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 > Posts tagged "Mulvaney, Mick"

Trump Told Bolton to Help His Ukraine Pressure Campaign, Book Says

Westlake Legal Group 31dc-bolton1-facebookJumbo Trump Told Bolton to Help His Ukraine Pressure Campaign, Book Says Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir (Book) Mulvaney, Mick Manuscripts Kent, George P Giuliani, Rudolph W Cipollone, Pat A Bolton, John R

WASHINGTON — More than two months before he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate his political opponents, President Trump directed John R. Bolton, then his national security adviser, to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from Ukrainian officials, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton.

Mr. Trump gave the instruction, Mr. Bolton wrote, during an Oval Office conversation in early May that included the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, who is now leading the president’s impeachment defense.

Mr. Trump told Mr. Bolton to call Volodymyr Zelensky, who had recently won election as president of Ukraine, to ensure Mr. Zelensky would meet with Mr. Giuliani, who was planning a trip to Ukraine to discuss the investigations that the president sought, in Mr. Bolton’s account. Mr. Bolton never made the call, he wrote.

The previously undisclosed directive that Mr. Bolton describes would be the earliest known instance of Mr. Trump seeking to harness the power of the United States government to advance his pressure campaign against Ukraine, as he later did on the July call with Mr. Zelensky that triggered a whistle-blower complaint and impeachment proceedings. House Democrats have accused him of abusing his authority and are arguing their case before senators in the impeachment trial of Mr. Trump, whose lawyers have said he did nothing wrong.

The account in Mr. Bolton’s manuscript portrays the most senior White House advisers as early witnesses in the effort that they have sought to distance the president from. And disclosure of the meeting underscores the kind of information Democrats were looking for in seeking testimony from his top advisers in their impeachment investigation, including Mr. Bolton and Mr. Mulvaney, only to be blocked by the White House.

In a statement after this article was published, Mr. Trump denied the discussion that Mr. Bolton described.

“I never instructed John Bolton to set up a meeting for Rudy Giuliani, one of the greatest corruption fighters in America and by far the greatest mayor in the history of N.Y.C., to meet with President Zelensky,” Mr. Trump said. “That meeting never happened.”

In a brief interview, Mr. Giuliani denied that the conversation took place and said those discussions with the president were always kept separate. He was adamant that Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Mulvaney were never involved in meetings related to Ukraine.

“It is absolutely, categorically untrue,” he said.

Neither Mr. Bolton nor a representative for Mr. Mulvaney responded to requests for comment.

Mr. Bolton described the roughly 10-minute conversation in drafts of his book, a memoir of his time as national security adviser that is to go on sale in March. Over several pages, Mr. Bolton laid out Mr. Trump’s fixation on Ukraine and the president’s belief, based on a mix of scattershot events, assertions and outright conspiracy theories, that Ukraine tried to undermine his chances of winning the presidency in 2016.

As he began to realize the extent and aims of the pressure campaign, Mr. Bolton began to object, he wrote in the book, affirming the testimony of a former National Security Council aide, Fiona Hill, who had said that Mr. Bolton warned that Mr. Giuliani was “a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.”

Mr. Trump also repeatedly made national security decisions contrary to American interests, Mr. Bolton wrote, describing a pervasive sense of alarm among top advisers about the president’s choices. Mr. Bolton expressed concern to others in the administration that the president was effectively granting favors to autocratic leaders like Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Xi Jinping of China.

The New York Times reported this week on another revelation from Mr. Bolton’s book draft: that Mr. Trump told him in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter. That account undercuts a key element of the White House impeachment defense — that the aid holdup was separate from his requests for inquiries. Mr. Trump has denied the conversation took place.

Since that Times article, people who have reviewed the draft have further described its contents, including details of the May meeting. Mr. Bolton’s manuscript was sent to the White House for a standard review process in late December.

Its revelations galvanized the debate over whether to call witnesses in the impeachment trial, but late on Thursday, Republicans appeared to have secured enough votes to keep any new testimony out of Mr. Trump’s trial and to move toward a quick acquittal in the third presidential impeachment trial in American history.

The White House has sought to block the release of the book, contending that it contains classified information. The government reviews books by former officials who had access to secrets so they can excise the manuscripts of any classified information. Officials including Mr. Trump have described Mr. Bolton, who was often at odds with Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Mulvaney, as a disgruntled former official with an ax to grind.

Mr. Bolton has angered Democrats — and some Republicans — for remaining quiet during the House investigation, then announcing that he would comply with any subpoena to testify in the Senate and signaling that he is eager to share his story. Administration officials should “feel they’re able to speak their minds without retribution,” he said at a closed-door lunch in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, the NBC affiliate KXAN reported, citing unnamed sources.

“The idea that somehow testifying to what you think is true is destructive to the system of government we have — I think, is very nearly the reverse, the exact reverse of the truth,” Mr. Bolton added.

The Oval Office conversation that Mr. Bolton described came as the president and Mr. Giuliani were increasingly focusing on pushing the Ukrainian government to commit to investigations that could help Mr. Trump politically. At various points, Mr. Trump, Mr. Giuliani and their associates pressed Ukrainian officials under Mr. Zelensky and his predecessor to provide potentially damaging information on the president’s rivals, including Mr. Biden and Ukrainians who Mr. Trump’s allies believed tried to help Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Mr. Giuliani had just successfully campaigned to have the American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, recalled, convinced that she was part of an effort to protect Mr. Trump’s political rivals from scrutiny. Mr. Giuliani had argued she was impeding the investigations.

At the time of the Oval Office conversation Mr. Bolton wrote about, Mr. Giuliani was planning a trip to Kyiv to push the incoming government to commit to the investigations. Mr. Giuliani asserted that the president had been wronged by the Justice Department’s Russia investigation and told associates that the inquiry could be partly discredited by proving that parts of it originated with suspect documents produced and disseminated in Ukraine to undermine his onetime campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, whose work in Ukraine became a central focus of the Russia inquiry.

Mr. Giuliani, a private consultant with a range of international clients, had said none were involved in the Ukraine effort, Mr. Bolton wrote, adding that he was skeptical and wanted to avoid involvement. At the time, Mr. Giuliani was working closely with two Soviet-born businessmen from Florida, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, to carry out the shadow Ukraine effort.

After pushing out Ms. Yovanovitch, Mr. Giuliani turned his attention to other American diplomats responsible for Ukraine policy. During the Oval Office conversation, he also mentioned a State Department official with the last name of Kent, whom Mr. Bolton wrote he did not know. Mr. Giuliani said he was hostile to Mr. Trump and sympathetic to George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist who has long been a target of the far right.

George P. Kent, a top State Department official who oversees Ukraine policy, went on to be a key witness in House Democrats’ impeachment investigation, testifying that claims by Mr. Giuliani’s allies of Mr. Soros’ wide influence in Ukraine were used to smear Ms. Yovanovitch.

Mr. Bolton left the Oval Office after 10 minutes and returned to his office, he wrote. Shortly after, two aides came into his office, saying Mr. Trump had sent them out of a separate meeting on trade to ask about Mr. Kent, Mr. Bolton wrote.

The conversation that Mr. Bolton describes was separate from another one that Mr. Bolton wrote about, where he observed Mr. Mulvaney and Mr. Trump talking on the phone with Mr. Giuliani about Ukraine matters. Mr. Mulvaney has told associates he would leave the room when Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani were talking to preserve their attorney-client privilege, and his lawyer said earlier this week that Mr. Mulvaney was never in meetings with Mr. Giuliani and has “no recollection” of the first discussion.

Around the time of the May discussion, The Times revealed Mr. Giuliani’s efforts and his planned trip to Ukraine. Mr. Giuliani said at the time that Mr. Trump was aware of his efforts in Ukraine, but said nothing else about any involvement of Mr. Trump or other members of the administration. The disclosure created consternation in the White House and Mr. Giuliani canceled his trip.

A day after the Times article was published, Mr. Giuliani wrote a letter to Mr. Zelensky, saying he was representing Mr. Trump as a “private citizen” and, with Mr. Trump’s “knowledge and consent,” hoped to arrange a meeting with Mr. Zelensky in the ensuing days. That letter was among the evidence admitted during the House impeachment inquiry.

Peter Baker and Kenneth P. Vogel contributed reporting.

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

Trump Tied Ukraine Aid to Inquiries He Sought, Bolton Book Says

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-bolton-facebookJumbo Trump Tied Ukraine Aid to Inquiries He Sought, Bolton Book Says Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Senate Pompeo, Mike Mulvaney, Mick Johnson, Ron (1955- ) Inhofe, James M impeachment Giuliani, Rudolph W Democratic Party Bolton, John R Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — President Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton.

The president’s statement as described by Mr. Bolton could undercut a key element of his impeachment defense: that the holdup in aid was separate from Mr. Trump’s requests that Ukraine announce investigations into his perceived enemies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, who had worked for a Ukrainian energy firm while his father was in office.

Mr. Bolton’s explosive account of the matter at the center of Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial, the third in American history, was included in drafts of a manuscript he has circulated in recent weeks to close associates. He also sent a draft to the White House for a standard review process for some current and former administration officials who write books.

Multiple people described Mr. Bolton’s account of the Ukraine affair.

