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Now Testifying for the Prosecution: President Trump

Westlake Legal Group merlin_167671023_7c6f1afd-2e8b-409c-845f-7ad1f4d35987-facebookJumbo Now Testifying for the Prosecution: President Trump United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia impeachment

WASHINGTON — The House managers prosecuting President Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors have failed so far to persuade Senate Republicans to let them call new witnesses in his impeachment trial. But in their own way, they have come up with a star witness they can bring to the floor: Mr. Trump himself.

Barred at this point from presenting live testimony, the managers have offered up the president as the most damning witness against himself, turning his own words against him by quoting from his public remarks, citing accounts of private discussions and showing video clips of him making audacious statements that the House team argues validate its case.

Thanks to screens set up in front of the senators, Mr. Trump’s voice has repeatedly echoed through the Senate chamber the past three days. There he was on the South Lawn of the White House publicly calling on Ukraine to investigate a campaign rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. There he was calling on China to go after Mr. Biden, too. There he was declaring that he would willingly take foreign help to win an election. And there he was back in 2016 calling on Russia, “if you’re listening,” to hack into Hillary Clinton’s email.

The strategy seeks to capitalize on Mr. Trump’s astonishingly unfiltered approach to politics, which has led him again and again to say openly what other presidents with more of an understanding of the traditional red lines of Washington — or at least more of an instinct for political self-preservation — would never say in front of a camera.

In effect, the managers are challenging the president’s own penchant for announcing his motivations without apparent regard for whether it could get him into trouble. At the same time, the managers are challenging the senators to take Mr. Trump at his word about what really drove him to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into Mr. Biden and other Democrats.

While Mr. Trump’s lawyers have argued that he was legitimately concerned with corruption in Ukraine when he held up nearly $400 million in security aid to that former Soviet republic, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California and the other House Democrats on the managers team have pointed to the president’s own words to contend that he cared only about tarnishing his domestic rivals.

In his presentation on Thursday, Mr. Schiff played about a half-dozen video clips of Mr. Trump, including one of the president on the South Lawn of the White House on Oct. 3 speaking with reporters who asked him what he was hoping to get Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to do when they talked by telephone on July 25.

“Well, I would think if they were honest about it, they’d start a major investigation into the Bidens,” the senators saw Mr. Trump saying.

“So here we hear again from the president’s own words what his primary object is,” Mr. Schiff then told the senators, “and his primary object is helping his re-election campaign, help to cheat in his re-election campaign.”

Mr. Schiff said Mr. Trump’s own words made clear that he learned nothing from the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. “He was at it again,” Mr. Schiff said, “unrepentant, undeterred, if anything emboldened by escaping accountability from his invitation and willful use of Russian hacked materials in the last election.”

Under the trial rules, the president’s lawyers have had no chance to respond to their client’s star turn on the Senate floor over the last two days, but they are poised to open their own arguments on Saturday. In the meantime, Mr. Trump’s team has been left to defend him in the hallways during breaks.

“You’re only hearing one side of the story here,” said Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana, one of a squadron of House Republicans enlisted by the president to serve as an adjunct of his defense team, working the cameras outside the chamber rather than the senators inside.

Mr. Johnson said it was wrong to contend that Mr. Trump was not concerned about corruption in Ukraine and elsewhere around the world. “Of course he was,” Mr. Johnson told reporters. “He’s been talking about it as a central theme of his campaign before he was president. When he ran on the priority of America first, that’s what he meant. He wanted to make sure that American taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.”

Mr. Trump is not the only person who has been presented to the Senate via video clips during the prosecution arguments, but even the other witnesses against him were largely drawn from his own team. Many of them testified during House hearings last fall about their concerns over the president and his allies pressuring Ukraine for help with his domestic politics.

Among the prosecution’s key witnesses are officials appointed by the Trump administration itself, including Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union; Kurt D. Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine; Fiona Hill, the president’s former Europe and Russia adviser, and her successor, Tim Morrison; Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director; Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff; William B. Taylor Jr., the former top diplomat in Ukraine; and Thomas P. Bossert, the former White House homeland security adviser.

Others brought electronically into the chamber over the last three days include career public servants like Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine; Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a National Security Council staff member; and State Department officials like George Kent and David Holmes.

“Why did President Trump’s own officials — not so-called Never Trumpers, but public servants — report this in real time?” Mr. Schiff asked, referring to the mixing of politics with Ukraine policy. “Because they knew it was wrong.”

Indeed, the managers used Mr. Trump’s own appointees to rebut his assertion that he was right to push Ukraine to investigate its own supposed interference in the 2016 presidential election, a conspiracy theory that American intelligence agencies have called a Russian disinformation operation. The managers showed clips of Mr. Wray, Mr. Bossert and Dr. Hill all debunking the theory.

But the most compelling voice in the chamber this week has been that of the president himself. In his three years in office, Washington has learned that when it wants to understand what Mr. Trump is doing or thinking, he will most likely spell it out in bracingly candid terms in front of a microphone or on Twitter — and not always follow the official party line offered by his aides.

That uninhibited style appeals to supporters who love that he does not hew to standard talking points, but it can make him a frustrating client for lawyers who would prefer he be more circumspect at the very least. Either way, it makes his statements more important in judging him. Which is presumably one reason his legal team has resisted Mr. Trump’s suggestions that perhaps he should attend the trial and testify himself.

Absent that, there will be the television clips and quotes from the rough transcript of his call with Mr. Zelensky and recollections of people like Mr. Sondland.

Mr. Schiff played one clip after the other that he said exposed Mr. Trump’s true intentions. In one, Mr. Trump told reporters: “There was a lot of corruption having to do with the 2016 election against us. We want to get to the bottom of it.

When the clip was shown, Mr. Schiff focused on the “us” in Mr. Trump’s comment: “What does that president say? Corruption against us. He is not concerned about actual corruption cases, only matters that affect him personally.”

But the managers had it easy the last couple of days with exclusive access to the microphone and the screens on the Senate floor, and unchallenged by either the White House legal team or the senators. On Saturday, the president’s lawyers will have their chance to explain what Mr. Trump meant and provide the other side of the story, one that will interpret his words in a far different light than Mr. Schiff. Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s lawyers, told reporters during a break on Thursday that the managers had presented nothing new and hardly proved their case.

“I saw nothing that has changed in the last day and a half, two and a half days, we’ve been going here,” he said. “We’re going to begin a robust case when the Senate says it’s time to start.”

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House managers use Trump’s words as evidence.

Westlake Legal Group 23dc-live-trump-facebookJumbo House managers use Trump’s words as evidence. United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B Presidential Election of 2020

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President Trump on Thursday at the White House.Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

President Trump is nowhere near the Capitol, but the House managers are still using his words against him.

At several points on Thursday, the House members prosecuting the articles of impeachment have used video clips of Mr. Trump as evidence of his motives in pressuring Ukraine for investigations into the Bidens.

Building his case that Mr. Trump wanted Ukrainian investigations that benefited him politically, Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead House manager, showed several clips, including one in which Mr. Trump referred to the conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered with his campaign in 2016.

“There was a lot of corruption having to do with the 2016 election against us, and we want to get to the bottom it and it’s very important that we do,” Mr. Trump said in the clip, his voice echoing through the chamber.

Mr. Schiff quickly made his point: “He’s not concerned about actual corruption cases, only matters that affect him personally.”

Later, as Mr. Schiff argued that Mr. Trump only cared about investigations into the Bidens, he used a video clip of the president’s own words, as he discussed his interest in working with Ukraine on corruption.

“And let me tell you something, Biden’s son is corrupt. And Biden is corrupt,” the president said in the clip.

The House managers made a strategic decision on Thursday to focus extensive attention on the actions of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, Hunter Biden.

The lengthy presentation — by Representative Sylvia R. Garcia of Texas, one of the House managers — was aimed at proving that there was no basis to President Trump’s assertions that the former vice president and his son did improper things in Ukraine.

“Common sense will tell us that this allegation against Joe Biden is false,” Ms. Garcia told the senators.

But allies of Mr. Trump quickly pounced on the extended discussion about the Bidens to insist that the impeachment trial should include scrutiny of their actions, and potentially a move to call them as witnesses.

Mr. Trump’s Republican defenders have long argued that the president’s demand that Ukraine announce investigations into the Bidens was not improper because he was merely interested in rooting out corruption in that country.

At least one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers suggested the Democrats made a mistake in focusing on the former vice president and his son.

“They have opened the door,” said Jay Sekulow, a personal lawyer for Mr. Trump and a member of his impeachment legal defense team. “It’s now relevant.”

Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri and a staunch ally of the president, made the same point in a tweet during a break after the presentation.

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Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for President Trump, arriving Thursday on Capitol Hill.Credit…Calla Kessler/The New York Times

Jay Sekulow, the president’s lawyer and one of the leaders of his defense team, declared that “nothing has changed in the last day and a half of their two and a half days.”

He declined to say whether the White House defense would request any changes to the schedule on Saturday, saying that they would do what “our legal team thinks is appropriate to present our case.”

During a break in the trial, Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, applauded the House managers for “pre-empting” arguments from the president’s defense team.

Mr. Sekulow was undeterred. “I am confident that whether it is Saturday, or Monday or Tuesday that the case will be made defending the president,” he said. “I have no doubt.”

The rules of the Senate trial say the senators are supposed to be sitting in their seats throughout the presentation. In President Trump’s trial, they are treating that rule rather liberally.

At one point Thursday morning, when Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York finished his presentation, 19 seats on the Senate floor belonging to a mix of Republicans and Democrats were empty, according to Peter Baker, The New York Times’s chief White House correspondent, who was sitting in the press gallery.

Most were only vacant for a few minutes. It appeared, Mr. Baker said, that several senators were treating the end of Mr. Nadler’s presentation — which was followed immediately by one from a fellow House manager, Representative Sylvia R. Garcia of New York — as an unofficial break.

Ten minutes after the end of Mr. Nadler’s presentation, 10 seats were still empty. Five minutes after that, most of the senators had wandered back in, and only four seats were empty.

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a Democratic presidential candidate, was one of the senators who left, at 1:59 p.m. She returned 15 minutes later, taking her seat again at 2:14 p.m.

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Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky had a white legal notepad in front of him as Thursday’s impeachment trial began — and he was busy doodling.

On the top page, Mr. Paul had created an extensive, and impressive, doodle of the United States Capitol. Drawn with a blue ballpoint pen, the drawing covered the entire bottom third of the paper.

At one point, Representative Sylvia Garcia of Texas, a House manager, showed a video clip of George P. Kent, a State Department official, being asked whether some Republicans, like Mr. Paul, believed that what President Trump did in Ukraine was the same as what former Vice President Joseph R. Biden did when he tried to get a corrupt prosecutor fired.

Looking up from his doodle, Mr. Paul smiled and raised a fist with his index finger extended, as if to say, “Yes!” Then, when Mr. Kent answered by saying that what Mr. Biden did was very different than what Mr. Trump did, Mr. Paul lowered his arm.

And he went back to his doodle.

Representative Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, gave the Senate a lecture on the constitutional history of impeachment.Image by Senate Television, via Associated Press

Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, began the House presentation on Thursday with an hourlong lecture on the constitutional history of impeachment.

He insisted that the history of the Constitution makes it clear that a criminal violation is not necessary to impeach the president. In making the argument, he cited words from some of President Trump’s key allies in his impeachment defense: Alan Dershowitz, a member of the president’s impeachment team; William P. Barr, the attorney general; and Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.

He concluded his presentation with a forceful assertion to the senators: “Impeachment is aimed at presidents who act as if they are above the law, at presidents who believe their own interests are more important than those of the nation, and thus at president who ignore right and wrong in pursuit of their own gain.”

“Abuse. Betrayal. Corruption,” he said. “Here are the core offenses, the framers feared most. The president’s abuse of power, his betrayal of the national interest, and his corruption of our elections plainly qualified as great and dangerous offenses.”

Drawing on legal scholars and liberally quoting historical figures, Mr. Nadler argued that the founders of the nation envisioned that impeachment would be required for presidential abuses of power like the misconduct the House alleged when it passed two articles of impeachment.

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Reporters waiting near the Senate chamber as the trial continues.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

As senators settled in for another long day of arguments from the House managers, there was already talk among lawmakers and their aides of a potentially abbreviated weekend trial schedule.

Under one proposal being discussed, the Senate could convene as a court of impeachment early on Saturday, around 10 a.m. and meet for a far shorter session than usual. That would theoretically allow senators who wanted to travel home — or for Democrats running for president, to campaign in early voting states — for 36 hours before the trial resumes on Monday.

The Senate’s impeachment rules normally require the trial to meet every Monday to Saturday at 1 p.m. until a verdict is reached. That late daily start time is meant to accommodate Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who maintains a morning case schedule at the Supreme Court before presiding over the trial. But Chief Justice Roberts does not have court business on Saturdays.

The decision may also depend on the president’s lawyers, who are scheduled to begin their defense against the House charges on Saturday. If they want to move the trial along as quickly as possible, they could ask for an early start on Saturday but also that the session be allowed to run into the evening. Or they could simply shorten their arguments.

“I suspect we’ll start on Saturday, and then we’ll go, probably another day or two, but who knows,” Jay Sekulow, one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers said Wednesday night. “I mean we’ve got to make that determination, with our team.”

Any change would require consent from both Democrats and Republicans.

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Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and one of the impeachment managers in 1999, left the Senate chamber just minutes before House Democrats played a video of him speaking during President Bill Clinton’s trial.

In the clip, Mr. Graham gave a broad definition of a “high crime”: “It’s just when you’re using your office in a way that hurts people, you’ve committed a high crime,” he said.

One of the Republicans’ talking points is that there was no crime underlying President Trump’s conduct, therefore it was not impeachable. That argument is widely disputed.

Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, who sits next to Mr. Graham on the Senate floor, briefly patted the South Carolina Republican’s empty seat as the video began to play.

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Vice President Mike Pence, right, meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in Jerusalem on Thursday.Credit…Ammar Awad/Reuters

As Democrats spoke in the Senate, Vice President Mike Pence announced that President Trump had asked him to invite to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to Washington next week to discuss “regional issues, as well as the prospect of peace here in the Holy Land.”

Mr. Pence, who is visiting Jerusalem, said at Mr. Netanyahu’s request he had also invited Benny Gantz, an opposition leader in Israel. Mr. Netanyahu said he would “gladly accept.”

It is another instance of the administration moving forward with legislative and diplomatic work while the impeachment trial is going on in the Senate.

On Wednesday, Republican senators held a ceremonial event to formally send Mr. Trump’s revised North American trade pact to his desk for his signature.

Just as Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, a House manager, started his presentation about “high crimes and misdemeanors,” President Trump started tweeting, accusing Democrats of not wanting to agree to a trade in which the Senate would subpoena several administration officials in exchange for people Mr. Trump’s allies have said they want. Two people Republicans have sought to interview are Hunter Biden, the son of the former vice president, and the anonymous whistle-blower who first expressed concerns about Mr. Trump’s July 25 call with the president of Ukraine.

Democrats have urged the Senate to subpoena John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, and two other administration officials. But they have said they will not consider a deal that would include what they call irrelevant witnesses like Mr. Biden.

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Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York, speaking with other House impeachment managers ahead of the trial on Thursday.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the lead impeachment manager, opened the day by observing how rare it was for House lawmakers to have the opportunity to speak on the Senate floor, before silent senators. (Senators have begun flouting the rules of decorum during an impeachment trial, with some going so far as to leave the floor for short bursts of time during the day.)

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the House impeachment managers have 16 hours and 42 minutes remaining to make their case.

A Democratic official working on the inquiry said that the seven managers planned to spend the day going through the firrst article of impeachment, abuse of power, and applying the law and the Constitution to their case. On Friday, the lawmakers plan to do the same with the second article of impeachment.

Moments before the Senate convened, pages could be seen placing packets of paper on desks across the chamber. Senators, ahead of the trial, dropped off binders and bags before stealing a final moment off the chamber floor.

Representative Mary Gay Scanlon, Democrat of Pennsylvania and vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee, could be seen on the Senate floor, observing the proceedings.

Senators must sit quietly to listen to the arguments; even during the 16 hours they will have devoted to their questions, those questions will be submitted in writing.

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Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York, during an impeachment inquiry hearing in November.Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

The White House named eight House Republicans as part of the public face of the president’s defense on Capitol Hill, and on Thursday some of those lawmakers arrived again in the Senate basement to hold court with reporters and deliver a full-throated defense of the president.

“We’re just making sure that we are paying close attention to the testimony,” said Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York, “and making sure that our points are getting out there to the American people.”

The group, she said, was working closely with the White House lawyers. But since they are not part of the official legal team, they will not be able to speak in the Senate chamber.

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Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, said he still has “hope” that Republicans would agree to new witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial.Image by Calla Kessler/The New York Times

The top Democrat in the Senate said he still had “hope” that Republicans would agree to new witnesses and evidence in President Trump’s impeachment trial, but he stopped short of saying he was optimistic that it would happen.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said there are “lots of conversations going on,” but he denied reports that there had been discussions with Republicans about a deal allowing Republican witnesses in exchange for the witnesses whom House managers want to call.

