Mr. Trump. Interviewed on ABC shortly before Mr. Schiff, Mr. Giuliani at first said he “wouldn’t cooperate with Adam Schiff,” then said he “will consider it.”

Sunday night was only the latest effort by Ms. Pelosi to try to strike a dignified tone for the process with her appearance on “60 Minutes.” In a series of interviews, she has been making the case that Mr. Trump engaged in “a cover-up,” calling this moment a “sad day for our country.”

But the carefully coordinated messaging campaign may be upended before it starts. Liberals are reveling in news of an inquiry that they believe should have been opened long ago. The campaign of Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, whose profane cry for impeachment made news on her first day in office, is already selling T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan using a two-letter abbreviation for the expletive she used back in January.

And on the presidential campaign trail, Democrats are talking up impeachment, which poses a danger that the public will think the party is prejudging the outcome of the inquiry and politicizing a solemn task that has grave implications for the future of the nation.

“We need to make sure this is fact-driven and evidence-based, “ said Representative Josh Gottheimer, a centrist Democrat from New Jersey who had resisted calls for the inquiry until now. “You can’t prejudge something that is so solemn and obviously could have a big historical impact on our country, and you need to keep the country together.”

On Friday, three congressional committees issued a subpoena to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, demanding that he produce documents and a slate of witnesses that could shed light on Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to pursue investigations into his political opponents, including Mr. Biden.

And while Ms. Pelosi has said the House would continue to investigate other aspects of the Trump presidency, it is becoming increasingly clear that Ukraine is the central focus and that Mr. Schiff, a former prosecutor, is its de facto leader. Although Mr. Trump has repeatedly called on Mr. Schiff to resign, many Democrats believe he presents a good face to the public.

Representative Cheri Bustos, Democrat of Illinois, who runs the party’s campaign arm, told colleagues on the call that her committee would begin polling voters in key swing districts on impeachment and the House’s inquiry, according to three Democrats on the call.

Mr. Schiff has scheduled a closed briefing on Friday with the inspector general of the intelligence community, who conducted a preliminary investigation of the whistle-blower complaint and found it credible.

“We have to flesh out all of the facts for the American people,” Mr. Schiff wrote in a letter to colleagues. “The seriousness of the matter and the danger to our country demands nothing less.”

For moderates in Trump-friendly districts — many of whom opposed opening an inquiry just a week ago — this moment is fraught with political peril. Some vulnerable freshmen who now support the inquiry are already saying that they are aware that they may become one-term members of Congress as a result. Some are bracing for a backlash at home.

“I’m going to tell my constituents that this is a decision I never wanted to have to make, that the president left us no choice but to open an impeachment inquiry,” said Representative Angie Craig, a freshman from Minnesota who flipped a Republican seat in a district won by the president. She added, “I didn’t come here to impeach the president.”

Ms. Craig and other moderates met privately with Ms. Pelosi on Thursday, seeking guidance on how to talk about impeachment back home. She writes a weekly newsletter to her constituents, and said she intended to use it to invite constituents to draw their own conclusions, and will ask them to read relevant documents, including the whistle-blower’s complaint.

Representative Adam Schiff has scheduled a closed briefing on Friday with the inspector general of the intelligence community.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Democrats believe the facts are on their side. The president has acknowledged talking to Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, about investigating Mr. Biden. The transcript of their July 25 call and the whistle-blower’s complaint back that up. It is an easy-to-understand, digestible narrative, unlike the other inquiries Democrats have been pursuing, including the Russia investigation, hush money payments and Mr. Trump’s business dealings.

“I still believe in story,” said Representative Anna G. Eshoo, Democrat of California and a close ally of Ms. Pelosi. “There’s clarity to this Ukraine story.”

But it will be a hard conversation for vulnerable moderates like Representative Dean Phillips, Democrat of Minnesota, who also resisted an inquiry until recently.

“I come from a very engaged district that is thoughtful, respectful for the most part and believes in accountability,” he said. “I am grateful to those Republican constituents of mine and throughout the country who recognize this isn’t about an individual president or politician, this is about process, principle and the rule of law.”

His message to voters who ask him what he is doing? “I’m doing my job.”

Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting from Washington, and Jonathan Martin from Austin, Tex.

Related Coverage
House Democrats Issue First Subpoena in Impeachment Inquiry

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Biden Campaign Urges TV Networks to Stop Booking Giuliani

Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential campaign contacted top television anchors and networks on Sunday to “demand” that Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, be kept off the air because of what they called his misleading comments about the Biden family and Ukraine.

“We are writing today with grave concern that you continue to book Rudy Giuliani on your air to spread false, debunked conspiracy theories on behalf of Donald Trump,” a pair of top Biden campaign advisers, Anita Dunn and Kate Bedingfield, wrote in the letter.

“Giving Rudy Giuliani valuable time on your air to push these lies in the first place is a disservice to your audience and a disservice to journalism,” the advisers wrote.

The note, which was obtained by The New York Times, was sent to executives and top political anchors at ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News and NBC, including star interviewers like Jake Tapper, Chuck Todd and Chris Wallace.

Mr. Giuliani could not immediately be reached on Sunday for comment.

Mr. Giuliani has been a ubiquitous presence on television news in recent days, advocating on Mr. Trump’s behalf. He has repeatedly alleged that Mr. Biden, while serving as vice president, intervened in Ukraine to assist his son Hunter Biden’s business interests. No evidence has surfaced that Mr. Biden intentionally tried to help his son in Ukraine.

The Biden campaign argued that Mr. Giuliani’s television appearances had allowed him to mislead the viewing public — and suggested that network journalists had done too little to hold him to account. “While you often fact check his statements in real time during your discussions, that is no longer enough,” the letter said.

Mr. Biden’s advisers have not been shy about offering advice to journalists. Earlier this month, the campaign sent a memo to an elite group of campaign reporters warning that any news story would be “misleading” if the Trump camp’s claims about Mr. Biden were unsubstantiated.

The news networks had no comment on Sunday.

As Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Mr. Giuliani remains a highly newsworthy figure, particularly amid an escalating impeachment inquiry in which Mr. Giuliani’s own actions in Ukraine could play a central role. It is likely that Mr. Giuliani will remain a coveted booking for television journalists seeking insight into the president’s mind-set and legal defense strategy.

As for Mr. Biden, he has shown little eagerness to engage one-on-one with TV anchors. The former vice president has declined to appear on any of the weekend political talk shows since declaring his candidacy, mostly reserving his on-air appearances for venues like late-night comedy shows and “The View.”

On Sunday, Mr. Giuliani made freewheeling appearances on “Face the Nation” on CBS and “This Week” on ABC to discuss the impeachment inquiry.

Producers at both shows also requested interviews with Mr. Biden. The Biden campaign declined the invitation and instead offered its national co-chairman, Representative Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, an option that the producers rejected, according to three people familiar with the deliberations.

Weekend political talk shows typically reserve airtime for newsmakers themselves — a candidate or politician in person, for instance — rather than for lower-ranking supporters.

Still, the Biden team’s memo highlighted a topic that had loomed large for network journalists gearing up for the 2020 race: how to responsibly cover a president who regularly lobs baseless accusation at opponents. Last week, the MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace cut away from the president’s first news conference since the start of the impeachment inquiry, telling viewers that Mr. Trump wasn’t “telling the truth.”

