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Westlake Legal Group > United States Defense and Military Forces

Trump Expected to Name Richard Grenell as Acting Head of Intelligence

Westlake Legal Group 19dc-dni-facebookJumbo Trump Expected to Name Richard Grenell as Acting Head of Intelligence United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Presidential Election of 2020 Office of the Director of National Intelligence Maguire, Joseph (1952- ) Grenell, Richard Espionage and Intelligence Services Coats, Dan Appointments and Executive Changes

WASHINGTON — President Trump was expected to name Richard Grenell, the American ambassador to Germany, to be the acting director of national intelligence, three people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

Mr. Grenell, whose outspokenness throughout his career as a political operative and then as ambassador has prompted criticism, is a vocal Trump loyalist who will lead a group of national security agencies often viewed skeptically by the White House.

He would take over from Joseph Maguire, who has served as the acting director of national intelligence since the resignation last summer of Dan Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana. Mr. Grenell, who has pushed to advance gay rights in his current post, would apparently also be the first openly gay cabinet member.

Mr. Grenell did not respond to a request for comment, nor did a White House spokesman. The people familiar with the move cautioned that the president had a history of changing his mind on personnel decisions after they were revealed in the news media.

Under American law, Mr. Maguire had to give up his temporary role before March 12. He could return to his old job as director of the National Counterterrorism Center, but he might choose to step down from government.

Mr. Trump can choose any Senate-confirmed official to replace Mr. Maguire as the acting head of the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies.

Mr. Maguire, a retired admiral, became the acting director in August just as a whistle-blower inside the C.I.A. filed a complaint about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

Since the acquittal of Mr. Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, the White House has been pushing to remove officials seen as disloyal or holding views contrary to the White House, looking for replacements who are more likely to follow the president’s wishes. While it has never been clear how Mr. Trump viewed Mr. Maguire, there is little doubt that the president would like a partisan fighter in the post before any public testimony before Congress.

Mr. Grenell has long been a strong voice on Twitter, posting about the dangers of Huawei, the Chinese company building next-generation telecommunications networks around the globe; the failure of European allies to spend enough on their military and other issues. He is one of the administration’s loudest critics of Huawei, pressuring Germany not to do business with the firm. Mr. Grenell has long been ambitious and has been anxious for a promotion from his diplomatic post. He was in contention to be national security adviser, a post that ultimately went to Robert C. O’Brien.

But Mr. Grenell is also a polarizing figure and his confirmation by the Senate is not assured, one reason the president intents to name him acting director, rather than formally nominating him for the job. A number of Republican senators have privately pushed the administration to nominate a national security professional or politician who is seen as a less divisive figure.

Since the beginning of his administration, Mr. Trump has viewed the intelligence agencies skeptically.

He has at times disparaged American intelligence agencies because he did not agree with their findings, such as the conclusion that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election in an effort to help Mr. Trump win. He told his intelligence chiefs to “go back to school” after they offered assessments on Iran and North Korea at odds with his policy initiatives.

Anxious to avoid a repeat of that hearing, Mr. Maguire’s aides initially pushed for this year’s public hearing to be canceled, a request that lawmakers have rejected.

Tensions between the White House and intelligence agencies only grew during the impeachment inquiry. Mr. Maguire initially blocked the whistle-blower complaint from being forwarded to Congress, following the guidance of administration lawyers. But he eventually helped broker the agreement to provide the complaint to Congress’s intelligence committees, allowing the impeachment inquiry to gain steam.

Mr. Coats announced his resignation in July, effective Aug. 15. Including acting directors, nine people have served as head of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence since the job was created in late 2004 to improve the nation’s ability to fight terrorism. That law made the director of national intelligence the top intelligence adviser to the president.

When Mr. Coats announced his resignation, Mr. Trump initially nominated one of his loyalists, Representative John Ratcliffe, Republican of Texas, to be the next top intelligence chief, a job considered to be among the most nonpartisan in Washington. But Mr. Trump quickly dropped those plans after pushback from Democrats and some key Republicans who worried Mr. Ratcliffe’s loyalty to the president and lack of intelligence experience would make him nearly impossible to confirm. There were also concerns that Mr. Ratcliffe exaggerated some of what he included on his résumé.

During his tenure, Mr. Coats was unafraid to defend his employees and push back against some of the president’s claims that contradicted the intelligence agencies. He told intelligence officers in a speech that it was their duty to seek the truth about the world, “and when we find that truth, to speak the truth.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was created after the Sept. 11 attacks to oversee the government’s vast network of 17 spy agencies and to ensure critical national security information was being shared across the government.

At the beginning of the Trump administration, Mike Pompeo, then the C.I.A. director, was the most prominent voice on intelligence matters. When Mr. Pompeo moved to the State Department, his successor, Gina Haspel, took a much less prominent role.

Ms. Haspel’s reluctance to speak publicly thrust Mr. Coats into the public spotlight. His criticism of the Mr. Trump and warnings about Russian interference in the election, drew the ire of the White House.

After Mr. Ratcliffe was dropped from consideration, Mr. Trump promised to announce a new nominee soon. But the list of people with the requisite experience who have not been critical of the president is slim.

The administration considered, and discarded, a number of potential nominees including Pete Hoekstra, the American ambassador to the Netherlands and a former Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Representative Chris Stewart, a Utah Republican on the committee.

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

Trump Effort to Keep U.S. Tech Out of China Alarms American Firms

Westlake Legal Group 00DC-TECHPROTECT-ross-facebookJumbo-v2 Trump Effort to Keep U.S. Tech Out of China Alarms American Firms United States Politics and Government United States Economy United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J International Trade and World Market Industrial Espionage Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Economic Conditions and Trends Commerce Department China

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration’s push to prevent China from dominating the market for advanced technologies has put it on a collision course with the same American companies it wants to protect.

Firms that specialize in microchips, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and other industries have grown increasingly alarmed by the administration’s efforts to restrict the flow of technology to China, saying it could siphon expertise, research and revenue away from the United States, ultimately eroding America’s advantage.

The concerns, which have been simmering for months, have taken on new urgency as the Commerce Department considers adopting a sweeping proposal that would allow the United States to block transactions between American firms and Chinese counterparts. Those rules, on top of new restrictions on Chinese investment in the United States and proposed measures that would prevent American companies from exporting certain products and sharing technology with foreign nationals, have the tech industry scrambling to respond.

The Trump administration’s crackdown has already prompted foreign firms to shun American components and technology over concerns that access to parts they need could be abruptly cut off. American companies are watching warily as the United States considers restricting export licenses for companies that sell products or share intellectual property with China, including General Electric, which sells aircraft parts to China as part of a joint venture with Safran, a French firm.

