web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > United States International Relations (Page 25)

U.S. Military Calls ISIS in Afghanistan a Threat to the West. Intelligence Officials Disagree.

WASHINGTON — Senior United States military and intelligence officials are sharply divided over how much of a threat the Islamic State in Afghanistan poses to the West, a critical point in the Trump administration’s debate over whether American troops stay or withdraw after nearly 18 years of war.

American military commanders in Afghanistan have described the Islamic State affiliate there as a growing problem that is capable of inspiring and directing attacks in western countries, including the United States.

But intelligence officials in Washington disagree, arguing the group is mostly incapable of exporting terrorism worldwide. The officials believe that the Islamic State in Afghanistan, known as Islamic State Khorasan, remains a regional problem and is more of a threat to the Taliban than to the West.

Differences between the American military and Washington’s intelligence community over Afghanistan are almost as enduring as the war itself. The Pentagon and spy agencies have long differed over the strength of the Taliban and the effectiveness of the military’s campaign in Afghanistan.

Whether to keep counterterrorism forces in Afghanistan is at the heart of the Trump administration’s internal debate over the future of the war.

Ten current and former American and European officials who are familiar with the military and intelligence assessments of the strength of Islamic State in Afghanistan provided details of the debate to The New York Times. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss the issue and confidential assessments of the terrorism threat.

A State Department envoy is leading negotiations for a peace deal that would give the Taliban political power in Afghanistan and withdraw international troops. For months, the Trump administration has been drafting plans to cut the 14,000 American forces who are currently there by half. On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Mr. Trump had ordered a reduction in the number of troops in Afghanistan before the 2020 presidential election, but he did not specify a number.

“That’s my directive from the president of the United States,” Mr. Pompeo told the Economic Club of Washington. “He’s been unambiguous: End the endless wars. Draw down. Reduce. It won’t just be us.”

Yet at the same time, current and former officials, including the retired Army generals Jack Keane and David H. Petraeus, are lobbying the Trump administration to maintain several thousand Special Operations forces in Afghanistan. Doing so, they argue, will keep terrorist groups from returning and help prevent the collapse of the Afghan government and its security forces.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_153306351_45a71984-13a1-418a-b0b7-042fcb2aa862-articleLarge U.S. Military Calls ISIS in Afghanistan a Threat to the West. Intelligence Officials Disagree. United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces United States Central Command Terrorism Taliban Khorasan Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Espionage and Intelligence Services Defense Department central intelligence agency Afghanistan War (2001- ) Afghanistan

Afghan security officials in April arrested a group of militants and accused three of being members of the Taliban and five of belonging to the Islamic State. They were accused of planning attacks against the Afghan government in April.CreditGhulamullah Habibi/EPA, via Shutterstock

“U.S. troops in Afghanistan have prevented another catastrophic attack on our homeland for 18 years,” General Keane said in an interview. “Expecting the Taliban to provide that guarantee in the future by withdrawing all U.S. troops makes no sense.”

In Afghanistan, the threat of Islamic State is not a point of debate.

Brig. Gen. Ahmad Aziz, the commander of an Afghan Special Police Unit, said that Islamic State attacks in Kabul, the capital, are becoming more advanced and that the group is growing.

During a May tour of the communications ministry in Kabul, General Aziz pointed out a neat, circular hole cut at a weak point between two walls. A month earlier, he said, Islamic State gunmen had slipped through the hole and into the building to kill at least seven people.

“Their breach points are evolving,” General Aziz said, “and they’re picking targets that are more difficult for us to get to.”

Military and intelligence officials do agree that the Islamic State, unlike the Taliban or other terrorist groups in Afghanistan, has focused on so-called soft targets such as civilian centers in Kabul and the city of Jalalabad.

But on the key question — whether the Islamic State can reach beyond the borders of Afghanistan and strike the West — the American military in Afghanistan and intelligence agencies in Washington diverge.

One senior intelligence official said the Islamic State’s Afghanistan branch lacks the organizational sophistication of the core group in Syria and Iraq, which had a bureaucracy dedicated to planning attacks in Europe and cultivating operatives overseas.

Ambassador Nathan A. Sales, the State Department’s counterterror coordinator, called the Islamic State Khorasan “a major problem in the region.” And, he added, it poses a threat to the United States.

“What we have to do is make sure that ISIS-Khorasan, which has committed a number of attacks in the region, is not able to engage in external operations,” Mr. Sales told reporters at the State Department on Thursday.

The aftermath of a mortar attack targeting a political gathering in West Kabul in March. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed at least five civilians.CreditJim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Some analysts said it was dangerous to suggest that the Islamic State in Afghanistan did not have the capability to threaten the West.

“I would never rule out any of these jihadis ever threatening the West, because their ideology is inherently anti-America,” said Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington.

But whether the American military should remain in Afghanistan, he said, should not hinge just on the threat from Islamic State or other extremists. “The war has been stagnant and poorly managed for so long,” Mr. Joscelyn said, “that it is hard to argue for the status quo.”

The Islamic State in Afghanistan surfaced in 2015 and was quickly dismissed by Pentagon officials merely as a breakaway group from the Taliban in Pakistan, but one with little ability to expand given the pervasiveness of other hard-liners.

Four years later, the Islamic State Khorasan is made up of roughly 3,000 fighters and is well resourced, funded and entrenched in the rural areas of eastern Afghanistan.

A United Nations report released this week concluded that the Islamic State Khorasan was responsible for 423 of the 3,812 civilians — about 11 percent — who were killed or wounded in Afghanistan during the first six months of 2019.

Intelligence officials in Washington said the territory controlled by the Islamic State in Afghanistan was not of strategic importance — much like Pakistan’s lawless frontier. Neither government officials in Kabul nor foreign forces have ever truly controlled the rural mountain ranges that run along Afghanistan’s eastern border.

When the Islamic State grabbed territory in Jowzjan Province last year, American officials and Taliban leaders alike were concerned. But officials said the Taliban, following a concerted bombing campaign by American aircraft, pushed out the Islamic State, which since has been unable to capture land outside the provinces of Nangarhar and Kunar.

American military officials in Kabul said broad assessments from Washington often belie evidence that United States troops find on the battlefield, such as information gleaned on raids and from materials like cellphones. That intelligence, the officials said, has portrayed an expanding Islamic State recruiting network and an extremist influence that extends well outside the country.

Displaced residents of Tangi Wazir, a village raided and burned by Islamic State militants, gathered at a roadside camp in eastern Afghanistan in 2017.CreditMauricio Lima for The New York Times

In one example, a senior intelligence official said, evidence compiled from Afghanistan showed that an Islamic State leader in Nangarhar Province helped inspire and direct an April 7, 2017, terrorist attack that killed five people and wounded at least 12 in Stockholm.