Other journalists argue that the public has a right to know what a president — or, in Mr. Giuliani’s case, one of a president’s closest advocates — has to say. Television anchors have other tools of accountability at their disposal, too; Mr. Tapper won praise on Sunday for his persistent questioning of Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, who was defending Mr. Trump’s actions on Ukraine, during an interview on CNN.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 29biden-giuliani-articleLarge Biden Campaign Urges TV Networks to Stop Booking Giuliani Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Tapper, Jake Presidential Election of 2020 News and News Media Giuliani, Rudolph W Biden, Joseph R Jr

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Ahead of 2020, Facebook Falls Short on Plan to Share Data on Disinformation

In April 2018, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, told Congress about an ambitious plan to share huge amounts of posts, links and other user data with researchers around the world so that they could study and flag disinformation on the site.

“Our goal is to focus on both providing ideas for preventing interference in 2018 and beyond, and also for holding us accountable,” Mr. Zuckerberg told lawmakers questioning him about Russian interference on the site in the 2016 presidential election. He said he hoped “the first results” would come by the end of that year.

But nearly 18 months later, much of the data remains unavailable to academics because Facebook says it has struggled to share the information while also protecting its users’ privacy. And the information the company eventually releases is expected to be far less comprehensive than originally described.

As a result, researchers say, the public may have little more insight into disinformation campaigns on the social network heading into the 2020 presidential election than they had in 2016. Seven nonprofit groups that have helped finance the research efforts, including the Knight Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation, have even threatened to end their involvement.

“Silicon Valley has a moral obligation to do all it can to protect the American political process,” said Dipayan Ghosh, a fellow at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard and a former privacy and public policy adviser at Facebook. “We need researchers to have access to study what went wrong.”

Political disinformation campaigns have continued to grow since the 2016 campaign. Last week, Oxford researchers said that the number of countries with disinformation campaigns more than doubled to 70 in the last two years, and that Facebook remained the No. 1 platform for those campaigns.

But while company executives express an eagerness to prevent the spread of knowingly false posts and photos on the social network, by far the world’s largest, they also face numerous questions about their ability to secure people’s private information.

Revelations last year that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, had harvested the personal data of up to 87 million Facebook users set off an outcry in Washington. In the months after the scandal, Facebook cut off many of the most common avenues for researchers accessing information about the more than two billion people on the service. This past July, it also agreed with federal regulators to pay $5 billion for mishandling users’ personal information.

“At one level, it’s difficult as there’s a large amount of data and Facebook has concerns around privacy,” said Tom Glaisyer, chairman of the group of seven nonprofits supporting the research efforts.

“But frankly, our digital public square doesn’t appear to be serving our democracy,” said Mr. Glaisyer, who is also the managing director of the Democracy Fund, a nonpartisan group that promotes election security.

Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice president of special projects, who oversees the initiative, defended the company’s efforts.

“The whole reason Mark announced this program in the first place is he believes that the most productive and instructive debates are driven by data and independent analysis,” Mr. Schrage said in an interview. “I know of no private company that has invested more to build tools and technologies to make private data publicly available for public research.”

Three months after Mr. Zuckerberg spoke in Washington last year, Facebook announced plans to provide approved researchers with detailed information about users, like age and location, where a false post appeared in their feeds and even their friends’ ideological affiliation. Dozens of researchers applied to get the information.

The company partnered with an independent research commission, Social Science One, which had been set up for the initiative, to determine what information could be sent to researchers. Facebook and Social Science One also brought in the Social Science Research Council, an independent nonprofit organization that oversees international social science research, to sort through the applications from academics and conduct a peer review and an ethical review on their research proposals.

But privacy experts brought in by Social Science One quickly raised concerns about disclosing too much personal information. In response, Facebook began trying to apply what’s known in statistics and data analytics as “differential privacy,” in which researchers can learn a lot about a group from data, but virtually nothing about a specific individual. It is a method that has been adopted by directors at the Census Bureau and promoted by Apple.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160913478_7bd36c7c-c51b-42c0-abf3-a0b1e1f02e53-articleLarge Ahead of 2020, Facebook Falls Short on Plan to Share Data on Disinformation Social Science Research Council Social Media Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 News and News Media Facebook Inc Data-Mining and Database Marketing Computers and the Internet

Dipayan Ghosh, in his office at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard. “Silicon Valley has a moral obligation to do all it can to protect the American political process,” Mr. Ghosh, said. “We need researchers to have access to study what went wrong.”CreditCody O’Loughlin for The New York Times

Facebook is still working on that effort. But researchers say that even when Facebook delivers the data, what they can learn about activity on the social network will be much more limited than they planned for.

“We and Facebook have learned how difficult it is to make” a database that was not just privacy-protected but at a “grand scale,” said Nate Persily, a Stanford law professor and co-founder of Social Science One.

Facebook said researchers had access to other data sets, including from its ads archive and Crowdtangle, a news-tracking tool that Facebook owns. Two researchers said they and others visited Facebook’s headquarters in California in June to learn how to study the available data set.

And both Facebook and Social Science One said they would continue to make more data available to researchers in time. In September, the two released 32 million links that included data about whether users labeled millions of posts as fake news, spam or hate speech, or if fact-check organizations raised doubts about the posts’ accuracy. It also included how many times stories were shared publicly and the countries where the stories were most shared.

Facebook’s effort is a “tremendous step forward,” said Joshua Tucker, a professor at New York University studying the spread of polarizing content across multiple platforms. “In the long term, if methods for making these data available for outside research are successfully implemented, it will have a very positive impact.”

But other researchers say the existing databases are severely limiting. And some say that Facebook’s concerns about privacy are overblown.

Ariel Sheen, a doctoral student at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellin, Colombia, whose research team has been through the Social Science One approval process but has not yet received the data, said his group has uncovered on its own hints of a large coordinated campaign in Venezuela.

His group believes it has found more than 3,000 still-active fake Facebook accounts — profiles run by people impersonating others, for example — that are spreading false information. The accounts, Mr. Sheen said, are tied to Telesur, a Latin American television network largely financed by the Venezuela government.

But because Facebook is not providing the original data described, Mr. Sheen said, his team’s work cannot proceed as planned.

“We believe that it is imperative for our research to continue as was originally agreed to by Facebook,” he said.

Mr. Glaisyer of the Democracy Fund said it is important that researchers “can operate independently” but that Facebook “may consider other ways of granting researchers and analysts access such as on-site — as the Census Bureau does.” Mr. Sheen said that is precisely what his team has proposed.

Facebook said there were other possibilities for sharing data with researchers but that it could not commit to specific methods at this point.

Philip Howard, director of the Oxford Internet Institute, a department at Oxford University studying the use of social media to spread misinformation, said his team deliberately chose not to participate in the Facebook and Social Science One data sharing project.

“It takes so frustratingly long to get data sets that it’s easier for us to build our own tools and push the science forward on our own,” Mr. Howard said.

But Samantha Bradshaw, a researcher who works with Mr. Howard, said that collecting their own data for research is also limiting.

“It’s only a small glimpse into what are very big broad phenomenons,” she said.

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Democrats’ 2020 Campaign Message: Not Impeachment, They Insist

After the 2016 election, Democratic leaders reached an all but unanimous conclusion: To defeat President Trump in 2020, they would have to do more than condemn his offensive behavior and far-right ideology, as Hillary Clinton had done. They would need, above all, to promote a clear and exciting agenda of their own.

