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Westlake Legal Group > United States International Relations (Page 10)

Trump Was Repeatedly Warned That Ukraine Conspiracy Theory Was ‘Completely Debunked’

WASHINGTON — President Trump was repeatedly warned by his own staff that the Ukraine conspiracy theory that he and his lawyer were pursuing was “completely debunked” long before the president pressed Ukraine this summer to investigate his Democratic rivals, a former top adviser said on Sunday.

Thomas P. Bossert, who served as Mr. Trump’s first homeland security adviser, said he told the president there was no basis to the theory that Ukraine, not Russia, intervened in the 2016 election and did so on behalf of the Democrats. Speaking out for the first time, Mr. Bossert said he was “deeply disturbed” that Mr. Trump nonetheless tried to get Ukraine’s president to produce damaging information about Democrats.

Mr. Bossert’s comments, on the ABC program “This Week” and in a subsequent telephone interview, underscored the danger to the president as the House moves ahead with an inquiry into whether he abused his power for political gain. Other former aides to Mr. Trump said Sunday that he refused to accept reassurances about Ukraine no matter how many times it was explained to him, instead subscribing to an unsubstantiated narrative that has now brought him to the brink of impeachment.

The latest revelations came as the impeachment inquiry rushed ahead at a brisk pace. The House chairman taking the lead said that the whistle-blower who first brought the matter to light will testify soon and that a subpoena for documents will be issued early this week to Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer who spearheaded the effort to find dirt on Democrats in Ukraine.

As Democrats pressed forward, a new poll showed that a majority of Americans support an impeachment inquiry for the first time, a worrying development for a White House that until now has been able to make the argument that the public opposed impeaching Mr. Trump. A senior White House aide tried to turn the tables by arguing that Mr. Trump was the real whistle-blower because he was uncovering Democratic corruption.

As Republicans struggled to defend the president on Sunday, Mr. Bossert’s remarks offered a hint of cracks in the Republicans’ armor. While Mr. Bossert was forced out in 2018 when John R. Bolton became national security adviser, he has remained publicly loyal until now to a president who prizes fealty above all else.

“It is completely debunked,” Mr. Bossert said of the Ukraine theory on ABC. Speaking with George Stephanopoulos, Mr. Bossert blamed Mr. Giuliani for filling the president’s head with misinformation. “I am deeply frustrated with what he and the legal team is doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president. It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again and for clarity here, George, let me just again repeat that it has no validity.”

He added that pressing Ukraine’s president was disturbing, but noted that it remained unproven whether Mr. Trump’s decision to withhold aid to Ukraine was tied to the demand for investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

“It is a bad day and a bad week for this president and for this country if he is asking for political dirt on an opponent,” Mr. Bossert said. “But it looks to me like the other matter that’s far from proven is whether he was doing anything to abuse his power and withhold aid in order to solicit such a thing.”

Other former aides said separately on Sunday that the president had a particular weakness for conspiracy theories involving Ukraine, which in the past three years has become the focus of far-right media outlets and political figures. Mr. Trump was more willing to listen to outside advisers like Mr. Giuliani than his own national security team.

Mr. Trump has known Mr. Giuliani, the former New York mayor, for years and likes his pugnacious approach and the fact that he never pushes back, said one former aide, who like others asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. Mr. Giuliani would “feed Trump all kinds of garbage” that created “a real problem for all of us,” said the former aide.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 29dc-bossert2-articleLarge Trump Was Repeatedly Warned That Ukraine Conspiracy Theory Was ‘Completely Debunked’ Zelensky, Volodymyr Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Republican Party Presidential Election of 2016 impeachment House Committee on Intelligence Ethics and Official Misconduct Democratic Party Bossert, Thomas P Biden, Joseph R Jr

Representative Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said a whistle-blower whose complaint rocked Washington last week would testify “very soon.”CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

House Democrats may try to explore that as they move expeditiously in their inquiry. Representative Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on Sunday that the whistle-blower whose complaint rocked Washington last week would testify “very soon” and that Mr. Giuliani would be ordered to turn over documents.

Mr. Schiff, a former prosecutor who is the de facto chief of the inquiry, also issued a pointed warning to Mr. Trump and the White House, who have a history of blocking congressional requests for witnesses and records. “If they’re going to obstruct, then they are going to increase the likelihood that Congress may feel it necessary to move forward with an article of obstruction,” he said on “This Week.”

Mr. Trump continued his bellicose attacks on his accusers. “I want Schiff questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason,” he wrote on Twitter. And he threatened the whistle-blower, who is protected by law from retribution. “Was this person SPYING on the U.S. President? Big Consequences!”

Republicans have had a tough time defending Mr. Trump and have mostly tried to redirect the conversation to suggest that Mr. Biden engaged in wrongdoing. Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican in the House, repeatedly changed the subject on Sunday when Chuck Todd, the moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” pressed him on whether he believed a summary transcript of the Ukraine call merited further investigation.

“Well, they’ve been investigating President Trump for two years, making way for baseless allegations,” Mr. Scalise finally said. “They’re investigating everything.”

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, suggested that Mr. Trump appoint a special prosecutor to look into Mr. Biden’s role in the firing of a former prosecutor in Ukraine, and said he had no problem with the president’s phone call.

“I’m openly telling everybody in the country I have the president’s back because I think this is a setup,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

One of the few Republicans to express concern over the allegations was Representative Will Hurd, Republican of Texas and a former C.I.A. officer who is not seeking re-election. “There are troubling issues within the whistle-blower’s report,” he said on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “But they are allegations. And I think that’s why we should explore these allegations through hearings.”

The White House put out Stephen Miller, the president’s senior adviser, to offer his defense on the Sunday talk show circuit. Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Mr. Miller denounced the whistle-blower as a “deep-state operative” who is part of a cabal of “unelected bureaucrats who think they need to take down this president.”

Mr. Trump, he added, was the one searching for wrongdoing by pursuing corruption allegations against Mr. Biden and Democrats. “The president is the whistle-blower here,” Mr. Miller said. “The president of the United States is the whistle-blower. And this individual is a saboteur trying to undermine a democratically elected government.”

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, suggested that President Trump appoint a special prosecutor to look into Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s role in the firing of a former prosecutor in Ukraine.CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

Central to the complaint by the whistle-blower was a July 25 telephone call in which Mr. Trump pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to “do us a favor” and investigate Democrats at a time when the president had just ordered $391 million in aid to Ukraine frozen.

While his focus on Mr. Biden has drawn the most attention, Mr. Trump also urged Mr. Zelensky to look into a theory about the 2016 election that holds that Ukraine hacked the Democratic National Committee and then framed Moscow, possibly at the behest of Democratic operatives.

He specifically cited an American cybersecurity firm, CrowdStrike, which he seemed to believe was a Ukrainian company, and brought up a Democratic National Committee computer server, which he suggested might be in Ukraine.

While serving Mr. Trump, Mr. Bossert repeatedly told him that his questions about the D.N.C. server were without merit, according to a former senior administration official. In fact, the main server for the committee was located in the party’s headquarters in Washington, and was later displayed there, next to a file cabinet that was broken into by the Watergate burglars in nearly a half-century ago.

The first time Mr. Bossert and other aides refuted the D.N.C. server theory came before the inauguration when intelligence agency directors briefed him on Russia’s election interference operation. Mr. Trump may not have absorbed it because he was thrown off guard when told about a Democratic-financed dossier that included unproven allegations about his ties to Russia.

Shortly before Valentine’s Day in 2017, Mr. Bossert brought in Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, to brief Mr. Trump not only on the summary about the conclusion that it was Russia, but with the technical mechanics that led to the conclusion. At that point, Trump appeared to register that it was Russia. But periodically after that, he would say at rallies that he wondered about the server. Mr. Bossert would not re-educate him each time.

Another former senior official said it was a constant struggle to convince Mr. Trump that Russia, not Ukraine, had interfered in the election. The president would accept it after speaking with his more grounded aides, this official said, but then revert to believing it was a plot by Democrats or Ukrainians or others after speaking with associates outside the administration like Mr. Giuliani.

But even as his role in the controversy was debated over the weekend, Mr. Giuliani had the endorsement of Mr. Trump to continue appearing on television on Sunday defending himself and the president, according to two Trump advisers.

“I am defending my client the best way I know how,” Mr. Giuliani said on “This Week,” appearing shortly after Mr. Bossert did.

In a brief telephone interview after his ABC appearance, Mr. Bossert allowed for the possibility that it was someone other than Mr. Giuliani who had gotten in Mr. Trump’s head.