Top administration officials plan to meet on Feb. 28 to discuss further restrictions on China, including whether to block G.E.’s license to sell jet engines and whether to further curtail the ability of Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant, to have access to American technology.

There is growing bipartisan consensus in Washington that China poses a security threat and that the United States must protect domestic industries to retain a technological edge. While President Trump’s trade war with China was aimed at forcing Beijing to end practices that gave Chinese industries an advantage, the initial deal signed last month did little to address the security concerns.

The tech industry has warned that limiting access to China, both in terms of selling and buying products, could cripple American companies and end up undercutting the United States as the biggest global hub of research and development.

Companies, along with the lawyers and consultants who advise them, say firms increasingly have no choice but to locate more research and development outside the United States, to ensure that they have uninterrupted access to China, a fast-growing consumer market and the center of the global electronics supply chain. New investment dollars are being funneled to research hubs near University of Waterloo in Canada, as well as Israel, Britain and other places beyond the reach of the American government, they say.

“Anyone who thinks our concerns are exaggerated should talk to the U.S. semiconductor industry workers who are already losing their jobs due to walling off our largest market,” said John Neuffer, the president and chief executive of the Semiconductor Industry Association, which represents chip makers. “Revenue from that big market fuels our big research investments, which allows us to innovate and drive America’s economic growth and national security.”

The RISC-V Foundation, a nonprofit that has created an open-source software standard for the chips that power smartphones and other electronics, acknowledged in recent months that it had chosen to move its incorporation from Delaware to Switzerland because of concerns from its members about more stringent regulations in the United States.

“If this administration proceeds with the current trajectory, we’ll see more defections of companies, of scientists,” said Scott Jones, a nonresident fellow with the Stimson Center. “They’ll take their toys and they’ll go elsewhere, and other economies will be the beneficiary of that.”

The most recent source of concern stems from a Commerce Department plan to vet and potentially block technology transactions that pose a risk to the United States. The proposed rule would allow the commerce secretary to block transactions involving technology that was tied to a “foreign adversary” and that posed a significant risk to the United States.

The rule grew out of an executive order Mr. Trump signed last year to try to shut out Huawei by authorizing the commerce secretary to bar any purchase of technology designed by a “foreign adversary” that put America at risk. American companies say the regulations are written so broadly that they could give the United States authority to block transactions or unwind existing ones in areas far afield from telecom gear.

While tech companies say they support efforts to protect U.S. national security, dozens of companies and industry lobbying groups have expressed concerns about the proposal.

IBM, in a January comment letter, told the Commerce Department to “go back to the drawing board” and said the rules “will lead to a broad disengagement of U.S. business from global markets and suppliers.”

“Its reach, breadth and vagueness are unprecedented,” IBM said.

The Internet Association, which counts Google and Facebook among its members, said the proposal lacked “substantive safeguards.” The Motion Picture Association warned that it could affect Hollywood’s ability to pursue transactions around special effects or animation.

The Commerce Department said in a statement that the process would ensure that “all points of view have been considered and the U.S. national security considerations are balanced against corporate commercial interests.”

The tougher measures have come in response to what the administration and even the tech industry view as a rising economic and security threat. China is gaining ground in a range of technologies that experts say could give the country an economic and military edge, including artificial intelligence, facial recognition, microchips and quantum computing.

To try to dominate these advanced industries, China has deployed subsidies, targeted acquisitions of American firms and created industrial plans like Made in China 2025 to leap ahead. The administration has repeatedly accused China and its companies of engaging in corporate espionage, hacking and intellectual property theft.

Last week, the U.S. government charged Huawei and two of its subsidiaries with federal racketeering and conspiracy to steal trade secrets from six American companies. It also charged four members of China’s military with hacking into Equifax, one of the nation’s largest credit reporting agencies, and stealing trade secrets and the personal data of about 145 million Americans in 2017.

Beijing’s actions have created an overwhelming fear in Washington that China will come to dominate advanced industries and put American competitors out of business, in the same way it did for steel, furniture and solar panels. But the stakes are even higher this time, given that many of these new technologies are critical for the military.

“The Chinese have long been a commercial people, but for China, purely economic success is not an end in itself,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a speech this month. “It is a means to wider political and strategic objectives.”

The Trump administration’s response has been to offer a new definition of national security, one that encompasses economic threats. The distinction has allowed the United States to enact powerful rules restricting commercial exchanges with China.

Mr. Trump has cited national security in his decision to tax foreign metals, propose new limits on the technology that can be transferred outside the United States and bar Chinese companies like Huawei from buying American components.

While tech companies found a way around the initial Huawei ban, the administration is considering much more severe restrictions. A new proposal would extend the reach of the U.S. government to regulate products made around the world, prohibiting companies from using American components and technologies in foreign-made products that are then supplied to Huawei.

The proposals have set off panic within the technology industry, which fears the new restrictions will hamper its ability to tap into the Chinese market. Industry lawyers and trade groups have begun warning that, unless the administration can persuade its allies to adopt similar restrictions, companies will decide the safest course is to try to limit their use of American technology.

Critics point to past incidents where tight regulation pushed American industries offshore — including machine tool makers in the 1990s, and commercial satellites in the 2000s. While it is illegal for companies to move existing operations abroad to try to circumvent export control rules, there are no such constraints on new investments.

“Their incentive is shareholder value and making money,” Jim McGregor, the chairman of greater China for APCO Worldwide, said of America’s biggest technology companies. “It’s not defending what is good for America. You can say that’s terrible, but that’s the way our system works.”

Mr. McGregor said the economic incentives of the Chinese market would encourage companies to “decouple from America.”

Chinese companies are also working to weed American components out of their supply chains — a long-running effort toward self-sufficiency that has accelerated under the threat of harsher U.S. measures.

In recent months, some Chinese companies have begun asking their suppliers to certify that their products are made with a minimal amount of American content, so they are not at risk from American export controls, people familiar with the conversations say.

Chinese telecom companies have been asked to find an alternative to using Oracle’s software in their systems. And CITIC Capital, a giant investment management firm with deep links in China, has embraced helping Chinese companies find alternatives to American technology as an investment theme for this year.

Some who favor tougher China rules say companies are exaggerating the potential impact in an attempt to influence new regulations. They say that the United States retains big advantages in research and development, and that companies are trying to scare the government into loosening rules by saying they will leave.

Others say the national security threat from China is so serious that some short-term revenue loss is warranted.

“You can’t avoid paying that price,” said Clyde Prestowitz, a former Reagan administration official who led trade negotiations with Japan and China. “Your only choice is to pay it now or later. Now, you still have a cutting-edge industry that will take a hit, but that can survive and prosper if high tech does not become a Chinese playground.”

The administration’s view is not monolithic. Within the Commerce Department, some are pressing for stricter rules while others say crippling American business will do more to endanger national security.