They took that lesson to heart in the midterm elections and afterward, capturing the House of Representatives with a focus on health care and then attempting to impress the electorate by passing legislation on matters like campaign finance reform and the minimum wage. As Democratic presidential contenders pushed campaigns built on big ideas, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi resisted a chorus of calls for impeachment, even from some of her party’s leading 2020 candidates.

Yet 13 months before the next election, Democratic leaders are now steering into a protracted, head-on clash with Mr. Trump. By seeking the Ukrainian government’s help in tarring former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Mr. Trump left them no choice, they say, but to pursue an impeachment inquiry that could consume the country’s attention for months.

Ms. Pelosi has indicated she aims to move the process along with haste, in part to avoid an election-year conflagration, but the exact course of the inquiry is impossible to foresee.

All 19 Democratic presidential candidates now support the impeachment inquiry, and many Democrats are optimistic that voters will as well, because Mr. Trump is so unpopular and the allegations against him are grave and easily grasped. For now, Republicans are the party on the defensive, flummoxed by the cascading disclosures about Mr. Trump that have threatened to upend his re-election campaign.

But there is also a general recognition, at every level of the Democratic Party, that impeachment could complicate their candidates’ efforts to explain their policy ideas to the country and persuade voters they have a vision beyond ousting Mr. Trump. The party has been disappointed too many times, its leaders say, by betting that Mr. Trump’s violations of political and cultural norms would bring about his downfall.

On Friday evening, Ms. Pelosi declared at a conference of New Jersey Democrats in Atlantic City that she would not allow the 2020 election to become a campaign about impeachment. Insisting the inquiry “has nothing to do with the election,” she said the campaign would be fought on other terms.

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“That’s about facts and the Constitution,” Ms. Pelosi said of the impeachment process. “The election is about all of the issues and policies that we have a difference of opinion with the Republicans on, and they are very drastic — and they have nothing to do with impeachment.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161624016_ece5edad-6207-4f81-a293-dc74f52dea97-articleLarge Democrats’ 2020 Campaign Message: Not Impeachment, They Insist United States Politics and Government Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr

Joseph R. Biden Jr. at a rally on Friday in Las Vegas. Mr. Biden has repeatedly denounced Mr. Trump but has declined to reorient his activities around responding to the president.CreditBridget Bennett for The New York Times

Ms. Pelosi has already advised the newest members of her caucus — the ones who secured the majority last year — that they will have to execute a careful balancing act in the coming weeks, to show voters in their districts that they can continue to pass important legislation. She is said to be particularly focused on a proposal to lower prescription drug prices that she unveiled last week, before the Ukraine saga began.

But even before impeachment, House Democrats were gaining little traction with policy bills that withered in the Republican-controlled Senate. Polls have shown their proposals to be popular, but they have been routinely overshadowed in the news by Mr. Trump.

There is little doubt that impeachment will become a singular obsession in the political world and dominate news coverage for as long as the inquiry is underway. A few early polls on impeachment suggest that public support for the inquiry is somewhat stronger than opposition to it, but those numbers could easily change in either direction as the process unfolds.

[Which Democrats are leading the 2020 presidential race this week?]

Diane Feldman, a Democratic pollster, said it would be difficult for the party to communicate with voters on issues besides impeachment for the duration of the process. But candidates up and down the ballot had to try to drive a message about policy all the same, she said.

“I think it’s worth the effort, but it’s a long shot,” Ms. Feldman said. “That we not put all of our eggs in the impeachment basket seems to me extremely wise.”

However, Ms. Feldman said, the impeachment process could also “add some clarity to risks that Trump presents to our national security and foreign policy” and sharpen the overall Democratic case against his re-election.

The task of balancing impeachment against policy priorities will be especially delicate for lawmakers elected last year, including dozens who won narrow victories in historically Republican districts. Democrats are defending a sizable number of seats that Mr. Trump carried in 2016, in parts of the country like upstate New York, Oklahoma City and northern Maine, where the impeachment issue is likely to stir backlash.

Congressional Republicans are likely to struggle in a different way, as they face pressure from their party’s conservative base to defend Mr. Trump even as he behaves in erratic or legally questionable ways.

Democratic presidential candidates are attempting their own juggling act, mixing denunciations of Mr. Trump’s actions on Ukraine with detailed policy promises. Mr. Biden, the candidate most directly connected to the impeachment uproar, has repeatedly denounced Mr. Trump but has declined to reorient his activities around responding to the president. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Mr. Biden’s leading competitor in the primary, has reminded voters this week that she was the first major Democratic candidate to demand Mr. Trump’s impeachment. But she, too, has not dwelled on the subject in her speeches, and she has indicated she would prefer to avoid a sprawling, open-ended process.

And at the same Democratic gathering in New Jersey where Ms. Pelosi spoke on Friday, Senator Cory Booker urged his party to avoid “partisan glee” about the prospect of impeaching Mr. Trump. Talking to reporters outside the event, he said Democrats should keep campaign considerations separate from impeachment: “It’s just something that I need to deal with in a very sober way,” he said, “away from politics.”

But Mr. Biden and Ms. Warren may be among the only Democratic candidates who can count on breaking through the din of impeachment with regularity, along with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and perhaps Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind. For the rest of the Democratic field, strategists say, the next stage of the primary race may have less to do with delivering high-minded policy arguments on the national level than courting voters in the early primary and caucus states with personal appeals — as an impeachment battle rages in the foreground.

Elizabeth Warren at a campaign event on Friday in Hollis, N.H. Ms. Warren may be one of the only Democratic candidates who can count on breaking through the noise of impeachment with regularity.CreditElizabeth Frantz for The New York Times

Meredith Kelly, a Democratic strategist, said the experience of the last presidential race had not faded in the party’s thinking. A veteran of the 2018 campaign to seize the House, Ms. Kelly said Democratic candidates would have to both build a “methodical” case against Mr. Trump during the impeachment inquiry and also keep detailing “a proactive vision of what you stand for.”

“It was a lesson from 2016: You couldn’t only call out Donald Trump without your own positive vision for the country,” said Ms. Kelly, who advised Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s presidential campaign. “You cannot stop talking about kitchen-table issues and your vision for the country.”

More Coverage of Democrats and Impeachment
House Democrats Issue First Subpoena in Impeachment Inquiry

Sept. 27, 2019

Complaint in Hand, Democrats Aim for a Fast, and Focused, Impeachment Inquiry

Sept. 26, 2019

Why Impeachment Might Be Trouble for Some Democratic Presidential Candidates

Sept. 26, 2019

Why an Impeachment Inquiry Now? Democrats Cite the Clarity of the Case

Sept. 24, 2019

Democratic voters this week expressed a combination of enthusiasm for impeachment and anxiety about potential political complications — and, at times, a desire to stay focused on policy.

At Mr. Biden’s campaign stop in Las Vegas on Friday, Rick Carter, 74, a voter from Henderson, Nev., said he had been highly skeptical of impeaching Mr. Trump until the recent revelations about Ukraine. The newest allegations, he said, were “pretty clear, to the point.”

Still, Mr. Carter said he hoped candidates would continue training their attention on subjects like the cost of prescription drugs.

“I want to start focusing on what the American people need,” he said.