“In fairness, I don’t know that it was Rudy Giuliani that put that conspiracy theory into the president’s head,” he said. “I know somebody did and I was under the impression it was Mayor Giuliani. If Mayor Giuliani wasn’t promoting the D.N.C. server conspiracy theory, then I apologize.”

But in his television interview, Mr. Bossert made clear how serious the issue was, suggesting it could end Mr. Trump’s presidency. “The D.N.C. server and that conspiracy theory has got to go; they have to stop with that,” he said. He noted that the president “has not gotten his pound of flesh yet” from the investigation into his own ties to Russia. “But George, if he continues to focus on that white whale, it’s going to bring him down.”

Chris Cameron, Matthew Rosenberg and David E. Sanger contributed reporting.

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

Former Trump Security Adviser Says He’s ‘Deeply Disturbed’ by Ukraine Call

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s first homeland security adviser said on Sunday that he was “deeply disturbed” by Mr. Trump’s effort to pressure a foreign leader to investigate his political rival, while Democrats moved forward with their rapidly evolving impeachment inquiry into the president.

The comments by Thomas P. Bossert, who served Mr. Trump as homeland security adviser from 2017 to 2018 until being forced out when John R. Bolton became national security adviser, amounted to a rare break with a president who prizes loyalty above all else. But Mr. Bossert tempered them, saying the central allegation against Mr. Trump — that he withheld military aid from Ukraine to advance his political interests — had not yet been proved.

“It is a bad day and a bad week for this president and for this country if he is asking for political dirt on an opponent,” he said on the ABC program “This Week.” “But it looks to me like the other matter that’s far from proven is whether he was doing anything to abuse his power and withhold aid in order to solicit such a thing.”

He also said another request Mr. Trump made to the Ukrainian president — that Ukraine investigate an American cybersecurity firm, CrowdStrike, and the location of a Democratic National Committee server — was based on a conspiracy theory that had been “completely debunked.”

That theory, prominent on the far right, holds that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that hacked into the server and intervened in the 2016 presidential election. But Mr. Bossert emphasized that American intelligence officials concluded that Russia was behind the hacking of the server, and he took the president’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to task for spreading the theory.

“At this point I am deeply frustrated with what he and the legal team is doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president,” Mr. Bossert said. “It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again.”

The comments came as the inquiry into the president rushed ahead at a dizzying pace. The Sunday talk shows — a staple of life in official Washington — were choked with lawmakers and other officials, even as Congress is on a two-week recess and most members are back in their home districts.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said a whistle-blower whose complaint rocked Washington last week would testify “very soon.”

Mr. Schiff, a former prosecutor who is the de facto chief of the inquiry, also issued a pointed warning to Mr. Trump and the White House, who have a history of stonewalling Congress and refusing to turn over witnesses and records. “If they’re going to obstruct, then they are going to increase the likelihood that Congress may feel it necessary to move forward with an article of obstruction,” he said on “This Week.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group 29dc-bossert2-articleLarge Former Trump Security Adviser Says He’s ‘Deeply Disturbed’ by Ukraine Call Zelensky, Volodymyr Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Republican Party Presidential Election of 2016 impeachment House Committee on Intelligence Ethics and Official Misconduct Democratic Party Bossert, Thomas P Biden, Joseph R Jr

Representative Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said a whistle-blower whose complaint rocked Washington last week would testify “very soon.”CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

As Republicans struggled to defend the president on Sunday, Mr. Bossert’s remarks offered a hint of cracks in the Republicans’ armor. A handful of Republicans, including Senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska, have also said they were troubled by Mr. Trump’s effort to push the leader of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

And Representative Will Hurd, Republican of Texas and a former C.I.A. officer who is not seeking re-election, said Sunday that the allegations needed to be investigated. “There are troubling issues within the whistle-blower’s report,” he said on the CBS program “Face the Nation.” “But they are allegations. And I think that’s why we should explore these allegations through hearings. We’re — we had a hearing last week. We’re going to be having some depositions this week as well in order to get to the bottom of this.”

The inquiry centers on what amounts to a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine by the president and Mr. Giuliani. Central to the complaint by a whistle-blower was a July 25 telephone call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, at a time when the White House was withholding military aid to Ukraine.

A summary transcript of the call, released last week by the White House, shows that Mr. Trump asked Mr. Zelensky to “do me a favor” by investigating corruption in Ukraine.

Mr. Trump later brought Mr. Biden into the conversation, urging Mr. Zelensky to have a prosecutor look into Mr. Biden and his son Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company when Mr. Biden was vice president. The younger Mr. Biden’s work has raised conflict of interest questions, but a former Ukrainian prosecutor said he found no evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Biden or his son.

In his complaint, which the inspector general for the intelligence community deemed credible, the whistle-blower said the White House had tried to “lock down” all records of the call. Current and former White House officials have since confirmed that Mr. Trump used a secure system — intended for highly classified material — to store transcripts of that call and others with world leaders, even those that are not highly classified.

Democrats are accusing the White House of a cover-up, but Republicans have concentrated on another aspect of the call: Mr. Trump’s insistence that Ukraine investigate leaks about his 2016 campaign. Mr. Bossert called the situation “a mess,” and warned the president that if he did not end his fixation on what happened in 2016 election, it would “bring him down.”

Mr. Trump has long been suspicious of people in the federal bureaucracy — the so-called deep state — and the impeachment inquiry appears to be exacerbating the president’s fears that his own administration is conspiring against him. Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to the president, complained on Sunday of leakers who seek to destroy the president.

“If I don’t invite the right people the meeting will leak, if I don’t say the right thing they’ll go to the Hill,” Mr. Miller said, appearing on “Fox News Sunday.” “They’ve been doing this continuously for nearly three years.”

Republicans have had a tough time defending Mr. Trump, and have mostly been trying to redirect the conversation to insinuate that Mr. Biden engaged in wrongdoing. Representative Steve Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the House, repeatedly changed the subject on Sunday when Chuck Todd, the moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” pressed him on whether he believed a summary transcript of the Ukraine call merited further investigation.

“Well, they’ve been investigating President Trump for two years, making way for baseless allegations,” Mr. Scalise finally said. “They’re investigating everything.”

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, suggested that Mr. Trump appoint a special prosecutor to look into Mr. Biden’s role in the firing of a former prosecutor in Ukraine, and said he had no problem with the president’s call.

“I’m openly telling everybody in the country I have the president’s back because I think this is a setup,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, suggested that President Trump appoint a special prosecutor to look into Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s role in the firing of a former prosecutor in Ukraine.CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

Mr. Miller offered little concrete information on the president’s prepared defenses against impeachment, but the senior policy adviser did offer what could become the Trump administration’s narrative on Ukraine going forward: that the president is being martyred in a long war against government corruption by the deep state.

“The president is the whistle-blower here,” Mr. Miller said. “We have to focus on the real scandal, which is three years of deep state sabotage.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she wants the inquiry to move expeditiously, and her top lieutenants are following her lead. On Friday, three House committees issued subpoenas to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, demanding that he produce a tranche of documents related to the Zelensky call.

This Friday, the Intelligence Committee will hold a closed briefing with the inspector general of the intelligence community, who conducted a preliminary investigation of the whistle-blower’s complaint and determined that it was credible.

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

Chris Cameron contributed reporting.

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

White House Weighs Blocking Chinese Companies From U.S. Exchanges

Westlake Legal Group 27DC-CHINAINVEST-01-facebookJumbo White House Weighs Blocking Chinese Companies From U.S. Exchanges United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Economy Stocks and Bonds Pensions and Retirement Plans Nasdaq Composite Index Foreign Investments Economic Conditions and Trends Defense and Military Forces

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is discussing whether to block Chinese companies from listing shares on American stock exchanges, the latest push to try to sever economic ties between the United States and China, according to people familiar with the deliberations.

The internal discussions are in their early stages and no decision is imminent, these people cautioned.

The talks come as senior officials from both countries are scheduled to resume trade negotiations in Washington early next month. President Trump, who has continued to give mixed signals about the prospect of a trade deal with China, said earlier this week that an agreement could come “sooner than you think.” His decision to delay an increase in tariffs until mid-October and China’s recent purchases of American agricultural products has fueled optimism that the talks could produce an agreement.

But the prospect of further limiting American investment in China underscores the challenge that the two sides will continue to face even as they try to de-escalate a trade war that has shaken the global economy. The administration has already increased scrutiny of foreign investment with a particular eye toward China, including expanding the types of investments that can be subject to a national security review.

Last week, the Treasury Department unveiled new regulations detailing how a 2018 law, the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act, will work to prevent foreign firms from using investments like minority stakes to capture sensitive American information. And the United States has already blacklisted some Chinese companies, including Huawei, effectively barring them from doing business with American companies.