The Islamic State remains a threat to American forces in Afghanistan. At least a half-dozen American troops have been killed fighting the group since 2015, and a C.I.A. contractor lost a leg in an Islamic State attack last fall.

But the size of the group remains a sticking point between the military and intelligence agencies.

Military officials at the United States Central Command, which oversees the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, have routinely doubled the estimated number of fighters that intelligence officials had separately predicted would be present in a given village or area, according to two American officials.

[Sign up for the weekly At War newsletter to receive stories about duty, conflict and consequence.]

In part, the spy agencies’ assessments are the result of their reliance on technical intelligence collection, like drones sweeping over training camps and electronic eavesdropping on cellphones and other communications.

The National Security Agency can count cellphone signals from known insurgents or terrorists. But, officials said, many fighters do not carry cellphones, and those who do are increasingly encrypting their messages. An N.S.A. spokesman declined to comment.

The Islamic State, in both the Middle East and Afghanistan, has proved adept at swelling its numbers quickly. It has armed civilians and pushed them into battle, conscripted others into its ranks and converted administrative workers into fighters.

The undercounting of fighters has proved most dangerous ahead of raids on Islamic State safe houses, where Special Operation forces and Afghan commandos have found far more militants than intelligence agencies predicted.

Some military officials believe the undercounting has caused the intelligence agencies to underestimate the threat of the Islamic State.

The American military’s reconsideration of the threat and expansion of the Islamic State is partly a byproduct of an intelligence failure in 2015, when United States forces were startled to find an expansive Qaeda training camp in rural Kandahar Province.

The discovery alarmed military officials, who long thought the terrorist group had been reduced to a few dozen stragglers spread around the country, one former White House official said.

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

China Wants to Hit Back at Trump. Its Own Economy Stands in the Way.

BEIJING — As China considers ways to retaliate against President Trump’s mounting tariffs, it has increasingly acknowledged that it must first address its main obstacle to punching back: its own slumping economy.

Chinese officials have vowed to respond with measures of their own if Mr. Trump follows through on his threat to put 10 percent tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese imports a year. If Mr. Trump enacts the tariffs next month, as he said he would do on Thursday, the costs would rise for nearly everything China ships to the United States, from shoes to car parts to the latest gadgets.

On Friday, China’s Ministry of Commerce, which is heavily involved in the country’s trade policy, said it would “take necessary counter measures to resolutely defend the core interests of the country and the fundamental interests of the people.”

The question is how. China’s imports from the United States only a fraction of the trade going the other way, so it cannot match Washington tariff for tariff. Much of that trade consists of agriculture goods like soybeans, as well as specialized products like Boeing jetliners or the American-made chips for the smartphones China makes.

[Meet the Trump-taunting editor at China’s ‘Fox News,’ a key voice in the trade war.]

There are several things China could do. It could call for a boycott of American goods or stop buying Boeing planes. It could devalue its currency, which would in effect partially nullify American tariffs. It could make life much harder for American business and executives in China, or it could exercise its power over key parts of the global supply chain, like its dominance over key manufacturing minerals called rare earths.

Some investors on Friday signaled they expect at least one of those moves. China’s currency, the renminbi, fell to its weakest point so far this year. Shares of rare earths companies rose, while Boeing’s shares fell more than the broader market on Thursday.

But each of these measures has drawbacks. Perhaps the biggest among them is that China’s economy is growing at its slowest pace in 27 years. Many of the arrows Beijing has in its quiver could ricochet and hit its own factories and workers.

Chinese officials have signaled in recent weeks that tackling sluggish growth is a necessity for prevailing in the trade war, especially as it looks to drag on for months or perhaps years. That prospect was made clearer still to Chinese leaders on Thursday, as Mr. Trump’s latest threat came just one day after top American negotiators concluded talks with their Chinese counterparts in Shanghai.

“China has to make long-term plans, and it will be more focused on itself,” said Song Guoyou, deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University.

“It cannot change the Sino-U.S. trade war process, which makes China realize that it should put more focus on domestic reform,” said Dr. Song.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158746464_5b30ddaf-7cab-4424-b665-d9b31e56bd15-articleLarge China Wants to Hit Back at Trump. Its Own Economy Stands in the Way. Xi Jinping United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Renminbi (Currency) International Trade and World Market Economic Conditions and Trends China

Shipping containers from China and Asia at the Long Beach port in California.CreditMark Ralston/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, has called on Chinese people to brace for a period of hardship. In recent months, the country’s central bank has allowed money to flow into infrastructure projects, a once-reliable recipe for growth that now threatens to add to a national mountain of debt.

Senior officials gathering this week at a high-level economic meeting chaired by Mr. Xi said China needed to tap domestic demand to help manage what they described as new economic risks and challenges. They also hinted that the central bank could pump more money into the system to allow local governments to shore up the economy over the next few months.

“The Chinese will no longer give priority to controlling trade war scale,” Hu Xijin, the outspoken editor of China’s nationalist tabloid Global Times, said on Twitter. “They will focus on the national strategy under a prolonged trade war.”

Officials are also taking concrete steps to shift China’s dependence on the United States for certain goods. They have focused efforts on new trade partnerships with countries like Japan and South Korea and lowered trade barriers for other countries. They have also struck deals to import agricultural goods from countries other than the United States. This week, China approved barley imports from Russia.

The strategy has risks, especially if the trade war continues to drag on. China has plenty of financial firepower at its disposal, including the savings of its people inside its state-controlled banks and a vast hoard of foreign currency. Its control of the local media can also go a long way toward preparing its people for tough times.

But supporting its vast economy, the world’s second largest after the United States, could get increasingly expensive. Mr. Xi could wait for next year’s American elections to see whether voters oust Mr. Trump, but at least some of the potential Democratic candidates also favor a tough stance against Beijing.

If Mr. Trump makes good on his promise of new tariffs next month, China has some measures that it can turn back to, including placing tariffs on the rest of China’s exports to the United States.

It could also begin to place American companies on an “unreliable entities list” it recently announced in response to an American blacklist. China has already issued warnings about FedEx, which it has accused of delaying shipments from Huawei.

It could also make life more difficult for American businesses, by holding executives at the border through so-called “exit bans,” and by slowing the pace of license approvals and deal clearances.

Officials could also call on consumers to boycott products from American brands like Apple. But such a move could also backfire because it would hit factories that employ hundreds of thousands of people and dent growth at a time when the government is depending on consumers to help kick-start the economic growth engines.