The Pentagon is also split, with some officials calling for tighter regulations and others saying the government should not put innovation at risk, given that military technologies typically draw on commercial products.

Some China experts say that American companies are deluding themselves and that, without safeguards, China will eventually steal their technology and drive them out of business.

“We’ve seen what happens to many foreign firms who ‘have to be there’ in steel, telecom, et cetera,” Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said of China. “They get progressively more desperate, until they die.”

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

Trump Administration Considering Halting Sales of Aircraft Parts to China

Westlake Legal Group merlin_168031239_f7b598dc-5474-4854-b91f-02d3e81ca9ee-facebookJumbo Trump Administration Considering Halting Sales of Aircraft Parts to China United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J General Electric Company Esper, Mark T Defense Department Defense and Military Forces China

The Trump administration is considering halting to China the sale of an aircraft engine produced in part by General Electric, two people familiar with the discussions said, part of a broader effort to limit the flow of technology there that could one day give Beijing an economic and security edge.

Top Trump administration officials will discuss whether to prevent the sale at a cabinet meeting on Feb. 28, these people said. That meeting will encompass other restrictions on China, including whether to proceed with a rule change that would further curtail the ability of Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant, to have access to American technology.

The aircraft license review was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The Trump administration has been increasingly wary of China’s economic and military ambitions, including a strategy to fuse its defense and commercial economies known as civil-military fusion.

Chinese industrial plans like Made In China 2025 have promoted dual-use technologies like aviation, automation and information technology to benefit both the Chinese economy and its military abilities.

China’s effort to develop airplanes on par with international competitors like Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier have long fallen short.

Instead, CFM, the jet-engine joint venture of General Electric and Safran of France, has been providing engines to China for years as part of that country’s effort to build up its jetliner industry.

The United States licenses for the joint venture to ship engines to China date to 2014. The most recent license was issued in March 2019. The licenses are for engines used in test-flight programs by the Chinese aircraft maker Comac. Each license is for a few engines, a model called the LEAP 1C.

The Commerce Department had been reviewing the joint venture’s license, but the decision on whether to continue allowing the technology to be sold to China has now been kicked up to cabinet members.

The plane that would use the CFM engines is scheduled to go into passenger service in 2021.

China, aviation experts say, has been able to make most of the individual components for advanced jet aircraft. But the bigger challenge is integrating complicated technologies into complex mechanical and digital systems for engines and avionics.

That integration, they say, is more difficult to build or reverse engineer, and copy.

But officials in the Trump administration and elsewhere fear that China might eventually develop the ability to reverse engineer G.E.’s technology.

Concerns have risen among officials in the National Security Council, the Defense Department and the State Department about whether the United States should be supporting China’s efforts to develop indigenous aircraft.

Stopping such licenses, however, would be a big financial hit to companies like G.E.

Officials also plan to discuss at the Feb. 28 policy meeting whether to expand the scope of their restrictions on Huawei.

The administration placed the company on a blacklist last May that prevented products made in America from being shipped to the country. But many of Huawei’s suppliers are global companies, and companies like Micron and Qualcomm instead switched to selling the Chinese company products from their overseas operations.

The rule change would clamp down on shipments of products made overseas with American components, so that only foreign-made products with less than 10 percent of American parts could be shipped to the company, down from 25 percent of specific types of restricted content before.

Some officials in the Defense Department had pushed back against those changes, arguing that they could undermine American technological development by cutting down on a vast source of revenue that the tech industry depends on to fund its research and development. The American military buys much of the technology that goes into military devices from the private sector.

But recently, other Pentagon officials including Mark T. Esper, the defense secretary, and John C. Rood, the under secretary of defense for policy, spoke up to overrule those objections, with the support of some officials in the Commerce Department.

On Friday, Senator Rick Scott, Republican of Florida, introduced legislation that would accomplish the same change.

“We know Huawei is supported and controlled by the communist regime in Beijing, which continues to violate human rights and steal our data, technology and intellectual property,” he said. “Companies in the United States should not be allowed to sell to Huawei, and my legislation will further restrict their ability.”

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

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

In Bipartisan Bid to Restrain Trump, Senate Passes Iran War Powers Resolution

Westlake Legal Group 13dc-warpowers-facebookJumbo In Bipartisan Bid to Restrain Trump, Senate Passes Iran War Powers Resolution War Powers Act (1973) United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Senate Republican Party Middle East Law and Legislation Kaine, Timothy M Iran Democratic Party

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted on Thursday to require President Trump seek congressional authorization before taking further military action against Iran, as Democrats joined forces with eight Republicans to try to rein in the president’s war-making powers weeks after he escalated hostilities with Tehran.

The bipartisan vote, 55 to 45, amounted to a rare attempt by the Senate to restrain Mr. Trump’s authority just over a week after it voted to acquit him of impeachment charges, and nearly six weeks after the president moved without authorization from Congress to kill a top Iranian security commander.

But it was a mostly symbolic rebuke of the president, as support for the measure fell short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to override a promised veto by Mr. Trump. The House passed a similar measure last month on a nearly party-line vote that also fell well short of the two-thirds margin.

Still, indignant at the administration’s handling of a drone strike in Iraq last month that killed a top Iranian official — a major provocation that pushed the United States and Iran to the brink of war — an unusually large number of Senate Republicans crossed party lines in an attempt to claw back Congress’s authority to weigh in on matters of war and peace.

“We don’t send a message of weakness when we stand up for the rule of law in a world that hungers for more rule of law,” Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia and the lead sponsor of the measure, said.

“We need a Congress that will fully inhabit the Article I powers,” Mr. Kaine added, referring to the portion of the Constitution that grants Congress the power to declare war. “That’s what our troops and their families deserve.”

Mr. Kaine drafted the resolution in early January as tensions ratcheted up with Iran after the strike in Baghdad that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s most important general. In briefings with Mr. Trump’s national security team, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, already angry that the administration had not consulted with them before the operation, complained that top officials demeaned and dismissed them in briefings for questioning the president’s strategy.

Both Republicans and Democrats who sponsored the resolution insisted that the measure was not intended to tie Mr. Trump’s hands, but to reassert Congress’s constitutional prerogatives on matters of war. For decades, lawmakers in both parties have ceded those powers with little resistance, deferring to an increasingly assertive executive branch.

Still, Mr. Trump viewed the resolution as a personal affront, and on Wednesday urged Republicans to reject it, framing the measure as a dangerous show of timidity and an attempt by Democrats to “embarrass the Republican Party.”

“We are doing very well with Iran and this is not the time to show weakness,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, adding: “If my hands were tied, Iran would have a field day. Sends a very bad signal.”

The legislation is sure to pass the Democratic-led House, but White House advisers warned in a formal statement of administration policy that Mr. Trump would veto it if it reached his desk. The statement described the measure as “grounded in a faulty premise” because the United States was not currently engaged in any use of force against Iran.