Stocks dropped on Friday after a report on the deliberations was published by Bloomberg News. The market continued to slide through most of the day. At close, the S&P 500 was down 0.5 percent and the Nasdaq composite index was down 1.1 percent.

Losses were particularly steep in the technology sector, and among semiconductor stocks, two parts of the market that have been sensitive to the latest updates on the economic tensions between China and the United States.

Details of how the United States would restrict Chinese companies from American stock markets were still being worked out and the idea remained in its early stages, the people familiar with the deliberations said.

China hawks within the administration have discussed the possibility of tighter restrictions on listed Chinese companies for many months. Supporters say the efforts would close longstanding loopholes that have allowed Chinese companies with links to its government to take advantage of America’s financial rules and solicit funds from American investors without proper disclosure.

Skeptics caution that the move could be deeply disruptive to markets and the economy and risk turning American investors and pension funds into another casualty of the trade war.

The effect of limiting Chinese firms from raising capital inside the United States could be significant. As of the beginning of this year, 156 Chinese companies were listed on American exchanges and had a total market capitalization of $1.2 trillion, according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

“The underlying concerns have merit, but how to deal with them without creating a lot of collateral damage is tricky,” Patrick Chovanec, managing director at Silvercrest Asset Management, wrote in a post on Twitter. “Abruptly delisting Chinese firms en masse would clearly send shock waves through markets.”

The idea gained traction on Capitol Hill this summer when Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House introduced legislation that would delist firms that were out of compliance with American regulators for three years. The lawmakers argued that Chinese companies have been benefiting from American capital markets while playing by a different set of rules.

American complaints center on a lack of transparency into the ownership and finances of Chinese firms. The business community has long criticized China for classifying some auditor reports on company finances as state secrets and outlawing cross-border transfers of auditors’ documentation.

In 2015, the Chinese affiliates of the Big Four accounting firms — Deloitte Touch Tohmatsu, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young — paid $500,000 each to settle a dispute about their refusal to provide documentation on Chinese companies to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which an American judge had ruled was a violation of United States law.

The White House has grown more interested in blocking Chinese firms in recent weeks, with some in the administration describing it as a top priority. Officials say the topic is not yet an issue in bilateral negotiations with the Chinese and inserting it into the talks could lead negotiations to fall apart again.

“This would be another step in ratcheting up the pressure,” said Michael Pillsbury, a China scholar at the Hudson Institute who said he raised the concept of investment restrictions with the White House after negotiations with China broke down in the spring.

The White House declined to comment.

The concept has divided Mr. Trump’s advisers along their usual fault lines, with Peter Navarro, Mr. Trump’s trade adviser, advocating action and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urging caution.

Discussions about new restrictions comes as the Trump administration has been pushing President Xi Jinping to open Chinese markets to American businesses and investors and as China has begun to relax some of its regulations that limit foreign investment.

The logistics of enacting such a proposal remain somewhat murky, particularly with legislative action in Congress largely stalled amid political gridlock. The S.E.C., which oversees publicly traded companies and the stock exchanges, is an independent agency with three Republican commissioners and two Democrats and is not required to honor edicts from the White House.

The Trump administration could unilaterally impose restrictions on national security grounds, as it has with tariffs, on the basis that American money is flowing to Chinese companies that pose a threat to the United States.

The administration is also reviewing how leading investment funds, including pension plans for public sector employees, funnel money to Chinese firms and could try to place limits on those vehicles.

For example, the Thrift Savings Plan, the retirement plan for government employees, is expected to change its composition next year to include more exposure to emerging markets, including China.

That trend has been a natural consequence of China’s economic growth. In 2019, China accounted for 129 of Fortune Magazine’s list of the 500 biggest global companies by revenue, while the United States produced 121. Chinese companies, including many state-owned enterprises, have become more important components of major stock indexes in recent years.

But China skeptics in Congress, the administration and elsewhere fear that the arrangement is still funneling American taxpayer money into firms that support the Made in China 2025 plan to dominate global industries, or a troubling surveillance state in Xinjiang.

“We have unlimited financing for the Chinese Communist Party, and their front organizations,” Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, said at a Sept. 12 event hosted by the Committee on the Present Danger: China, an organization that warns of an existential threat from China. “The Frankenstein monster that we have to destroy is created by the West. It’s created by our capital. It’s created by access to our technology.”

“We have financed all this,” he added.

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

White House Weighs Blocking Chinese Companies From U.S. Exchanges

Westlake Legal Group 27DC-CHINAINVEST-01-facebookJumbo White House Weighs Blocking Chinese Companies From U.S. Exchanges United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Economy Stocks and Bonds Pensions and Retirement Plans Nasdaq Composite Index Foreign Investments Economic Conditions and Trends Defense and Military Forces

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is discussing whether to block Chinese companies from listing shares on American stock exchanges, the latest push to try to sever economic ties between the United States and China, according to people familiar with the deliberations.

The internal discussions are in their early stages and no decision is imminent, these people cautioned.

The talks come as senior officials from both countries are scheduled to resume trade negotiations in Washington early next month. President Trump, who has continued to give mixed signals about the prospect of a trade deal with China, said earlier this week that an agreement could come “sooner than you think.” His decision to delay an increase in tariffs until mid-October and China’s recent purchases of American agricultural products has fueled optimism that the talks could produce an agreement.

But the prospect of further limiting American investment in China underscores the challenge that the two sides will continue to face even as they try to de-escalate a trade war that has shaken the global economy. The administration has already increased scrutiny of foreign investment with a particular eye toward China, including expanding the types of investments that can be subject to a national security review.

Last week, the Treasury Department unveiled new regulations detailing how a 2018 law, the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act, will work to prevent foreign firms from using investments like minority stakes to capture sensitive American information. And the United States has already blacklisted some Chinese companies, including Huawei, effectively barring them from doing business with American companies.

Stocks dropped on Friday after a report on the deliberations was published by Bloomberg News. The market continued to slide through most of the day. At close, the S&P 500 was down 0.5 percent and the Nasdaq composite index was down 1.1 percent.

Losses were particularly steep in the technology sector, and among semiconductor stocks, two parts of the market that have been sensitive to the latest updates on the economic tensions between China and the United States.

Details of how the United States would restrict Chinese companies from American stock markets were still being worked out and the idea remained in its early stages, the people familiar with the deliberations said.

China hawks within the administration have discussed the possibility of tighter restrictions on listed Chinese companies for many months. Supporters say the efforts would close longstanding loopholes that have allowed Chinese companies with links to its government to take advantage of America’s financial rules and solicit funds from American investors without proper disclosure.

Skeptics caution that the move could be deeply disruptive to markets and the economy and risk turning American investors and pension funds into another casualty of the trade war.

The effect of limiting Chinese firms from raising capital inside the United States could be significant. As of the beginning of this year, 156 Chinese companies were listed on American exchanges and had a total market capitalization of $1.2 trillion, according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

“The underlying concerns have merit, but how to deal with them without creating a lot of collateral damage is tricky,” Patrick Chovanec, managing director at Silvercrest Asset Management, wrote in a post on Twitter. “Abruptly delisting Chinese firms en masse would clearly send shock waves through markets.”

The idea gained traction on Capitol Hill this summer when Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House introduced legislation that would delist firms that were out of compliance with American regulators for three years. The lawmakers argued that Chinese companies have been benefiting from American capital markets while playing by a different set of rules.

American complaints center on a lack of transparency into the ownership and finances of Chinese firms. The business community has long criticized China for classifying some auditor reports on company finances as state secrets and outlawing cross-border transfers of auditors’ documentation.

In 2015, the Chinese affiliates of the Big Four accounting firms — Deloitte Touch Tohmatsu, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young — paid $500,000 each to settle a dispute about their refusal to provide documentation on Chinese companies to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which an American judge had ruled was a violation of United States law.

The White House has grown more interested in blocking Chinese firms in recent weeks, with some in the administration describing it as a top priority. Officials say the topic is not yet an issue in bilateral negotiations with the Chinese and inserting it into the talks could lead negotiations to fall apart again.

“This would be another step in ratcheting up the pressure,” said Michael Pillsbury, a China scholar at the Hudson Institute who said he raised the concept of investment restrictions with the White House after negotiations with China broke down in the spring.

The White House declined to comment.

The concept has divided Mr. Trump’s advisers along their usual fault lines, with Peter Navarro, Mr. Trump’s trade adviser, advocating action and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urging caution.

Discussions about new restrictions comes as the Trump administration has been pushing President Xi Jinping to open Chinese markets to American businesses and investors and as China has begun to relax some of its regulations that limit foreign investment.