Cory Booker at the New Jersey Democratic State Committee Conference on Friday in Atlantic City. Mr. Booker urged his party to avoid “partisan glee” about the prospect of impeaching President Trump.CreditMichelle Gustafson for The New York Times

Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster, said that even in the tumult of impeachment there were opportunities for Democrats to emphasize policy. He pointed to Ms. Warren’s campaign as one that was plainly “breaking through on policy” even amid Mr. Trump’s constant provocations.

“The House has passed a lot of bills that have gotten very little news coverage,” he noted. “But when members go home and have interactions with their constituents, they’re going to spend a lot of time talking about their legislation to have Medicare negotiate for lower prices and give all people the benefit of lower drug prices.”

And while the impeachment process unfolds, Mr. Garin added, Democrats could likely count on Mr. Trump not to deliver a broad, policy-based message of his own.

“Trump’s not really making any effort to do anything but rally his base on this,” Mr. Garin said. “And in doing that, I think he’s probably aggravating his situation with voters in the center.”

Nick Corasaniti reported from Atlantic City. Sydney Ember contributed reporting from Las Vegas.

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White House Classified Computer System Is Used to Hold Transcripts of Sensitive Calls

Westlake Legal Group merlin_161609544_84a31f63-af9b-4bd1-8a2b-06e87df33a03-facebookJumbo White House Classified Computer System Is Used to Hold Transcripts of Sensitive Calls Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2020 National Security Council Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

WASHINGTON — The White House put some reconstructed transcripts of delicate calls between President Trump and foreign officials, including President Vladimir V. Putin and the Saudi royal family, into a highly classified computer system after embarrassing leaks of his conversations, according to current and former officials.

The handling of Mr. Trump’s calls with world leaders has come under scrutiny after questions over whether a transcript of a July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was improperly placed into this computer system.

The latest revelations show the focus that White House officials put on safeguarding not only classified information but also delicate calls with Mr. Trump, the details of which the administration did not want leaked.

A whistle-blower complaint accuses officials of trying to “lock down” access to information about the conversation with Mr. Zelensky by improperly storing the rough transcript of the July 25 call in the highly classified system after the call took place.

In the case of the calls with the Saudi royal family, the restrictions were set beforehand, and the number of people allowed to listen was sharply restricted. The Saudi calls placed in the restricted system were with King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prince Khalid bin Salman, who at the time was the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

While the calls included delicate information about Mr. Trump’s discussions about the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, there was no apparent evidence of impropriety by Mr. Trump, said a person familiar with the matter.

The access restrictions placed on the calls with Mr. Putin of Russia and the Saudi royal family were first reported Friday night by CNN.

The practice began after details of Mr. Trump’s Oval Office discussion with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, leaked to the news media, leading to questions of whether the president had released classified information, according to multiple current and former officials. The White House was particularly upset when the news media reported that Mr. Trump had called James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, a “nut job” during that same meeting, according to current and former officials.

The White House had begun restricting access to information after initial leaks of Mr. Trump’s calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia. But the conversation with Mr. Lavrov and Sergey I. Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the United States, prompted tighter restrictions.

Several current and former officials played down the significance of placing the classified calls into the secure system, saying it made sense to restrict the calls given the number of leaks from the Trump White House.

Nevertheless, the use of the system has come under scrutiny after the unclassified version of the whistle-blower complaint was made public. The complaint raised questions that the July 25 with the Ukrainian president had been improperly placed in the classified system, suggesting that officials put the reconstructed transcript into a system meant to protect the nation’s most sensitive secrets.

The Trump administration said on Friday that National Security Council lawyers had made the decision to place the rough transcript of that phone call into a highly classified computer system accessible to only a small number of officials.

“N.S.C. lawyers directed that the classified document be handled appropriately,” said a senior administration official. The statement was also first reported by CNN.

But the official did not actually say how the document was handled, nor address the whistle-blower’s specific charge that the reconstructed transcript, in what would be a highly unusual action, was moved from a computer system widely accessible to National Security Council officials to one reserved for those with code-word clearance to handle the country’s most closely guarded secrets like covert operations and foreign surveillance.

A White House spokesman did not respond when asked about that specific claim. Democrats in Congress and former N.S.C. officials and lawyers in both parties have said such an action, if motivated by a desire to conceal Mr. Trump’s efforts to put political pressure on the Ukrainian leader, would be far from appropriate, and at a minimum, unethical. But in a combative exchange with reporters later in the day, Kellyanne Conway, a White House counselor, repeated the spokesman’s language, saying that “as I understand, the document was handled appropriately at all times.”

“I think the most important thing about said document is that the whole world has access to it now,” Ms. Conway said, citing its release by the White House this week.

Democrats say the president abused his power by conditioning aid for Ukraine on whether its government investigated one of his 2020 campaign rivals, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and his son Hunter Biden, and will examine whether that constitutes a high crime and misdemeanor. The treatment of the document will form part of that inquiry.

In his complaint, the whistle-blower said that unnamed White House officials told him that they had been “‘directed’ by White House lawyers” to remove the record of the call from the National Security Council’s main computer system and load it into one managed by the agency’s intelligence directorate that is not connected to the main system and that requires special permissions and enhanced security clearances to access.

That would have the effect of vastly reducing the number of people who can read — and therefore leak — the document, in what the whistle-blower described in his complaint as an acknowledgment that the president’s comments to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, had been highly improper.

“One White House official described this act as an abuse of this electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective,” the whistle-blower wrote. His complaint also alleged that other, unspecified presidential transcripts had received similar treatment.

The administration official did not name any of the lawyers involved. The National Security Council is part of the White House and advised by lawyers who report to the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone. The National Security Council’s chief legal adviser is John Eisenberg, a Cipollone deputy.

Mr. Eisenberg also had a role in conducting a preliminary inquiry into the allegations, well before the whistle-blower complaint was filed. The C.I.A. officer who would become the future whistle-blower first contacted, anonymously, the C.I.A.’s general counsel, Courtney Simmons Elwood, days after the July 25 call.

Ms. Elwood then contacted Mr. Eisenberg to begin his inquiry. Mr. Eisenberg and his team began calling people in the N.S.C. about their concerns about the call, according to people familiar with the matter. It is not clear if that inquiry included questions of how the records were handled.

Ms. Conway pleaded ignorance of the details of how the N.S.C. handles records of foreign leader calls, saying that “the people who handle such things said it was handled appropriately.”

After transcripts of conversations Mr. Trump had with the leaders of Australia and Mexico leaked into the media early in his presidency, she said, “my understanding is that we changed some of the protocols” regarding how records of such calls are managed. Those changes have included limiting the distribution of the call transcripts, something that had been known for some time.

Ms. Conway dodged specific questions about whether it would have been improper for the White House to place the N.S.C.’s reconstructed transcript of the Ukraine call into the more secure computer system.

Mr. Trump continued to rage on Twitter on Friday over criticism of his phone call with Mr. Zelensky while he and his allies maintained their effort to deflect attention from the president’s actions and onto the former vice president and Hunter Biden.

“If that perfect phone call with the President of Ukraine isn’t considered appropriate, then no future President can EVER again speak to another foreign leader!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

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White House Knew of Whistle-Blower’s Allegations Soon After Trump’s Call With Ukraine Leader

WASHINGTON — The White House learned that a C.I.A. officer had lodged allegations against President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine even as the officer’s whistle-blower complaint was moving through a process meant to protect him against reprisals, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The officer first shared information about potential abuse of power and a White House cover-up with the C.I.A.’s top lawyer through an anonymous process, some of the people said. The lawyer shared the officer’s concerns with White House and Justice Department officials, following policy. Around the same time, the officer separately filed the whistle-blower complaint.