In the Senate, Republicans mirrored Mr. Trump’s language, arguing that the resolution would shackle the president at a potentially perilous time and be viewed by Tehran as a message of weakness.

“If this passes, the president will never abide by it — no president would,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said. “I want the Iranians to understand, when it comes to their provocative behavior, all options are on the table.”

But a small group of moderate and libertarian-minded Republicans who were rankled by the administration’s handling of the Suleimani strike supported the measure, insisting that it was both morally and constitutionally necessary.

Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who have advocated disengaging U.S. troops from prolonged military conflicts abroad, were infuriated by a contentious congressional briefing delivered last month by Mr. Trump’s top national security advisers on the operation. They complained that administration officials had been unwilling to engage in a genuine discussion about a possible military escalation in the Middle East. Previously lukewarm on their support for Mr. Kaine’s resolution, both senators signed on after the briefing.

“They were in the process of telling us that we need to be good little boys and girls and not debate this in public,” Mr. Lee said then, emerging red-faced from the briefing. “I find that absolutely insane. It’s un-American, it’s unconstitutional and it’s wrong.”

The vote was the latest in a series of bids by Congress over the past year to rein in Mr. Trump’s war powers. Last year, Congress cleared a bipartisan measure invoking the War Powers Act that would have cut off American military support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen’s civil war, and a separate measure seeking to curtail the president’s war-making powers in Iran ping-ponged between the two chambers, passing the House but not the Senate.

Despite a recognition in both parties that much of the American public is weary of perpetual military conflict, the measures drew only modest support from Republicans, each time falling well short of the two-thirds majority vote necessary to override a veto.

Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said that he had voted multiple times to send troops to war — first as a member of the House and then later in the Senate. He described them as “the toughest votes” he ever had to cast, “knowing that in the best of circumstances, that Americans will die.”

“Before you make that decision, you have to think long and hard, and many members of Congress would like to race away from that,” he said. He described the rationale adopted by many lawmakers as: “I’d just rather blame the president if it turns out bad.”

Supporters of the resolution approved Thursday saw a glimmer of hope in the final vote tally. In July, the Senate rejected a similar measure to curtail the president’s war powers related to Iran, with only four Republican senators defecting to support it. Twice as many supported the resolution on Thursday.

“We want to make sure that any military action that needs to be authorized is in fact authorized properly by Congress,” Mr. Lee said. “That doesn’t show weakness; that shows strength.”

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

In Bipartisan Bid to Restrain Trump, Senate Passes Iran War Powers Resolution

Westlake Legal Group 13dc-warpowers-facebookJumbo In Bipartisan Bid to Restrain Trump, Senate Passes Iran War Powers Resolution War Powers Act (1973) United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Senate Republican Party Middle East Law and Legislation Kaine, Timothy M Iran Democratic Party

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted on Thursday to require President Trump seek congressional authorization before taking further military action against Iran, as Democrats joined forces with eight Republicans to try to rein in the president’s war-making powers weeks after he escalated hostilities with Tehran.

The bipartisan vote, 55 to 45, amounted to a rare attempt by the Senate to restrain Mr. Trump’s authority just over a week after it voted to acquit him of impeachment charges, and nearly six weeks after the president moved without authorization from Congress to kill a top Iranian security commander.

But it was a mostly symbolic rebuke of the president, as support for the measure fell short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to override a promised veto by Mr. Trump. The House passed a similar measure last month on a nearly party-line vote that also fell well short of the two-thirds margin.

Still, indignant at the administration’s handling of a drone strike in Iraq last month that killed a top Iranian official — a major provocation that pushed the United States and Iran to the brink of war — an unusually large number of Senate Republicans crossed party lines in an attempt to claw back Congress’s authority to weigh in on matters of war and peace.

“We don’t send a message of weakness when we stand up for the rule of law in a world that hungers for more rule of law,” Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia and the lead sponsor of the measure, said.

“We need a Congress that will fully inhabit the Article I powers,” Mr. Kaine added, referring to the portion of the Constitution that grants Congress the power to declare war. “That’s what our troops and their families deserve.”

Mr. Kaine drafted the resolution in early January as tensions ratcheted up with Iran after the strike in Baghdad that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s most important general. In briefings with Mr. Trump’s national security team, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, already angry that the administration had not consulted with them before the operation, complained that top officials demeaned and dismissed them in briefings for questioning the president’s strategy.

Both Republicans and Democrats who sponsored the resolution insisted that the measure was not intended to tie Mr. Trump’s hands, but to reassert Congress’s constitutional prerogatives on matters of war. For decades, lawmakers in both parties have ceded those powers with little resistance, deferring to an increasingly assertive executive branch.

Still, Mr. Trump viewed the resolution as a personal affront, and on Wednesday urged Republicans to reject it, framing the measure as a dangerous show of timidity and an attempt by Democrats to “embarrass the Republican Party.”

“We are doing very well with Iran and this is not the time to show weakness,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, adding: “If my hands were tied, Iran would have a field day. Sends a very bad signal.”

The legislation is sure to pass the Democratic-led House, but White House advisers warned in a formal statement of administration policy that Mr. Trump would veto it if it reached his desk. The statement described the measure as “grounded in a faulty premise” because the United States was not currently engaged in any use of force against Iran.

In the Senate, Republicans mirrored Mr. Trump’s language, arguing that the resolution would shackle the president at a potentially perilous time and be viewed by Tehran as a message of weakness.

“If this passes, the president will never abide by it — no president would,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said. “I want the Iranians to understand, when it comes to their provocative behavior, all options are on the table.”

But a small group of moderate and libertarian-minded Republicans who were rankled by the administration’s handling of the Suleimani strike supported the measure, insisting that it was both morally and constitutionally necessary.

Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who have advocated disengaging U.S. troops from prolonged military conflicts abroad, were infuriated by a contentious congressional briefing delivered last month by Mr. Trump’s top national security advisers on the operation. They complained that administration officials had been unwilling to engage in a genuine discussion about a possible military escalation in the Middle East. Previously lukewarm on their support for Mr. Kaine’s resolution, both senators signed on after the briefing.

“They were in the process of telling us that we need to be good little boys and girls and not debate this in public,” Mr. Lee said then, emerging red-faced from the briefing. “I find that absolutely insane. It’s un-American, it’s unconstitutional and it’s wrong.”

The vote was the latest in a series of bids by Congress over the past year to rein in Mr. Trump’s war powers. Last year, Congress cleared a bipartisan measure invoking the War Powers Act that would have cut off American military support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen’s civil war, and a separate measure seeking to curtail the president’s war-making powers in Iran ping-ponged between the two chambers, passing the House but not the Senate.