The book presents an outline of what Mr. Bolton might testify to if he is called as a witness in the Senate impeachment trial, the people said. The White House could use the pre-publication review process, which has no set time frame, to delay or even kill the book’s publication or omit key passages.

Over dozens of pages, Mr. Bolton described how the Ukraine affair unfolded over several months until he departed the White House in September. He described not only the president’s private disparagement of Ukraine but also new details about senior cabinet officials who have publicly tried to sidestep involvement.

For example, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged privately that there was no basis to claims by the president’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani that the ambassador to Ukraine was corrupt and believed Mr. Giuliani may have been acting on behalf of other clients, Mr. Bolton wrote.

Mr. Bolton also said that after the president’s July phone call with the president of Ukraine, he raised with Attorney General William P. Barr his concerns about Mr. Giuliani, who was pursuing a shadow Ukraine policy encouraged by the president, and told Mr. Barr that the president had mentioned him on the call. A spokeswoman for Mr. Barr denied that he learned of the call from Mr. Bolton; the Justice Department has said he learned about it only in mid-August.

And the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, was present for at least one phone call where the president and Mr. Giuliani discussed the ambassador, Mr. Bolton wrote. Mr. Mulvaney has told associates he would always step away when the president spoke with his lawyer to protect their attorney-client privilege.

During a previously reported May 23 meeting where top advisers and Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, briefed him about their trip to Kyiv for the inauguration of President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mr. Trump railed about Ukraine trying to damage him and mentioned a conspiracy theory about a hacked Democratic server, according to Mr. Bolton.

Charles J. Cooper, a lawyer for Mr. Bolton, declined to comment. The White House did not provide responses to questions about Mr. Bolton’s assertions, and representatives for Mr. Johnson, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Mulvaney did not respond to emails and calls seeking comment on Sunday afternoon.

Mr. Bolton’s submission of the book to the White House may have given the White House lawyers direct insight into what Mr. Bolton would say if he were called to testify at Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial. It also intensified concerns among some of his advisers that they needed to block Mr. Bolton from testifying, according to two people familiar with their concerns.

The White House has ordered Mr. Bolton and other key officials with firsthand knowledge of Mr. Trump’s dealings not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. Mr. Bolton said in a statement this month that he would testify if subpoenaed.

In recent days, some White House officials have described Mr. Bolton as a disgruntled former employee, and have said he took notes that he should have left behind when he departed the administration.

Mr. Trump told reporters last week that he did not want Mr. Bolton to testify and said that even if he simply spoke out publicly, he could damage national security.

“The problem with John is it’s a national security problem,” Mr. Trump said at a news conference in Davos, Switzerland. “He knows some of my thoughts. He knows what I think about leaders. What happens if he reveals what I think about a certain leader and it’s not very positive?”

“It’s going to make the job very hard,” he added.

The Senate impeachment trial could end as early as Friday without witness testimony. Democrats in both the House and Senate have pressed for weeks to include any new witnesses and documents that did not surface during the House impeachment hearings to be fair, focusing on persuading the handful of Republican senators they would need to join them to succeed.

But a week into the trial, most lawmakers say the chances of 51 senators agreeing to call witnesses are dwindling, not growing.

Mr. Bolton would like to testify for several reasons, according to associates. He believes he has relevant information, and he has also expressed concern that if his account of the Ukraine affair emerges only after the trial, he will be accused of holding back to increase his book sales.

Mr. Bolton, 71, a fixture in conservative national security circles since his days in the Reagan administration, joined the White House in 2018 after several people recommended him to the president, including the Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson.

But Mr. Bolton and Mr. Trump soured on each other over several global crises, including Iranian aggression, Mr. Trump’s posture toward Russia and, ultimately, the Ukraine matter. Mr. Bolton was also often at odds with Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Mulvaney throughout his time in the administration.

Key to Mr. Bolton’s account about Ukraine is an exchange during a meeting in August with the president after Mr. Trump returned from vacation at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. Mr. Bolton raised the $391 million in congressionally appropriated assistance to Ukraine for its war in the country’s east against Russian-backed separatists. Officials had frozen the aid, and a deadline was looming to begin sending it to Kyiv, Mr. Bolton noted.

He, Mr. Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper had collectively pressed the president about releasing the aid nearly a dozen times in the preceding weeks after lower-level officials who worked on Ukraine issues began complaining about the holdup, Mr. Bolton wrote. Mr. Trump had effectively rebuffed them, airing his longstanding grievances about Ukraine, which mixed legitimate efforts by some Ukrainians to back his Democratic 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton, with unsupported accusations and outright conspiracy theories about the country, a key American ally.

Mr. Giuliani had also spent months stoking the president’s paranoia about the American ambassador to Ukraine at the time, Marie L. Yovanovitch, claiming that she was openly anti-Trump and needed to be dismissed. Mr. Trump had ordered her removed as early as April 2018 during a private dinner with two Giuliani associates and others, a recording of the conversation made public on Saturday showed.

In his August 2019 discussion with Mr. Bolton, the president appeared focused on the theories Mr. Giuliani had shared with him, replying to Mr. Bolton’s question that he preferred sending no assistance to Ukraine until officials had turned over all materials they had about the Russia investigation that related to Mr. Biden and supporters of Mrs. Clinton in Ukraine.

The president often hits at multiple opponents in his harangues, and he frequently lumps together the law enforcement officials who conducted the Russia inquiry with Democrats and other perceived enemies, as he appeared to do in speaking to Mr. Bolton.

Mr. Bolton also described other key moments in the pressure campaign, including Mr. Pompeo’s private acknowledgment to him last spring that Mr. Giuliani’s claims about Ms. Yovanovitch had no basis and that Mr. Giuliani may have wanted her removed because she might have been targeting his clients who had dealings in Ukraine as she sought to fight corruption.

Ms. Yovanovitch, a Canadian immigrant whose parents fled the Soviet Union and Nazis, was a well-regarded career diplomat who was known as a vigorous fighter against corruption in Ukraine. She was abruptly removed last year and told the president had lost trust in her, even though a boss assured her she had “done nothing wrong.”

Mr. Bolton also said he warned White House lawyers that Mr. Giuliani might have been leveraging his work with the president to help his private clients.

At the impeachment trial, Mr. Trump himself had hoped to have his defense call a range of people to testify who had nothing to do with his efforts related to Ukraine, including Hunter Biden, to frame the case around Democrats. But the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, repeatedly told the president that witnesses could backfire, and the White House has followed his lead.

Mr. McConnell and other Republicans in the Senate, working in tandem with Mr. Trump’s lawyers, have spent weeks waging their own rhetorical battle to keep their colleagues within the party tent on the question of witnesses, with apparent success. Two of the four Republican senators publicly open to witness votes have sounded notes of skepticism in recent days about the wisdom of having the Senate compel testimony that the House did not get.

Since Mr. Bolton’s statement, White House advisers have floated the possibility that they could go to court to try to obtain a restraining order to stop him from speaking. Such an order would be unprecedented, but any attempt to secure it could succeed in tying up his testimony in legal limbo and scaring off Republican moderates wary of letting the trial drag on when its outcome appears clear.

Katie Benner and Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting.

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

Could Trump Muzzle John Bolton? The Limits of Executive Privilege, Explained

Westlake Legal Group merlin_136614993_a42ae662-fc3d-47b8-bf4a-e37252b17dc7-facebookJumbo Could Trump Muzzle John Bolton? The Limits of Executive Privilege, Explained United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Suits and Litigation (Civil) subpoenas Senate Mulvaney, Mick Law and Legislation Justice Department House of Representatives Freedom of Speech and Expression Executive Privilege, Doctrine of Constitution (US) Bolton, John R

WASHINGTON — Republican senators allied with President Trump are increasingly arguing that the Senate should not call witnesses or subpoena documents for his impeachment trial because Mr. Trump has threatened to invoke executive privilege, and a legal fight would take too long to resolve.

But it is far from clear that Mr. Trump has the power to gag or delay a witness who is willing to comply with a subpoena and tell the Senate what he knows about the president’s interactions with Ukraine anyway — as Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser John R. Bolton has said he would do.

Here is an explanation of executive privilege legal issues.

It is a power that presidents can sometimes use to keep information secret.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution implicitly gives presidents the authority to keep internal communications, especially those involving their close White House aides, secret under certain circumstances. The idea is that if officials fear that Congress might someday gain access to their private communications, it would chill the candor of the advice presidents receive and inhibit their ability to carry out their constitutionally assigned duties.

Not by itself.

The privilege has traditionally been wielded as a shield, not a sword. It has no built-in enforcement mechanism to prevent a former official from complying with a subpoena in defiance of a president’s orders, or to punish one afterward for having done so.

Mr. Bolton, one of the four current and former officials whom Democrats want to call as a witness, has said that he will show up to testify if the Senate subpoenas him for the impeachment trial, even though the White House has told him not to disclose what he knows about Mr. Trump’s private statements and actions toward Ukraine.

A valid assertion of the privilege would protect a current or former official who chooses not to comply with a subpoena.

Three other officials Democrats want to call as witnesses — Mr. Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney; a top national-security aide to Mr. Mulvaney, Robert Blair; and Michael Duffey, an official in the White House budget office who handled the military aid to Ukraine — are expected to resist appearing if subpoenaed.