The revelations provide new insight about how the officer’s allegations moved through the bureaucracy of government. The Trump administration’s handling of the accusations is certain to be scrutinized, particularly by lawmakers weighing the impeachment of the president.

Lawyers for the whistle-blower refused to confirm that he worked for the C.I.A. and said that publishing information about him was dangerous.

“Any decision to report any perceived identifying information of the whistle-blower is deeply concerning and reckless, as it can place the individual in harm’s way,” said Andrew Bakaj, his lead counsel. “The whistle-blower has a right to anonymity.”

Neither the White House nor the National Security Council, its foreign policy arm, responded to requests for comment. The C.I.A. referred questions to the inspector general for the intelligence agencies, Michael Atkinson, who declined to comment.

A spokeswoman for the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, said that protecting the whistle-blower was his office’s highest priority. “We must protect those who demonstrate the courage to report alleged wrongdoing, whether on the battlefield or in the workplace,” Mr. Maguire said at a hearing on Thursday, adding that he did not know the whistle-blower’s identity.

Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The New York Times, said The Times was right to publish information about the whistle-blower. “The president and some of his supporters have attacked the credibility of the whistle-blower, who has presented information that has touched off a landmark impeachment proceeding,” Mr. Baquet said. “The president himself has called the whistle-blower’s account a ‘political hack job.’”

Mr. Baquet added, “We decided to publish limited information about the whistle-blower — including the fact that he works for a nonpolitical agency and that his complaint is based on an intimate knowledge and understanding of the White House — because we wanted to provide information to readers that allows them to make their own judgments about whether or not he is credible. We also understand that the White House already knew he was a C.I.A. officer.”

Document: Read the Whistle-Blower Complaint

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group whistleblower-complaint-promo-1569502500532-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v6 White House Knew of Whistle-Blower’s Allegations Soon After Trump’s Call With Ukraine Leader United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment Espionage and Intelligence Services central intelligence agency

During his time at the White House, the whistle-blower became deeply unnerved about how he believed Mr. Trump was broadly seeking to pressure the Ukrainian government to conduct investigations that could benefit him politically. “Namely, he sought to pressure the Ukrainian leader to take actions to help the president’s 2020 re-election bid,” said the complaint, which was released on Thursday.

During a July 25 call, Mr. Trump asked President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate unsubstantiated allegations of corruption against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son and other matters that the president saw as potentially beneficial to him politically, according to a reconstructed transcript released by the White House on Wednesday.

The whistle-blower was detailed to work at the White House at one point, according to three people familiar with his identity, and has since returned to the C.I.A.

His complaint suggested he was an analyst by training and made clear he was steeped in details of American foreign policy toward Europe, demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of Ukrainian politics and at least some knowledge of the law.

The whistle-blower’s expertise will most likely add to lawmakers’ confidence about the merits of his complaint and tamp down allegations that he might have misunderstood what he learned about Mr. Trump. He did not listen directly to the July call, but some White House colleagues told him that they were concerned they had witnessed “the president abuse his office for personal gain,” according to the complaint.

The week after the call, the officer delivered a somewhat broad accusation anonymously to the C.I.A.’s general counsel, Courtney Simmons Elwood, according to multiple people familiar with the events. The initial allegations reported only that serious questions existed about a phone call between Mr. Trump and a foreign leader.

As required by government policy, Ms. Elwood had to assess whether a “reasonable basis” for the accusation existed. During the preliminary inquiry, Ms. Elwood and a career C.I.A. lawyer learned that multiple people had raised concerns about Mr. Trump’s call.

Ms. Elwood also called John A. Eisenberg, a deputy White House counsel and her counterpart at the National Security Council, according to three people familiar with the matter. He was already aware of vague concerns about the call.

Ms. Elwood, Mr. Eisenberg and their deputies spoke multiple times the following week. They decided that the accusations had a reasonable basis.

Mr. Eisenberg and Ms. Elwood both spoke on Aug. 14 to John Demers, the head of the Justice Department’s national security division, according to three people familiar with the discussion. Ms. Elwood did not pass on the name of the C.I.A. officer, which she did not know because his concerns were submitted anonymously.

The next day, Mr. Demers went to the White House to read the transcript of the call and assess whether to alert other senior law enforcement officials. The deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, and Brian A. Benczkowski, the head of the department’s criminal division, were soon looped in, according to two administration officials.

Department officials began to discuss the accusations and whether and how to follow up, and Attorney General William P. Barr learned of the allegations around that time, according to a person familiar with the matter. Although Mr. Barr was briefed, he did not oversee the discussions about how to proceed, the person said.

But as White House, C.I.A. and Justice Department officials were examining the accusations, the C.I.A. officer who had lodged them anonymously grew concerned after learning that Ms. Elwood had contacted the White House, according to two people familiar with the matter. While it is not clear how the officer became aware that Ms. Elwood had shared the information, he concluded that the C.I.A. was not taking his allegations seriously.

That played a factor in his decision to become a whistle-blower, they said. And about two weeks after first submitting his anonymous accusations, he decided to file a whistle-blower complaint to Mr. Atkinson, a step that offers special legal protections, unlike going to a general counsel.

Ms. Elwood and Mr. Eisenberg learned only later about the complaint, filed on Aug. 12, and did not know it was sent by the same officer who had sent the information anonymously to her.

At the end of August, the office of the director of national intelligence referred the allegations to the Justice Department as a possible criminal matter. Law enforcement officials ultimately declined to open an investigation.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161468745_3dcf0523-f760-4ffd-9965-3fdf83781ff8-articleLarge White House Knew of Whistle-Blower’s Allegations Soon After Trump’s Call With Ukraine Leader United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment Espionage and Intelligence Services central intelligence agency

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.CreditBrittainy Newman/The New York Times

The revelation that the White House knew that a C.I.A. officer was expressing concerns before he filed a whistle-blower complaint demonstrates a weakness in a law meant to protect him from reprisals and shows that he was at risk of retaliation.

“I always advise whistle-blowers against going to general counsels because the general counsels have to report the matter,” said Dan Meyer, the former executive director of the intelligence community whistle-blowing program and managing partner at the law firm Tully Rinckey’s Washington office. “They are like tuna in a shark tank.”

Mr. Maguire defended the government’s handling of the complaint, noting the whistle-blower’s accusations had been delivered to Congress and the reconstructed transcript of Mr. Trump’s call had been released. “Everything here in this matter is totally unprecedented,” he said at the hearing.

Speaking to State Department employees at a closed-door meeting, Mr. Trump said the whistle-blower was “almost a spy,” according to a person briefed on what took place, and said he wanted to identify his sources, suggesting that punishment awaited them.

The whistle-blower has identified at least a half-dozen government officials — including several who work for the White House — who he believes can substantiate his claims. The inspector general has interviewed some of the people and found the whistle-blower’s claims credible.

Agents, officers and analysts from the military, intelligence and law enforcement communities routinely work at the White House. Often, they work on the National Security Council or help manage secure communications, like calls between the president and foreign leaders.