Democrats have urged the Senate to call John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, and two other administration officials. Several moderate Republicans have said they might be open to witnesses after oral arguments and questions from senators.

“Not a single Republican has approached me and said ‘What about this? What about that?’ It’s not happening,” Mr. Schumer told reporters at the Capitol ahead of the second day of oral arguments from the managers.

Mr. Schumer said he hoped the “weight of history” would help persuade those Republicans. But when asked whether he thought the Democrats would win the argument, he started to say he had optimism, then stopped.

“I have hope, that’s a better way to put it,” he said, “that we might get the witnesses at the end of the day. And we’re going to keep fighting and fighting and fighting.”

The president’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, again promised on Thursday to release more evidence of the widely debunked conspiracy theory implicating one of the president’s top political rivals, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, in wrongdoing.

Mr. Biden is vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, and the narrative Mr. Giuliani has been promoting is at the center of the impeachment charges against Mr. Trump.

While he’s not on Mr. Trump’s defense team for the Senate trial, Mr. Giuliani is deeply entwined in the pressure campaign on Ukraine that led to the president’s impeachment. And he is among the witnesses who refused to testify during House impeachment inquiry. Mr. Giuliani has said that his work in Ukraine had Mr. Trump’s support.

For the first time since the Senate began hearing arguments against him, President Trump is back in Washington and on Twitter. He tweeted a number of criticisms toward Democrats and their arguments, rehashing favorite insults against his opponents and quoting Fox News personalities.

After returning from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday evening, the president is scheduled to travel to Florida on Thursday afternoon just as House managers will begin their second day of arguments.

It is not clear how much of the trial the president has watched live.

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Representative Sylvia Garcia, one of the House impeachment managers, Wednesday on Capitol Hill. The managers will continue to present their case to the Senate on Thursday.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The House impeachment managers are set to begin their second day of arguments on Thursday, building on about eight hours already spent arguing that President Trump’s conduct warranted his removal on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the lead impeachment manager, told senators that they would spend Thursday “go through the law, the Constitution and the facts as they apply to article one” of impeachment.

“We’ve introduced the case, we’ve gone through the chronology and tomorrow we will apply the facts to the law as it pertains to the president’s abuse of power,” Mr. Schiff said as he concluded Wednesday’s arguments.

The impeachment managers have until Friday evening to use their remaining hours of argument time to present before a rancorous Senate. Lawmakers, despite rules threatening imprisonment for talking, have grown increasingly restless while cooped up in the chamber — and few minds appear to be changed.

On Wednesday, the seven lawmakers tasked with presenting the case for Mr. Trump’s conviction took turns outlining the charges that the president attempted to pressure Ukraine for assistance in his re-election campaign by withholding critical military assistance and a White House visit for the country’s leader.

Several Senate Republicans emerged late Wednesday to inform reporters that they had not learned anything new after hours of presentation from the House.

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Two Legal Teams With Contrasting Strategies Face Off in the Capitol

Westlake Legal Group merlin_167585538_ca1f3807-95d8-4ae7-ab3a-7fb45e34e74e-facebookJumbo Two Legal Teams With Contrasting Strategies Face Off in the Capitol United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Democratic Party

WASHINGTON — When President Trump’s impeachment trial opened this week, the Democratic House managers prosecuting the case piled their table high with binders and notepads. Only a few rested on the defense table.

The contrasting amount of material the two legal teams brought into the Senate chamber to support their initial arguments foreshadowed a broader difference in their approaches to the trial.

In its opening days, the House managers have focused on the facts. They are trying to build a clear and coherent story around their theme that the president abused his power — delving into the details, putting up slides to summarize major points, and playing a well-organized selection of video clips of statements by Mr. Trump and by House witnesses.

Eschewing props, the defense team has focused instead on the process. They have used their time to reinforce the House Republican theme that impeachment is a sham and unfair to Mr. Trump — urging the Senate to swiftly dispose of the case without subpoenaing any additional documents or testimony.

Their strategy appears based on a narrative that is familiar from Mr. Trump’s Twitter feed and Fox News programming — that the impeachment is unfair — and amplify it to a group that already believes it: Mr. Trump’s core supporters, a bloc in the Republican Party that can threaten the political future of any Republican senator either by backing a primary challenger or by failing to turn out during a general election.

“They have the senators in mind, but also the broader public,” said David Alan Sklansky, a Stanford University criminal law professor and former prosecutor. “The president’s side wants to keep the heat on Republican senators to make sure they stay inside the tent.”

Meanwhile, the House managers, led by Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, a former federal prosecutor, are plowing ahead trying to lay out their case that Mr. Trump seriously abused his powers, a message aimed at the voters who will decide his fate in November as well as the senators who are unlikely to remove him now.

Wednesday was entirely a one-sided show as the House managers opened three days of opening arguments with the floor entirely to themselves

Mr. Schiff led off the House team’s case with a polished, confident performance, speaking extemporaneously at some points as he methodically outlined the Democratic case with the style of the former prosecutor he is. He dispensed with some of the more grandiose language that has occasionally flavored Democratic speeches against Mr. Trump and tried to link together the testimony and documents into a narrative for senators to follow.

The other managers followed, each given a specific assignment to discuss certain parts of the case against Mr. Trump, but none with quite the ease and fluidity of Mr. Schiff, who has been Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s point man on impeachment since the beginning.

He dominated the day as the main presenter, spending more time at the lectern than all six other managers.

But Mr. Schiff has also become a lightning rod among Republicans who seethed at what they saw as his self-righteousness and accused him repeatedly of mischaracterizing the evidence. He has become such a favorite villain for Republicans that they use him to rally their side.

In some respects, Mr. Schiff and the other House managers are facing the classic challenge for prosecutors, legal specialists said. It is always the government’s challenge in a trial to try to establish clarity, while defense teams need only muddy the waters and raise reasonable doubts to win an acquittal. They are also facing a jury that gets to decide for itself what the law means and whether to hear witnesses, and that is hardly made up of neutral people.

The details of the broader Ukraine affair — the monthslong campaign of pressure Mr. Trump and his proxies, including his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, brought on Ukraine’s president to announce two investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump politically — are complicated things to explain. Mr. Schiff and his colleagues have spent hours dissecting the details to build their case.

Mr. Trump’s White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, a longtime civil litigator, has been as combative as his client, the president, both in angry letters he signed during the House phase declaring that the executive branch would not participate, and now in person on the Senate floor. He has been joined by Jay Sekulow, Mr. Trump’s private lawyer, in leading the White House legal team.

While the team’s role was to watch the House managers establish their case on Wednesday, Mr. Cipollone made clear on the opening day that his central message would be one of contempt for the House managers’ efforts.

“A partisan impeachment is like stealing an election,” Mr. Cipollone declared, adding: “It’s outrageous. It’s outrageous. And the American people won’t stand for it, I’ll tell you that right now.”

He sat silent all day on Wednesday but demonstrated on Tuesday that he planned to take an aggressive approach not just defending the president but also assailing his accusers.

Without much history in this kind of public political confrontations, Mr. Cipollone seemed a little nervous at first but quickly warmed to the task and adopted the relentless attack mode of his boss, his voice at times dripping with disdain over the Democrats he deemed partisan hacks and at one point demanding they apologize.

James G. McGovern, a defense lawyer at Hogan Lovells and former federal prosecutor, argued that everyone knows what Mr. Trump did, but that Republicans simply do not believe it was worthy of impeachment. He said the Trump team’s tactics reminded him of an analogy from the criminal trial world: the occasional refusal by a jury to refuse to convict a defendant even if the accusations are true.

“It’s almost a jury nullification type of defense,” Mr. McGovern said. “They want people to make the decision based on fundamental fairness or process. They want Republicans and the people inclined to vote their way to be comfortable with the decision based on some concept of unfairness.”

Against that backdrop, it was striking that in detailing the argument that the process has been fatally unfair, Mr. Cipollone falsely asserted on Tuesday that Republican lawmakers had not been allowed into the secure room where the House Intelligence Committee deposed witnesses last year.

In reality, dozens of Republican lawmakers from three committees and their staff lawyers participated in those depositions.

Samuel Buell, a Duke University law professor and former federal prosecutor, said the Trump defense bore similarities to the tactic known as putting the government on trial — trying to get a jury to doubt the prosecutors’ case by suggesting the client was a victim of a rush to judgment by incompetent or corrupt law enforcement officials.