Normally it is a crime to defy a subpoena, but the Justice Department will decline to prosecute a recalcitrant official if the president invokes the privilege. Congress can also sue that official seeking a court order, but the department, defending that official, will cite the privilege to argue that case should be dismissed — and as grounds to appeal any ruling that the subpoena is nevertheless valid, keeping the case going.

The Trump administration has broadly pursued a strategy of fighting House oversight and impeachment subpoenas, resulting in a string of lower-court losses that have nevertheless succeeded in running down the clock. Senate Republicans have argued that any effort to enforce impeachment subpoenas could result in a long and drawn-out judicial battle as a reason for the moderate members of their caucus not to break ranks and join Democrats in voting to subpoena witnesses and documents.

Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who is leading the House impeachment managers, has proposed that the Supreme Court Chief Justice, John G. Roberts Jr., who is presiding over the trial, could swiftly rule on the validity of any executive privilege claim. The trial has “a perfectly good judge sitting behind me,” Mr. Schiff said.

But Chief Justice Roberts does not embody and is not functioning as the Supreme Court. Several legal experts said that even if he were to rule that any invocation of the privilege is not valid, a subpoena recipient could ignore him and continue to defer to the president.

Then the Senate would likely still have to go through the normal court process to seek a judicial order to hear from the witness.

The administration could try, but it would face serious hurdles.

In theory, the Justice Department could file a lawsuit and ask a judge to issue a restraining order barring Mr. Bolton from testifying on the grounds that he might divulge information that is subject to executive privilege. But the government has never tried to do that.

Even if a judge agreed that the information the Senate would be seeking is covered by a valid claim of executive privilege, it is not clear that any judge or higher court would issue a restraining order. Under a constitutional doctrine called prior restraint, the First Amendment severely limits the ability of the government to gag speech before its expression.

“A restraining order is unlikely because it would be unprecedented, a threat to First Amendment values, and — in this context — a threat to fundamental checks and balances,” said Peter Shane, an Ohio State University professor and the co-author of a casebook on separation-of-powers law.

It’s fuzzy. The scope and limits of the president’s power to keep internal executive branch information secret are ill-defined because in practice, administration officials and lawmakers have typically resolved executive privilege disputes through deals to accommodate investigators’ needs to avoid definitive judicial rulings.

In a 1974 Supreme Court case about whether President Richard M. Nixon had to turn over tapes of his Oval Office conversations to the Watergate prosecutor, the court ruled that executive privilege can be overcome if the information is needed for a criminal case. Nixon resigned 16 days later.

The Supreme Court in the Nixon case noted several times that the information sought did not involve presidential discussions about diplomatic or military matters, so the Justice Department might argue that the Watergate precedent does not cover Mr. Trump’s internal communications about military aid to Ukraine.

Nevertheless, the courts would most likely use a balancing test, weighing the presidency’s need for private internal deliberations against Congress’s need for the specific information to investigate possible high-level wrongdoing, said Mark J. Rozell, a George Mason University professor who has written books about executive privilege.

Noting the Nixon-era precedent, he said he doubted that a claim of executive privilege would be upheld in the context of impeachment because “the courts don’t give all that much deference to claims of presidential secrecy in cases of alleged wrongdoing.”

No.

In a related legal dispute, the Trump administration has argued that White House officials are “absolutely immune” from being compelled to respond to a subpoena when Congress is seeking information about their official duties.

If that were true, it would mean they did not even have to show up, separate and apart from whether they can lawfully decline to answer a particular question in deference to a president’s claim that the answer is covered by executive privilege.

Late last year, a Federal District Court judge rejected that theory in a case involving a congressional subpoena to Mr. Trump’s former White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II. But Mr. McGahn does not want to cooperate and has permitted the Justice Department to file an appeal on his behalf, and the litigation is continuing.

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

Could Trump Muzzle John Bolton? The Limits of Executive Privilege, Explained

Westlake Legal Group merlin_136614993_a42ae662-fc3d-47b8-bf4a-e37252b17dc7-facebookJumbo Could Trump Muzzle John Bolton? The Limits of Executive Privilege, Explained United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Suits and Litigation (Civil) subpoenas Senate Mulvaney, Mick Law and Legislation Justice Department House of Representatives Freedom of Speech and Expression Executive Privilege, Doctrine of Constitution (US) Bolton, John R

WASHINGTON — Republican senators allied with President Trump are increasingly arguing that the Senate should not call witnesses or subpoena documents for his impeachment trial because Mr. Trump has threatened to invoke executive privilege, and a legal fight would take too long to resolve.

But it is far from clear that Mr. Trump has the power to gag or delay a witness who is willing to comply with a subpoena and tell the Senate what he knows about the president’s interactions with Ukraine anyway — as Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser John R. Bolton has said he would do.

Here is an explanation of executive privilege legal issues.

It is a power that presidents can sometimes use to keep information secret.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution implicitly gives presidents the authority to keep internal communications, especially those involving their close White House aides, secret under certain circumstances. The idea is that if officials fear that Congress might someday gain access to their private communications, it would chill the candor of the advice presidents receive and inhibit their ability to carry out their constitutionally assigned duties.

Not by itself.

The privilege has traditionally been wielded as a shield, not a sword. It has no built-in enforcement mechanism to prevent a former official from complying with a subpoena in defiance of a president’s orders, or to punish one afterward for having done so.

Mr. Bolton, one of the four current and former officials whom Democrats want to call as a witness, has said that he will show up to testify if the Senate subpoenas him for the impeachment trial, even though the White House has told him not to disclose what he knows about Mr. Trump’s private statements and actions toward Ukraine.

A valid assertion of the privilege would protect a current or former official who chooses not to comply with a subpoena.

Three other officials Democrats want to call as witnesses — Mr. Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney; a top national-security aide to Mr. Mulvaney, Robert Blair; and Michael Duffey, an official in the White House budget office who handled the military aid to Ukraine — are expected to resist appearing if subpoenaed.

Normally it is a crime to defy a subpoena, but the Justice Department will decline to prosecute a recalcitrant official if the president invokes the privilege. Congress can also sue that official seeking a court order, but the department, defending that official, will cite the privilege to argue that case should be dismissed — and as grounds to appeal any ruling that the subpoena is nevertheless valid, keeping the case going.

The Trump administration has broadly pursued a strategy of fighting House oversight and impeachment subpoenas, resulting in a string of lower-court losses that have nevertheless succeeded in running down the clock. Senate Republicans have argued that any effort to enforce impeachment subpoenas could result in a long and drawn-out judicial battle as a reason for the moderate members of their caucus not to break ranks and join Democrats in voting to subpoena witnesses and documents.

Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who is leading the House impeachment managers, has proposed that the Supreme Court Chief Justice, John G. Roberts Jr., who is presiding over the trial, could swiftly rule on the validity of any executive privilege claim. The trial has “a perfectly good judge sitting behind me,” Mr. Schiff said.

But Chief Justice Roberts does not embody and is not functioning as the Supreme Court. Several legal experts said that even if he were to rule that any invocation of the privilege is not valid, a subpoena recipient could ignore him and continue to defer to the president.

Then the Senate would likely still have to go through the normal court process to seek a judicial order to hear from the witness.

The administration could try, but it would face serious hurdles.

In theory, the Justice Department could file a lawsuit and ask a judge to issue a restraining order barring Mr. Bolton from testifying on the grounds that he might divulge information that is subject to executive privilege. But the government has never tried to do that.

Even if a judge agreed that the information the Senate would be seeking is covered by a valid claim of executive privilege, it is not clear that any judge or higher court would issue a restraining order. Under a constitutional doctrine called prior restraint, the First Amendment severely limits the ability of the government to gag speech before its expression.

“A restraining order is unlikely because it would be unprecedented, a threat to First Amendment values, and — in this context — a threat to fundamental checks and balances,” said Peter Shane, an Ohio State University professor and the co-author of a casebook on separation-of-powers law.

It’s fuzzy. The scope and limits of the president’s power to keep internal executive branch information secret are ill-defined because in practice, administration officials and lawmakers have typically resolved executive privilege disputes through deals to accommodate investigators’ needs to avoid definitive judicial rulings.

In a 1974 Supreme Court case about whether President Richard M. Nixon had to turn over tapes of his Oval Office conversations to the Watergate prosecutor, the court ruled that executive privilege can be overcome if the information is needed for a criminal case. Nixon resigned 16 days later.

The Supreme Court in the Nixon case noted several times that the information sought did not involve presidential discussions about diplomatic or military matters, so the Justice Department might argue that the Watergate precedent does not cover Mr. Trump’s internal communications about military aid to Ukraine.

Nevertheless, the courts would most likely use a balancing test, weighing the presidency’s need for private internal deliberations against Congress’s need for the specific information to investigate possible high-level wrongdoing, said Mark J. Rozell, a George Mason University professor who has written books about executive privilege.

Noting the Nixon-era precedent, he said he doubted that a claim of executive privilege would be upheld in the context of impeachment because “the courts don’t give all that much deference to claims of presidential secrecy in cases of alleged wrongdoing.”

No.

In a related legal dispute, the Trump administration has argued that White House officials are “absolutely immune” from being compelled to respond to a subpoena when Congress is seeking information about their official duties.