Despite a recognition in both parties that much of the American public is weary of perpetual military conflict, the measures drew only modest support from Republicans, each time falling well short of the two-thirds majority vote necessary to override a veto.

Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said that he had voted multiple times to send troops to war — first as a member of the House and then later in the Senate. He described them as “the toughest votes” he ever had to cast, “knowing that in the best of circumstances, that Americans will die.”

“Before you make that decision, you have to think long and hard, and many members of Congress would like to race away from that,” he said. He described the rationale adopted by many lawmakers as: “I’d just rather blame the president if it turns out bad.”

Supporters of the resolution approved Thursday saw a glimmer of hope in the final vote tally. In July, the Senate rejected a similar measure to curtail the president’s war powers related to Iran, with only four Republican senators defecting to support it. Twice as many supported the resolution on Thursday.

“We want to make sure that any military action that needs to be authorized is in fact authorized properly by Congress,” Mr. Lee said. “That doesn’t show weakness; that shows strength.”

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

In Bipartisan Bid to Restrain Trump, Senate Passes Iran War Powers Resolution

Westlake Legal Group 13dc-warpowers-facebookJumbo In Bipartisan Bid to Restrain Trump, Senate Passes Iran War Powers Resolution War Powers Act (1973) United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Senate Republican Party Middle East Law and Legislation Kaine, Timothy M Iran Democratic Party

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted on Thursday to require President Trump seek congressional authorization before taking further military action against Iran, as Democrats joined forces with eight Republicans to try to rein in the president’s war-making powers weeks after he escalated hostilities with Tehran.

The bipartisan vote, 55 to 45, amounted to a rare attempt by the Senate to restrain Mr. Trump’s authority just over a week after it voted to acquit him of impeachment charges, and nearly six weeks after the president moved without authorization from Congress to kill a top Iranian security commander.

But it was a mostly symbolic rebuke of the president, as support for the measure fell short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to override a promised veto by Mr. Trump. The House passed a similar measure last month on a nearly party-line vote that also fell well short of the two-thirds margin.

Still, indignant at the administration’s handling of a drone strike in Iraq last month that killed a top Iranian official — a major provocation that pushed the United States and Iran to the brink of war — an unusually large number of Senate Republicans crossed party lines in an attempt to claw back Congress’s authority to weigh in on matters of war and peace.

“We don’t send a message of weakness when we stand up for the rule of law in a world that hungers for more rule of law,” Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia and the lead sponsor of the measure, said.

“We need a Congress that will fully inhabit the Article I powers,” Mr. Kaine added, referring to the portion of the Constitution that grants Congress the power to declare war. “That’s what our troops and their families deserve.”

Mr. Kaine drafted the resolution in early January as tensions ratcheted up with Iran after the strike in Baghdad that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s most important general. In briefings with Mr. Trump’s national security team, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, already angry that the administration had not consulted with them before the operation, complained that top officials demeaned and dismissed them in briefings for questioning the president’s strategy.

Both Republicans and Democrats who sponsored the resolution insisted that the measure was not intended to tie Mr. Trump’s hands, but to reassert Congress’s constitutional prerogatives on matters of war. For decades, lawmakers in both parties have ceded those powers with little resistance, deferring to an increasingly assertive executive branch.

Still, Mr. Trump viewed the resolution as a personal affront, and on Wednesday urged Republicans to reject it, framing the measure as a dangerous show of timidity and an attempt by Democrats to “embarrass the Republican Party.”

“We are doing very well with Iran and this is not the time to show weakness,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, adding: “If my hands were tied, Iran would have a field day. Sends a very bad signal.”

The legislation is sure to pass the Democratic-led House, but White House advisers warned in a formal statement of administration policy that Mr. Trump would veto it if it reached his desk. The statement described the measure as “grounded in a faulty premise” because the United States was not currently engaged in any use of force against Iran.

In the Senate, Republicans mirrored Mr. Trump’s language, arguing that the resolution would shackle the president at a potentially perilous time and be viewed by Tehran as a message of weakness.

“If this passes, the president will never abide by it — no president would,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said. “I want the Iranians to understand, when it comes to their provocative behavior, all options are on the table.”

But a small group of moderate and libertarian-minded Republicans who were rankled by the administration’s handling of the Suleimani strike supported the measure, insisting that it was both morally and constitutionally necessary.

Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who have advocated disengaging U.S. troops from prolonged military conflicts abroad, were infuriated by a contentious congressional briefing delivered last month by Mr. Trump’s top national security advisers on the operation. They complained that administration officials had been unwilling to engage in a genuine discussion about a possible military escalation in the Middle East. Previously lukewarm on their support for Mr. Kaine’s resolution, both senators signed on after the briefing.

“They were in the process of telling us that we need to be good little boys and girls and not debate this in public,” Mr. Lee said then, emerging red-faced from the briefing. “I find that absolutely insane. It’s un-American, it’s unconstitutional and it’s wrong.”

The vote was the latest in a series of bids by Congress over the past year to rein in Mr. Trump’s war powers. Last year, Congress cleared a bipartisan measure invoking the War Powers Act that would have cut off American military support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen’s civil war, and a separate measure seeking to curtail the president’s war-making powers in Iran ping-ponged between the two chambers, passing the House but not the Senate.

Despite a recognition in both parties that much of the American public is weary of perpetual military conflict, the measures drew only modest support from Republicans, each time falling well short of the two-thirds majority vote necessary to override a veto.

Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said that he had voted multiple times to send troops to war — first as a member of the House and then later in the Senate. He described them as “the toughest votes” he ever had to cast, “knowing that in the best of circumstances, that Americans will die.”

“Before you make that decision, you have to think long and hard, and many members of Congress would like to race away from that,” he said. He described the rationale adopted by many lawmakers as: “I’d just rather blame the president if it turns out bad.”

Supporters of the resolution approved Thursday saw a glimmer of hope in the final vote tally. In July, the Senate rejected a similar measure to curtail the president’s war powers related to Iran, with only four Republican senators defecting to support it. Twice as many supported the resolution on Thursday.

“We want to make sure that any military action that needs to be authorized is in fact authorized properly by Congress,” Mr. Lee said. “That doesn’t show weakness; that shows strength.”

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Democratic Candidates Reject Trump’s Foreign Policy, but Don’t Agree on Theirs

Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang say that if elected, they would continue President Trump’s personal diplomacy with Kim Jong-un of North Korea. But Joseph R. Biden Jr., Michael R. Bloomberg and Amy Klobuchar would not: That approach has just propped up a dictator while his nuclear arsenal expands, Mr. Biden argues.

Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren and Tom Steyer say they might put conditions on American military aid to pressure Israel to stop building settlements in disputed territory, or to discourage annexation of the West Bank. But only Mr. Steyer says he would reverse Mr. Trump’s move of the American embassy to Jerusalem.