The logistics of enacting such a proposal remain somewhat murky, particularly with legislative action in Congress largely stalled amid political gridlock. The S.E.C., which oversees publicly traded companies and the stock exchanges, is an independent agency with three Republican commissioners and two Democrats and is not required to honor edicts from the White House.

The Trump administration could unilaterally impose restrictions on national security grounds, as it has with tariffs, on the basis that American money is flowing to Chinese companies that pose a threat to the United States.

The administration is also reviewing how leading investment funds, including pension plans for public sector employees, funnel money to Chinese firms and could try to place limits on those vehicles.

For example, the Thrift Savings Plan, the retirement plan for government employees, is expected to change its composition next year to include more exposure to emerging markets, including China.

That trend has been a natural consequence of China’s economic growth. In 2019, China accounted for 129 of Fortune Magazine’s list of the 500 biggest global companies by revenue, while the United States produced 121. Chinese companies, including many state-owned enterprises, have become more important components of major stock indexes in recent years.

But China skeptics in Congress, the administration and elsewhere fear that the arrangement is still funneling American taxpayer money into firms that support the Made in China 2025 plan to dominate global industries, or a troubling surveillance state in Xinjiang.

“We have unlimited financing for the Chinese Communist Party, and their front organizations,” Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, said at a Sept. 12 event hosted by the Committee on the Present Danger: China, an organization that warns of an existential threat from China. “The Frankenstein monster that we have to destroy is created by the West. It’s created by our capital. It’s created by access to our technology.”

“We have financed all this,” he added.

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

Kurt Volker, Trump’s Envoy for Ukraine, Resigns

Westlake Legal Group merlin_158531811_aaab7ac0-f029-4144-bda7-a7c374a1378c-facebookJumbo Kurt Volker, Trump’s Envoy for Ukraine, Resigns United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Kurt D. Volker Giuliani, Rudolph W

WASHINGTON — Kurt D. Volker, the State Department’s special envoy for Ukraine, who got caught in the middle of the pressure campaign by President Trump and his lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to find damaging information about Democrats, resigned his post on Friday.

Mr. Volker, a former ambassador who served in the part-time, unpaid position to help Ukraine resolve its armed confrontation with Russia-sponsored separatists, told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday that he was stepping down.

His departure came just days after Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats came to light and triggered a full-blown House impeachment inquiry. House leaders announced on Friday that they would interview Mr. Volker in a deposition next week.

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In Trump’s Ukraine Phone Call, Alarmed Aides Saw Trouble

WASHINGTON — No one bothered to put special limits on the number of people allowed to sit in the “listening room” in the White House to monitor the phone call because it was expected to be routine. By the time the call was over 30 minutes later, it quickly became clear that it was anything but.

Soon after President Trump put the phone down that summer day, the red flags began to go up. Rather than just one head of state offering another pro forma congratulations for recent elections, the call turned into a bid by Mr. Trump to press a Ukrainian leader in need of additional American aid to “do us a favor” and investigate Democrats.

The alarm among officials who heard the exchange led to an extraordinary effort to keep too many more people from learning about it. In the days to come, according to a whistle-blower complaint released on Thursday, White House officials embarked on a campaign to “lock down” the record of the call, removing it from the usual electronic file and hiding it away in a separate system normally used for classified information.

But word began to spread anyway, kicking off a succession of events that would eventually reveal details of the call to the public and has now put Mr. Trump at risk of being impeached by a Democrat-led House for abusing his power and betraying his office. The story of the past two months is one of a White House scrambling to keep secrets to protect a president willing to cross lines others would not, only to find the very government he frequently disparages expose him.

“The White House officials who told me this information were deeply disturbed by what had transpired in the phone call,” the whistle-blower, a C.I.A. official who once worked at the White House, wrote in his complaint, which was declassified and made public by the House Intelligence Committee.

“They told me,” he added, “that there was already a ‘discussion ongoing’ with White House lawyers about how to treat the call because of the likelihood, in the officials’ retelling, that they had witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain.”

The president and his Republican allies rejected that characterization, saying he made no quid pro quo demands of President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who himself told reporters in New York on Wednesday that he did not feel like he was being pushed.

Mr. Trump dismissed the complaint as part of “another Witch Hunt” against him and suggested whoever passed information to the whistle-blower was “close to a spy.”

But while the White House disparaged the whistle-blower’s complaint as full of secondhand information and media-reported events, it did not directly deny the sequence of events as outlined.

Moreover, other officials amplified the narrative on Thursday with details that were not in the complaint. For instance, they said, at one point an order was given to not distribute the reconstructed transcript of Mr. Trump’s call electronically, as would be typical. Instead, copies were printed out and hand delivered to a select group.

During the call on the morning of July 25, Mr. Zelensky talked about how much Ukraine had come to depend on the United States to help in its grinding, five-year war with Russian-sponsored separatists in the eastern part of the country. Without missing a beat, Mr. Trump then segued directly to his request for help in his own domestic politics.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158446377_98d268bd-e1fd-4b36-8b69-6c5fcfc0c417-articleLarge In Trump’s Ukraine Phone Call, Alarmed Aides Saw Trouble Zelensky, Volodymyr United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

Mr. Trump at the White House on July 25, the day he spoke to the president of Ukraine.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“I would like you to do us a favor, though,” he said. Ukraine, he said, should look into conspiracy theories about Democratic emails hacked during the 2016 election as well as the actions of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son Hunter Biden, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

“Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible,” Mr. Trump said.

While the president saw nothing wrong with his request, officials who heard it quickly worried that it would be problematic at best and set about finding ways to keep the conversation hidden.

The electronic version of the reconstructed transcript produced from notes and voice recognition software was removed from the computer system where such documents are typically stored for distribution to cabinet-level officers, according to the complaint. Instead, it went into a classified system even though the call did not contain anything especially delicate in terms of national security information.

The actions were unusual in a normal national security process but not unheard-of in Mr. Trump’s administration. Since early in his tenure, when transcripts of his telephone calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia leaked, Mr. Trump has been sensitive to preventing such records from getting out.

He has proved particularly attuned to guarding the confidentiality of other conversations involving the former Soviet Union. After his first meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia after taking office, Mr. Trump took his interpreter’s notes and ordered him not to disclose what he heard to anyone.

The specifics of Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky would be one thing by itself, but it came during a period of other events that provide a context. For months leading up to the call, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, had been vigorously lobbying Ukrainian officials to investigate Democrats over the 2016 election and Mr. Biden’s dealings with the country.

Starting in mid-May, the whistle-blower wrote, he began hearing from other American officials “that they were deeply concerned by what they viewed as Mr. Giuliani’s circumvention of national security decision making processes to engage with Ukrainian officials and relay messages back and forth between” Kiev and the president.

Other people close to the situation have said that among those angry at Mr. Giuliani’s activities was John R. Bolton, who at the time was the president’s national security adviser. He left the administration this month amid disagreements with Mr. Trump over Russia as well as other issues.

But State Department officials, including Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy for Ukraine, and Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, were left to try to “contain the damage” by advising Ukrainians how to navigate Mr. Giuliani’s campaign, according to the complaint.

The Ukrainians, it added, were led to believe that arranging a meeting or phone call between their president and Mr. Trump would depend on whether Mr. Zelensky showed willingness to “play ball” on Mr. Giuliani’s wishes. Indeed, it said, Mr. Trump ordered Vice President Mike Pence to cancel plans to travel to Ukraine for Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration on May 20.

As Mr. Giuliani continued to seek action by the Ukrainians, the White House Office of Management and Budget informed national security agencies on July 18 that the president had ordered the suspension of $391 million in American security aid to Ukraine. In the days that followed, officials said they were unaware of the reason for the freeze.

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Trump’s Efforts to Push Ukraine Toward a Biden Inquiry: A Timeline

A guide to the key figures and dates as President Trump and his allies pressured Ukraine to investigate his political opponents.

American help has been a vital tool for checking Russian aggression in Ukraine, with strong support in both parties. According to other officials, three rounds of interagency meetings were then held to try to “unstick” the blocked aid or at least figure out why it was being held up. When the White House still would not explain, some administration officials began enlisting staff members in the Senate to help.

The day after the agencies were notified about the aid freeze, Mr. Giuliani had breakfast with Mr. Volker about connecting with Ukrainian officials to seek information about the president’s Democratic opponents.

“Mr. Mayor — really enjoyed breakfast this morning,” Mr. Volker wrote in a text later that day that Mr. Giuliani posted on Twitter on Thursday. Mr. Volker offered to connect Mr. Giuliani with Andriy Yermak, an aide to Mr. Zelensky, according to the text.