One measure that would also help to soften the blow of new tariffs would be to devalue the renminbi. This approach, however, is fraught with problems. Money flooded out of the country when China shocked markets four years ago with a surprise devaluation, prompting Beijing to tighten its control of money flowing through its border and spend $1 trillion to shore up the currency.

A brokerage house in Beijing. China’s currency, the renminbi, fell to its weakest point so far this year.CreditMark Schiefelbein/Associated Press

It could also seriously escalate tensions. Mr. Trump has repeatedly complained that Beijing weakens the renminbi in order to take advantage of the United States. A cheaper currency gives Chinese factories an advantage when selling goods in the United States.

In fact, Beijing right now is preventing, not enabling, a weaker currency. The renminbi would weaken if Chinese officials relaxed their grip.

China may do exactly that. They make take a freer hand with the currency, letting it weaken toward 7 renminbi against the dollar, a psychologically important marker that would be likely to get the Trump administration’s attention if it was passed.

“Psychologically, it is important, but economics trump politics at the moment,” said Shaun Roache, chief economist for Asia Pacific at S&P Global.

However, officials would have to risk letting the currency fall too quickly, which would set off panic in China and trigger outflows.

On Friday, the renminbi dropped to its lowest level so far this year against the dollar, hovering at 6.9590 renminbi.

Before September, however, it is unlikely that Chinese officials will take much retaliatory action.

“China will try to focus much more on domestic stability than retaliation. We were seeing growth start to stabilize but it was by no means guaranteed. Their first priority is domestic stability,” said Mr. Roache.

As they consider their moves, Chinese officials will also try to parse Mr. Trump’s negotiating strategy. Experts said his capricious style had flummoxed Beijing.

“We don’t know how to deal with this either,” Tu Xinquan, the president of the China Institute for W.T.O. Studies at the University of International Business and Economics.

“Is he a sane person at all?” Professor Tu said of the latest move by Mr. Trump. “It’s quite surprising. Didn’t the White House just announce that the trade talks were constructive?”

But, he added, if new tariffs kick in on Sept. 1, “I think the Chinese side will stop trade talks completely.”

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

U.S. Ends Cold War Missile Treaty, With Aim of Countering China

Westlake Legal Group 01dc-missiles1-facebookJumbo U.S. Ends Cold War Missile Treaty, With Aim of Countering China United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Treaties Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty Russia Nuclear Weapons China Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament

WASHINGTON — The United States on Friday terminated a major treaty of the Cold War, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement, and it is already planning to start testing a new class of missiles later this summer.

But the new missiles are unlikely to be deployed to counter the treaty’s other nuclear power, Russia, which the United States has said for years was in violation of the accord. Instead, the first deployments are likely to be intended to counter China, which has amassed an imposing missile arsenal and is now seen as a much more formidable long-term strategic rival than Russia.

The moves by Washington have elicited concern that the United States may be on the precipice of a new arms race, especially because the one major remaining arms control treaty with Russia, a far larger one called New START, appears on life support, unlikely to be renewed when it expires in less than two years.

At a moment when the potential for nuclear confrontations with North Korea and Iran is rising, the American decision to abandon the 32-year-old treaty has prompted new worries in Europe and Asia, and warnings that echo an era that once seemed banished to the history books. The resurgence of nuclear geopolitics was evident in the Democratic debate on Tuesday night, when presidential hopefuls grappled with whether the United States should renounce “first use” of nuclear weapons in any future conflict.

“The United States and Russia are now in a state of strategic instability,” Ernest J. Moniz, the former energy secretary, and Sam Nunn, the former Georgia senator who helped draft the legislation that funded the drastic reduction in former Soviet nuclear forces, write in a coming article in Foreign Affairs ominously titled “The Return to Doomsday.” “Not since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis has the risk of a U.S.-Russian confrontation involving the use of nuclear weapons been as high as it is today. Yet unlike during the Cold War, both sides seem willfully blind to the peril.”

Others are less concerned about the implications with Russia, noting that the treaty is limited, covering only a narrow class of missiles.

President Barack Obama considered terminating the treaty when Moscow was first accused of violating its terms. On Thursday, just as his aides were confirming the American withdrawal and blaming Russia for the breakdown, President Trump told reporters that Russia “would like to do something on a nuclear treaty” and added later, “So would I.” But he appeared to be discussing a broader treaty that would involve China — which has said it has no intention of negotiating a limit on its arsenal.

In fact, the administration has argued that China is one reason Mr. Trump decided to exit the I.N.F. treaty. Most experts now assess that China has the most advanced conventional missile arsenal in the world, based throughout the mainland. When the treaty went into effect in 1987, China’s missile fleet was judged so rudimentary that it was not even a consideration.

Today hundreds of missiles in southeast China are within range of Taiwan, the self-governing democratic island supported by the United States. Missiles at other sites can hit Japan and India, and there are Chinese missiles that can strike the United States territory of Guam and other potential targets in what American strategists call the second-island chain.

“Unilateral constraint was a losing proposition: China developed the world’s foremost force of missiles precisely within the ranges that I.N.F. would prohibit,” said Andrew Erickson, a professor of strategy at the United States Naval War College. “So this increasingly antiquated treaty had no future.”

Until now, the Trump administration has held off on testing new missiles that would violate the treaty; under its terms, even testing is prohibited. But that stricture lifts on Friday, and the first test of new American intermediate-range missiles is likely to begin within weeks, according to American officials familiar with the Pentagon’s plans.

The first, perhaps as early as this month, is expected to be a test of a version of a common, sea-launched cruise missile, the Tomahawk. It would be modified to be fired from the ground. (The treaty prohibited intermediate-range ground-launched missiles, but not missiles launched from ships or airplanes.) If successful, officials say, the first ground-launched cruise missiles could be deployed within 18 months or so — if the United States can find a country willing to house them.

That would be followed by a test of a new mobile, ground-launched ballistic missile with a range of 1,800 to 2,500 miles, before the end of the year. But that would be an entirely new missile, and it is not likely to be deployed for another five years or so — meaning the very end of the Trump presidency, if he is re-elected.

But the question is where to deploy them. “I don’t think the Europeans want to host them,” Gary Samore, the director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University and the chief nuclear strategist at the National Security Council under Mr. Obama, said on Thursday. In Asia, he noted, the two countries where it would make most sense to deploy the missiles would be Japan and South Korea, though any move to put the missiles there could infuriate China.

“The real question is where and whether or not there would be pushback,” said Bonnie S. Glaser, a senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The most obvious place is someplace in Japan.”