Only Mr. Biden and Mr. Bloomberg would consider using military force to protect the free shipment of oil supplies, which could escalate toward a military confrontation with Iran. But only Ms. Warren and Mr. Yang said they wouldn’t consider using force to stop North Korea or Iran from testing a nuclear weapon or missile, something that does not usually pose an immediate threat to American territory or troops.

These are a few of the deep differences among the Democratic presidential candidates on foreign policy and national security, based on responses to a New York Times survey on a range of issues that the nation’s commander in chief is likely to face in 2021.

Westlake Legal Group 30vid-foreign-policy-2020-loop-still-articleLarge Democratic Candidates Reject Trump’s Foreign Policy, but Don’t Agree on Theirs United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Presidential Election of 2020 Democratic Party

The 2020 Democrats on Foreign Policy

The New York Times sent a survey to the presidential candidates about matters of war and peace, diplomacy and national security.

As seven of these candidates gather on Friday night for their next televised debate, the survey shows a party less committed to the Obama era than one might expect, and unified by very few issues: most prominently containment of Russia, which many Democrats believe stole the presidency in 2016.

At the same time, the Democrats say that America’s role in the world would look radically different under them than under President Trump: a rapid rebuilding of alliances, no more “America First” unilateralism and a renewed commitment to human rights, even if it comes at some economic cost.

“There are so many easy ways a Democratic president could reverse the damage of Trump decisions that foreign policy hasn’t been a way to discriminate among the candidates,” said Kori Schake, the director of foreign and defense policy at the American Enterprise Institute and a Republican who served in the Bush White House. “But the differences are really significant.”

Ms. Schake said she was “particularly surprised” by the candidates’ broad willingness to entertain pre-emptive force against Iran simply for conducting a missile test, while they broadly rejected the use of force to preserve oil supplies.

Veterans of the Obama administration say that the candidates have a lot of work to do to convince voters — even those who reject Mr. Trump’s worldview — to focus on their approaches to building alliances, using force and competing with an aggressive Russia and a rising China.

“Every presidential campaign I’ve ever been a part of, there’s a commander in chief ad,” Wendy Sherman, who conducted the day-to-day negotiations with Iran for the 2015 nuclear agreement, told an audience at the University of New Hampshire last week. “Everybody says at least once, you know, ‘You can rely on me at 3 in the morning.’” But the issues are “rarely central except when we’re in crisis.”

She noted that only a month ago, with the targeted killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the Iranian military leader, “we were on the brink of war.”

And the Democrats, it turns out, even disagree on whether that killing was legal, or wise.

Perhaps the most striking takeaway from the survey was that the candidates have sharply different views on what circumstances justify the use of military force, aside from responding to an attack on the United States or a treaty ally.

Their disagreements were particularly clear on whether they would consider using force to pre-empt an Iranian or North Korean nuclear or missile test — in other words, to prevent a launch that was meant to prove a country’s capability, but not to attack American territory, troops or interests. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama each faced that decision and decided not to strike.

Most of the candidates campaigning as moderates said they would consider it: Mr. Biden, Mr. Bloomberg, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado and former Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. Interestingly, one of the most liberal candidates, Mr. Sanders, said the same.

Only Ms. Warren and Mr. Yang said they would not consider force in that situation. Ms. Klobuchar did not answer the question, and Mr. Steyer gave a noncommittal answer.

But when asked if they might use force to protect the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf or other areas, only Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Biden said yes.

“I would consider the use of the military, in partnership with allies, to defend shipping lanes or important assets if the disruption to oil supplies posed a threat to the global economy,” Mr. Biden said.

The candidates unanimously said that they would consider using military force for a humanitarian intervention, or that they could at least envision a scenario in which they might. But three — Mr. Biden, Ms. Warren and Mr. Steyer — included caveats. Mr. Biden specified that he was referring to stopping genocide or the use of chemical weapons. Ms. Warren and Mr. Steyer emphasized that military intervention should remain the last resort, and all three said they would undertake such intervention only as part of a coalition.

There was a split on whether President Trump acted legally — or wisely — when he ordered the killing of General Suleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force.

Mr. Bloomberg argued that the killing was legal and would have been justifiable if there was evidence of an imminent attack (evidence the Trump administration initially claimed existed, but never produced). But he said it would remain unclear whether it was wise until he knew whether it had reduced Iran’s support of terrorism or helped stop Iran’s nuclear program for a time.

Most of the other candidates leaned toward opposing the killing, with Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren giving the most definitive rejections. (Mr. Biden did not answer the question.)

“The right question isn’t ‘was this a bad guy,’ but rather ‘does assassinating him make Americans safer?’” Mr. Sanders’s campaign said. “The answer is clearly no.”

Just about all of the candidates said they would re-enter the Iran nuclear deal that Mr. Trump abandoned in 2018, as long as the Iranians also came back into compliance.

But they were divided on pursuing Mr. Trump’s leader-to-leader diplomacy with North Korea.

Mr. Biden views the one-on-one negotiations with Kim Jong-un as a form of reward for a dictator, one in which Mr. Trump has gotten nothing in return because the North has continued to build up its nuclear arsenal and its missile program. “As Kim advances his ability to hit the United States — and anywhere else in the world, for that matter — we can’t rely on Trump’s tweets or threats to keep us safe,” he said. Mr. Biden did say he was open to meeting with Kim if it wasn’t just for show.

Mr. Bloomberg and Ms. Klobuchar agreed that they would halt the one-on-one meetings. But Mr. Sanders and Mr. Yang said they would keep the talks going, but insisted they would get concrete results.

Ms. Warren said she was open to such talks only “if it advances substantive negotiations, but not as a vanity project.” Any meeting with Mr. Kim, she added, would be “part of a clear strategy, with substantive agreement already reached at the working level, and developed in close coordination with our allies and partners.”

The candidates described their views on how to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before Mr. Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, announced a radically new plan that would make permanent all the Jewish settlements in disputed lands and let Israel — and Israel alone — declare Jerusalem its capital.

The Democrats generally embraced an older idea: that Israel should return largely to its pre-1967 borders, with agreed-upon land swaps to reflect some modern realities of how control has shifted on the ground.

But only Mr. Steyer said he would reverse Mr. Trump’s decision — widely criticized at the time — to move the American embassy to Jerusalem. Mr. Sanders, though, made his agreement to keep the embassy there contingent on Israeli behavior, saying moving it back to Tel Aviv “would be on the table if Israel continues to take steps, such as settlement expansion, expulsions and home demolitions, that undermine the chances for a peace agreement.”

Most striking was the divide among the candidates on whether to put conditions on military aid to Israel — something Mr. Sanders, Mr. Steyer and Ms. Warren indicated they would consider if Israel continued to build settlements in disputed territory.