If that were true, it would mean they did not even have to show up, separate and apart from whether they can lawfully decline to answer a particular question in deference to a president’s claim that the answer is covered by executive privilege.

Late last year, a Federal District Court judge rejected that theory in a case involving a congressional subpoena to Mr. Trump’s former White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II. But Mr. McGahn does not want to cooperate and has permitted the Justice Department to file an appeal on his behalf, and the litigation is continuing.

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

Democrats Seek More Testimony and Evidence for Impeachment Trial

Westlake Legal Group 19dc-questions01-facebookJumbo Democrats Seek More Testimony and Evidence for Impeachment Trial Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Parnas, Lev National Security Agency Mulvaney, Mick Hill, Fiona (1965- ) Giuliani, Rudolph W Cipollone, Pat A central intelligence agency Burisma Holdings Ltd Bolton, John R Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

WASHINGTON — With President Trump’s impeachment trial getting underway, Democrats are intensifying their demands for more testimony and documents that could add to the already voluminous evidence against him and bolster their case by shedding new light on several key questions.

Despite the White House strategy of blocking testimony from top officials and rejecting demands for documents, the Senate will have in front of it considerable evidence that Mr. Trump eagerly sought to persuade Ukraine’s new president to pursue investigations into two matters that could benefit him in his re-election campaign. Those matters are dealings in Ukraine involving former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, and purported Ukrainian meddling in the American 2016 presidential election.

But in part because of the White House’s decision not to cooperate, the record of actions by Mr. Trump and his underlings is riddled with gaps — and new evidence has been surfacing at the 11th hour.

On Sunday, Representative Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the lead House impeachment manager, said he was concerned that the C.I.A. and the National Security Agency were withholding information about Ukraine out of fear of angering the president.

“The N.S.A. in particular is withholding what are potentially relevant documents to our oversight responsibilities on Ukraine, but also withholding documents potentially relevant that the senators might want to see during the trial,” Mr. Schiff, Democrat of California, said on ABC’s “This Week,” referring to the National Security Agency.

Republicans called those complaints proof that the case against Mr. Trump was so weak that Democrats were scrambling to bolster it. “But this, to me, seems to undermine or indicate that they’re getting cold feet or have a lack of confidence in what they’ve done so far,” Senator John Cornyn of Texas said Sunday on “Face the Nation.”

Even before new information emerged in recent days — including material from Lev Parnas, who worked closely with the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to seek damaging information about the Bidens and to impugn the United States’ ambassador in Kyiv — the Senate’s 100 jurors faced unanswered questions that go to the heart of the matter.

What exactly did John R. Bolton, then the White House’s national security adviser, see and hear last year that convinced him a group of diplomats and aides were cooking up a geopolitical “drug deal” involving Ukraine?

How often and how thoroughly did Mr. Giuliani, the chief engineer of the pressure campaign, brief the president on what he was up to? What has Mr. Trump said behind closed doors about his order to freeze military aid to Ukraine?

Democrats in the Senate want to call Mr. Bolton to the stand, compel the testimony of three other top Trump aides, including the acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and obtain the records that the administration has withheld. But they would need the support of at least four Republican senators to do so.

“A fair trial, everyone understands, involves evidence,” Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Evidence would be documents and witnesses. We know the president has refused to provide documentation beyond the July 25 telephone memo. And he’s refused to provide basic witnesses who actually heard what happened on that conversation and saw what happened afterwards.”

Here are some of the key questions that more witness testimony or additional documents could address:

Some Trump allies have tried to suggest that Mr. Giuliani was a rogue actor pursuing his own interests in Ukraine. But Mr. Giuliani said last spring, as he planned a trip to Ukraine to press for investigations into the Bidens, that his efforts had Mr. Trump’s full support and that the president “basically knows what I’m doing.”

Mr. Trump has called Mr. Giuliani a “crime fighter” who was “seeking out corruption” because he was “very, very incensed at the horrible things that he saw.” He also said Mr. Giuliani had the right to look into whether the Ukrainians helped sow the seeds for the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Mr. Giuliani has insisted that his conversations with Mr. Trump are protected by attorney-client privilege. He has pointed out that Kurt D. Volker, then Mr. Trump’s special envoy to Ukraine, put him in touch with a top Ukrainian aide whom he met in August in Madrid.

Unquestionably, Mr. Trump sought to vest Mr. Giuliani with at least some informal authority to operate on his behalf. He urged President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, during a phone call on July 25, to consult Mr. Giuliani about the investigations he wanted. And he urged his own diplomats and aides involved with Ukraine to consult with Mr. Giuliani after they returned from Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration in May.

Among them was Gordon D. Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union, who testified that Mr. Trump instructed him to “talk to Rudy” about Ukraine, and said that Mr. Giuliani had made it clear to him that he spoke for the president.

In a letter in May from Mr. Giuliani that Mr. Parnas turned over last week to House investigators, the president’s lawyer told Mr. Zelensky that he was acting with Mr. Trump’s “knowledge and consent.” Mr. Parnas, who faces felony charges involving campaign finance violations, said in interviews that Ukrainian officials met with him because Mr. Giuliani assured them that he represented both him and Mr. Trump.

But virtually nothing is known about the substance of communications between Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump, although they appear to have spoken regularly. Mr. Mulvaney told associates that he would leave the room whenever the men would talk in order to preserve attorney-client privilege.

Whether the president decided to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine for his own political gain, at the expense of the nation’s strategic foreign policy interests, is at the crux of the case against him. His decision thwarted the will of Congress, undercut an American ally enmeshed in a war with Russia and, according to a report last week by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, violated American law.

During the House inquiry, Mr. Sondland testified that he had informed Ukraine that it would most likely not receive the aid unless it was willing to commit to carrying out the investigations Mr. Trump wanted. But he also testified that Mr. Trump insisted to him there was no “quid pro quo” — although only after the aid freeze had become public and the president had been told about the whistle-blower complaint setting out details of the pressure campaign.

Democrats in the Senate are seeking testimony from four other witnesses who played key roles in White House deliberations about the suspension in aid: Mr. Bolton; Mr. Mulvaney; Robert B. Blair, a senior adviser to Mr. Mulvaney, and Michael Duffey, the associate director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The New York Times reported last month that many administration officials involved in carrying out the aid freeze were kept in the dark about the president’s motivations.

Mr. Mulvaney said at a news conference in October that the aid had been withheld in part because Mr. Trump wanted an investigation into a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 election. Mr. Mulvaney later said that was not true, and that the aid was withheld only because of concerns about Ukraine’s willingness to battle corruption and about whether other nations were providing their fair share of aid to Ukraine.

In mid-August, Mr. Bolton unsuccessfully tried to persuade Mr. Trump to lift the freeze. In an Oval Office meeting later that month, Mr. Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper asked the president to release the funds but were rebuffed.

Mr. Duffey, a political appointee, enforced the hold on the aid after taking control of the funds from a career budget officer, Mark Sandy — a highly unusual move.

On July 25, after days of exchanges about the topic but also just 90 minutes after Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky held their fateful telephone conversation, Mr. Duffey reiterated to Defense Department officials in an email that no funds should be disbursed — instructions he said should be “closely held” because of “the sensitive nature of the request.”

“Everyone was in the loop.”

That was Mr. Sondland’s characterization of who knew what about the push to win a commitment from the Ukrainians to announce the investigations. He testified that several top officials, including Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Mulvaney, knew that Mr. Trump would extend an Oval Office invitation to Mr. Zelensky only if Ukraine publicly announced the investigations.

Fiona Hill, at the time the top Russia specialist on the National Security Council, testified that at a White House meeting on July 10, Mr. Sondland said that he had a deal with Mr. Mulvaney: an Oval Office invitation for Mr. Zelensky in exchange for a public statement that the inquiries were underway.

Although the State Department refused Mr. Sondland’s request for documents to support his testimony, he produced several emails to back up his assertions. On July 18, he wrote a group of officials — including Mr. Mulvaney, Mr. Pompeo, Mr. Bolton and Rick Perry, then the energy secretary — that Mr. Zelensky was ready to promise the president in their upcoming phone call that his prosecutors would “turn over every stone.”

Mr. Pompeo was among the officials who listened the July 25 phone call, in which Mr. Trump raised with Mr. Zelensky the need to investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election and Mr. Zelensky seemed to agree.

In August, Mr. Sondland wrote Mr. Pompeo that Mr. Zelensky would deliver a public statement that “will hopefully make the boss happy enough to authorize an invitation” because it would include “specifics.” That meant, he testified, that Mr. Zelensky would name Burisma, a Ukrainian company that had hired Hunter Biden, as an investigative target, along with the 2016 election.

A number of State Department witnesses blamed Mr. Giuliani for Mr. Trump’s animus toward Ukraine, saying they struggled mightily to counteract his influence. But there are indications that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary helped solidify Mr. Trump’s views.

Mr. Volker, the envoy to Ukraine, testified that the president’s negative opinion of Ukraine was “very deeply rooted” and evident as far back as September 2017, when Mr. Trump met Mr. Zelensky’s predecessor Petro O. Poroshenko in the Oval Office.

One explanation is that Mr. Trump blamed the Ukrainians for helping to expose the financial misdeeds of Paul Manafort, who was forced to resign as Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman in August 2016 and is now in prison for his crimes. In an Oval Office meeting on May 23, Mr. Trump insisted to his aides that Ukrainians were “terrible people” who “tried to take me down.”