Six days later came the phone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky. The White House readout released to the news media afterward made no mention of the discussion about Democrats, but a Ukrainian statement alluded to it by saying they discussed the completion of “investigation of corruption cases that have held back cooperation between Ukraine and the United States.”

The next day, according to the complaint, Mr. Volker and Mr. Sondland visited Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, and met with Mr. Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials, offering them guidance on how to respond to Mr. Trump’s demands. Mr. Giuliani then met in Spain with Mr. Yermak on Aug. 2.

A week later, on Aug. 9, Mr. Trump publicly embraced Mr. Zelensky, telling reporters that he planned to invite the Ukrainian to the White House. “He’s a very reasonable guy,” Mr. Trump said. “He wants to see peace in Ukraine, and I think he will be coming very soon, actually.”

In fact, Ukrainian officials had been trying to lock down a date for such a meeting for months but kept getting put off by White House aides. At this point, Ukrainian officials have said, they still did not know that Mr. Trump had suspended American aid, but they were hearing that it might be at risk.

All of this was taking place at a time of flux among key national security officials. Fiona Hill, the senior director for Europe at the National Security Council, was stepping down and had turned over her duties in July before the call. Three days after the call, Mr. Trump announced that Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, would be resigning.

The whistle-blower, employing an anonymous process, brought his concerns to the C.I.A.’s general counsel, Courtney Simmons Elwood, according to multiple people familiar with the events. As she sought to determine whether a reasonable basis existed for the accusation, she shared the matter with White House and Justice Department officials, meaning that the same institution he was complaining about had advance notice of the issue.

Concerned that his allegations were not being taken seriously, he filed a formal complaint on Aug. 12 with the office of Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community, a process that granted whistle-blower protections under law. The complaint was addressed to Senator Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina, and Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, the chairmen of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, with the understanding that, under the law, it would be provided to them.

“In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 election,” the whistle-blower wrote.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on Tuesday in New York at the United Nations.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

He acknowledged that he “was not a direct witness to most of the events described,” but said he had gathered it from multiple officials and was “deeply concerned” that the actions constituted a flagrant abuse or violation of law.

Ten days later, Senate staff members sought an explanation for the aid freeze during a briefing by State and Defense Department officials but received no further information. By this time, however, they had begun hearing reports that the delays might be tied to reports about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine.

Mr. Atkinson forwarded the whistle-blower complaint on Aug. 26 to Joseph Maguire, who took over from Mr. Coats as the acting director of national intelligence, and declared that he had determined the complaint “appears credible.” Mr. Maguire brought the issue to the White House rather than Congress, arguing that he was obliged to do so, a decision that drew sharp criticism from Democrats.

The next day, Aug. 27, Mr. Bolton, then still the national security adviser, met with Mr. Zelensky in Kiev, the first personal visit by such a high-ranking member of the Trump administration since Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration. Mr. Bolton, who holds deeply skeptical views of Russia, assured the Ukrainians that the United States stood behind them. He also was preparing for what was expected to be a meeting a few days afterward in Warsaw between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky.

Ukrainian officials have said the aid holdup was not discussed during this visit and that they only learned about it afterward. The first report of the frozen money appeared in Politico on Aug. 28, the day after Mr. Bolton’s visit, and congressional aides were finally informed the next day.

As it happened, Mr. Trump canceled his trip to Warsaw to monitor Hurricane Dorian, which was bearing down on the East Coast. Instead, he sent Mr. Pence, who met with Mr. Zelensky.

Three House committees opened an inquiry on Sept. 9 to examine whether the aid to Ukraine was being held up for political reasons. On the same day, Mr. Atkinson, the inspector general, sent a letter to the intelligence panels informing them of the existence of the whistle-blower complaint but withholding details, including the subject.

Senators from both parties increased the pressure on the White House to release the frozen aid to Ukraine. On Sept. 11, Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, spoke to Mr. Trump about the matter and urged him to lift the freeze. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, told the White House that he would support a Democratic amendment meant to penalize the White House to prod the funds loose.

Administration officials informed senators that night that the money would be released, and the decision was announced the next day without any explanation for why it had been held up in the first place.

Mr. Trump has since given conflicting explanations. First, he said he held it up because of concerns about corruption in Ukraine and cited Mr. Biden in particular. Then he shifted the rationale to say he blocked it because he thought European countries should shoulder more of the burden.

Angry at not being informed about the topic of the whistle-blower complaint, Mr. Schiff issued a subpoena the next day to Mr. Maguire. The Washington Post reported on Sept. 18 that the complaint involved Mr. Trump, and The Post and The New York Times reported the next day that it involved Ukraine.

Mr. Schiff said on Thursday that the whole episode had not been in the interest of the United States. “It is instead the most consequential form of tragedy,” he said, “for it forces us to confront the remedy the founders provided for such a flagrant abuse of office, impeachment.”

Mr. Maguire captured the unique nature of the episode that has begun unveiling itself for the public to see. “I believe that everything here in this matter,” he said, “is totally unprecedented.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Document: Read the Whistle-Blower Complaint

Sept. 26, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sept. 26, 2019

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Trump Attacks Whistle-Blower’s Sources and Alludes to Punishment for Spies

Sept. 26, 2019

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Document: Read the Whistle-Blower Complaint

Sept. 26, 2019

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8 Takeaways From the Whistle-Blower Complaint

Sept. 26, 2019

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In Ukraine Phone Call, Alarmed Aides Saw Trouble

WASHINGTON — No one bothered to put special limits on the number of people allowed to sit in the “listening room” in the White House to monitor the phone call because it was expected to be routine. By the time the call was over 30 minutes later, it quickly became clear that it was anything but.

Soon after President Trump put the phone down that summer day, the red flags began to go up. Rather than just one head of state offering another pro forma congratulations for recent elections, the call turned into a bid by Mr. Trump to press a Ukrainian leader in need of additional American aid to “do us a favor” and investigate Democrats.

The alarm among officials who heard the exchange led to an extraordinary effort to keep too many more people from learning about it. In the days to come, according to a whistle-blower complaint released on Thursday, White House officials embarked on a campaign to “lock down” the record of the call, removing it from the usual electronic file and hiding it away in a separate system normally used for classified information.

But word began to spread anyway, kicking off a succession of events that would eventually reveal details of the call to the public and has now put Mr. Trump at risk of being impeached by a Democrat-led House for abusing his power and betraying his office. The story of the past two months is one of a White House scrambling to keep secrets to protect a president willing to cross lines others would not, only to find the very government he frequently disparages expose him.

“The White House officials who told me this information were deeply disturbed by what had transpired in the phone call,” the whistle-blower, a C.I.A. official who once worked at the White House, wrote in his complaint, which was declassified and made public by the House Intelligence Committee.

“They told me,” he added, “that there was already a ‘discussion ongoing’ with White House lawyers about how to treat the call because of the likelihood, in the officials’ retelling, that they had witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain.”

The president and his Republican allies rejected that characterization, saying he made no quid-pro-quo demands of President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who himself told reporters in New York on Wednesday that he did not feel like he was being pushed.

Mr. Trump dismissed the complaint as part of “another Witch Hunt” against him and suggested the whistle-blower was “close to a spy.”

But while the White House disparaged the whistle-blower’s complaint as full of secondhand information and media-reported events, it did not directly deny the sequence of events as outlined.

Moreover, other officials amplified the narrative on Thursday with details that were not in the complaint. For instance, they said, at one point an order was given to not distribute the reconstructed transcript of Mr. Trump’s call electronically, as would be typical. Instead, copies were printed out and hand delivered to a select group.

During the call on the morning of July 25, Mr. Zelensky talked about how much Ukraine had come to depend on the United States to help in its grinding, five-year war with Russian-sponsored separatists in the eastern part of the country. Without missing a beat, Mr. Trump then segued directly to his request for help in his own domestic politics.

“I would like you to do us a favor, though,” he said. Ukraine, he said, should look into conspiracy theories about Democratic emails hacked during the 2016 election as well as the actions of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son Hunter Biden, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

“Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible,” Mr. Trump said.

While the president saw nothing wrong with his request, officials who heard it quickly worried that it would be problematic at best and set about finding ways to keep the conversation hidden.

The electronic version of the reconstructed transcript produced from notes and voice recognition software was removed from the computer system where such documents are typically stored for distribution to cabinet-level officers, according to the complaint. Instead, it went into a classified system even though the call did not contain anything especially sensitive in terms of national security information.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158446377_98d268bd-e1fd-4b36-8b69-6c5fcfc0c417-articleLarge In Ukraine Phone Call, Alarmed Aides Saw Trouble Zelensky, Volodymyr United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

President Trump at the White House on July 25, the day he spoke to the president of Ukraine.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

The actions were unusual in a normal national security process but not unheard-of in Mr. Trump’s administration. Since early in his tenure, when transcripts of his telephone calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia leaked, Mr. Trump has been sensitive to preventing such records from getting out.