Keeping a two-state solution viable “may mean finding ways to apply pressure and create consequences for problematic behavior by both parties, as previous Democratic and Republican presidents have done,” Ms. Warren said. “Today, the continued expansion of Israeli settlements and the increasing normalization of proposals for Israel to annex parts or all of the West Bank are the most immediate dangers to the two-state solution.”

Of the Democratic candidates, only Mr. Biden has been involved in a critical judgment call about whether to use cyberweapons against another country: He was a participant in the decisions over a covert attack on Iran’s nuclear enrichment center at Natanz.

So it was interesting that Mr. Biden embraced the idea — enacted in 2018 in an order issued by Mr. Trump — that United States Cyber Command can launch certain attacks without the explicit presidential approval required for, say, launching a nuclear weapon.

While some cyberattacks could involve “such a significant impact on civilian targets that a presidential order is appropriate,” he said, “others may be so precise or contained that a presidential order is unnecessary.”

Only Mr. Bennet agreed with him.

By contrast, Ms. Warren argued that presidential approval was vital and “the same laws, values and oversight under which the United States pursues military action should be consistently applied across domains.”

There were internal tensions in some of the candidates’ other cybersecurity responses.

Six of them — Mr. Biden, Mr. Bloomberg, Ms. Klobuchar, Mr. Yang, Mr. Bennet and Mr. Patrick — said they supported “persistent engagement,” the new American strategy of planting malware deep inside adversaries’ computer networks to provide early warning of attacks, and a pathway for counterattack. But none of those candidates said they would accept Russia, China, Iran or North Korea planting their own code in American power or communications grids.

Presidents have always struggled to deal with China. When Mr. Clinton ran for president in 1992, he denounced the “butchers of Beijing” and then ushered China into the World Trade Organization.

More than a quarter of a century later, the Democratic candidates still struggled with the question of whether China’s human rights violations merited cutting off trade with what is now the world’s second largest economy.

Almost all of them said that normal relations with China should depend on its “respect for Hong Kong’s political independence” and an end to its crackdown on Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. But several spoke about balancing the need to work with China on a variety of common interests — from climate change to North Korea — without forgetting about American human rights concerns.

“We will need to work with China to advance some of our highest priority national interests, including addressing the climate crisis and nonproliferation, even at the same time as we address areas where we have little common ground,” Ms. Warren said. “But our values cannot be used as a bargaining chip.”

It sounded a lot like the Clinton administration’s explanation.

HOW WE COLLECTED THE DATA

In December, we sent a questionnaire to the 14 Democratic presidential candidates who were then in the race. Eleven completed it, including two — Cory Booker and Marianne Williamson — who subsequently dropped out of the race.

John Delaney (who has also since dropped out) and Tulsi Gabbard did not respond, and Pete Buttigieg answered only some of the questions.

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Giuliani Sought Help for Client in Meeting With Ukrainian Official

Westlake Legal Group 31Klitschko-facebookJumbo Giuliani Sought Help for Client in Meeting With Ukrainian Official Zelensky, Volodymyr United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces United States Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Poroshenko, Petro Olekseyevich KIEV, Ukraine impeachment Giuliani, Rudolph W Foreign Aid Corruption (Institutional)

KYIV, Ukraine — When Rudolph W. Giuliani met with a top aide to Ukraine’s president last summer, he discussed the prospect of a coveted White House meeting for the president while seeking Ukraine’s commitment to certain investigations that could benefit President Trump politically.

Mr. Giuliani also threw in a request of his own: help the mayor of Kyiv keep his job.

The mayor, Vitaliy Klitschko, a professional boxer turned politician and longtime friend and former client of Mr. Giuliani’s, was on the verge of being fired from his duties overseeing Kyiv’s $2 billion budget.

Firing Mr. Klitschko would have fit with President Volodymyr Zelensky’s campaign promise to fight Ukraine’s entrenched interests and allowed him to replace a political adversary with a loyalist in one of the country’s most important posts.

But despite the fact that Mr. Zelensky’s cabinet approved Mr. Klitschko’s removal, he remains there today, leaving his adversaries in the murky and lucrative world of Ukrainian municipal politics to wonder whether Mr. Trump’s personal attorney may have tipped the scales in his favor.

“The coincidence in timing between Klitschko’s meeting with Giuliani and the developments in the governance of Kyiv was striking,” said Oleksandr Tkachenko, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament whom Mr. Zelensky had been expected to nominate as Mr. Klitschko’s replacement.

Mr. Giuliani’s effort to help his friend and former client, first reported in The Washington Post, shed fresh light on the former New York mayor’s mingling of personal, business and political interests with his role as personal attorney to the president of the United States.

In an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Giuliani acknowledged discussing Mr. Klitschko’s position in a meeting with a senior aide to Mr. Zelensky, Andriy Yermak, in Madrid on Aug. 2.

“I said, ‘I don’t know, I’m from the outside, but he seems like one of the good guys,’” Mr. Giuliani said, recalling the conversation. “‘And I’m speaking, speaking, speaking as a personal friend, not as a representative of the government or anything else.’”

In the same meeting, Mr. Giuliani discussed a possible Oval Office visit by Mr. Zelensky that the Ukrainian president had been seeking, and asked for a commitment by his government to pursue investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his son, and Ukrainians who disseminated damaging information about Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The meeting took place at a time when Ukraine’s new president was looking to cement support from the United States, his country’s most powerful ally in the conflict against Russia, and to build a relationship with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Giuliani said that he made it clear that he was relating his personal view of Mr. Klitschko, not that of the administration. “I gave it as my opinion — not the government — and based on our personal relationships,” he said.

Mr. Yermak also acknowledged that the two discussed Mr. Klitschko’s fate.

“Giuliani asked for my opinion about Vitaliy Klitschko as a mayor,” Mr. Yermak said in a statement in response to an inquiry from The Times. “He immediately issued the disclaimer that I should not see his question as an attempt to influence me.”

Mr. Yermak said he told Mr. Giuliani that he had long known Mr. Klitschko and that he had the support of Kyiv’s citizens.

“That was the end of our conversation about Klitschko,” Mr. Yermak said. “As a result I reject any speculation that Mr. Giuliani in any way sought to influence my opinion or to make me accept some narrative regarding Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko.”

Given the complex and opaque nature of Ukrainian politics, it is not clear whether Mr. Giuliani’s intervention was the decisive force allowing the mayor to keep his job.

But it is clear that he tried.

Mr. Klitschko, a former heavyweight world boxing champion, first hired Mr. Giuliani as a consultant for his unsuccessful run for mayor of Kyiv in 2008.