But George P. Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state, testified that Mr. Trump’s view of Mr. Zelensky and Ukraine had darkened in the interval between that meeting and his first phone call with the Ukraine leader a month earlier, in which he congratulated him on his victory.

In the interim, Mr. Putin reportedly disparaged Mr. Zelensky to Mr. Trump in a phone call on May 3. And Mr. Trump held an Oval Office meeting with Mr. Orban, who is antagonistic toward Mr. Zelensky. No transcripts of those conversations have been released. Mr. Kent attributed the shift in Mr. Trump’s attitude to the combined influence of those two foreign leaders and Mr. Giuliani.

A group of government lawyers is charged with monitoring White House and National Security Council decisions for unethical or illegal behavior. The top-ranking lawyers involved in the Ukraine affair were John A. Eisenberg at the National Security Council and Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel.

Two security council staff members — Ms. Hill and Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman — told Mr. Eisenberg they feared that Mr. Sondland was improperly pressuring Ukraine to benefit Mr. Trump politically. Ms. Hill testified that Mr. Bolton had ordered her to tell Mr. Eisenberg that he did not want any part of “whatever drug deal” that Mr. Sondland and Mr. Mulvaney were cooking up.

According to people familiar with the situation, Mr. Eisenberg shared those concerns with Mr. Cipollone, his superior, but rejected Mr. Cipollone’s advice that he bring them up with the president.

Colonel Vindman also reported concerns about the president’s July 25 phone call. Mr. Eisenberg warned him not to discuss the call with others and ordered that access be restricted to the reconstructed transcript. A person briefed on his actions said officials misinterpreted that directive as an order to put the transcript on the White House’s most secure computer.

Mr. Eisenberg eventually alerted the Justice Department to the July 25 call, but only weeks later, after the C.I.A.’s top lawyer informed him that a C.I.A. officer had filed an anonymous complaint about it.

Ben Protess contributed reporting from New York. Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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

Behind the Ukraine Aid Freeze: 84 Days of Conflict and Confusion

Westlake Legal Group 28dc-omb1-facebookJumbo Behind the Ukraine Aid Freeze: 84 Days of Conflict and Confusion Zelensky, Volodymyr Vought, Russell T Volker, Kurt D United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Taylor, William B Jr State Department Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Portman, Rob Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Office of Management and Budget (US) National Security Council Mulvaney, Mick Johnson, Ron (1955- ) Hill, Fiona (1965- ) Giuliani, Rudolph W Duffey, Michael Defense Department Defense and Military Forces Cipollone, Pat A Bolton, John R Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — Deep into a long flight to Japan aboard Air Force One with President Trump, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, dashed off an email to an aide back in Washington.

“I’m just trying to tie up some loose ends,” Mr. Mulvaney wrote. “Did we ever find out about the money for Ukraine and whether we can hold it back?”

It was June 27, more than a week after Mr. Trump had first asked about putting a hold on security aid to Ukraine, an embattled American ally, and Mr. Mulvaney needed an answer.

The aide, Robert B. Blair, replied that it would be possible, but not pretty. “Expect Congress to become unhinged” if the White House tried to countermand spending passed by the House and Senate, he wrote in a previously undisclosed email. And, he wrote, it might further fuel the narrative that Mr. Trump was pro-Russia.

Mr. Blair was right, even if his prediction of a messy outcome was wildly understated. Mr. Trump’s order to hold $391 million worth of sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, night vision goggles, medical aid and other equipment the Ukrainian military needed to fight a grinding war against Russian-backed separatists would help pave a path to the president’s impeachment.

The Democratic-led inquiry into Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine this spring and summer established that the president was actively involved in parallel efforts — both secretive and highly unusual — to bring pressure on a country he viewed with suspicion, if not disdain.

One campaign, spearheaded by Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, aimed to force Ukraine to conduct investigations that could help Mr. Trump politically, including one focused on a potential Democratic 2020 rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The other, which unfolded nearly simultaneously but has gotten less attention, was the president’s demand to withhold the security assistance. By late summer, the two efforts merged as American diplomats used the withheld aid as leverage in the effort to win a public commitment from the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to carry out the investigations Mr. Trump sought into Mr. Biden and unfounded or overblown theories about Ukraine interfering in the 2016 election.

Interviews with dozens of current and former administration officials, congressional aides and others, previously undisclosed emails and documents, and a close reading of thousands of pages of impeachment testimony provide the most complete account yet of the 84 days from when Mr. Trump first inquired about the money to his decision in September to relent.

What emerges is the story of how Mr. Trump’s demands sent shock waves through the White House and the Pentagon, created deep rifts within the senior ranks of his administration, left key aides like Mr. Mulvaney under intensifying scrutiny — and ended only after Mr. Trump learned of a damning whistle-blower report and came under pressure from influential Republican lawmakers.

In many ways, the havoc Mr. Giuliani and other Trump loyalists set off in the State Department by pursuing the investigations was matched by conflicts and confusion in the White House and Pentagon stemming from Mr. Trump’s order to withhold the aid.

Opposition to the order from his top national security advisers was more intense than previously known. In late August, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper joined Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser at the time, for a previously undisclosed Oval Office meeting with the president where they tried but failed to convince him that releasing the aid was in interests of the United States.

By late summer, top lawyers at the Office of Management and Budget who had spoken to lawyers at the White House and the Justice Department in the weeks beforehand, were developing an argument — not previously divulged publicly — that Mr. Trump’s role as commander in chief would simply allow him to override Congress on the issue.

And Mr. Mulvaney is shown to have been deeply involved as a key conduit for transmitting Mr. Trump’s demands for the freeze across the administration.

The interviews and documents show how Mr. Trump used the bureaucracy to advance his agenda in the face of questions about its propriety and even legality from officials in the White House budget office and the Pentagon, many of whom say they were kept in the dark about the president’s motivations and had grown used to convention-flouting requests from the West Wing. One veteran budget official who raised questions about the legal justification was pushed aside.

Those carrying out Mr. Trump’s orders on the aid were for the most part operating in different lanes from those seeking the investigations, including Mr. Giuliani and a number of senior diplomats, including Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt D. Volker, the State Department’s special envoy for Ukraine and Russia.

The New York Times found that some key players are now offering a defense that they did not know the diplomatic push for the investigations was playing out at the same time they were implementing the aid freeze — or if they were aware of both channels, they did not connect the two.

Mr. Mulvaney is said by associates to have stepped out of the room whenever Mr. Trump would talk with Mr. Giuliani to preserve Mr. Trump’s attorney-client privilege, leaving him with limited knowledge about their efforts regarding Ukraine. Mr. Mulvaney has told associates he learned of the substance of Mr. Trump’s July 25 call weeks after the fact.

Yet testimony before the House suggests a different picture. Fiona Hill, a top deputy to Mr. Bolton at the time, told the impeachment inquiry about a July 10 White House meeting at which Mr. Sondland said Mr. Mulvaney had guaranteed that Mr. Zelensky would be invited to the White House if the Ukrainians agreed to the investigations — an arrangement that Mr. Bolton described as a “drug deal,” according to Ms. Hill.

Along with Mr. Bolton and others, Mr. Mulvaney and Mr. Blair have declined to cooperate with impeachment investigators and provide information to Congress under oath, an intensifying point of friction between the two parties as the Senate prepares for Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial.

At the center of the maelstrom was the Office of Management and Budget, a seldom-scrutinized arm of the White House that during the Trump administration has often had to find creative legal reasoning to justify the president’s unorthodox policy proposals, like his demand to divert Pentagon funding to his proposed wall along the border with Mexico.

In the Ukraine case, however, shock about the president’s decision spread across America’s national security apparatus — from the National Security Council to the State Department and the Pentagon. By September, after the freeze had become public and scrutiny was increasing, the blame game inside the administration was in full swing.

On Sept. 10, the day before Mr. Trump changed his mind, a political appointee at the budget office, Michael P. Duffey, wrote a lengthy email to the Pentagon’s top budget official, with whom he had been at odds throughout the summer about how long the agency could withhold the aid.

He asserted that the Defense Department had the authority to do more to ensure that the aid could be released to Ukraine by the congressionally mandated deadline of the end of that month, suggesting that responsibility for any failure should not rest with the White House.

Forty-three minutes later, the Pentagon official, Elaine McCusker, hit send on a brief but stinging reply.

“You can’t be serious,” she wrote. “I am speechless.”

For top officials inside the budget office, the first warning came on June 19.

Informed that the president had a problem with the aid, Mr. Blair called Russell T. Vought, the acting head of the Office of Management and Budget. “We need to hold it up,” he said, according to officials briefed about the conversation.

Typical of the Trump White House, the inquiry was not born of a rigorous policy process. Aides speculated that someone had shown Mr. Trump a news article about the Ukraine assistance and he demanded to know more.

Mr. Vought and his team took to Google, and came upon a piece in the conservative Washington Examiner saying that the Pentagon would pay for weapons and other military equipment for Ukraine, bringing American security aid to the country to $1.5 billion since 2014.

The money, the article noted, was coming at a critical moment: Mr. Zelensky, a onetime comedian, had called ending the armed conflict with Russia in eastern Ukraine his top priority — a move that would likely only happen if he could negotiate from a position of strength.