Mr. Samore noted that the fate of New START, which governs the strategic weapons the United States and Russia have deployed, “is much more important than I.N.F.” Senior military officials agree, but have added that once the I.N.F. treaty dies, it is hard to imagine a negotiation to renew New START, which expires in February 2021, right after the next presidential inauguration.

Even if it is renewed, Mr. Samore noted that in coming years, the source of strategic instability may not come just from nuclear weapons but also “from space weapons, artificial intelligence and cyber — and there we have no restraints.”

But it is China’s rocket forces that have focused the attention of the Pentagon and the Trump administration. In 2017, Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., then the head of United States Pacific Command, said in congressional testimony that the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force controls the “largest and most diverse missile force in the world, with an inventory of more than 2,000 ballistic and cruise missiles.” He pointed out that the United States capability lagged because of its adherence to the treaty with Russia, and that if China were a signatory, 95 percent of its missiles would be in violation.

But deploying a counterforce to Taiwan would be too provocative, officials say, and Japan may have hesitations: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would have to consider the blow that would result to relations between Beijing and Tokyo, which have been improving.

China’s fury at deployment of American ground-based missiles in an Asian nation probably would be even greater than its reaction in 2016 and 2017 to plans to install an American antimissile system in South Korea.

For more than a year after the announcement of the deployment, Beijing denounced the move and called for a wide boycott of products from South Korea, whose companies then suffered. The Americans began deploying the system, commonly known as THAAD, in March 2017, and Beijing did not relent on its actions against South Korea until that October. Communist Party leaders feared the United States was laying the groundwork for an expansive antimissile system across Asia.

Chinese officials have also balked at any attempt to limit their missiles with a new treaty, arguing that the nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia are much larger and deadlier.

“The Trump idea of a trilateral arms control agreement is not realistic,” Mr. Samore said. “The Chinese are not going to codify an inferior number of weapons compared to the United States and Russia. And Russia and the U.S. won’t give China equal status.”

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

As Domestic Troubles Mount, China Points Finger at U.S.

BEIJING — A popular news anchor watched by hundreds of millions of Chinese poured scorn on the United States, using an obscenity to accuse it of sowing chaos. A prominent official blamed Washington directly for the antigovernment protests upending Hong Kong.

Pointed hostility toward America, voiced by Chinese officials and state-run news organizations under the control of an all-powerful propaganda department, has escalated in recent weeks in tandem with two of China’s big problems: a slowing economy complicated by trade tensions and turbulence in Hong Kong that has no end in sight.

“It is, after all, the work of the United States,” Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said this week of the unrest in Hong Kong. Like other Chinese officials, she presented no evidence of American involvement in the demonstrations, which stem from worries over Beijing’s encroaching influence in the semiautonomous territory.

This is hardly the first time China has responded to domestic problems with frontal assaults on outsiders. Thirty years ago, Washington was accused of fomenting the pro-democracy upheavals on Tiananmen Square.

But after decades of working together on economic, technological and even military matters, China and the United States are going through a breakdown in relations that has turned increasingly adversarial.

Now, a dramatic singling out of the United States as a bad actor is setting a new anti-American tone for a domestic audience that is worried about jobs and sees Hong Kong as an island of ungrateful citizens.

This is deliberate on the part of the Chinese government, analysts said.

“Hong Kong is part of the bigger playbook to blame the United States for everything,” said Ho-fung Hung, a professor of international relations at Johns Hopkins University. “The Chinese government knows the Trump administration is not popular in the United States or in China, so it’s an easy scapegoat.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group 01china-rhetoric2-articleLarge As Domestic Troubles Mount, China Points Finger at U.S. United States International Relations Propaganda Politics and Government News and News Media Hong Kong Demonstrations, Protests and Riots China

“It is, after all, the work of the United States,” a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hua Chunying, said this week of the unrest in Hong Kong.CreditEuropean Pressphoto Agency

[Meet the Trump-taunting editor at China’s “Fox News” who is a key voice in the trade war.]

After trade talks with the United States broke down in May, China was relatively polite toward Washington as the two sides considered their next steps. When Hong Kong protesters began marching regularly in June, drawing crowds that organizers estimated at up to two million, the Chinese state news media made scant mention of it.

But now the gloves are off, with American and Chinese negotiators making little progress at talks in Shanghai this week. Just on Thursday, President Trump escalated the trade war, saying he would impose tariffs on an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese imports.

Beijing also does not appear to see an end to its differences with Washington over the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, which was blacklisted by the Trump administration as a security threat.

As the economic strains intensify, state news outlets are now depicting the demonstrations in Hong Kong as the work of Americans and other “foreign forces.”

One of the most remarkable anti-American eruptions came last week when Kang Hui, one of China’s most recognized television news anchors, attacked the United States on-air as a hegemon that bullied and threatened others.

“They stir up more troubles and crave the whole world to be in chaos, acting like a shit-stirring stick,” Mr. Kang said on the usually stolid 7 p.m. national news program on CCTV, China’s state broadcaster. The expletive quickly became one of the most-searched-for phrases on Chinese social media.

In a follow-up video on a CCTV social media account, Mr. Kang boasted about how he had taunted the United States.

“If a handful of Americans always stir up troubles, then we are sorry,” he intoned. “No more do we talk about certain issues. We will also target you. We will bash you till your faces are covered with mud. We will bash you till you are left speechless.”

A Huawei advertisement in Shanghai. The tech giant is at the center of one of China’s disputes with the United States.CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

China began dialing up the anti-American comments after a meeting in Washington last month between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Jimmy Lai, the publisher of Apple Daily, a pro-democracy newspaper in Hong Kong. A statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry accused senior United States officials of having “ulterior motives.”

At the same time, prominent Chinese figures have become more public in their criticism of the Hong Kong protests, and more outlandish in their claims.

One professor accused the United States of encouraging pregnant women to appear at hot spots during demonstrations, as a tactic to confuse the police.

“They are obviously actors, not Hong Kong citizens,” said Wang Yiwei, a professor in the School of International Studies at Renmin University in Beijing.

In recent days, the barbed language has turned to the United States economy as well.

Ms. Hua, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said at a briefing on Wednesday that the Chinese economy was in a far stronger position because it grew 6.2 percent in the second quarter, compared with 2.1 percent growth for the United States.

“Which one is better, 6.2 percent or 2.1 percent? I believe you all have a clear judgment,” she told a room full of Chinese and foreign reporters.

While the United States figure is far short of Mr. Trump’s 3 percent target, economic growth in China — which reported double-digit growth as recently as 2010 — is at a 27-year low.

CCTV is now regularly showing video of clashes between protesters and the police that suggest Hong Kong is in the throes of permanent rebellion. Chinese-backed news outlets in Hong Kong have published photographs of foreigners taken at or near the protests, including journalists, and accused them of being American government agents.