“It parallels putting the government on trial in form but not in purpose, because I don’t think that there are senators sitting on the fence going, ‘I might vote for impeachment but not if I lose confidence in the process Adam Schiff used on the House side,’” Mr. Buell said. “This argument is directed at the political arena.”

Mr. Cipollone and his colleagues will get their chance to make their case uninterrupted starting Saturday, although it is possible the White House team may not use all of its allotted 24 hours, meaning it could wrap up by Monday.

Mr. Cipollone’s task at that point will be to deconstruct the House case that has sunk in over three days, arguing not just that the process has been unfair to the president but also that Democrats are trying to achieve through a trumped-up impeachment process what they cannot at the ballot box.

Nicholas Fandos and Peter Baker contributed reporting.

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Emails Show Budget Office Working to Carry Out Ukraine Aid Freeze

Westlake Legal Group 22dc-emails-facebookJumbo Emails Show Budget Office Working to Carry Out Ukraine Aid Freeze Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sandy, Mark Steven Portman, Rob Office of Management and Budget (US) Defense Department Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

The same morning last July when President Trump had his fateful call with Ukraine’s president, White House officials were working behind the scenes to impose the freeze sought by the president on military assistance to Ukraine, reviewing the legal wording they would use to implement the hold, emails released late Tuesday night show.

The emails were released as a result of a Freedom of Information lawsuit, even as the Senate was rejecting a series of resolutions introduced by Democrats intended to force the disclosure of some of these same materials from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget and other agencies involved in the aid freeze.

The 192 pages of documents, released just before a midnight deadline to the nonprofit group American Oversight, do not contain major new revelations in terms of the participants in the aid freeze or the sequence of events beyond what had been detailed by The New York Times in the last month based on interviews and documents.

But it does offer new evidence of the friction between the Defense Department and the White House as the aid freeze dragged on through the summer, and the confusion and surprise when members of Congress, including some prominent Republicans, learned that the military assistance to Ukraine had been held up.

An aide to Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a leader of group that promotes Ukraine’s interests in the Senate, wrote on Aug. 23 to Michael P. Duffey, a political appointee from the Office of Management and Budget who instituted the freeze.

The aide noted that Mr. Portman “is very interested in ensuring Ukraine has the military capabilities it needs to defend itself against Russian aggression,” adding that “I would appreciate if you could lay out for me the reason behind the O.M.B. hold and what the process is for getting the funding released.”

Calls and emails for an explanation also had come in from Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican from Oklahoma, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Representative Mac Thornberry, Republican of Texas, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, the emails show.

The White House aides, in the documents, did not offer an explanation for the aid freeze, and instead simply worked to figure out who should respond.

The friction with the Pentagon was obvious in email exchanges between the Office of Management and Budget and a senior Pentagon official, Elaine McCusker, a deputy under secretary of defense who oversees spending.

On August 20, Mr. Duffey wrote to Ms. McCusker to notify her that the aid freeze was going to be extended again, long past the deadline when the Pentagon had said it needed the hold to be lifted if it was going to be able to spend all of the money before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

“It is our intent to add the following footnote to the Ukraine apportionment this afternoon to take effect immediately,” Mr. Duffey said in his email to Ms. McCusker, explaining the technical process the White House was using to impose the aid freeze.

“Mike,” Ms. McCusker wrote back several hours later, to Mr. Duffey and other senior officials at the Office of Management and Budget. “Seems like we continue to talk (email) past each other a bit. We should probably have a call.”

William S. Castle, the principal deputy general counsel at the Pentagon, got involved in the debate, reaching out to the budget office’s top lawyer at Ms. McCusker’s request to question him on the hold. Mark Paoletta, the general counsel at the budget office, sent a lengthy response.

But other than about a dozen words — the greeting and the closing of the email — the entire contents of the response were blacked out before being released under the Freedom of Information Act suit.

“Hi Scott,” the email said, followed by four large blacked out areas of text that the White House declined to make public. “Please let me know if you have any questions, Thanks.”

The White House cited a provision of the Freedom of Information that allows the federal government to withhold “deliberative communications, the disclosure of which would inhibit the frank and candid exchange of views that is necessary for effective government decision-making.”

The emails from July 25 — the same morning Mr. Trump had his phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and asked him to look into issues related to the 2016 election in the United States and to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, Hunter Biden — show that administration aides were preparing to carry out Mr. Trump’s order for the aid freeze.

Mr. Trump had first raised the issue in June, after he learned the Defense Department was about to release $250 million of military assistance to Ukraine. But it was not until July 25 that the money that had been allocated for the Pentagon was formally frozen, using a legal provision called an apportionment.

“Did GC send the footnote?” Mr. Duffey wrote at 9 a.m. on July 25, just as the call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky was getting underway, referring to the agency’s general counsel and a footnote that would be applied to the apportionment document to freeze the funding.

“Mike, here’s the OGC-approved, revised footnote,” Mark Sandy, a career official at the budget office, wrote back to his boss, in response to the question, that same morning.

About 90 minutes after Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky, Mr. Duffey told the Pentagon to keep quiet about the aid freeze because of the “sensitive nature of the request,” according to a message released last month by the Defense Department.

The emails released to American Oversight, as well as Center for Public Integrity and details about correspondence shared with The New York Times, have led Democrats in Congress to push the White House to release copies of all these exchanges, without the redactions. The Senate voted repeatedly on Tuesday night to block proposals by Democrats to require the release of these documents.

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Struggle Between N.S.A. and Congress Over Ukraine Records Breaks Into Open

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A long-simmering conflict between the National Security Agency and the House Intelligence Committee broke into the open on Sunday when the committee’s chairman, Representative Adam B. Schiff, accused the agency of withholding critical intelligence from his panel, including some that might be useful in the impeachment trial of President Trump.

Since last fall, the committee has been quietly seeking documents and intercepts that the National Security Agency gathered in Ukraine. But Mr. Schiff, a California Democrat and former prosecutor who is one of the managers of the impeachment trial, took the fight public, saying that “the intelligence community is beginning to withhold documents from Congress on the issue of Ukraine.”

“The N.S.A. in particular is withholding what are potentially relevant documents to our oversight responsibilities on Ukraine, but also withholding documents potentially relevant that the senators might want to see during the trial,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “That is deeply concerning. And there are signs that the C.I.A. may be on the same tragic course.”

Administration officials disputed Mr. Schiff’s accusations, saying the intelligence agencies were nonpartisan and were providing information to their congressional overseers. But a statement they issued avoided mentioning specifics.

“The intelligence community is committed to providing Congress with the information and intelligence it needs to carry out its critical oversight role,” Amanda J. Schoch, the assistant director of national intelligence for strategic communications, said in the statement. It “is working in good faith” with the committee, she continued, to respond “to requests on a broad range of topics and will continue to do so.”

A committee official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Schiff was angered because the National Security Agency was reneging on an earlier agreement on what documents would be produced. But administration officials said the document production was simply going slowly, and had not been blocked.

Disputes between intelligence agencies and oversight committees are not unusual. The agencies are frequently reluctant to share direct intercepts of conversations or to allow their individual officers or analysts to provide information directly to the committees. Instead, they prefer to turn over analytical reports that have been reviewed by agency leadership. The committees often press for more raw forms of intelligence.

Mr. Schiff and the agency had appeared to reach an accord several months ago about what kind of intelligence about Ukraine it was prepared to share with the committee. Since then, the committee had kept its struggle to obtain American intelligence on Ukraine largely behind closed doors under the secrecy rules that guide its oversight of what, by some measures, is the largest and most powerful of the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies.

Mr. Schiff did not specify what documents were in dispute. But even before Ukraine became a central battleground with its ground war and cyberwar with Russia, the agency had made Ukraine “one of the central points of focus in superpower competition,” a senior intelligence official said several months ago.

By law, the agency could not intercept Mr. Trump’s conversations with President Volodymyr Zelensky, or his predecessor Petro O. Poroshenko. And it would require special court approval to intercept conversations involving Americans communicating with Ukraine, including the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and his key aides.

But the National Security Agency would be free to record Ukrainian officials, including Mr. Zelensky, talking among themselves about those conversations, and those intercepts could reveal how much they knew, and when, about Mr. Trump’s demand to withhold aid from Ukraine in its fight against Russian incursions, and the conditions it would have to meet to get it turned back on.

For intelligence officials who have often found themselves on the receiving end of Mr. Trump’s wrath, charged with disloyalty or told by Mr. Trump they had to “go back to school” because he did not like their assessments of North Korea and Iran, there is nothing more politically delicate than what they collected in Ukraine.