The C.I.A. officer did not work on the communications team that handles calls with foreign leaders, according to the people familiar with his identity. He learned about Mr. Trump’s conduct “in the course of official interagency business,” according to the complaint, which was dotted with footnotes about machinations in Kiev and reinforced with public comments by senior Ukrainian officials.

Officials regularly shared information to “inform policymaking and analysis,” the complaint said. It raises the prospect that the whistle-blower was not detailed to the White House either during the events in question or when he learned about them.

After the call, multiple officials told the whistle-blower that future talks between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky would depend on whether the Ukranians would “play ball” on the investigations.

White House Tried to ‘Lock Down’ Ukraine Call Records, Whistle-Blower Says

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_161536872_e2f1a6cc-83ed-47eb-9f37-00f53ae437da-threeByTwoSmallAt2X White House Knew of Whistle-Blower’s Allegations Soon After Trump’s Call With Ukraine Leader United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment Espionage and Intelligence Services central intelligence agency
Trump Attacks Whistle-Blower’s Sources and Alludes to Punishment for Spies

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-trump-promo-threeByTwoSmallAt2X White House Knew of Whistle-Blower’s Allegations Soon After Trump’s Call With Ukraine Leader United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment Espionage and Intelligence Services central intelligence agency
Document: Read the Whistle-Blower Complaint

Sept. 26, 2019

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8 Takeaways From the Whistle-Blower Complaint

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-takeaways-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v2 White House Knew of Whistle-Blower’s Allegations Soon After Trump’s Call With Ukraine Leader United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment Espionage and Intelligence Services central intelligence agency

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Whistle-Blower Is a C.I.A. Officer Who Was Detailed to the White House

WASHINGTON — The whistle-blower who revealed that President Trump sought foreign help for his re-election and that the White House sought to cover it up is a C.I.A. officer who was detailed to work at the White House at one point, according to three people familiar with his identity.

The man has since returned to the C.I.A., the people said. Little else is known about him. His complaint made public Thursday suggested he was an analyst by training and made clear he was steeped in details of American foreign policy toward Europe, demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of Ukrainian politics and at least some knowledge of the law.

The whistle-blower’s expertise will likely add to lawmakers’ confidence about the merits of his complaint, and tamp down allegations that he might have misunderstood what he learned about Mr. Trump. He did not listen directly to a July call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine that is at the center of the political firestorm over the president’s mixing of diplomacy with personal political gain.

Full Document: The Whistle-Blower Complaint

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group whistleblower-complaint-promo-1569502500532-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v6 Whistle-Blower Is a C.I.A. Officer Who Was Detailed to the White House United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment Espionage and Intelligence Services central intelligence agency

Lawyers for the whistle-blower refused to confirm that he worked for the C.I.A. and said that publishing information about him was dangerous.

“Any decision to report any perceived identifying information of the whistle-blower is deeply concerning and reckless, as it can place the individual in harm’s way,” said Andrew Bakaj, his lead counsel. “The whistle-blower has a right to anonymity.”

A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, said that protecting the whistle-blower was his office’s highest priority. “We must protect those who demonstrate the courage to report alleged wrongdoing, whether on the battlefield or in the workplace,” Mr. Maguire said at a hearing on Thursday, adding that he did not know the whistle-blower’s identity.

Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The New York Times, said The Times was right to publish information about the whistle-blower. “The role of the whistle-blower, including his credibility and his place in the government, is essential to understanding one of the most important issues facing the country — whether the president of the United States abused power and whether the White House covered it up.”

Agents, officers and analysts from the military, intelligence and law enforcement communities routinely work at the White House. Often, they work on the National Security Council or help manage secure communications, like calls between the president and foreign leaders.

The C.I.A. officer did not work on the communications team that handles calls with foreign leaders, according to the people familiar with his identity. He learned about Mr. Trump’s conduct “in the course of official interagency business,” according to the complaint, which was dotted with footnotes about machinations in Kiev and reinforced with public comments by senior Ukrainian officials.

Officials regularly shared information to “inform policymaking and analysis,” the complaint said. The complaint raises the prospect that the whistle-blower was not detailed to the White House either during the events in question or when he learned about them.

Mr. Trump took aim at the whistle-blower’s credibility on Thursday, attempting to dismiss his revelations because they were secondhand.

He also obliquely threatened the whistle-blower or his sources with punishment. “I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that’s close to a spy,” Mr. Trump told staff members from the United States Mission to the United Nations before an event there.

“You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right?” he added. “We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

On the call with Mr. Zelensky, Mr. Trump asked him to investigate unsubstantiated allegations of corruption against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son and other matters he saw as potentially beneficial to him politically.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161468745_3dcf0523-f760-4ffd-9965-3fdf83781ff8-articleLarge Whistle-Blower Is a C.I.A. Officer Who Was Detailed to the White House United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment Espionage and Intelligence Services central intelligence agency

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.CreditBrittainy Newman/The New York Times

Mr. Trump cajoled Mr. Zelensky to coordinate with Attorney General William P. Barr and the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, according to a reconstituted transcript of the call that the White House released on Wednesday. Mr. Zelensky, who was elected in April, agreed to help Mr. Trump. While Ukrainian prosecutors have moved to pursue an inquiry of an oligarch whose company paid Mr. Biden’s son Hunter, they did not allege wrongdoing by the Bidens.

The call with Mr. Zelensky was originally thought to be a routine matter, the complaint said, and the White House did not restrict it, meaning a number of officials and note takers listened.

But the whistle-blower said that afterward, White House officials “intervened to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call,” putting them in a highly classified system meant for discussing covert actions. One White House official called that an abuse because the transcript contained no classified material.

Notes and rough transcripts of White House calls are typically stored on a computer system that allows senior officials in different departments and agencies to access them, to better coordinate policy.

Some White House colleagues told the whistle-blower that they were concerned they had witnessed “the president abuse his office for personal gain,” according to the complaint.

His complaint went beyond the call. During his time at the White House, the whistle-blower became deeply unnerved about how he believed Mr. Trump was broadly seeking to pressure the Ukrainian government to conduct investigations that could benefit him politically.

“Namely, he sought to pressure the Ukrainian leader to take actions to help the president’s 2020 re-election bid,” the complaint said of Mr. Trump.

After the call, multiple officials told the whistle-blower that future talks between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky would depend on whether the Ukranians would “play ball” on the investigations he sought.

The whistle-blower, who lodged his concerns with the inspector general for the intelligence community, has identified at least a half-dozen government officials — including several who work for the White House — who he believes can substantiate his claims. The inspector general has interviewed some of them and found the whistle-blower’s claims credible.

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Whistle-Blower Is Said to Allege Concerns About White House Handling of Ukraine Call

WASHINGTON — The intelligence officer who filed a whistle-blower complaint about President Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine raised alarms not only about what the two men said in a phone call, but also about how the White House handled records of the conversation, according to two people briefed on the complaint.

The whistle-blower, moreover, identified multiple White House officials as witnesses to potential presidential misconduct who could corroborate the complaint, the people said — adding that the inspector general for the intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, interviewed witnesses.

Mr. Atkinson eventually concluded that there was reason to believe that the president might have illegally solicited a foreign campaign contribution — and that his potential misconduct created a national security risk, according to a newly disclosed Justice Department memo.

An early portrait of the intelligence officer began to take shape on Wednesday as the White House released a rough log of a July 25 phone call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, the latest extraordinary revelation set off by the whistle-blower’s complaint.