The budget office officials had little idea of why Mr. Trump was interested in the topic, but many of the president’s more senior aides were well aware of his feelings about Ukraine. Weeks earlier, in an Oval Office meeting on May 23, with Mr. Sondland, Mr. Mulvaney and Mr. Blair in attendance, Mr. Trump batted away assurances that Mr. Zelensky was committed to confronting corruption.

“They are all corrupt, they are all terrible people,” Mr. Trump said, according to testimony in the impeachment inquiry.

The United States had been planning to provide $391 million in military assistance to Ukraine in two chunks: $250 million allocated by the Pentagon for war-fighting equipment — from sniper rifles to rocket-propelled grenade launchers — and $141 million controlled by the State Department to buy night-vision devices, radar systems and yet more rocket-grenade launchers.

With the money having been appropriated by Congress, it would be hard for the administration to keep it from being spent by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

The task of dealing with the president’s demands fell primarily to a group of political appointees in the West Wing and the budget office, most with personal and professional ties to Mr. Mulvaney. There was no public announcement that Mr. Trump wanted the assistance withheld. Neither Congress nor the Ukrainian government was formally notified.

Mr. Mulvaney had first served in the administration as the budget director, after three terms in the House, where he earned a reputation as a firebrand conservative.

The four top political appointees helping Mr. Mulvaney execute the hold — Mr. Vought, Mr. Blair, Mr. Duffey and Mark Paoletta, the budget office’s top lawyer — all had extensive experience in either congressional budget politics or Republican and conservative causes.

Their efforts would cause tension and at times conflict between officials at the budget office and the Pentagon, some of whom watched with growing alarm.

The single largest chunk of the federal government’s annual discretionary budget, some $800 billion a year, goes to the Pentagon, spy agencies and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The career official in charge of managing the flow of all that money for the budget office is an Afghanistan war veteran named Mark Sandy.

After learning about the president’s June 19 request, Mr. Sandy contacted the Pentagon to learn more about the aid package. He also repeatedly pressed Mr. Duffey about why Mr. Trump had imposed the hold in the first place.

“He didn’t provide an explicit response on the reason,” Mr. Sandy testified in the impeachment inquiry. “He simply said we need to let the hold take place — and I’m paraphrasing here — and then revisit this issue with the president.”

From the start, budget office officials took the position that the money did not have to go out the door until the end of September, giving them time to address the president’s questions.

It was easy enough for the White House to hold up the State Department portion of the funding. Since the State Department had not yet notified Congress of its plans to release the money, all it took was making sure that the notification did not happen.

Freezing the Pentagon’s $250 million portion was more difficult, since the Pentagon had already certified that Ukraine had met requirements set by Congress to show that it was addressing its endemic corruption and notified lawmakers of its intent to spend the money.

So on July 19, Mr. Duffey proposed an unusual solution: Mr. Sandy should attach a footnote to a routine budget document saying the money was being temporarily withheld.

Approving such requests is routine; Mr. Sandy processed hundreds each year. But attaching a footnote to block spending that the administration had already notified Congress was ready to go was not. Mr. Sandy said in testimony that he had never done it before in his 12 years at the agency.

And there was a problem with this maneuver: Mr. Sandy was concerned it might violate a law called the Impoundment Control Act that protects Congress’s spending power and prohibits the administration from blocking disbursement of the aid unless it notifies Congress.

“I asked about the duration of the hold and was told there was not clear guidance on that,” Mr. Sandy testified. “So that is what prompted my concern.”

Mr. Sandy sought advice from the top lawyers at the budget office.

For a full month, the fact that Mr. Trump wanted to halt the aid remained confined primarily to a small group of officials.

That ended on July 18, when a group of top administration officials meeting on Ukraine policy — including some calling in from Kyiv — learned from a midlevel budget office official that the president had ordered the aid frozen.

“I and the others on the call sat in astonishment,” William B. Taylor Jr., the top United States diplomat in Ukraine, testified to House investigators. “In an instant, I realized that one of the key pillars of our strong support for Ukraine was threatened.”

That same day, aides on the House Foreign Affairs Committee received four calls from administration sources warning them about the hold and urging them to look into it.

A week later came Mr. Trump’s fateful July 25 call with Mr. Zelensky. Mr. Bolton, the national security adviser, had recommended the call take place in an effort to end the “incessant lobbying” from officials like Mr. Sondland that the two leaders connect.

Some of Mr. Trump’s aides had thought the call might lead Mr. Trump to lift the freeze. But Mr. Trump did not specifically mention the hold, and instead asked Mr. Zelensky to look into Mr. Biden and his son and into supposed Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election. Among those listening on the call was Mr. Blair.

Mr. Blair has told associates he did not make much of Mr. Trump’s requests during the call for the investigations. He saw the aid freeze not as a political tool, but as an extension of Mr. Trump’s general aversion to foreign aid and his belief that Ukraine is rife with corruption.

Just 90 minutes after the call ended, and following days of email traffic on the topic, Mr. Duffey, Mr. Sandy’s boss, sent out a new email to the Pentagon, where officials were impatient about getting the money out the door. His message was clear: Do not spend it.

“Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute the direction,” Mr. Duffey wrote in his note, which was released this month to the Center for Public Integrity.

This caused immediate discomfort at the Pentagon, with a top official there noting that this hold on military assistance was coming on the same day Ukraine announced it had seized a Russian tanker — a potential escalation in the conflict between the two nations.

On that same day, Mr. Sandy, having received the go-ahead from the budget office’s lawyers, took the first official step to legally impose what they called a “brief pause,” inserting a footnote into the budget document that prohibited the Pentagon from spending any of the aid until Aug. 5.

By that point, officials in Ukraine were getting word that something was up. At the same time, the effort to win a commitment from the Ukrainians for the investigations sought by Mr. Trump was intensifying, with Mr. Giuliani and a Zelensky aide, Andriy Yermak, meeting in Madrid on Aug. 2 and the diplomats Mr. Sondland and Mr. Volker also working the issue.

And inside the intelligence community, a C.I.A. officer was hearing talk about the two strands of pressure on Ukraine, including the aid freeze. Seeing how they fit together, he was alarmed enough that by Aug. 12 he would take the extraordinary step of laying them out in detail in a confidential whistle-blower complaint.

Keeping a hold on the assistance was now a top priority, so officials moved to tighten control over the money.

In a very unusual step, the White House removed Mr. Sandy’s authority to oversee the aid freeze. The job was handed in late July to Mr. Sandy’s boss, Mr. Duffey, the political appointee, the official ultimately responsible for apportionments but one who had little experience in the nuts and bolts of the budget office process.

As the debate over the aid continued, disagreements flared. Two budget office staff members left the agency after the summer. Mr. Sandy testified that their departures were related to the aid freeze, a statement disputed by budget office officials.

Pentagon officials, in the dark about the reason for the holdup, grew increasingly frustrated. Ms. McCusker, the powerful Pentagon budget official, notified the budget office that either $61 million of the money would have to be spent by Monday, Aug. 12 or it would be lost. The budget office saw her threat as a ploy to force release of the aid.

At the White House, which had been looped into the dispute by the budget office, there was a growing consensus that officials could find a legal rationale for continuing the hold, but with the Monday deadline looming, it was a “POTUS-level decision,” one official said.

Complicating matters, another budget battle was escalating. Mr. Vought was attempting to impose cuts of as much as $4 billion on the nation’s overall foreign aid budget. It was an entirely separate initiative from the Ukraine freeze, and was quickly abandoned, but helped the White House establish that its concern about aid was not limited to Ukraine.

By the second week of August, Mr. Duffey had taken to issuing footnotes every few days to block the Pentagon spending. Office of Management and Budget lawyers approved each one.

Mr. Trump spent the weekend before the Pentagon’s Aug. 12 deadline at Bedminster, his New Jersey golf resort.

In a previously unreported sequence of events, Mr. Mulvaney worked to schedule a call for that day with Mr. Trump and top aides involved in the freeze, including Mr. Vought, Mr. Bolton and Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel. But they waited to set a final time because Mr. Trump had a golf game planned for Monday morning with John Daly, the flamboyant professional golfer, and they did not know how long it would take.

Late that morning, Ms. McCusker checked in with the budget office. “Hey, any update for us?” she asked in an email obtained by Center for Public Integrity.

Mr. Duffey was still waiting for an answer as of late that afternoon. “Elaine — I don’t have an update,” he wrote back. “I am attempting to get one.”

The planned-for conference call with the president never happened. Budget office lawyers decided that Ms. McCusker had inaccurately raised alarms about the Aug. 12 date to try to force their hand.

In Bedminster with Mr. Trump, Mr. Mulvaney finally reached the president and the answer was clear: Mr. Trump wanted the freeze kept in place. In Washington, the whistle-blower submitted his report that same day.

Inside the administration, pressure was mounting on Mr. Trump to reverse himself.

Backed by a memo saying the National Security Council, the Pentagon and the State Department all wanted the aid released, Mr. Bolton made a personal appeal to Mr. Trump on Aug. 16, but was rebuffed.

On Aug. 28, Politico published a story reporting that the assistance to Ukraine had been frozen. After more than two months, the issue, the topic of fiery internal debate, was finally public.