The director of the National Security Agency, Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, was appointed to his post two years ago by Mr. Trump after a long and storied military career at the forefront of American cyberoperations. Until now, he has largely stayed out of the line of fire — and has never been mentioned on the president’s Twitter feed — while he has built an aggressive cyberability, much of it directed at President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia.

Mr. Trump did not interfere as Mr. Nakasone, during the 2018 midterm elections, ordered a shutdown of the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll factory that conducted much of the social media campaign that aided Mr. Trump in the last presidential election. Nor did the president get in the way of the implanting of software in the Russian electric power grid.

But the dispute with the committee over Ukraine, and the impeachment proceedings, places General Nakasone, 56, directly in the cross-hairs of the White House.

No matter what his agency’s intelligence assessments or raw intercepts may or may not reveal about how Ukrainian officials reacted to Mr. Trump’s demands for an investigation into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., or into a discredited theory that Ukraine was responsible for a cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee, the president could consider any cooperation with Mr. Schiff highly suspect.

The degree of sensitivity was evident this week in reports, first broadcast on CNN, that all of the nation’s intelligence chiefs were trying to avoid public testimony about the annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment.” Last year the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, angered Mr. Trump by contradicting his public statements on Iran, North Korea and the Islamic State. He and other intelligence chiefs were summoned to the White House the next day for a public dressing-down.

Intelligence officials say they fear a public hearing this year could be worse: General Nakasone and the director of the C.I.A., Gina Haspel, would undoubtedly be asked for their assessment of whether the cutoff of aid to Ukraine would have benefited Mr. Putin and advantaged Russia as it seeks to undermine the Ukrainian government. (They would most likely also be asked about evidence that North Korea has sped forward with its nuclear and missile programs in the 19 months since Mr. Trump first met Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, in Singapore.)

Mr. Schiff confirmed on Sunday that intelligence agencies had sought to avoid a public hearing, preferring instead to simply offer their written assessment of global threats. “The intelligence community is reluctant to have an open hearing,” he said, “something that we had done every year prior to the Trump administration, because they’re worried about angering the president.”

“We are counting on the intelligence community not only to speak truth to power, but to resist pressure from the administration to withhold information from Congress,” Mr. Schiff continued, “because the administration fears that they incriminate them.”

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Ukraine’s President Said He’d Fight Corruption. Resistance Is Fierce.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Kateryna Rozhkova, the first deputy governor of Ukraine’s central bank, had just about learned to live with the hundreds of protesters banging metal rods and drums outside her office when they started gathering every morning outside her house.

If that wasn’t enough, just before Christmas, a brass ensemble showed up at her home blaring funeral music in accompaniment of a horse-drawn hearse and men dressed like the grim reaper.

The protesters presented themselves as part of a grass roots effort opposing official corruption, but Ms. Rozhkova says they were anything but. She says they were sent by a billionaire accused of defrauding the government of $5 billion and who is now locked in a fierce battle with the Ukrainian central bank.

“If there is this kind of reaction,” Ms. Rozhkova said of the lawlessness she says Ukraine’s anti-corruption forces are up against, “it means that there is a fight.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian, sitcom star and political neophyte, catapulted to the presidency of Ukraine last spring on a promise of sweeping away the country’s shadowy web of money and influence.

Now, as Mr. Zelensky faces pressure to deliver on his promises, he is finding that actually bringing the corrupt officials and oligarchs to heel is a lot harder than satirizing them on his former TV show, “Servant of the People.”

Previous Ukrainian presidents came to power pledging to tackle corruption, but usually with the intent of using that pose as cover for their own corrupt deals, activists say. Whether Mr. Zelensky can show that he is different from past leaders will be a decisive litmus test for his presidency — and for Ukraine’s viability as a country moving closer to the West.

Further complicating an already daunting task, Mr. Zelensky has been forced to deal with the fallout from the Trump administration’s pressure campaign in Ukraine and the impeachment trial in Washington that sprang from it.

In the past, Ukraine enjoyed the steadfast support of the United States in fighting both corruption and a war against Russian-backed separatists. Now, Ukrainians say Washington’s message has grown muddled, in part because Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and his Ukrainian allies see the Western-backed camp of Ukrainian anticorruption reformers as their enemies.

“Giuliani flying in — rather than fighting corruption, he was supporting and meeting with all of the past corrupt people,” said Valeria Gontareva, the former head of Ukraine’s central bank. “As a result, it’s very hard to say what the message is that we now hear from America.”

Nevertheless, anticorruption activists say they see signs of progress.

Mr. Zelensky’s new prosecutor general is modernizing his corruption-plagued office and firing hundreds of prosecutors. A flurry of laws passed by Mr. Zelensky’s months-old parliamentary majority seeks to overhaul the justice system and criminalize illicit enrichment by public officials. The president has even signed legislation establishing a procedure for his own impeachment.

When it comes to enforcing the law, however, Mr. Zelensky’s tests are just beginning. Ukraine’s mafia, for example, is trying to bribe and threaten members of Mr. Zelensky’s ruling bloc in Parliament to derail legislation to crack down on organized crime, said a senior lawmaker, David Arakhamia.

“They meet them by their house and say, ‘We know where your parents live,’” said Mr. Arakhamia, the floor leader of Mr. Zelensky’s party in Parliament.

And just this week Mr. Zelensky’s handpicked prime minister, Oleksiy Honcharuk, offered his resignation after the leak of what he said was a doctored recording on which he is heard to say the president has a “primitive” understanding of economics. Mr. Honcharuk blamed the leak on forces trying to undermine the anticorruption drive. Mr. Zelensky refused his resignation.

Perhaps Mr. Zelensky’s biggest challenge lies with his erstwhile patron, Ihor Kolomoisky, one of the oligarchs that Mr. Giuliani and his associates courted and the man Ms. Rozhkova believes is responsible for trying to intimidate her and her colleagues.

Mr. Kolomoisky advanced Mr. Zelensky’s career by putting “Servant of the People” on his TV channel. Now, having returned from self-imposed exile in Israel and Switzerland, he is hoping to regain control of a bank that the government seized from him, alleging that he and his business partner siphoned billions of dollars out of it.

“Even more than getting it back, I want to punish the guilty” responsible for seizing the bank, Mr. Kolomoisky told The New York Times in November. “The guilty must be put on the spike and the death penalty brought back for them.”

In a recent phone interview, Mr. Kolomoisky denied having anything to do with the protests against the central bank, which have been covered extensively on the television channel he owns and populated by people transported in buses bearing the logo of one of his businesses. He called Mr. Giuliani an “honorable person.”

Ms. Gontareva, who nationalized Mr. Kolomoisky’s bank, PrivatBank, in 2016, says she got a sample of the oligarch’s methods last year. First, she was hit by a car while in London, where she was living at the time. Then her house in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and her son’s car were hit by arson attacks. She decided to remain in London in self-imposed exile.

Mr. Kolomoisky dismissed Ms. Gontareva’s allegations, saying she “has to be sent to the insane asylum.”

Mr. Zelensky needs to demonstrate to Ukraine’s Western creditors that he is serious about prosecuting large-scale fraud in order to secure billions of dollars in sorely needed loans from the International Monetary Fund.

In the impeachment proceedings in Washington, Ukraine has been tarnished by corruption accusations by Republicans and Democrats alike — feeding worries that Kyiv now faces a long-term challenge in winning bipartisan support even as its conflict with neighboring Russia continues.

In America, “politicians are an extension of the electorate, and the electorate has already concluded that Ukraine is a corrupt country,” said Oleksandr Danylyuk, who resigned as Mr. Zelensky’s national security adviser in September. “In practice, I expect the support of the United States to be minimal in the next year.”

The new prosecutor general, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, this fall allowed a longstanding case to proceed against a different business tycoon, Oleg Bakhmatyuk, who is also accused of siphoning money from his bank. But the Ukrainian authorities have not brought such charges against Mr. Kolomoisky.

That has led to accusations that Mr. Zelensky is giving his media ally and former business partner special treatment — charges that both men deny.

But high-profile corruption cases “won’t be credible until there’s action taken against Kolomoisky,” said Mr. Danylyuk, the former Zelensky adviser. “Bakhmatyuk won’t cut it.”

Mr. Kolomoisky denies any wrongdoing in the PrivatBank matter. Mr. Bakhmatyuk also denies wrongdoing.

Ukraine’s problems extend beyond Mr. Kolomoisky, however. The powerful S.B.U. intelligence agency remains in dire need of changes to stop it from intervening “in all areas of social life and business,” says the Anti-Corruption Action Center, a watchdog group. Rather than functioning as a Western intelligence service, the S.B.U. is able to take advantage of its wide-ranging powers to extract bribes and exert undue influence across Ukraine, its critics say.