This account is based on interviews with the two people and with lawmakers who were permitted to read the complaint late in the day, as well as on details revealed in a Justice Department memo explaining the Trump administration’s legal rationale for withholding the whistle-blower’s allegations from Congress before Mr. Trump relented this week. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Atkinson also found reason to believe that the whistle-blower might not support the re-election of Mr. Trump and made clear that the complainant was not in a position to directly listen to the call or see the memo that reconstructed it before it was made public, according to the Justice Department memo, which referred only to a single phone call between Mr. Trump and an unnamed foreign leader.

Instead, the officer heard about the call secondhand from unidentified White House officials who expressed concern that Mr. Trump had “abused his authority or acted unlawfully in connection with foreign diplomacy,” the memo said. Still, Mr. Atkinson concluded after an investigation that the information in the complaint was credible.

In their first public comments, lawyers for the whistle-blower said their client hoped to remain anonymous but wanted to continue to cooperate with lawmakers conducting oversight.

Mr. Trump had brought up American aid to Ukraine with Mr. Zelensky — without mentioning that at the time he was blocking delivery of a large military assistance package that Congress had approved to help it fend off Russian aggression — and suggested that Ukraine could be doing more to help the United States, the reconstructed transcript of the call indicated.

Mr. Trump then asked the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son, Hunter Biden. Mr. Zelensky agreed to have his incoming top prosecutor do so, while asking whether the United States had information to share. A previous top prosecutor in Ukraine said in May that the Bidens did nothing wrong.

Mr. Trump also pressed Mr. Zelensky to “do us a favor, though”: to use Attorney General William P. Barr’s help in opening an investigation of a company involved in the beginnings of the F.B.I. inquiry of Russia’s 2016 election interference. Both potential inquiries could benefit Mr. Trump politically.

But the two people said the whistle-blower complaint went beyond Mr. Trump’s comments to Mr. Zelensky. It also dealt in part with the unusual manner in which White House officials handled internal records describing the call. The atypical proceeding heightened internal concerns about the content of the call, the two people said.

Bowing to pressure, the Trump administration permitted members of the intelligence committees and congressional leaders to read a copy of the complaint, which remains classified, late on Wednesday.

Its allegations were “deeply disturbing” and “very credible,” Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said after emerging from reviewing the complaint.

After reading it, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee told reporters that it contained far more information that reinforced their mounting concerns. They could disclose very little, but several of the lawmakers said it discussed other witnesses.

“It was very well written and certainly provides information for the committee to follow up with other witnesses and documents,” Mr. Schiff said.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161494647_ad1e8ec3-227d-4974-954d-2ffd7a8c31ad-articleLarge Whistle-Blower Is Said to Allege Concerns About White House Handling of Ukraine Call Zelensky, Volodymyr Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2020 Office of the Director of National Intelligence Office of Legal Counsel (US) Maguire, Joseph (1952- ) Inspectors General House Committee on Intelligence Foreign Aid Ethics and Official Misconduct Espionage and Intelligence Services Classified Information and State Secrets Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter Atkinson, Michael K (1964- )

A newly released transcript of a conversation between Mr. Trump and the Ukrainian leader added urgency to a House inquiry into the president’s dealings with Ukraine, Representative Adam B. Schiff said.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

But the revelations that the whistle-blower had identified White House witnesses dovetailed with new details in the Justice Department memo, which was signed by Steven A. Engel, the head of its Office of Legal Counsel.

He argued that it was lawful for the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, to refuse to turn the whistle-blower complaint over to Congress — a stance that the Trump administration began to back off of as Democrats stepped up talk of potentially impeaching the president. Mr. Maguire was to testify about the complaint on Thursday.

After hearing about the July call, the intelligence officer agreed that Mr. Trump might be “seeking to pressure that leader to take an action to help the president’s 2020 re-election campaign,” Mr. Engel wrote, and decided to tell Congress about it, using a process that protects intelligence whistle-blowers from reprisal.

That process requires complaints to go through the inspector general and intelligence director. It says if the inspector general deems a complaint to be credible and present an urgent concern, the intelligence director shall send it to Congress within seven days.

Mr. Atkinson determined that the complaint met the criteria for an “urgent concern,” partly because it fell within Mr. Maguire’s “operational responsibility to prevent election interference.” But Mr. Engel disagreed, arguing that it did not center on intelligence activities that Mr. Maguire supervises.

In explaining his interpretation of the whistle-blower law, Mr. Engel also noted that Mr. Atkinson had found unspecified indications of “an arguable political bias,” suggesting the whistle-blower favored a rival political candidate, the memo said.

But Mr. Atkinson, a Trump appointee, nevertheless concluded that the allegations appeared to be credible and identified two layers of concern.

The first involved a possible violation of criminal law. Mr. Trump’s comments to Mr. Zelensky “could be viewed as soliciting a foreign campaign contribution in violation of the campaign-finance laws,” Mr. Atkinson wrote, according to the Justice Department memo.

(Mr. Engel, while saying the allegations did not fit within the intelligence whistle-blower system that enables Congress to see complaints, said such a complaint could instead result in a criminal referral. Mr. Maguire and Mr. Atkinson then made referrals, an official said, but the Justice Department closed the matter without charges.)

The second concern Mr. Atkinson identified, according to the Justice Department memo, was that Mr. Trump’s potential misconduct might expose him “to serious national security and counterintelligence risks.”

Mr. Engel did not elaborate, and it was not clear whether he was suggesting that Mr. Trump would be subject to extortion if foreign officials threatened to expose his purported misconduct or he was referring to some other risk.

Both the reconstructed transcript and the Justice Department memo may be incomplete. The transcript contained a footnote that said it was not “verbatim,” and it contained ellipses.

And Mr. Engel’s memo, dated Sept. 24, said in a footnote that it was a revision of an original from Sept. 3, and that the department had “changed the prior version to avoid references to certain details that remain classified.”

Lawyers for the whistle-blower expressed concern in an interview on Wednesday about officials disclosing their client’s identity.

“Intelligence officers, by nature, are not people who want to be publicly known,” said Andrew P. Bakaj, the lead lawyer for the whistle-blower. “If you are an intelligence officer through and through, you are doing this for national security.”

The comments by Mr. Bakaj — who is representing the officer for free along with two other lawyers, Mark Zaid and Charles McCullough III — were the first, however limited, to the press about the case. Coming forward to the inspector general was very risky, said John Napier Tye, the founder of Whistleblower Aid, which is raising money to defer expenses for the complainant.

“To have the president of the United States tweeting about you, casting aspersions, it is scary for anyone — it is very scary for anyone who works in the intelligence community,” Mr. Tye said.

The legal team’s objective, Mr. Zaid said, is to continue to try to get information about the complaint lawfully to the congressional oversight committees. Mr. Zaid and Mr. Bakaj have sought permission from Mr. Maguire to be cleared to see the full complaint and represent their client before the House Intelligence Committee.

Reporting was contributed by Katie Benner, Nicholas Fandos, Maggie Haberman and Mark Mazzetti.

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‘Do Us a Favor’: Calls Shows Trump’s Interest in Using U.S. Power for His Gain

WASHINGTON — It did not take long for President Trump to see an opening during his July 25 call with Volodymyr Zelensky, the young new president of Ukraine.