Mr. Bolton’s relationship with the president had been deteriorating for months, and he would leave the White House weeks later, but on this front he had powerful internal allies.

On a sunny, late-August day, Mr. Bolton, Mr. Esper and Mr. Pompeo arrayed themselves around the Resolute desk in the Oval Office to present a united front, the leaders of the president’s national security team seeking to convince him face to face that freeing up the money for Ukraine was the right thing to do. One by one they made their case.

“This is in America’s interest,” Mr. Bolton argued, according to one official briefed on the gathering.

“This defense relationship, we have gotten some really good benefits from it,” Mr. Esper added, noting that most of the money was being spent on military equipment made in the United States.

Mr. Trump responded that he did not believe Mr. Zelensky’s promises of reform. He emphasized his view that corruption remained endemic and repeated his position that European nations needed to do more for European defense.

“Ukraine is a corrupt country,” the president said. “We are pissing away our money.”

The aid remained blocked. On Aug. 31, Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, arranged a call with Mr. Trump. Mr. Johnson had been told days earlier by Mr. Sondland that the aid would be unblocked only if the Ukrainians gave Mr. Trump the investigations he wanted.

When Mr. Johnson asked Mr. Trump directly if the aid was contingent on getting a commitment to pursue the investigations, Mr. Johnson later said, Mr. Trump replied, amid a string of expletives, that there was no such demand and he would never do such a thing.

Around the same time, White House lawyers informed Mr. Trump about the whistle-blower’s complaint regarding his pressure campaign. It is not clear how much detail the lawyers provided the president about the details of the complaint, which noted the aid freeze.

Mr. Trump was scheduled to travel to Poland on Sept. 1 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, and had planned to get together with Mr. Zelensky. Some administration officials hoped meeting the new Ukrainian president in person would change Mr. Trump’s mind.

But a hurricane was bearing down on the United States, and Mr. Trump sent Vice President Mike Pence in his place. When Mr. Zelensky raised the issue with the vice president, Mr. Pence said he should speak with Mr. Trump.

Behind the scenes in Warsaw, Mr. Sondland, the American envoy who was Mr. Trump’s point person on getting the Ukrainians to agree to the investigations, had a blunter message. Until the Ukrainians publicly announced the investigations, he told Mr. Yermak, the Zelensky adviser, they should not expect to get the military aid. (Mr. Yermak has questioned Mr. Sondland’s account.)

By late summer, top lawyers at the budget office were developing a proposed legal justification for the hold, based in part on conversations with White House lawyers as well as the Justice Department.

Their argument was that lifting the hold would undermine Mr. Trump’s negotiating position in his efforts to fight corruption in Ukraine.

The president, the lawyers believed, could ignore the requirements of the Impoundment Control Act and continue to hold the aid by asserting constitutional commander in chief powers that give him authority over diplomacy. He could do so, they believed, if he determined that, based on existing circumstances, releasing the money would undermine military or diplomatic efforts.

But divisions within the administration continued to widen; Mr. Bolton was opposed to using an argument proffered by administration lawyers to block the funding. And pressure from Congress was intensifying. Mr. Johnson and another influential Republican, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, were both pushing for the aid to be released.

On a call with Mr. Portman on Sept. 11, Mr. Trump repeated his familiar refrain about other nations not doing enough to support Ukraine.

“Sure, I agree with you,” Mr. Portman responded, according to an aide who described the exchange. “But we should not hold that against Ukraine. We need to release these funds.”

Democrats in the House were gearing up to limit Mr. Trump’s power to hold up the money to Ukraine, and the chairmen of three House committees had also announced on Sept. 9 that they were opening an investigation.

Still, White House officials did not expect anything to change, especially since Mr. Trump had repeatedly rejected the advice of his national security team.

But then, just as suddenly as the hold was imposed, it was lifted. Mr. Trump, apparently unwilling to wage a public battle, told Mr. Portman he would let the money go.

White House aides rushed to notify their counterparts at the Pentagon and elsewhere. The freeze had been lifted. The money could be spent. Get it out the door, they were told.

The debate would now begin as to why the hold was lifted, with Democrats confident they knew the answer.

“I have no doubt about why the president allowed the assistance to go forward,” said Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “He got caught.”

Adam Goldman, Edward Wong and Peter Baker contributed reporting.

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

Officials Discussed Hold on Ukraine Aid After Trump Spoke With Country’s Leader

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-ukraine-print-facebookJumbo-v2 Officials Discussed Hold on Ukraine Aid After Trump Spoke With Country’s Leader Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Mulvaney, Mick House of Representatives Duffey, Michael Democratic Party Center for Public Integrity

WASHINGTON — About 90 minutes after President Trump held a controversial telephone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in July, the White House budget office ordered the Pentagon to suspend all military aid that Congress had allocated to Ukraine, according to emails released by the Pentagon late Friday.

A budget official, Michael Duffey, also told the Pentagon to keep quiet about the aid freeze because of the “sensitive nature of the request,” according to a message dated July 25.

An earlier email that Mr. Duffey sent to the Pentagon comptroller suggested that Mr. Trump began asking aides about $250 million in military aid set aside for Ukraine after noticing a June 19 article about it in the Washington Examiner.

The emails add to publicly available information about the events that prompted the Democratic-led House to call for Mr. Trump to be removed from office. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump was impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress along a party-line vote after documents and testimony by senior administration officials revealed that he had withheld $391 million in aid to Ukraine at the same time that he asked for investigations from the Ukrainian president that would benefit him politically.

The emails were in a batch of 146 pages of documents released by the Pentagon late Friday to the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit news organization and watchdog group, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Despite the timing of Mr. Duffey’s email, officials testified before Congress that the hold on the aid was announced at a meeting on July 18 involving a range of administration officials, including some from the Office of Management and Budget. Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff and director of the budget office, was said to have told people that the president had directed the aid to be frozen. Other officials have testified they knew by early July of the hold.

Rachel Semmel, a spokeswoman for the budget office, said, “It’s reckless to tie the hold of funds to the phone call,” noting the mid-July announcement of the hold at an interagency meeting.

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, has pressed for Mr. Duffey, a political appointee who is associate director of national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget, to testify in a Senate trial. On Twitter on Saturday, he pointed to the July 25 email as “all the more reason” Mr. Duffey and others must appear. Republican Senate leaders have indicated they do not plan to call witnesses.

The email raises further questions about the process by which Mr. Trump imposed the hold on the military aid, and the link between the hold and the requests he made of Mr. Zelensky in the telephone call, which prompted concern among national security officials with knowledge of the conversation.

In the call, after Mr. Zelensky mentioned Ukraine was ready to buy anti-tank missiles to use in a war against a Russian-backed insurgency, Mr. Trump said, “I would like you to do us a favor though,” according to a reconstructed transcript released by the White House. He then pressed Mr. Zelensky to open an investigation based on a conspiracy theory that Ukraine had interfered in the 2016 United States elections and one based on unsubstantiated claims of corrupt acts by former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential candidate.

That call took place from 9:03 a.m. to 9:33 a.m. At 11:04 a.m., Mr. Duffey emailed Defense Department officials telling them of the aid, “Please hold off on any additional DoD obligations of these funds, pending direction from that process.” Obligation refers to the process of a government agency designating how funds will be spent.

In addition, he wrote, “Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute the direction.”

A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to publicly discuss the matter, said the timing of the email — an hour and a half after Mr. Trump’s July 25 call with Mr. Zelensky — was coincidental.

The official said the email was part of a weekslong exchange over aid to Ukraine. The July 25 email came after the budget office issued a formal, written hold on the aid, the official said. The reference to sensitivity around the discussions, the official said, was based on the potential for concerns about career officials at the agency that had arisen from previous instances when aid had been cut, as well as the fact that the freeze related to national security matters.

The Pentagon did not reply to a request for comment.

In a June 19 email, Mr. Duffey asked Elaine McCusker, the Pentagon comptroller, about the aid in the context of the Washington Examiner article, saying, “The President has asked about this funding release, and I have been tasked to follow-up with someone over there to get more detail.”

According to the private testimony of Mark Sandy, a senior budget official, Mr. Trump began inquiring about the aid on June 19 after seeing a news report. Mr. Sandy said in a closed-door deposition before lawmakers in November that he learned of Mr. Trump’s decision to freeze the aid through a July 12 email from Robert Blair, an aide to Mr. Mulvaney.

A Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, told Congress that he had learned by July 3 that the budget office had delayed the aid. Jennifer Williams, an aide in the vice president’s office, testified that the State Department had informed Colonel Vindman of this.

A congressional aide said the budget office in June had blocked the State Department’s planned notification to Congress that it was proceeding with its $141 million in aid, separate from the Pentagon’s package.

The emails underscore what some officials say was the central role that the Office of Management and Budget played in Mr. Trump’s Ukraine pressure campaign, which he orchestrated with the help of his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Democratic leaders in Congress have called for testimonies from Mr. Mulvaney; John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser; and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. None have agreed to testify.

Mr. Bolton is said to have opposed the pressure campaign on Ukraine, while Mr. Pompeo enabled it — he spoke with Mr. Giuliani weeks before he helped Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump with the April ouster of the United States ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, who promoted anticorruption efforts.