“Right now, corrupt elites from various agencies are trying to understand how to operate under the new political realities in Ukraine,” said the center’s executive director, Daria Kaleniuk. “They’re looking for whom to bribe, who to negotiate with.”

A representative of Andriy Bohdan, Mr. Zelensky’s chief of staff whom Mr. Bakhmatyuk blamed for his plight, did not respond to a request for comment.

Dmytro Sologub, a deputy governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, said post-Soviet Ukraine was particularly vulnerable to corruption even compared to some other post-Communist European countries. Caught between warring European powers for centuries, the country has little legacy of its own trusted institutions.

“The system we’re trying to change now was created and modified in the course of 25 years,” Mr. Sologub said. “That raises the question of how much time will be necessary to change it.”

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Trump’s Defense Team Calls Impeachment Charges ‘Brazen’ as Democrats Make Legal Case

Westlake Legal Group merlin_167294235_063a1fbd-5e56-4cba-9778-8a189a9ea1c4-facebookJumbo Trump’s Defense Team Calls Impeachment Charges ‘Brazen’ as Democrats Make Legal Case United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate impeachment House of Representatives Foreign Aid Democratic Party Constitution (US)

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s legal defense team strenuously denied on Saturday that he had committed impeachable acts, denouncing the charges against him as a “brazen and unlawful” attempt to cost him re-election as House Democrats laid out in meticulous detail their case that he should be removed from office.

In the first legal filings for the Senate impeachment trial that opens in earnest on Tuesday, the dueling arguments from the White House and the House impeachment managers previewed a politically charged fight over Mr. Trump’s fate, unfolding against the backdrop of the presidential election campaign.

They presented the legal strategies both sides are likely to employ during the third presidential impeachment trial in American history. They also vividly illustrated how the proceeding is almost certain to rekindle feuding over the 2016 election that has barely subsided during Mr. Trump’s tenure, and reverberate — whether he is convicted or acquitted — in an even more brutal electoral fight in November.

In a 46-page trial memorandum, and additional 60-page statement of facts, the House impeachment managers asserted that beginning in the spring, Mr. Trump undertook a corrupt campaign to enlist a foreign government to help him win the 2020 election. He did so, the Democrats argued, by pressuring Ukraine to publicly announce investigations of his political rivals, withholding as leverage vital military aid and a White House meeting for the country’s president.

The president then sought to conceal those actions from Congress, they said, posing “a serious danger to our constitutional checks and balances” by ordering administration officials not to testify or turn over documents requested by a House impeachment inquiry.

“President Trump’s conduct is the framers’ worst nightmare,” wrote the seven Democratic managers, led by Representative Adam B. Schiff of California.

In a six-page filing formally responding to the House impeachment charges submitted shortly after and filled with partisan barbs against House Democrats, Mr. Trump’s lawyers denounced the case as constitutionally and legally invalid, and driven purely by a desire to hurt Mr. Trump in the 2020 election.

“The articles of impeachment submitted by House Democrats are a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president,” they said in the response, which was Mr. Trump’s first legal submission in the impeachment proceeding, ahead of a fuller brief that is due on Monday. “This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election, now just months away.”

The president’s lawyers did not deny any of the core facts underlying Democrats’ charges, conceding what considerable evidence and testimony in the House has shown: that he withheld $391 million in aid and a White House meeting from Ukraine and asked the country’s president to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, Hunter Biden.

But they said Mr. Trump broke no laws and was acting entirely appropriately and within his powers when he did so, echoing his repeated protestations of his own innocence. They argued that he was not seeking political advantage, but working to root out corruption in Ukraine.

“President Trump categorically and unequivocally denies each and every allegation in both articles of impeachment,” wrote Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, and Jay Sekulow, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer.

The managers’ filing repeated many of the same arguments they laid out last fall in a report on the findings of their two-month impeachment inquiry. But it also indicated that they intended to make use of information that has come to light since the House’s impeachment vote in December.

They cited new documentary records handed over by Lev Parnas, an associate of the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, about the pressure campaign on Ukraine, and a Government Accountability Office report released this week that found that Mr. Trump violated the law when he withheld the military aid.

And though the House ultimately declined to bring charges based on the special counsel’s Russia investigation, Saturday’s filing indicates the managers are also poised to reprise its findings as they argue that Mr. Trump’s behavior toward Ukraine fits a pattern that poses a continuing threat to American elections. They argued that, just as Mr. Trump welcomed interference on his behalf from Russia in the 2016 election and then sought to thwart a federal investigation into the matter, he solicited Ukrainian assistance in the 2020 contest and then obstructed Congress’s ability to investigate.

The nation’s founders, the House Democrats said in their brief, “designed impeachment as the remedy for such misconduct because a president who manipulates U.S. elections to his advantage can avoid being held accountable by the voters through those same elections.”

They called Mr. Trump’s attempt to get Ukraine to discredit his political adversaries “part of an ongoing pattern of misconduct for which the president is unrepentant.”

The president, who spent Saturday at his golf course in West Palm Beach, Fla., has made no secret of his disdain for the House’s charges and its inquiry. He has repeatedly professed his total innocence in general terms, and specifically insisted that a July phone call in which he pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate Mr. Biden and other Democrats was “perfect.”

But when invited to take part in the proceedings or mount a defense before the House Judiciary Committee, he refused. The closest the president’s lawyers had come to weighing in on the case was an eight-page letter to House Democrats in October in which they unequivocally refused to furnish any documents or allow any witnesses to testify.

Like that letter, Mr. Trump’s answer to the Senate on Saturday was heavy with political messaging even as it asserted broad constitutional principles and general legal arguments to proclaim the president’s innocence.

In a statement later in the evening, the House managers criticized the claim by the president’s legal team that the pressure on Ukraine was just Mr. Trump’s way of fighting corruption.

“It is not,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote. “Rather it is corruption itself, naked, unapologetic and insidious.”

The defense filing was far shorter than the House managers’ memorandum, but White House lawyers have until noon on Monday to produce a more comprehensive legal brief laying out the case they will make on the floor of the Senate.

The House can then submit a written rebuttal by Tuesday. If all goes according to plan, the managers will begin live presentations in the Senate on Wednesday, and under an expedited schedule being contemplated by Senate Republicans, the president’s team could begin its presentation on Friday.

The defense filing on Saturday argued that Mr. Trump “has not in any way abused the powers of the presidency,” and that the July 25 call between Mr. Trump and the president of Ukraine was “perfectly legal, entirely appropriate, and taken in furtherance of our national interest.”

The arguments by Mr. Trump’s lawyers tracked closely with those presented throughout the House inquiry by Republicans in that chamber, like Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who did not dispute what had occurred so much as the idea that the president had been acting on some corrupt scheme.

The document appeared intended to appeal to Mr. Trump’s sensibilities. It accused Mr. Schiff of “creating a fraudulent version” of the July 25 call when he jokingly offered a hypothetical conversation during a congressional hearing, something that Mr. Trump has repeatedly mocked Mr. Schiff for doing.

As they have said for weeks, the president’s lawyers asserted that the articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump are “invalid on their face” because they do not accuse the president of breaking any law.

But the Democrats argued in their memorandum that impeachable actions “need not be indictable offenses,” a theory that has been espoused by many legal scholars. The framers of the Constitution, they argued, intended the remedy for “acts committed by public officials that inflict severe harm on the constitutional order.”

The president’s legal team also rejected the charge that Mr. Trump is guilty of obstruction of Congress. They argued that Mr. Trump’s attempts to prevent witnesses from testifying in what the president has called a “sham” impeachment inquiry is a legitimate exercise of executive privilege that is essential to guard the authority and prerogatives of the presidency.

The House concluded that Mr. Trump’s claims of “absolute immunity” or other privileges on behalf of 12 officials and his decision to block the delivery of documents amounted to flagrant obstruction. The president’s lawyers made clear that they disagreed, saying that “asserting valid constitutional privileges and immunities cannot be an impeachable offense.”

The president’s lawyers also accused Congress of denying Mr. Trump due process during the impeachment proceedings, including “the right to have counsel present, the right to cross-examine witnesses and the right to present evidence.”

While the president’s lawyers were not allowed to attend closed-door depositions of some witnesses, Republican allies of the president attended every interview and asked questions, according to transcripts of the sessions.

The president rejected Democratic offers to present evidence, question witnesses or otherwise mount a defense during hearings before the House Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Sekulow will lead the president’s defense at trial. The White House announced Friday that the team would also include Ken Starr, the former independent counsel whose investigation of President Bill Clinton led to his impeachment, Robert W. Ray, who succeeded Mr. Starr, and Alan Dershowitz, a celebrity defense lawyer.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting from New York.