Wang Huning, a propaganda specialist with a dim view of the United States, sits on China’s Politburo Standing Committee, the highest tier of power.CreditWang Zhao/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Such outbursts almost certainly have the blessing of China’s top leadership, analysts said.

One of President Xi Jinping’s closest confidants, Wang Huning, is a propaganda specialist who harbors a dim view of the United States and multiparty democracy in general.

Mr. Wang, the author of a book called “America Against America” about his visits to the United States in the 1980s, is one of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the highest level of political power in China. His views are likely to permeate the propaganda apparatus as it formulates the anti-American campaign.

“Blaming the U.S. for the trouble in Hong Kong signals a deliberate policy decision rather than an instinctive reaction,” said Minxin Pei, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in California. “It is highly unlikely that the use of such shrill rhetoric has not received endorsement from the top leadership.”

Beyond the specific issues of Hong Kong and trade, Mr. Pei said, the Chinese government is trying to construct a “meganarrative” that portrays the United States as the “principal antagonist intent on not only thwarting China’s rise with the trade war but also fomenting trouble within Chinese borders.”

Media experts said that while the government rhetoric was probably effective in influencing the attitudes of Chinese people toward the United States, its precise impact was impossible to measure.

Since Hong Kong’s last sustained protest movement in 2014, the experts said, Beijing has become more sophisticated at controlling information from outside sources.

“Domestic platforms are heavily censored,” said Luwei Rose Luqiu, an assistant professor in the journalism department at Hong Kong Baptist University. “Only posts and comments in line with official ideology and rhetoric are allowed to exist.”

The propaganda machine has a powerful insulating effect on Chinese readers and viewers, said Lokman Tsui, an assistant professor in the school of journalism at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

“Even when some Chinese people come across messaging that is contrary to the propaganda, they are inoculated enough to ‘resist’ these messages,” Mr. Tsui said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Federal Inquiry of Trump Friend Focused on Foreign Lobbying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

China Needs New Places to Sell Its Mountain of Stuff

BEIJING — China has too many factories making too many goods. Thanks to its punishing trade war with the United States, its biggest overseas customer isn’t buying like before.

So China is seeking new customers. They could prove to be a hard sell.

China this week formally restarted its efforts to create a free-trade zone across the Asia-Pacific region, with an unlikely goal of striking a deal by November. If successful, the pact could eventually open markets from Australia to India.

Beijing is also trying to keep alive long-shot, three-way talks that would lower trade barriers among China, Japan and South Korea. More broadly, it is unilaterally reducing its own tariffs on a broad range of goods from all over the world, even as it puts higher retaliatory tariffs on American-made goods.

At stake is the health of the Chinese economy. Last week China reported that its growth slowed to its most sluggish pace in nearly three decades, in part because the trade war with the Trump administration has begun to hit its crucial export sector. Global companies are now looking to shift work to other countries to avoid what could be a protracted trade war.

With no end in immediate sight, China needs new markets for what it makes.

“It’s hard to replace the U.S., but you have to try, you have to diversify,” said Chen Dingding, a professor of international relations at Jinan University in Guangzhou, China. “We don’t want to rely on the U.S. market forever, even though it’s important.”

But trade pacts are difficult to strike, and China’s potential free-trade partners have plenty of reasons to be worried.

No country can absorb the sheer volume of what China sells to American customers. China’s regional neighbors compete against it in a number of industries. And China continues to maintain high tariffs and other barriers to protect its own industries — barriers that would have to drop if other countries were to sign on.

The economic clash between the United States and China has thrown the world trade system out of balance. China runs an annual surplus in manufactured goods trade of almost $1 trillion, meaning that is how much more it sells to the world than it buys each year. Nearly half of that surplus comes from trade with the United States.

China’s overall exports to the United States slumped 8.5 percent in the first half of this year. China’s exports to the rest of the world have risen only 2.1 percent. As Beijing’s trade war with Washington drags into its second year, the question now is who might buy China’s extra factory goods if the United States does not.

Already, the country is plagued with excess capacity for making cars, steel and other staples of global trade. More factory slowdowns and shutdown could lead to job losses and further drag down economic growth.

Faced with further potential economic pain, Beijing is looking to open up other markets. The centerpiece of its efforts is a push this summer to negotiate an Asian free trade pact called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or R.C.E.P. The partnership would encompass the 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

Midlevel and senior trade officials from across the region began meeting this week in Zhengzhou, China. Their ministers are then scheduled to join them in Beijing on Aug. 2 and 3. The goal is to outline a deal that Asian leaders might then work out at a summit meeting in Bangkok in November.

“We are continuing talking on this, and we hope we can accelerate the speed so that it can be concluded within this year,” said Wu Jianghao, the director general of the department of Asian affairs at the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

China’s leaders have talked since 2012 about the possibility of such a regional partnership, in response to President Barack Obama’s plans for a multination trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership that would have excluded China. Working out a deal would require solving some thorny issues.

“I’m not optimistic about that deal to be materialized in November,” said Takeshi Niinami, chief executive of Suntory, the Japanese beverage company, and a member of a council that advises Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, on economic issues. “Maybe we need more time,” he said.

One obstacle had been China’s own high tariffs. Beijing long feared that if it cut tariffs, manufacturers would flee China’s surging wages and find lower-cost refuges in countries like Vietnam and Bangladesh.

Starting in May of last year, China began reducing its tariffs. Trade tensions with the United States were rising. Chinese leaders had also become increasingly willing to lower protective walls around the country’s labor-intensive, low-tech industries so as to focus on more sophisticated manufacturing. Though average tariffs remain higher than those of the United States and the European Union, the categories for which China has reduced tariffs include many low-tech manufactured goods, like handbags and low-cost garments, which many of China’s neighbors would like to export.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 00chinatrade-2-articleLarge China Needs New Places to Sell Its Mountain of Stuff United States International Relations Trans-Pacific Partnership International Trade and World Market Far East, South and Southeast Asia and Pacific Areas Customs (Tariff) China Assn of Southeast Asian Nations

New cars at the port in the Chinese city of Tianjin. China is plagued with excess capacity for the staples of global trade.CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

“We will continue to lower overall tariffs voluntarily, remove non-tariff barriers, actively increase the import of goods and services, and enhance import facilitation,” Premier Li Keqiang said in a speech on July 2 in Dalian, China, at the “summer Davos” session of the World Economic Forum.

Winning support could be a tall order. India, for example, with its size and fast growth could be a potentially vast buyer of Chinese goods. But India protects its markets behind the highest average tariffs among the world’s biggest economies, and it fears floods of low-priced imports from China.