He has proved particularly attuned to guarding the confidentiality of other conversations involving the former Soviet Union. After his first meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia after taking office, Mr. Trump took his interpreter’s notes and ordered him not to disclose what he heard to anyone.

The specifics of Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky would be one thing by itself, but it came during a period of other events that provide a context. For months leading up to the call, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, had been vigorously lobbying Ukrainian officials to investigate Democrats over the 2016 election and Mr. Biden’s dealings with the country.

Starting in mid-May, the whistle-blower wrote, he began hearing from other American officials “that they were deeply concerned by what they viewed as Mr. Giuliani’s circumvention of national security decision making processes to engage with Ukrainian officials and relay messages back and forth between” Kiev and the president.

Other people close to the situation have said that among those angry at Mr. Giuliani’s activities was John R. Bolton, who was then the president’s national security adviser before leaving this month amid disagreements with Mr. Trump over Russia as well as other issues.

But State Department officials, including Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy for Ukraine, and Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, were left to try to “contain the damage” by advising Ukrainians how to navigate Mr. Giuliani’s campaign, according to the complaint.

The Ukrainians, it added, were led to believe that arranging a meeting or phone call between their president and Mr. Trump would depend on whether Mr. Zelensky showed willingness to “play ball” on Mr. Giuliani’s wishes. Indeed, it said, Mr. Trump ordered Vice President Mike Pence to cancel plans to travel to Ukraine for Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration on May 20.

As Mr. Giuliani continued to seek action by the Ukrainians, the White House Office of Management and Budget informed national security agencies on July 18 that the president had ordered the suspension of $391 million in American security aid to Ukraine. In the days that followed, officials said they were unaware of the reason for the freeze.

American help has been a vital tool for checking Russian aggression in Ukraine, with strong support in both parties. According to other officials, three rounds of interagency meetings were then held to try to “unstick” the blocked aid or at least figure out why it was being held up. When the White House still would not explain, some administration officials began enlisting staff members in the Senate to help.

The day after the agencies were notified about the aid freeze, Mr. Giuliani had breakfast with Mr. Volker about connecting with Ukrainian officials to seek information about the president’s Democratic opponents.

“Mr. Mayor — really enjoyed breakfast this morning,” Mr. Volker wrote in a text later that day that Mr. Giuliani posted on Twitter on Thursday. Mr. Volker offered to connect Mr. Giuliani with Andriy Yermak, an aide to Mr. Zelensky, according to the text message.

Six days later came the phone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky. The White House readout released to the news media afterward made no mention of the discussion about Democrats, but a Ukrainian statement alluded to it by saying they discussed the completion of “investigation of corruption cases that have held back cooperation between Ukraine and the United States.”

The next day, according to the complaint, Mr. Volker and Mr. Sondland visited Kiev and met with Mr. Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials, offering them guidance on how to respond to Mr. Trump’s demands. Mr. Giuliani then met in Spain with Mr. Yermak on Aug. 2.

A week later, on Aug. 9, Mr. Trump publicly embraced Mr. Zelensky, telling reporters that he planned to invite the Ukrainian to the White House. “He’s a very reasonable guy,” Mr. Trump said. “He wants to see peace in Ukraine, and I think he will be coming very soon, actually.”

In fact, Ukrainian officials had been trying to lock down a date for such a meeting for months but kept getting put off by White House aides. At this point, Ukrainian officials have said, they still did not know that Mr. Trump had suspended American aid but they were hearing that it might be at risk.

All of this was taking place at a time of flux among key national security officials. Fiona Hill, the senior director for Europe at the National Security Council, was stepping down and had turned over her duties in July before the call. Three days after the call, Mr. Trump announced that Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, would be resigning.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

The whistle-blower, employing an anonymous process, brought his concerns to the C.I.A.’s general counsel, Courtney Simmons Ellwood, according to multiple people familiar with the events. As she sought to determine whether a reasonable basis existed for the accusation, she shared the matter with White House and Justice Department officials, meaning that the same institution he was complaining about had advance notice of the issue.

Concerned that his allegations were not being taken seriously, he filed a formal complaint on Aug. 12 with the office of Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community, a process that granted whistle-blower protections under law. The complaint was addressed to Senator Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina, and Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, the chairmen of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, with the understanding that, under the law, it would be provided to them.

“In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 election,” the whistle-blower wrote.

He acknowledged that he “was not a direct witness to most of the events described” but said he had gathered it from multiple officials and was “deeply concerned” that the actions constituted a flagrant abuse or violation of law.

Ten days later, Senate staff members sought an explanation for the aid freeze during a briefing by State and Defense Department officials but received no further information. By this time, however, they had begun hearing reports that the delays might be tied to reports about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine.

Mr. Atkinson forwarded the whistle-blower complaint on Aug. 26 to Joseph Maguire, who took over from Mr. Coats as the acting director of national intelligence, and declared that he had determined the complaint “appears credible.” Mr. Maguire brought the issue to the White House rather than Congress, arguing that he was obliged to do so, a decision that drew sharp criticism from Democrats.

The next day, Aug. 27, Mr. Bolton, then still the national security adviser, met with Mr. Zelensky in Kiev, the first personal visit by such a high-ranking member of the administration since Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration. Mr. Bolton, who holds deeply skeptical views of Russia, assured the Ukrainians that the United States stood behind them. He also was preparing for what was expected to be a meeting a few days afterward in Warsaw between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky.

Ukrainian officials have said the aid holdup was not discussed during this visit and that they only learned about it afterward. The first report of the frozen money appeared in Politico on Aug. 28, the day after Mr. Bolton’s visit, and congressional aides were finally informed the next day.

As it happened, Mr. Trump canceled his trip to Warsaw to monitor Hurricane Dorian, which was bearing down on the East Coast. Instead, he sent Mr. Pence, who met with Mr. Zelensky.

Three House committees opened an inquiry on Sept. 9 to examine whether the aid to Ukraine was being held up for political reasons. On the same day, Mr. Atkinson, the inspector general, sent a letter to the intelligence committees informing them of the existence of the whistle-blower complaint but withholding details, including the subject.

Senators from both parties increased the pressure on the White House to release the frozen aid to Ukraine. On Sept. 11, Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, spoke to Mr. Trump about the matter and urged him to lift the freeze. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, informed the White House that he would support a Democratic amendment meant to penalize the White House to prod the funds loose.

Administration officials informed senators that night that the money would be released and the decision was announced the next day without any explanation for why it had been held up in the first place.

Mr. Trump has since given conflicting explanations. First, he said he held it up because of concerns about corruption in Ukraine and cited Mr. Biden in particular. Then he shifted the rationale to say he blocked it because he thought European countries should shoulder more of the burden.

Angry at not being informed about the topic of the whistle-blower complaint, Mr. Schiff issued a subpoena the next day to Mr. Maguire. The Washington Post reported on Sept. 18 that the complaint involved Mr. Trump, and The Post and The New York Times reported the next day that it involved Ukraine.

Mr. Schiff said on Thursday that the whole episode had not been in the interest of the United States. “It is instead the most consequential form of tragedy,” he said, “for it forces us to confront the remedy the founders provided for such a flagrant abuse of office, impeachment.”

Mr. Maguire captured the unique nature of the episode that has begun unveiling itself for the public to see. “I believe that everything here in this matter,” he said, “is totally unprecedented.”

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In a Routine Phone Call, Alarmed Aides Saw Trouble

WASHINGTON — No one bothered to put special limits on the number of people allowed to sit in the White House “listening room” to monitor the phone call because it was expected to be routine. By the time the call was over 30 minutes later, it quickly became clear that it was anything but.

Soon after President Trump put the phone down that summer day, the red flags began to go up. Rather than just one head of state offering another pro forma congratulations for recent elections, the call turned into a bid by Mr. Trump to press a Ukrainian leader in need of additional American aid to “do us a favor” and investigate Democrats.

The alarm among officials who heard the exchange led to an extraordinary effort to keep too many more people from learning about it. In the days to come, according to a whistle-blower complaint released on Thursday, White House officials embarked on a campaign to “lock down” the record of the call, removing it from the usual electronic file and hiding it away in a separate system normally used for classified information.