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Trump’s Defense Team Calls Impeachment Charges ‘Brazen’ as Democrats Make Legal Case

Westlake Legal Group merlin_167294235_063a1fbd-5e56-4cba-9778-8a189a9ea1c4-facebookJumbo Trump’s Defense Team Calls Impeachment Charges ‘Brazen’ as Democrats Make Legal Case United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate impeachment House of Representatives Foreign Aid Democratic Party Constitution (US)

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s legal defense team strenuously denied on Saturday that he had committed impeachable acts, denouncing the charges against him as a “brazen and unlawful” attempt to cost him re-election as House Democrats laid out in meticulous detail their case that he should be removed from office.

In the first legal filings for the Senate impeachment trial that opens in earnest on Tuesday, the dueling arguments from the White House and the House impeachment managers previewed a politically charged fight over Mr. Trump’s fate, unfolding against the backdrop of the presidential election campaign.

They presented the legal strategies both sides are likely to employ during the third presidential impeachment trial in American history. They also vividly illustrated how the proceeding is almost certain to rekindle feuding over the 2016 election that has barely subsided during Mr. Trump’s tenure, and reverberate — whether he is convicted or acquitted — in an even more brutal electoral fight in November.

In a 46-page trial memorandum, and additional 60-page statement of facts, the House impeachment managers asserted that beginning in the spring, Mr. Trump undertook a corrupt campaign to enlist a foreign government to help him win the 2020 election. He did so, the Democrats argued, by pressuring Ukraine to publicly announce investigations of his political rivals, withholding as leverage vital military aid and a White House meeting for the country’s president.

The president then sought to conceal those actions from Congress, they said, posing “a serious danger to our constitutional checks and balances” by ordering administration officials not to testify or turn over documents requested by a House impeachment inquiry.

“President Trump’s conduct is the framers’ worst nightmare,” wrote the seven Democratic managers, led by Representative Adam B. Schiff of California.

In a six-page filing formally responding to the House impeachment charges submitted shortly after and filled with partisan barbs against House Democrats, Mr. Trump’s lawyers denounced the case as constitutionally and legally invalid, and driven purely by a desire to hurt Mr. Trump in the 2020 election.

“The articles of impeachment submitted by House Democrats are a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president,” they said in the response, which was Mr. Trump’s first legal submission in the impeachment proceeding, ahead of a fuller brief that is due on Monday. “This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election, now just months away.”

The president’s lawyers did not deny any of the core facts underlying Democrats’ charges, conceding what considerable evidence and testimony in the House has shown: that he withheld $391 million in aid and a White House meeting from Ukraine and asked the country’s president to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, Hunter Biden.

But they said Mr. Trump broke no laws and was acting entirely appropriately and within his powers when he did so, echoing his repeated protestations of his own innocence. They argued that he was not seeking political advantage, but working to root out corruption in Ukraine.

“President Trump categorically and unequivocally denies each and every allegation in both articles of impeachment,” wrote Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, and Jay Sekulow, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer.

The managers’ filing repeated many of the same arguments they laid out last fall in a report on the findings of their two-month impeachment inquiry. But it also indicated that they intended to make use of information that has come to light since the House’s impeachment vote in December.

They cited new documentary records handed over by Lev Parnas, an associate of the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, about the pressure campaign on Ukraine, and a Government Accountability Office report released this week that found that Mr. Trump violated the law when he withheld the military aid.

And though the House ultimately declined to bring charges based on the special counsel’s Russia investigation, Saturday’s filing indicates the managers are also poised to reprise its findings as they argue that Mr. Trump’s behavior toward Ukraine fits a pattern that poses a continuing threat to American elections. They argued that, just as Mr. Trump welcomed interference on his behalf from Russia in the 2016 election and then sought to thwart a federal investigation into the matter, he solicited Ukrainian assistance in the 2020 contest and then obstructed Congress’s ability to investigate.

The nation’s founders, the House Democrats said in their brief, “designed impeachment as the remedy for such misconduct because a president who manipulates U.S. elections to his advantage can avoid being held accountable by the voters through those same elections.”

They called Mr. Trump’s attempt to get Ukraine to discredit his political adversaries “part of an ongoing pattern of misconduct for which the president is unrepentant.”

The president, who spent Saturday at his golf course in West Palm Beach, Fla., has made no secret of his disdain for the House’s charges and its inquiry. He has repeatedly professed his total innocence in general terms, and specifically insisted that a July phone call in which he pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate Mr. Biden and other Democrats was “perfect.”

But when invited to take part in the proceedings or mount a defense before the House Judiciary Committee, he refused. The closest the president’s lawyers had come to weighing in on the case was an eight-page letter to House Democrats in October in which they unequivocally refused to furnish any documents or allow any witnesses to testify.

Like that letter, Mr. Trump’s answer to the Senate on Saturday was heavy with political messaging even as it asserted broad constitutional principles and general legal arguments to proclaim the president’s innocence.

In a statement later in the evening, the House managers criticized the claim by the president’s legal team that the pressure on Ukraine was just Mr. Trump’s way of fighting corruption.

“It is not,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote. “Rather it is corruption itself, naked, unapologetic and insidious.”

The defense filing was far shorter than the House managers’ memorandum, but White House lawyers have until noon on Monday to produce a more comprehensive legal brief laying out the case they will make on the floor of the Senate.

The House can then submit a written rebuttal by Tuesday. If all goes according to plan, the managers will begin live presentations in the Senate on Wednesday, and under an expedited schedule being contemplated by Senate Republicans, the president’s team could begin its presentation on Friday.

The defense filing on Saturday argued that Mr. Trump “has not in any way abused the powers of the presidency,” and that the July 25 call between Mr. Trump and the president of Ukraine was “perfectly legal, entirely appropriate, and taken in furtherance of our national interest.”

The arguments by Mr. Trump’s lawyers tracked closely with those presented throughout the House inquiry by Republicans in that chamber, like Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who did not dispute what had occurred so much as the idea that the president had been acting on some corrupt scheme.

The document appeared intended to appeal to Mr. Trump’s sensibilities. It accused Mr. Schiff of “creating a fraudulent version” of the July 25 call when he jokingly offered a hypothetical conversation during a congressional hearing, something that Mr. Trump has repeatedly mocked Mr. Schiff for doing.

As they have said for weeks, the president’s lawyers asserted that the articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump are “invalid on their face” because they do not accuse the president of breaking any law.

But the Democrats argued in their memorandum that impeachable actions “need not be indictable offenses,” a theory that has been espoused by many legal scholars. The framers of the Constitution, they argued, intended the remedy for “acts committed by public officials that inflict severe harm on the constitutional order.”

The president’s legal team also rejected the charge that Mr. Trump is guilty of obstruction of Congress. They argued that Mr. Trump’s attempts to prevent witnesses from testifying in what the president has called a “sham” impeachment inquiry is a legitimate exercise of executive privilege that is essential to guard the authority and prerogatives of the presidency.

The House concluded that Mr. Trump’s claims of “absolute immunity” or other privileges on behalf of 12 officials and his decision to block the delivery of documents amounted to flagrant obstruction. The president’s lawyers made clear that they disagreed, saying that “asserting valid constitutional privileges and immunities cannot be an impeachable offense.”

The president’s lawyers also accused Congress of denying Mr. Trump due process during the impeachment proceedings, including “the right to have counsel present, the right to cross-examine witnesses and the right to present evidence.”

While the president’s lawyers were not allowed to attend closed-door depositions of some witnesses, Republican allies of the president attended every interview and asked questions, according to transcripts of the sessions.

The president rejected Democratic offers to present evidence, question witnesses or otherwise mount a defense during hearings before the House Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Sekulow will lead the president’s defense at trial. The White House announced Friday that the team would also include Ken Starr, the former independent counsel whose investigation of President Bill Clinton led to his impeachment, Robert W. Ray, who succeeded Mr. Starr, and Alan Dershowitz, a celebrity defense lawyer.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting from New York.

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Trump Legal Team Denies Impeachment Charges in First Official Response

Westlake Legal Group merlin_167294235_063a1fbd-5e56-4cba-9778-8a189a9ea1c4-facebookJumbo Trump Legal Team Denies Impeachment Charges in First Official Response United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate impeachment House of Representatives Foreign Aid Democratic Party Constitution (US)

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s legal defense team forcefully denied on Saturday that he abused his power by pressuring a foreign government to investigate his political rivals, calling the two impeachment charges against him a “brazen and unlawful” attempt to hurt his chances of re-election.