Still, Indian pharmaceutical makers want to ship more generic drugs to China. Service industries, like computer programming, want to make it easier for Indian programmers to get temporary work visas there.

“There are sectors that feel very vulnerable, and there are sectors that stand to gain, like services,” said Gaurav Dalmia, the chairman of Dalmia Group Holdings, an Indian industrial and financial conglomerate. Yet China has been wary of opening its doors to Indian pharmaceuticals and Indian workers. One possibility is that the negotiations could reach a deal that does not initially include India, said Mari Pangestu, a former trade minister of Indonesia. But that would limit the benefits for the other countries in the talks.

Even if a deal is struck, it is not clear how much China might benefit. A number of potential members, like Japan and South Korea, are highly competitive manufacturers themselves and may not import a lot more.

China has also been in long-running talks with Japan and South Korea on a trilateral trade partnership. But the prospects for any new trade deal among China, Japan and South Korea have been put in serious question by a simmering trade dispute between Japan and South Korea.

Even if China strikes new trade pacts, it will still face pressure to find markets for the vast amounts of manufactured goods it makes, said Brad Setser, a former Treasury official in the Obama administration who is now at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

“There’s absolutely no other country in the world that is willing right now to replace the United States in running a close to $400 billion annual trade deficit in manufactured goods with China,” he said.

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

In Escalation, Iran Tests Medium-Range Missile, U.S. Official Says

Westlake Legal Group shabab3-1-facebookJumbo In Escalation, Iran Tests Medium-Range Missile, U.S. Official Says Zarif, Mohammad Javad United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces United Nations Trump, Donald J Pompeo, Mike Nuclear Weapons Iran Defense Department

WASHINGTON — Iran fired a Shahab-3 medium-range missile on Wednesday, a United States military official said, playing it down by saying that it did not pose a threat to American or other Western shipping or military bases in the region.

The missile was launched from the southern coast of Iran and landed east of Tehran, the official said on Thursday, adding that it flew about 1,100 kilometers, or about 680 miles, and stayed inside Iran for the entire flight.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence analyses, said that American officials had been closely monitoring the test site as Iran prepared the missile for launch.

Despite the Pentagon’s effort to minimize the strategic importance of the launch on Wednesday, it appears to be a political statement by Iran, acting both as a carefully calibrated effort at escalation — and as a message to Europe.

Missile launches are not forbidden under the 2015 nuclear accord reached between Washington and Tehran, which is one of President Trump’s complaints about the agreement he abandoned last year. But a United Nations Security Council resolution, passed just as the agreement was reached, says that “Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has demanded that Iran cease all missile launches and testing and give up its arsenal of the weapons. Iran says it is under no obligation to do so, and notes that because it has no interest in nuclear weapons, it is not violating the wording of the United Nations prohibition.

Last week in New York, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said that if the United States wanted to discuss missile limitations, it should begin by not supplying Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Arab states with missiles that threaten Iran. The test on Wednesday seemed meant to drive home the point that Iran had no intention on giving up on its own missile fleet.

The Shahab-3 is hardly a new weapon — it has been in the Iranian arsenal for two decades. Based on a North Korean design, called the No-Dong, it can fly about 1,000 kilometers. Variants can range farther, capable of striking the edge of Europe.

But more important, Israel and a number of Western experts say a nuclear weapon can be fashioned to fit in the missile’s nose cone. The test launch may also be meant to demonstrate that American efforts to sabotage the Iranian missile program, chiefly with bad parts, are not impeding its development.

The missile launch in Iran came within hours of North Korea’s launching of two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Thursday. The South Korean government said that the North was expanding its ability to deliver nuclear warheads as Mr. Trump’s efforts resume talks on ending the country’s nuclear weapons program remain stalled.

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

Russia Targeted Election Systems in All 50 States, Report Finds

WASHINGTON — The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded Thursday that election systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russia in 2016, an effort more far-reaching than previously acknowledged and one largely undetected by the states and federal officials at the time.

But while the bipartisan report’s warning that the United States remains vulnerable in the next election is clear, its findings were so heavily redacted at the insistence of American intelligence agencies that even some key recommendations for 2020 were blacked out.

The report — the first volume of several to be released from the committee’s investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference — came 24 hours after the former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III warned that Russia was moving again to interfere “as we sit here.”

While details of many of the hackings directed by Russian intelligence, particularly in Illinois and Arizona, are well known, the committee described “an unprecedented level of activity against state election infrastructure” intended largely to search for vulnerabilities in the security of the election systems.

It concluded that while there was no evidence that any votes were changed in actual voting machines, “Russian cyberactors were in a position to delete or change voter data” in the Illinois voter database. The committee found no evidence that they did so.

In his testimony to two House committees on Wednesday, Mr. Mueller had sought to highlight the continued threat that Russia or other adversaries would seek to interfere in the 2020 elections. He said many more “countries are developing capability to replicate what the Russians have done.”

While the Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings were bipartisan, they came on a day when Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, moved again to block consideration of election security legislation put forward by Democrats.

Mr. McConnell has long opposed giving the federal government a greater hand in an institution of American democracy typically run by the states.

And despite the warnings about the Russia threat, he argues that Congress has already done enough — passing $380 million worth of grants for states to update their election systems and supporting executive branch agencies as they make their own changes. Some administration officials have suggested that the issue is not getting enough high-level attention because President Trump equates any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory.

“It’s just a highly partisan bill from the same folks who spent two years hyping up a conspiracy theory about President Trump and Russia and who continue to ignore this administration’s progress at correcting the Obama administration’s failure on this subject,” Mr. McConnell said of the Democratic bill.

Mr. McConnell has held fast to his position despite withering criticism from Democrats, and agitation from some in his party who want the Senate to move more modest, bipartisan legislation. The Democratic proposal, already passed by the House, would have given the states hundreds of millions of dollars in grants, mandated the use of backup paper ballots and required risk-limiting postelection audits.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 25dc-intel-tear2-articleLarge Russia Targeted Election Systems in All 50 States, Report Finds Voting Machines United States Politics and Government United States International Relations States (US) Senate Committee on Intelligence Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Presidential Election of 2016 Espionage and Intelligence Services Cyberwarfare and Defense

Even key findings at the beginning of the report were heavily redacted.

“This is not a Democratic issue, a Republican issue,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. “This is not a liberal issue, a moderate issue, a conservative issue. This is an issue of patriotism, of national security, of protecting the very integrity of American democracy, something so many of our forbears died for.”

“And what do we hear from the Republican side?” he said. “Nothing.”