Just after 9 a.m. in Washington, Mr. Zelensky was heaping praise on the American president for bragging about helping Ukraine in its yearslong war with Russian-backed separatists. “You are absolutely right. Not 100 percent, but actually 1,000 percent,” Mr. Zelensky gushed, according to a reconstructed transcript of the call the White House released on Wednesday.

When Mr. Zelensky said Ukraine was almost ready to purchase American Javelin anti-tank missiles so it could better repel armored assaults by Russian-supported fighters, Mr. Trump pounced.

“I would like you to do us a favor though,” Mr. Trump responded, beginning a series of pointed requests. The president pressed Mr. Zelensky to use the help of Attorney General William P. Barr in opening an investigation of a company involved in the beginnings of the F.B.I. inquiry of Russia’s 2016 election interference. He also wanted a corruption investigation connected to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a Democratic rival.

Both held the potential to benefit Mr. Trump politically. And in case Mr. Zelensky needed reminding, Mr. Trump was quick to point out that “the United States has been very, very good to Ukraine.”

Mr. Trump’s suggestion that American law enforcement be directly involved and in contact with Ukraine’s government marks the first evidence that the president personally sought to harness the power of the United States government to further a political investigation.

The exchange, revealed in a declassified, five-page “memorandum of telephone conversation,” prompted an unidentified whistle-blower to accuse the president of a quid pro quo, trading a promise of foreign assistance for help in legitimizing an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory and gathering dirt on a political rival.

Westlake Legal Group trump-phone-transcript-ukraine-promo-1569369870401-articleLarge-v3 ‘Do Us a Favor’: Calls Shows Trump’s Interest in Using U.S. Power for His Gain Zelensky, Volodymyr Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Senate Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment House of Representatives Giuliani, Rudolph W Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

Full Document: Trump’s Call With the Ukrainian President

Trump is accused of pressing Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

Mr. Trump insisted on Wednesday that the reconstructed transcript offered no evidence that he pressured Mr. Zelensky. Questioned by reporters before the two met at the United Nations, Mr. Zelensky said that “we spoke about many things and so I think — you read it — that nobody pushed me.”

Mr. Trump jumped in: “In other words, no pressure.”

But critics seized on the conversation as proof that the president violated his oath of office by coercing another world leader into supporting his personal political agenda.

The document provided a rare opportunity to review a private conversation between the United States president and another leader.

It included a note cautioning that it was “not a verbatim transcript” but was based on “notes and recollections of Situation Room duty officers” and national security staff. Voice recognition software was also used in preparing the document, which included long, direct quotations, senior administration officials said.

An American official translated Mr. Zelensky’s statements into English, officials said. The document included three ellipses indicating that part of Mr. Trump’s comments may be missing, though it is unclear how much was left out. Administration officials said the ellipses indicated when Mr. Trump trailed off or was inaudible.

The release of the conversation’s details marked a culmination of an extraordinary series of revelations that began in recent weeks with the whistle-blower’s private expressions of concern about Mr. Trump’s actions and prompted Democrats in Congress to officially begin an impeachment inquiry.

And unlike most Washington memos, Wednesday’s document was written like a movie script.

“There is a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution, and a lot of people want to find out about that,” Mr. Trump said to Mr. Zelensky, referring to unfounded allegations that the former vice president tried in 2015 to stop a prosecution of a company that his son worked for at the time.

“So whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great,” the president said, referring to his desire that Mr. Zelensky should be in touch with both Mr. Barr and the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160496304_e7850113-30ee-45bf-829f-71f5bd1d2b07-articleLarge ‘Do Us a Favor’: Calls Shows Trump’s Interest in Using U.S. Power for His Gain Zelensky, Volodymyr Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Senate Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment House of Representatives Giuliani, Rudolph W Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

Attorney General William P. Barr at the White House last week. The Justice Department said Wednesday that Mr. Barr was unaware that Mr. Trump had told Mr. Zelensky that he would contact him.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Mr. Zelensky’s response appeared to reassure Mr. Trump. Mr. Zelensky said that since his party recently won an absolute majority in parliament, he would have no problem ensuring that Ukraine’s new top prosecutor would conduct the investigations that Mr. Trump wanted.

“The next prosecutor general will be 100 percent my person, my candidate,” Mr. Zelensky assured the president. “He or she will look into the situation.”

Mr. Trump specifically asked his Ukrainian counterpart to look into the unsubstantiated theory pushed by Mr. Giuliani holding that Ukrainians had some role in the emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee.

“I would like to have the attorney general call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of that,” Mr. Trump said on the call, which took place a day after the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, testified to lawmakers about his report on Russia’s election sabotage and the president’s efforts to impede the inquiry.

Mr. Trump told Mr. Zelensky that Mr. Mueller had delivered an “incompetent performance” and again pressed the Ukrainian president to pursue investigations for him. “Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it, if that’s possible.”

The Justice Department said Wednesday that Mr. Barr was unaware that Mr. Trump had told Mr. Zelensky that the attorney general would contact him. The department said that Mr. Barr had never spoken with Mr. Trump about working with Ukraine to investigate anything related to the Bidens and that he had never spoken with Mr. Giuliani about “anything related to Ukraine.”

Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky took place on a sunny day just before the president made the short trip to the Pentagon for the ceremonial swearing-in of Mark T. Esper, his new defense secretary. Later, the White House released an anodyne statement noting that the two leaders discussed “ways to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Ukraine, including energy and economic cooperation.”

The president’s mentions of Mr. Barr and Mr. Giuliani were the most striking parts of a half-hour conversation in which the two men discussed a series of issues.

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The president and Mr. Giuliani have long pushed for Ukrainian officials to examine whether there was any improper overlap between Mr. Biden’s dealings with Ukraine while in office and his son’s position on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

As vice president, Mr. Biden embraced his role as the Obama administration’s leader in pressing Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt government to clean up its act. He once publicly threatened to withhold $1 billion in United States loan guarantees if Ukraine’s leaders did not dismiss a prosecutor accused of ignoring corruption.

Mr. Giuliani said in an interview that Mr. Trump would have been shirking his duty to enforce the laws of the United States had he not asked the Ukrainian government to pursue the allegations against Mr. Biden and his son. “The only person that can raise that is the president of the United States,” he said. “The president of Ukraine is not going to take a call from the head of the F.B.I.”

There was no explicit reference during the call to $391 million in military assistance to Ukraine that Mr. Trump had told Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, to put a hold on several days before the call took place.

In the reconstructed transcript of the call, Mr. Trump complained to Mr. Zelensky that the United States spends more to help Ukraine than European countries, citing specifically the lack of action by Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor.

“When I was speaking to Angela Merkel, she talks Ukraine, but she doesn’t do anything,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Zelensky repeatedly lavished praise on Mr. Trump, employing a strategy of ego-stroking that world leaders often use with the president. He called Mr. Trump a “great teacher” for draining “the swamp” of corrupt officials and thanked Mr. Trump for revealing to him that his country’s ambassador to the United States was “a bad ambassador.”

“She admired the previous president and she was on his side,” Mr. Zelensky said. “She would not accept me as the new president well enough.”

Mr. Trump replied: “Well, she’s going to go through some things,” but did not elaborate on what that meant. Near the end of the call, Mr. Trump invited Mr. Zelensky to visit the White House and Mr. Zelensky said he is “looking forward to our meeting.”

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