Since 2014, Mr. Klitschko has held dual roles: both the largely ceremonial, elected position of Kyiv mayor and the powerful position of head of Kyiv’s city-state administration, an appointment made by the Ukrainian president. The latter position gives him oversight of matters such as the city budget, building permits and transportation funds, making him one of the most powerful people in the country.

Mr. Klitschko supported Mr. Zelensky’s opponent, the incumbent Petro O. Poroshenko, in last spring’s presidential election in Ukraine. Mr. Zelensky’s landslide victory appeared to augur Mr. Klitschko’s political demise.

Mr. Zelensky, a comedian, had frequently lampooned Mr. Klitschko on his Saturday Night Live-style variety show, portraying him as a dunderheaded member of Ukraine’s shadowy, corrupt elite. In one skit, Mr. Zelensky played a translator to a boxing-belt-wearing Mr. Klitschko, who is unable to string together an intelligible sentence.

After taking power in May, Mr. Zelensky had no way to remove Mr. Klitschko as mayor but could strip him of the more influential post as head of the Kyiv administration. Ukrainian politicians and analysts expected him to do so.

A confidante of Mr. Klitschko’s, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was concerned about harm to his business if he spoke publicly, said that by the end of July, “it was clear that only outside interference, say the president of the United States or anyone on his behalf,” could save Mr. Klitschko from dismissal. As the power struggle escalated, Mr. Klitschko flew to New York to meet with Mr. Giuliani.

On July 30, in an apparent prelude to the dismissal, Mr. Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andriy Bohdan, called a news conference and accused Mr. Klitschko of allowing corruption to flourish in Kyiv. Without offering evidence, Mr. Bohdan said he had been offered a $20 million bribe for Mr. Klitschko to remain head of the Kyiv administration.

The next day, Mr. Klitschko posted photographs on Facebook of his meeting with Mr. Giuliani, his “old friend and one of the most authoritative mayors in the world.” The two discussed “the situation in Ukraine,” he said, “future cooperation between the United States and Ukraine,” and the topic of “local self-rule” — an apparent reference to Mr. Klitschko’s battle to hold on to power at home.

Upon returning to Kyiv, Mr. Klitschko told his aides that his American allies would help him keep his job, according to several people who heard him make the comments in staff meetings and who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are still involved in municipal politics and were afraid to be identified when discussing issues related to Mr. Klitschko.

“That’s ridiculous,” Mr. Klitschko said in a statement on Friday. Asked about the meeting with Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Klitschko said, “I did not ask anyone for any assistance.”

Mr. Klitschko said he had never had a business relationship with Mr. Giuliani, a claim contradicted by Mr. Giuliani, who consulted for the former boxer’s 2008 campaign. Mr. Giuliani said that he had not formally represented Mr. Klitschko in years, “even though I still advise him.”

But two days later, Mr. Giuliani was speaking about Mr. Klitschko to Mr. Yermak in Madrid.

On Sept. 4, Mr. Zelensky’s cabinet approved the dismissal of Mr. Klitschko as head of the Kyiv administration.

But on Sept. 6, Mr. Giuliani fired off a tweet: “Reducing the power of Mayor Klitschko of Kiev was a very bad sign particularly based on the advice of an aide to the President of Ukraine who has the reputation of being a fixer. The former champion is very much admired and respected in the US.”

The tweet came as Mr. Zelensky was scrambling to stabilize his relationship with Mr. Trump after finding out that American military aid to Kyiv had been halted for unexplained reasons.

The last step needed to make the dismissal official was Mr. Zelensky’s signature on the dismissal — a formality, it seemed, since it was Mr. Zelensky’s office that had sought approval for the firing in the first place.

But the signature never came.

Asked by reporters in October, Mr. Zelensky said that he was still thinking about whether or not to sign.

“When a controversial issue arises, he tries to balance various interests,” a Kyiv political analyst, Volodymyr Fesenko, said of Mr. Zelensky’s unexpected reprieve. “He decided not to make a sudden move.”

Aside from any influence Mr. Giuliani may have had, Mr. Fesenko points to a power struggle within different factions in Mr. Zelensky’s administration as another factor, along with Mr. Zelensky’s own dwindling political capital amid intense criticism from domestic political opponents that he was too soft on Russia.

Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Klitschko declined to comment on the Madrid meeting between Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Yermak, or on why Mr. Zelensky decided to keep him in office. He described Mr. Giuliani as “a big friend of Ukraine and one of the most successful mayors of the world.”

Mr. Giuliani himself became a fraught figure in Ukraine as the impeachment investigation unfolded on Capitol Hill.

“Starting in late September, the Giuliani issue became very toxic,” Mr. Fesenko said. “It seemed Klitschko’s team stopped pushing the relationship with Giuliani.”

Ronen Bergman and Anton Troianovski reported from Kyiv, and Kenneth P. Vogel from Washington.

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34 Troops Have Brain Injuries From Iranian Missile Strike, Pentagon Says

Westlake Legal Group merlin_167307816_d0e6c57a-9e1f-4363-861b-39c3ef72e87b-facebookJumbo 34 Troops Have Brain Injuries From Iranian Missile Strike, Pentagon Says United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Traumatic Brain Injury Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Iraq Iran Defense Department brain

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department said Friday that 34 American service members have traumatic brain injuries from Iranian airstrikes on Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, contradicting President Trump’s dismissal of injuries among American troops earlier this week.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told a news conference that eight of the affected service members have returned to the United States from an American military hospital in Germany.

Mr. Trump on Wednesday dismissed concussion symptoms felt by the troops as “not very serious,” even as the Pentagon acknowledged that a number of American service members were being studied for possible traumatic brain injury caused by the attack.

“I heard they had headaches,” Mr. Trump told a news conference in Davos, Switzerland. “I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries I have seen.”

The comments of the president, who avoided the Vietnam War draft thanks to a diagnosis of bone spurs, drew swift criticism from veterans groups.

“Don’t just be outraged by #PresidentMayhem’s latest asinine comments,” Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, wrote in a Twitter post that day. “Take action to help vets facing TBIs,” meaning traumatic brain injuries.

Traumatic brain injuries result from the powerful changes in atmospheric pressure that accompany an explosion like that from a missile warhead.

The missiles were launched by Iran in retaliation for the killing of a top Iranian general, Qassim Suleimani, by an American drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3. The Trump administration at first said that there were no injuries from the Iranian attack on American troops.

Pentagon and military officials said subsequently that any delay in reporting the injuries was because it took time for the information to work its way up the chain of command to leaders in Washington. Officials also noted that symptoms from brain injuries do not always appear immediately.

Of the 34 service members diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries, 17 were flown by medical evacuation aircraft to Germany. Nine remain in the military hospital there, while the others were flown to the United States.

One person was taken by medevac to Kuwait. Sixteen service members were treated for traumatic brain injury in Iraq and have returned to duty, officials said.

Eric Schmitt 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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