While the report is not directly critical of either American intelligence agencies or the states, it described what amounted to a cascading intelligence failure, in which the scope of the Russian effort was underestimated, warnings to the states were too muted, and state officials either underreacted or, in some cases, resisted federal efforts to offer help.

Even today, after a two-and-a-half-year investigation, the committee conceded that “Russian intentions regarding U.S. election infrastructure remain unclear.” Moscow’s intelligence agencies — chiefly the G.R.U., Russia’s main military intelligence unit — may have “intended to exploit vulnerabilities in the election infrastructure during the 2016 elections and, for unknown reasons, decided not to execute those options.”

But more ominously, the report suggested that it might have been cataloging options “for use at a later date” — a possibility that officials of the National Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. said was their biggest worry.

The report also hinted at some intriguing new findings — but their effect was muted by the scope of the deletions demanded by intelligence agencies. For example, the report noted that the State Department was aware that Russian officials had requested to send election observers to polling places in the 2016 election — just as the United States often seeks to send observers to elections in foreign nations, including Russia.

That was of concern to the committee because testimony about election machines, which are disconnected from the internet, suggested the most efficient way to alter votes was with physical access to the machines or computers rather than programming them with ballots.

Given the potential for further incursions into the election system, the move by the intelligence agencies to redact large portions of the public version of the report touched off behind-the-scenes battles with members of the committee.

The deletions were so substantial that even the committee’s recommendations for the future were not spared: The section heading on the final recommendation read “Build a Credible,” but the remainder of the heading, and two paragraphs that follow, were blacked out.

The report, black lines and all, is titled, “Russian Efforts Against Election Infrastructure.” It is the first volume the committee has publicly released, after more than 200 witness interviews and the collection and review of nearly 400,000 documents. Subsequent volumes will deal with Russia’s effort to use social media to influence voters — an area where Russian interference may have changed minds, and thus votes — and the 200 or so contacts between Russia and members of the Trump campaign.

In a statement, Senator Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the committee, described the events of 2016 as one in which the United States was blindsided.

“In 2016, the U.S. was unprepared at all levels of government for a concerted attack from a determined foreign adversary on our election infrastructure,” Mr. Burr wrote. “Since then, we have learned much more about the nature of Russia’s cyberactivities and better understand the real and urgent threat they pose.”

The committee’s recommendations ranged from the concrete — ensure a paper trail for voter machines and paper backups for registration systems — to the strategic, like adopting a doctrine of how to deter different kinds of cyberattacks.

While the committee suggested holding “a discussion with U.S. allies and others about new cybernorms,” it did not say what those norms should be — nor did it say election manipulation should be off limits for all nations. One reason for that hesitance, some government officials acknowledge, is the debate inside the administration over how much the United States itself is willing to forgo the option of using its own cyberabilities abroad.

One section on recommended action was almost completely redacted.

Suggestions on how to “improve information gathering and sharing on threats” are redacted, making them useless for most state officials, who do not hold security clearances.

But the solutions appear distant. Some states, like New Jersey, appear not to have the money to fix a voting machine infrastructure that has no paper backup to its balloting process, making a truly reliable audit impossible.

Other states still have highly vulnerable registration databases, federal officials say. Those vulnerabilities are so sensitive that the Intelligence Committee did not reveal by name which states were the most heavily compromised — referring to the states only by number to protect their identities.

In one case study, titled, “Russia Access to Election Infrastructure: State 2,” the only unredacted line reads, “Separately, G.R.U. cyberactor breached election infrastructure in State 2,” with all details eliminated.

Mr. Burr argued that the Department of Homeland Security and state and local elections officials had since “dramatically changed how they approach election security,” showing progress that served as “a testament to what we can accomplish when we give people the opportunity to be part of a solution.”

But Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, appended an impassioned dissent to the report, arguing that the committee did not go far enough. “The committee report describes a range of cybersecurity measures needed to protect voter registration databases,” he wrote, “yet there are currently no mandatory rules that require states to implement even minimum cybersecurity measures. There are not even any voluntary federal standards.”

The committee found that the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. warned states in the late summer and fall of 2016 of the threat of Russian interference. But they did not provide election officials with “a clear reason” to take the threat more seriously than other warnings that are regularly issued, the report said.

The first public warning was issued Oct. 7, 2016, but within an hour, it was washed away by the revelation of a tape in which Donald J. Trump was heard making comments about how he would grab women, and by the release by WikiLeaks of excerpts from emails hacked from the account of John D. Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.

Even at that time, the report makes clear, the agencies did not understand the scope of the Russian effort. It noted that Michael Daniel, President Barack Obama’s cybersecurity coordinator, had been convinced that the Russians had gone after all 50 states — because they are thorough. But it was only two years later that official intelligence assessments concluded that he was right.

Mr. Daniel’s position at the White House has since been eliminated by John R. Bolton, the national security adviser.

While the report praised the steps the agencies have since taken to assist in securing elections, the committee found that concerns about aging voting equipment remain.

“As states look to replace machines that are now out of date, they should purchase more secure voting machines. At a minimum, any machine purchased going forward should have a voter-verified paper trail,” a summary of the report said, while adding that “states should remain firmly in the lead on running elections.”

The states say they do not have the money to conduct a replacement program by November 2020.

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

Russia Targeted Election Systems in All 50 States, Report Finds

WASHINGTON — The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded Thursday that election systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russia in 2016, an effort more far-reaching than previously acknowledged and one largely undetected by the states and federal officials at the time.

But while the bipartisan report’s warning that the United States remains vulnerable in the next election is clear, its findings were so heavily redacted at the insistence of American intelligence agencies that even some key recommendations for 2020 were blacked out.

The report — the first volume of several to be released from the committee’s investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference — came 24 hours after the former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III warned that Russia was moving again to interfere “as we sit here.”

While details of many of the hackings directed by Russian intelligence, particularly in Illinois and Arizona, are well known, the committee described “an unprecedented level of activity against state election infrastructure” intended largely to search for vulnerabilities in the security of the election systems.

It concluded that while there was no evidence that any votes were changed in actual voting machines, “Russian cyberactors were in a position to delete or change voter data” in the Illinois voter database. The committee found no evidence that they did so.

In his testimony to two House committees on Wednesday, Mr. Mueller had sought to highlight the continued threat that Russia or other adversaries would seek to interfere in the 2020 elections. He said many more “countries are developing capability to replicate what the Russians have done.”

While the Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings were bipartisan, they came on a day when Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, moved again to block consideration of election security legislation put forward by Democrats.

Mr. McConnell has long opposed giving the federal government a greater hand in an institution of American democracy typically run by the states.