But word began to spread anyway, kicking off a succession of events that would eventually reveal details of the call to the public and has now put Mr. Trump at risk of being impeached by a Democrat-led House for abusing his power and betraying his office. The story of the past two months is one of a White House scrambling to keep secrets to protect a president willing to cross lines others would not, only to find the very government he frequently disparages expose him.

“The White House officials who told me this information were deeply disturbed by what had transpired in the phone call,” the whistle-blower, a C.I.A. official who once worked at the White House, wrote in his complaint, which was declassified and made public by the House Intelligence Committee.

“They told me,” he added, “that there was already a ‘discussion ongoing’ with White House lawyers about how to treat the call because of the likelihood, in the officials’ retelling, that they had witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain.”

The president and his Republican allies rejected that characterization, saying he made no quid-pro-quo demands of President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who himself told reporters in New York on Wednesday that he did not feel like he was being pushed.

Mr. Trump dismissed the complaint as part of “another Witch Hunt” against him and suggested the whistle-blower was “close to a spy.”

But while the White House disparaged the whistle-blower’s complaint as full of secondhand information and media-reported events, it did not directly deny the sequence of events as outlined.

Moreover, other officials amplified the narrative on Thursday with details that were not in the complaint. For instance, they said, at one point an order was given to not distribute the reconstructed transcript of Mr. Trump’s call electronically, as would be typical. Instead, copies were printed out and hand delivered to a select group.

During the call on the morning of July 25, Mr. Zelensky talked about how much Ukraine had come to depend on the United States to help in its grinding, five-year war with Russian-sponsored separatists in the eastern part of the country. Without missing a beat, Mr. Trump then segued directly to his request for help in his own domestic politics.

“I would like you to do us a favor, though,” he said. Ukraine, he said, should look into conspiracy theories about Democratic emails hacked during the 2016 election as well as the actions of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son Hunter Biden, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

“Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible,” Mr. Trump said.

The electronic version of the reconstructed transcript produced from notes and voice recognition software was removed from the computer system where such documents are typically stored for distribution to cabinet-level officers, according to the complaint. Instead, it went into a classified system even though the call did not contain anything especially sensitive in terms of national security information.

The actions were unusual in a normal national security process but not unheard-of in Mr. Trump’s administration. Since early in his tenure, when transcripts of his telephone calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia leaked, Mr. Trump has been sensitive to preventing such records from getting out.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158446377_98d268bd-e1fd-4b36-8b69-6c5fcfc0c417-articleLarge In a Routine Phone Call, Alarmed Aides Saw Trouble Zelensky, Volodymyr United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

President Trump at the White House on July 25, the day he spoke to the president of Ukraine.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

He has proved particularly attuned to guarding the confidentiality of other conversations involving the former Soviet Union. After his first meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia after taking office, Mr. Trump took his interpreter’s notes and ordered him not to disclose what he heard to anyone.

The specifics of Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky would be one thing by itself, but it came during a period of other events that provide a context. For months leading up to the call, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, had been lobbying Ukrainian officials to investigate Democrats over the 2016 election and Mr. Biden’s dealings with the country.

Starting in mid-May, the whistle-blower wrote, he began hearing from other American officials “that they were deeply concerned by what they viewed as Mr. Giuliani’s circumvention of national security decision making processes to engage with Ukrainian officials and relay messages back and forth between” Kiev and the president.

Other people close to the situation have said that among those angry at Mr. Giuliani’s activities was John R. Bolton, who was then the president’s national security adviser before leaving this month amid disagreements with Mr. Trump over Russia as well as other issues.

But State Department officials, including Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy for Ukraine, and Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, were left to try to “contain the damage” by advising Ukrainians how to navigate Mr. Giuliani’s campaign, according to the complaint.

The Ukrainians, it added, were led to believe that arranging a meeting or phone call between Mr. Zelensky and Mr. Trump would depend on whether Mr. Zelensky showed willingness to “play ball” on Mr. Giuliani’s wishes. Indeed, it said, Mr. Trump ordered Vice President Mike Pence to cancel plans to travel to Ukraine for Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration on May 20.

As Mr. Giuliani continued to seek action by the Ukrainians, the White House Office of Management and Budget informed national security agencies on July 18 that the president had ordered the suspension of $391 million in American security aid to Ukraine. In the days that followed, officials said they were unaware of the reason for the freeze.

According to other officials, three rounds of interagency meetings were then held to try to “unstick” the blocked aid or at least figure out why it was behind held up. When the White House continued to not explain, some administration officials began enlisting staff members in the Senate to help.

The day after the agencies were notified about the aid freeze, Mr. Giuliani had breakfast with Mr. Volker about connecting with Ukrainian officials.

“Mr. Mayor — really enjoyed breakfast this morning,” Mr. Volker wrote in a text later that day that Mr. Giuliani posted on Twitter on Thursday. Mr. Volker offered to connect Mr. Giuliani with Andriy Yermak, an aide to Mr. Zelensky, according to the text message.

Six days later came the phone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky. The White House readout released to the news media afterward made no mention of the discussion about Democrats, but a Ukrainian statement alluded to it by saying they discussed the completion of “investigation of corruption cases that have held back cooperation between Ukraine and the United States.”

The next day, according to the complaint, Mr. Volker and Mr. Sondland visited Kiev and met with Mr. Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials, offering them guidance on how to respond to Mr. Trump’s demands. Mr. Giuliani then met in Spain with Mr. Yermak on Aug. 2.

A week later, on Aug. 9, Mr. Trump publicly embraced Mr. Zelensky, telling reporters that he planned to invite the Ukrainian to the White House. “He’s a very reasonable guy,” Mr. Trump said. “He wants to see peace in Ukraine, and I think he will be coming very soon, actually.”

In fact, Ukrainian officials had been trying to lock down a date for such a meeting for months but kept getting put off by White House aides. At this point, Ukrainian officials have said, they still did not know that Mr. Trump had suspended American aid but they were hearing that it might be at risk.

All of this was taking place at a time of flux among key national security officials. Fiona Hill, the senior director for Europe at the National Security Council, was stepping down and had turned over her duties in July before the call. Three days after the call, Mr. Trump announced that Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, would be resigning.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

On Aug. 12, the whistle-blower filed his complaint with the office of Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community. The complaint was addressed to Senator Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina, and Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, the chairmen of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, with the understanding that, under the law, it would be provided to them.

“In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 election,” the whistle-blower wrote.

He acknowledged that he “was not a direct witness to most of the events described” but said he had gathered it from multiple officials and was “deeply concerned” that the actions constituted a flagrant abuse or violation of law.

Ten days later, Senate staff members sought an explanation for the aid freeze during a briefing by State and Defense Department officials but received no further information. By this time, however, they had begun hearing reports that the delays might be tied to reports about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine.

Mr. Atkinson forwarded the whistle-blower complaint on Aug. 26 to Joseph Maguire, who took over from Mr. Coats as the acting director of national intelligence, and declared that he had determined the complaint “appears credible.” Mr. Maguire brought the issue to the White House rather than Congress, arguing that he was obliged to do so, a decision that drew sharp criticism from Democrats.

The next day, Aug. 27, Mr. Bolton, then still the national security adviser, met with Mr. Zelensky in Kiev, the first personal visit by such a high-ranking member of the administration since Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration. Mr. Bolton, who holds deeply skeptical views of Russia, assured the Ukrainians that the United States stood behind them. He also was preparing for what was expected to be a meeting a few days afterward in Warsaw between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky.

Ukrainian officials have said the aid holdup was not discussed during this visit and that they only learned about it afterward. The first report of the frozen money appeared in Politico on Aug. 28, the day after Mr. Bolton’s visit and congressional aides were finally informed the next day.

As it happened, Mr. Trump canceled his trip to Warsaw to monitor Hurricane Dorian, which was bearing down on the East Coast. Instead, he sent Mr. Pence, who met with Mr. Zelensky.

Three House committees opened an inquiry on Sept. 9 to examine whether the aid to Ukraine was being held up for political reasons. On the same day, Mr. Atkinson, the inspector general, sent a letter to the intelligence committees informing them of the existence of the whistle-blower complaint but withholding details, including the subject.

Senators from both parties increased the pressure on the White House to release the frozen aid to Ukraine. On Sept. 11, Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, spoke to Mr. Trump about the matter and urged him to lift the freeze. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, informed the White House that he would support a Democratic amendment meant to penalize the White House to prod the funds loose.

Administration officials informed senators that night that the money will be released and the decision was announced the next day without any explanation for why it had been held up in the first place.

Mr. Trump has since given conflicting explanations. First, he said he held it up because of concerns about corruption in Ukraine and cited Mr. Biden in particular. Then he shifted the rationale to say he blocked it because he thought European countries should shoulder more of the burden.