The defiant rejection of the accusations came in response to an official summons issued last week by the Senate, notifying Mr. Trump that he faces removal from office if he is convicted. In a six-page letter, Mr. Trump’s first formal response to the charges against him, his lawyers denounced the impeachment case brought by House Democrats as constitutionally and legally invalid, and driven by malice toward him.

“The articles of impeachment submitted by House Democrats are a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president,” the document says. “This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election, now just months away.”

The president’s lawyers did not deny any of the core facts underlying Democrats’ charges, conceding what ample evidence has shown, that he withheld $391 million in aid from Ukraine and asked the country’s president to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, Hunter. But they said Mr. Trump broke no laws and was acting entirely appropriately and within his powers when he did so, echoing the president’s repeated protestations of his own innocence. They argued that Mr. Trump was not seeking political advantage, but working to root out corruption in Ukraine.

“President Trump categorically and unequivocally denies each and every allegation in both articles of impeachment,” Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, and Jay Sekulow, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, wrote.

Mr. Trump’s response came shortly after the House impeachment managers formally outlined their case for Mr. Trump’s removal from office, arguing in a lengthy legal filing that the Senate should convict him for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

In the 46-page trial memorandum, the House impeachment managers asserted that beginning in the spring, Mr. Trump undertook a corrupt campaign to push Ukraine to publicly announce investigations of his political rivals, withholding as leverage nearly $400 million in military aid and a White House meeting. He then sought to conceal those actions from Congress, they said, refusing to cooperate with a House impeachment inquiry and ordering administration officials not to testify or turn over documents requested by investigators.

“President Trump’s conduct is the framers’ worst nightmare,” the managers wrote, framing their argument in constitutional terms.

The legal back-and-forth on Saturday offered a preview of the strategies both sides will employ starting next week, when the Senate opens oral arguments in only the third impeachment trial of a president in the nation’s history.

Addressing head-on the political dynamics of the Senate, where majority Republicans have denounced the impeachment inquiry, the House managers warned that voters and future generations would sit in judgment of their actions.

“History will judge each senator’s willingness to rise above partisan differences, view the facts honestly, and defend the Constitution,” they wrote. “The outcome of these proceedings will determine whether generations to come will enjoy a safe and secure democracy in which the president is not a king.”

The filing from the House Democrats repeated many of the same arguments they laid out last fall in a report on the findings of their impeachment inquiry. But the managers’ brief provided a glimpse of their strategy for the high-stakes legal and political fight ahead.

The heavily footnoted document, formatted in the style of a courtroom filing, was headlined “In re Impeachment of President Donald J. Trump,” and addressed to the Senate, “sitting as a court of impeachment.” The memorandum laid out the evidence and legal arguments the managers intend to present in oral arguments on the floor of the Senate, likely beginning on Wednesday. The filing also included an additional 60 pages of facts the managers deemed material to their case.

As they have said for weeks, the president’s lawyers asserted in Saturday’s short filing that the articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump are “invalid on their face” because they do not accuse the president of breaking the law.

In Saturday’s document, the president’s legal team also rejected the charge that Mr. Trump is guilty of obstruction of Congress. They argued that Mr. Trump’s attempts to prevent witnesses from testifying in what the president has called a “sham” impeachment inquiry is a legitimate exercise of executive privilege that is essential to guard the authority and prerogatives of the presidency.

And they once again attacked the process by which House Democrats impeached Mr. Trump, accusing them of denying the president his due process rights.

The president’s legal team faces a deadline of noon on Monday to produce a more comprehensive legal brief laying out the defense case they will make on the floor of the Senate.

Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Sekulow will lead the president’s defense at trial. The White House announced Friday that the team will also include Ken Starr, the former independent counsel whose investigation of President Bill Clinton led to his impeachment, Robert W. Ray, who succeeded Mr. Starr, and Alan Dershowitz, a celebrity defense lawyer.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

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Democrats Release More Material From Lev Parnas on Ukraine Campaign

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_167089047_f0abdf0e-4064-4ed8-9f65-e6ca61106cf4-articleLarge Democrats Release More Material From Lev Parnas on Ukraine Campaign Zlochevsky, Mykola Yovanovitch, Marie L 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 Parnas, Lev House Committee on Intelligence Giuliani, Rudolph W Burisma Holdings Ltd Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

Lev Parnas last year in New York. House Democrats have been releasing the contents of Mr. Parnas’s devices over the past week.Credit…Seth Wenig/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — House Democrats released another round of information on Friday that raised questions about elements of the impeachment inquiry, including allegations about the surveillance of the United States ambassador in Ukraine and efforts by an aide to a top congressional Republican to pursue investigations sought by President Trump.

The information came from the electronic devices of Lev Parnas, the businessman who worked with the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to pursue the pressure campaign on Ukraine at the center of the impeachment trial.

Mr. Parnas, who is facing federal campaign finance charges in Manhattan, has publicly turned on Mr. Trump and his allies. He petitioned the court to allow him to release the information to Congress, and has offered to testify in the impeachment trial and to cooperate with prosecutors in New York investigating Mr. Giuliani. And he undertook a media tour of sorts this week in which he claimed that the president “knew exactly everything that was going on that Rudy Giuliani was doing in Ukraine.”

House Democrats have been releasing the contents of Mr. Parnas’s devices over the past week in an effort to bolster their demand that witnesses be permitted to testify in the Senate trial.

The documents released by House Democrats included WhatsApp messages between Mr. Parnas and Derek Harvey, an aide to Representative Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee and a leading defender of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Nunes has suggested that Mr. Trump and his allies were justified in pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his family and Ukrainians who released information about Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

The WhatsApp messages show Mr. Harvey working with Mr. Parnas to arrange interviews with Ukrainian officials who claimed wrongdoing by the Bidens and by Ukrainians in 2016.

The messages also suggest that Mr. Harvey, a retired Army colonel who previously served on the National Security Council under Mr. Trump, met at the Trump International Hotel in Washington with Mr. Parnas, Mr. Giuliani and John Solomon, a conservative journalist who worked closely with Mr. Parnas on articles that injected the Ukrainian officials’ claims into the conservative media, reinforcing the pressure campaign.

The message exchange between Mr. Parnas and Mr. Harvey appears to include the passport of Mykola Zlochevsky, the oligarch owner of Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company that paid Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, as a board member.

Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Parnas pressured Ukrainian officials to commit to investigating the arrangement, and some Senate Republicans are threatening to call Hunter Biden to testify in the Senate impeachment trial if Democrats press for their own witnesses.

A spokesman for Mr. Nunes did not respond to a request for comment.

Friday’s release also included correspondence of an obscure Republican candidate for Congress in Connecticut who had suggested to Mr. Parnas that Marie L. Yovanovitch had been under surveillance while serving as the United States ambassador in Kyiv at a time when she had come under heavy criticism from Mr. Trump’s allies.

The newly released correspondence included WhatsApp messages between the congressional candidate, Robert F. Hyde, and an unidentified account with an avatar of a man and a number that began with Belgium’s country code, but was partly redacted in the release. Someone using the account sent Mr. Hyde an official government portrait of Ms. Yovanovitch, and indicated, “My contacts are checking,” adding, “I will give you the address next week.”

Mr. Hyde responded, “Awesome.”

The person using the account appeared to be familiar with Mr. Hyde, congratulating him “on your new business development” while sending updates suggesting knowledge of Ms. Yovanovitch’s whereabouts in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital.

Mr. Hyde appears to have forwarded some of the contents of the messages to Mr. Parnas, and when the messages between the two men were released this week, they prompted concern from Ms. Yovanovitch, who was removed from her post last spring on Mr. Trump’s orders, and from others.

On Thursday, Ukrainian police announced a criminal investigation into possible illegal surveillance, and F.B.I. agents visited Mr. Hyde’s home and business, according to a law enforcement official.

Mr. Hyde, who has a history of erratic behavior, initially claimed that the messages were a prank, saying on Twitter on Tuesday that he was “playing with” Mr. Parnas.

On Friday, though, Mr. Hyde posted a profanity-laced video and several messages on social media in which he identified Anthony de Caluwé as the source of the information about Ms. Yovanovitch. Calling him “some intel guy,” Mr. Hyde speculated that Mr. de Caluwé may have been manipulating him in an effort “to set Trump up.”

An Anthony de Caluwé with a Belgian phone number that matched the portion of the number visible in Friday’s release did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Mr. Hyde.

Mr. Hyde encouraged Democratic impeachment investigators to look into Mr. de Caluwé and said, “I’m sure if I disappeared or died or they gag order me, they’re going to use me as a smoking gun.”

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