And despite the warnings about the Russia threat, he argues that Congress has already done enough — passing $380 million worth of grants for states to update their election systems and supporting executive branch agencies as they make their own changes. Some administration officials have suggested that the issue is not getting enough high-level attention because President Trump equates any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory.

“It’s just a highly partisan bill from the same folks who spent two years hyping up a conspiracy theory about President Trump and Russia and who continue to ignore this administration’s progress at correcting the Obama administration’s failure on this subject,” Mr. McConnell said of the Democratic bill.

Mr. McConnell has held fast to his position despite withering criticism from Democrats, and agitation from some in his party who want the Senate to move more modest, bipartisan legislation. The Democratic proposal, already passed by the House, would have given the states hundreds of millions of dollars in grants, mandated the use of backup paper ballots and required risk-limiting postelection audits.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 25dc-intel-tear2-articleLarge Russia Targeted Election Systems in All 50 States, Report Finds Voting Machines United States Politics and Government United States International Relations States (US) Senate Committee on Intelligence Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Presidential Election of 2016 Espionage and Intelligence Services Cyberwarfare and Defense

Even key findings at the beginning of the report were heavily redacted.

“This is not a Democratic issue, a Republican issue,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. “This is not a liberal issue, a moderate issue, a conservative issue. This is an issue of patriotism, of national security, of protecting the very integrity of American democracy, something so many of our forbears died for.”

“And what do we hear from the Republican side?” he said. “Nothing.”

While the report is not directly critical of either American intelligence agencies or the states, it described what amounted to a cascading intelligence failure, in which the scope of the Russian effort was underestimated, warnings to the states were too muted, and state officials either underreacted or, in some cases, resisted federal efforts to offer help.

Even today, after a two-and-a-half-year investigation, the committee conceded that “Russian intentions regarding U.S. election infrastructure remain unclear.” Moscow’s intelligence agencies — chiefly the G.R.U., Russia’s main military intelligence unit — may have “intended to exploit vulnerabilities in the election infrastructure during the 2016 elections and, for unknown reasons, decided not to execute those options.”

But more ominously, the report suggested that it might have been cataloging options “for use at a later date” — a possibility that officials of the National Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. said was their biggest worry.

The report also hinted at some intriguing new findings — but their effect was muted by the scope of the deletions demanded by intelligence agencies. For example, the report noted that the State Department was aware that Russian officials had requested to send election observers to polling places in the 2016 election — just as the United States often seeks to send observers to elections in foreign nations, including Russia.

That was of concern to the committee because testimony about election machines, which are disconnected from the internet, suggested the most efficient way to alter votes was with physical access to the machines or computers rather than programming them with ballots.

Given the potential for further incursions into the election system, the move by the intelligence agencies to redact large portions of the public version of the report touched off behind-the-scenes battles with members of the committee.

The deletions were so substantial that even the committee’s recommendations for the future were not spared: The section heading on the final recommendation read “Build a Credible,” but the remainder of the heading, and two paragraphs that follow, were blacked out.

The report, black lines and all, is titled, “Russian Efforts Against Election Infrastructure.” It is the first volume the committee has publicly released, after more than 200 witness interviews and the collection and review of nearly 400,000 documents. Subsequent volumes will deal with Russia’s effort to use social media to influence voters — an area where Russian interference may have changed minds, and thus votes — and the 200 or so contacts between Russia and members of the Trump campaign.

In a statement, Senator Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the committee, described the events of 2016 as one in which the United States was blindsided.

“In 2016, the U.S. was unprepared at all levels of government for a concerted attack from a determined foreign adversary on our election infrastructure,” Mr. Burr wrote. “Since then, we have learned much more about the nature of Russia’s cyberactivities and better understand the real and urgent threat they pose.”

The committee’s recommendations ranged from the concrete — ensure a paper trail for voter machines and paper backups for registration systems — to the strategic, like adopting a doctrine of how to deter different kinds of cyberattacks.

While the committee suggested holding “a discussion with U.S. allies and others about new cybernorms,” it did not say what those norms should be — nor did it say election manipulation should be off limits for all nations. One reason for that hesitance, some government officials acknowledge, is the debate inside the administration over how much the United States itself is willing to forgo the option of using its own cyberabilities abroad.

One section on recommended action was almost completely redacted.

Suggestions on how to “improve information gathering and sharing on threats” are redacted, making them useless for most state officials, who do not hold security clearances.

But the solutions appear distant. Some states, like New Jersey, appear not to have the money to fix a voting machine infrastructure that has no paper backup to its balloting process, making a truly reliable audit impossible.

Other states still have highly vulnerable registration databases, federal officials say. Those vulnerabilities are so sensitive that the Intelligence Committee did not reveal by name which states were the most heavily compromised — referring to the states only by number to protect their identities.

In one case study, titled, “Russia Access to Election Infrastructure: State 2,” the only unredacted line reads, “Separately, G.R.U. cyberactor breached election infrastructure in State 2,” with all details eliminated.

Mr. Burr argued that the Department of Homeland Security and state and local elections officials had since “dramatically changed how they approach election security,” showing progress that served as “a testament to what we can accomplish when we give people the opportunity to be part of a solution.”

But Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, appended an impassioned dissent to the report, arguing that the committee did not go far enough. “The committee report describes a range of cybersecurity measures needed to protect voter registration databases,” he wrote, “yet there are currently no mandatory rules that require states to implement even minimum cybersecurity measures. There are not even any voluntary federal standards.”

The committee found that the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. warned states in the late summer and fall of 2016 of the threat of Russian interference. But they did not provide election officials with “a clear reason” to take the threat more seriously than other warnings that are regularly issued, the report said.

The first public warning was issued Oct. 7, 2016, but within an hour, it was washed away by the revelation of a tape in which Donald J. Trump was heard making comments about how he would grab women, and by the release by WikiLeaks of excerpts from emails hacked from the account of John D. Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.

Even at that time, the report makes clear, the agencies did not understand the scope of the Russian effort. It noted that Michael Daniel, President Barack Obama’s cybersecurity coordinator, had been convinced that the Russians had gone after all 50 states — because they are thorough. But it was only two years later that official intelligence assessments concluded that he was right.

Mr. Daniel’s position at the White House has since been eliminated by John R. Bolton, the national security adviser.

While the report praised the steps the agencies have since taken to assist in securing elections, the committee found that concerns about aging voting equipment remain.

“As states look to replace machines that are now out of date, they should purchase more secure voting machines. At a minimum, any machine purchased going forward should have a voter-verified paper trail,” a summary of the report said, while adding that “states should remain firmly in the lead on running elections.”

The states say they do not have the money to conduct a replacement program by November 2020.

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