Angry at not being informed about the topic of the whistle-blower complaint, Mr. Schiff issued a subpoena the next day to Mr. Maguire. The Washington Post reported on Sept. 18 that the complaint involved Mr. Trump, and The Post and The New York Times reported the next day that it involved Ukraine.

Mr. Schiff said on Thursday that the whole episode had not been in the interest of the United States. “It is instead the most consequential form of tragedy,” he said, “for it forces us to confront the remedy the founders provided for such a flagrant abuse of office, impeachment.”

The whistle-blower is expected to testify to Congress soon.

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Trump Said Ukraine Envoy Would ‘Go Through Some Things.’ She Has Already.

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s words about Marie L. Yovanovitch, his former ambassador to Ukraine, were ominous. In a telephone conversation that has set off a political crisis for Mr. Trump, he told Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, that she was “bad news.”

“She’s going to go through some things,” he added.

In fact, she already has gone through quite a bit. Over the past several months, Ms. Yovanovitch, a decorated 33-year veteran of the State Department, has been vilified in the right-wing news media, denounced by the president’s eldest son as a “joker,” called a Democratic stooge by the president’s personal lawyer and then abruptly recalled from Kiev this May, months ahead of schedule.

Her supposed sin, never backed up by evidence, was that she had shown disloyalty to Mr. Trump, disparaging him behind his back. Her friends, who say her professionalism and history of diplomatic service make that highly unlikely, have another theory: She had turned into collateral damage in efforts by Mr. Trump and Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal lawyer, to damage the reputation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., perhaps Mr. Trump’s most prominent Democratic rival in 2020.

Among the apparent strikes against her: A former Ukrainian prosecutor claimed in an interview with The New York Times that Ms. Yovanovitch had blocked his team from getting visas to the United States to deliver damaging information about Mr. Biden and his son Hunter to the F.B.I.

In targeting Ms. Yovanovitch, former colleagues say, Mr. Trump and his allies underscored how profoundly suspicious they are of the career government professionals around them, leading the president to bypass the usual procedures and staff while outsourcing aspects of foreign policy to Mr. Giuliani and others.

Although largely unknown to the outside world, Ms. Yovanovitch has now become a sort of heroine to the State Department’s career staff — as well as a cautionary tale to many longtime American diplomats and national security officials. To them, she symbolizes an atmosphere in which dissenting, or even insisting on established procedures, can get them marked as outsiders, shut out of meetings, excluded from policymaking and in the end publicly hung out to dry as enemies of the administration.

At a news briefing on Thursday in New York, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to answer questions shouted by reporters about why Ms. Yovanovitch had been suddenly recalled to Washington.

Westlake Legal Group trump-phone-transcript-ukraine-promo-1569369870401-articleLarge-v3 Trump Said Ukraine Envoy Would ‘Go Through Some Things.’ She Has Already. Zelensky, Volodymyr Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Giuliani, Rudolph W Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter Appointments and Executive Changes

Full Document: Trump’s Call With the Ukrainian President

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

The American Academy of Diplomacy reacted by demanding that the State Department protect Ms. Yovanovitch from reprisals, calling the “threatening tone” of Mr. Trump’s remarks about her “very troubling.” The American Foreign Service Association, which represents State Department employees, urged that the American diplomatic corps “not be dragged into partisan political battles.”

Now serving as a diplomat in residence at Georgetown University, Ms. Yovanovitch did not respond to requests for an interview.

While the abrupt end to her ambassadorship was widely seen as punitive, one former colleague said that it was possibly motivated by a genuine concern for her, and that State Department officials decided it was safer to bring her home.

Nonetheless, the level of suspicion and paranoia inside the foreign policy and national security agencies, already high since Mr. Trump’s arrival, has only risen since Ms. Yovanovitch’s saga has surfaced.

“It’s more than crazy — it’s ugly, it’s threatening,” said Daniel Fried, a former ambassador and 40-year State Department official who has long dealt with Russian and Ukrainian issues and retired at the beginning of the Trump administration. “Masha Yovanovitch is known as a straight arrow, disciplined, professional.”

“If you take out Masha Yovanovitch, you send the message to every ambassador that we will not have your back,” he said.

Ms. Yovanovitch was born in Canada, moved to Connecticut at age 3 and became a naturalized American citizen at 18. In congressional testimony, she said her father fled the Soviet Union and then the Nazis; her mother grew up “stateless” in Germany. She said that background gave her a special empathy for those who had endured poverty, war and displacement.

Westlake Legal Group trump-ukraine-timeline-promo-1569528528277-articleLarge-v2 Trump Said Ukraine Envoy Would ‘Go Through Some Things.’ She Has Already. Zelensky, Volodymyr Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Giuliani, Rudolph W Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter Appointments and Executive Changes

Trump’s Efforts to Push Ukraine Toward a Biden Inquiry: A Timeline

A guide to the key figures and dates as President Trump and his allies pressured Ukraine to investigate his political opponents.

She grew up speaking Russian, graduated from Princeton and joined the State Department six years later. Her specialty was Eurasia.

President George W. Bush appointed her ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, then to Armenia. President Barack Obama named her ambassador to Ukraine in 2016. There, she spoke out strongly against corruption in the Ukrainian government and pushed for a variety of reforms, including ending the immunity enjoyed by legislators accused of crimes.

John E. Herbst, a former ambassador to Ukraine, described her as a highly skilled and meticulous diplomat who would never share her personal political opinions with foreign officials — or even with her diplomatic colleagues. She was careful not to overstep her authority, he said.

“Masha is someone who is always very attentive to propriety and to instructions, and by nature, cautious,” he said. “She is uniformly held in high regard.”

The campaign against her by Trump allies began more than a year ago, with a letter from Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican member of the House at the time who lost his re-election bid in November. He wrote to Mr. Pompeo that Ms. Yovanovitch should be fired for privately and repeatedly expressing “disdain” for the current administration.

Then, this spring, Joseph E. diGenova, a former federal prosecutor and an ally of Mr. Trump’s, alleged on a Fox News broadcast that the ambassador had disparaged Mr. Trump to Ukrainian officials, telling them “not to listen to him or obey his policy because he was going to be impeached.”

Two days later, Donald Trump Jr. posted a link on social media to a conservative website that described her as an anti-Trump Obama loyalist, and one Mr. Trump had been trying to fire for a year. He said his father’s administration should have “less of these jokers as ambassadors.”

Westlake Legal Group whistleblower-complaint-promo-1569502500532-articleLarge-v5 Trump Said Ukraine Envoy Would ‘Go Through Some Things.’ She Has Already. Zelensky, Volodymyr Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Giuliani, Rudolph W Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter Appointments and Executive Changes

Document: Read the Whistle-Blower Complaint

The complaint filed by an intelligence officer about President Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine.

About the same time, a Ukrainian-American named Lev Parnas, who has worked with Mr. Giuliani, told people in Republican circles in Washington of tape recordings of conversations in which Ms. Yovanovitch had supposedly disparaged the president, according to people he spoke with. The existence of those recordings has not been substantiated.

Her troubles mounted as Mr. Giuliani stepped up pressure on the Ukrainian government to open an investigation into whether Mr. Biden, as vice-president, had forced out a top prosecutor in order to shut down an inquiry that might have implicated Mr. Biden’s son Hunter.

No evidence has emerged that Mr. Biden was actually trying to protect his son; in fact, many Western leaders viewed Ukraine’s top prosecutor as corrupt and were pressuring Ukraine’s leader to fire him.

But one former Ukrainian prosecutor, Kostiantyn H. Kulyk, told The New York Times in an interview in April that Ms. Yovanovitch had thwarted his efforts to meet with the F.B.I. to deliver damaging information about the Bidens by denying him a visa.

Mr. Giuliani also accused her of being a pawn of the New York financier George Soros, a major Democratic donor who backed a nonprofit anti-corruption group that worked in Ukraine. “The ambassador there is in the pocket of Soros,” he said in a March interview with The New York Times.

The critiques of Ms. Yovanovitch clearly reached Mr. Trump’s ears. In the July 25 phone call, Mr. Zelensky, Ukraine’s newly elected president, told Mr. Trump: “You were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador,” adding that “I agree with you 100 percent.”

The premature end to Ms. Yovanovitch’s tenure in Kiev was all the more remarkable because Ukraine’s government had just turned over with the surprise election of Mr. Zelensky in April.

“She’s capable and she’s tough, and why would you want to lose your ambassador right at the moment when there is a big change in the government?” asked Evelyn Farkas, a former deputy assistant defense secretary for the region that includes Ukraine.

Mr. Trump has not yet chosen a replacement.

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