Mr. Sandy’s private testimony disclosed that some budget officials were disturbed by the aid freeze to Ukraine. Two budget officials resigned this year in part out of frustration at the freeze, he said. One official had been frustrated by not understanding the reason for the hold, Mr. Sandy said, and another had offered a “dissenting opinion” on whether the hold was legal.

Mr. Trump released the aid on Sept. 11, after he learned of the whistle-blower complaint in late August. Mr. Bolton had resigned the previous day, though to what degree that was tied to Ukraine is unclear. Mr. Duffey wrote an email to Ms. McCusker at 9:52 p.m. on Sept. 11 saying he hoped that the signing of the release order would take place that night, and that he was “glad to have this behind us.”

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting from New York.

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

Trump Diatribe Belittles Impeachment as ‘Attempted Coup’ on Eve of Votes

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday angrily denounced the looming House votes to impeach him as a “Star Chamber of partisan persecution” by Democrats, describing the effort to remove him from office as an “attempted coup” that would come back to haunt them at the ballot box next year.

On the eve of the historic votes, Democrats reached a critical threshold, gathering majority support to impeach Mr. Trump, as the president raged against the proceedings. In an irate and rambling six-page letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Mr. Trump portrayed himself as the victim of enemies determined to destroy his presidency with false accusations.

“This is nothing more than an illegal, partisan attempted coup that will, based on recent sentiment, badly fail at the voting booth,” Mr. Trump declared, describing a process enshrined in the Constitution as an attempted government overthrow.

“History will judge you harshly as you proceed with this impeachment charade,” he wrote.

In a missive full of unproven charges, hyperbole and long-simmering grievances against his own government — at one point, he referred to leaders of the F.B.I. as “totally incompetent and corrupt” — Mr. Trump angrily disputed both of the impeachment charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The letter ignored the extensive evidence uncovered during a two-month inquiry by the House Intelligence Committee, based in part on the testimony by members of his own administration. It found that Mr. Trump sought to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals while holding back nearly $400 million in military assistance the country badly needed and a White House meeting for its president.

The charges accuse Mr. Trump of engaging in a corrupt scheme to enlist a foreign power for his own political benefit in the 2020 election, followed by an effort to conceal his actions by blocking congressional investigations. On Wednesday, the House is all but certain to approve them on nearly party-line votes, making him the third president ever to be impeached.

Past presidents have offered contrition as they stared down looming House impeachment votes. President Bill Clinton issued a personal apology from the White House Rose Garden in 1998, biting his lip and saying he was “profoundly sorry” for his actions in the Monica Lewinsky affair days before the House voted to impeach him. President Richard M. Nixon resigned his office in 1974 rather than face the vote at all.

But Mr. Trump was defiant and unrepentant on Tuesday. He accused Ms. Pelosi and her party of fabricating lies, saying that the speaker and Democrats were possessed by “Impeachment Fever” and vowing that he and the Republican Party would emerge stronger after he was vindicated in a Senate trial.

“You are the ones interfering in America’s elections,” he wrote in the letter, on stationery embossed with the presidential seal. “You are the ones subverting America’s democracy. You are the ones Obstructing Justice. You are the ones bringing pain and suffering to our Republic for your own selfish personal, political, and partisan gain.”

The letter appeared to preview the grievance-filled narrative of Mr. Trump’s 2020 campaign, echoing the rants he delivers at arena-style rallies around the country as he campaigns for re-election.

The president wrote that he knew his letter would not change the outcome. But he said that the document was “for the purpose of history and to put my thoughts on a permanent and indelible record.”

In her own message on Tuesday evening to Democratic lawmakers, Ms. Pelosi made no reference to the president’s letter, instead urging her colleagues to “proceed in a manner worthy of our oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Westlake Legal Group trump-pelosi-letter-1576612247421-articleLarge-v2 Trump Diatribe Belittles Impeachment as ‘Attempted Coup’ on Eve of Votes Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Schumer, Charles E Mulvaney, Mick McConnell, Mitch Bolton, John R

Read Trump’s Letter to Pelosi Protesting Impeachment

President Trump sent a letter on Tuesday to Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressing his “most powerful protest” against the impeachment process. The House is expected to vote on two articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump on Wednesday.

Mr. Trump and Ms. Pelosi released their letters as Democrats began drafting rules for debate on the House floor. Meeting in a tiny hearing room just upstairs from the chamber, the House Rules Committee kicked off the broader House debate over the fate of Mr. Trump’s presidency.

“This scheme to corrupt an American presidential election subordinated the democratic sovereignty of the people to the private political ambitions of one man, the president himself,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the Judiciary Committee. “It immediately placed the national security interests of the United States of America at risk.”

Republicans responded with the same ferocity that has characterized their defense of Mr. Trump throughout the impeachment inquiry, insisting that the president had done nothing wrong and certainly nothing that warranted impeachment, and accusing Democrats of orchestrating an unfair and illegitimate process.

“No matter what happened and no matter where the investigations led, the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives was pushing since the day they took over to impeach President Trump,” said Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the senior Republican on the Rules Committee.

Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, accused Democrats of ignoring the rules in order to rush Mr. Trump’s impeachment. “What’s up is down and what’s down is up,” he said. “We’re more Alice in Wonderland than we are House of Representatives.”

None of them disputed the now-familiar facts surrounding the case against Mr. Trump, that he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading political rival, as he was holding back vital military assistance from the country.

The Rules Committee voted along party lines on Tuesday night to allow a total of six hours of debate over impeachment on the House floor on Wednesday, divided equally among Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

As House Democrats moved methodically toward the votes, the Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate clashed over the procedures that would guide an impeachment trial that is likely to begin early next year.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, rejected demands by Democrats to call four White House officials as witnesses. He said there was no reason now for the Senate to agree to take testimony from officials who might bolster Democrats’ case against the president. Later, in a strikingly public rejection of the oath senators take during an impeachment trial to “do impartial justice,” Mr. McConnell insisted he had no obligation to be evenhanded in his handling of the proceeding.

“I’m not an impartial juror,” he told reporters. “This is a political process. I’m not impartial about this at all.”

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, had requested in a letter to Mr. McConnell that the Senate take testimony during trial from four key figures, including Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, and John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser.

After Mr. McConnell’s rebuff, Mr. Schumer said that holding a trial without witnesses “would be an aberration.” In an interview, he added that the move would shirk the responsibility the Senate has to get to the truth about what occurred, and that it “eats away at the foundation of the republic.”

“The bottom line is that a trial with no witnesses, a trial with no documents is not a trial,” he said, adding, “We are going to do everything we can to get these documents and get these witnesses.”

The bitter exchange between the Senate leaders came as the most politically vulnerable House Democrats continued to announce their support for the impeachment charges.

One centrist lawmaker, Representative Jared Golden, Democrat of Maine, announced Tuesday that he would support impeaching Mr. Trump for abuse of power, one of the two articles, but would vote against the article charging the president with obstruction of Congress.

“While I do not dispute that the White House has been provocative in its defiance and sweeping in its claims of executive privilege,” Mr. Golden said in a statement, “I also believe there are legitimate and unresolved constitutional questions about the limits of executive privilege.”

Others announced they would vote for both articles even though they were aware that the decision could cost them support in their conservative-leaning districts, and possibly even their seats.

Representative Anthony Brindisi, a freshman Democrat from upstate New York, said in a statement that he would vote for the articles of impeachment with “profound sadness.” But he said Mr. Trump needed to be held accountable.

“I will be voting not as Democrat or Republican but as an American who has been given this responsibility by the people I serve and the community I love,” Mr. Brindisi wrote in an early-morning series of posts on Twitter.

Like Mr. Golden, Mr. Brindisi is one of 23 freshman lawmakers who represent a district that voted for Mr. Trump in 2016.

By evening, a majority of the House — all Democrats — had said they would vote in favor. The cascade of announcements from lawmakers who had been deeply skeptical of the drive to force Mr. Trump from office was a sign of Democratic unity on the eve of the House vote.

Mr. Brindisi said in a newspaper opinion article that he became convinced of the president’s wrongdoing after carefully reviewing the evidence collected by the House Intelligence Committee in nearly two months of testimony from national security officials and diplomats in Mr. Trump’s government.

“The fact that the president made a political request to a foreign leader of a troubled country with the intention for it to impact an American rival is beyond disappointing,” Mr. Brindisi wrote. “It is unconstitutional. I took an oath to defend the Constitution. What the President admitted to doing is not something I can pretend is normal behavior.”

In her own statement, Representative Chrissy Houlahan, Democrat of Pennsylvania, said she would vote to impeach the president in order to make sure Congress did not send the message that his behavior was appropriate.

“I grieve for our nation,” Ms. Houlahan said. “But I cannot let history mark the behavior of our president as anything other than an unacceptable violation of his oath of office. The future of our republic and of our values depend on that.”

Reporting was contributed by Catie Edmonson, Nicholas Fandos, Sheryl Stolberg and Emily Cochrane.

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

Trump Denounces ‘Partisan Attempted Coup’ on Eve of House Vote

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday angrily denounced the looming House votes to impeach him as a “Star Chamber of partisan persecution” by Democrats, describing the effort to remove him from office as an “attempted coup” that would come back to haunt them at the ballot box next year.

On the eve of the historic votes, Democrats reached a critical threshold, gathering majority support to impeach Mr. Trump, as the president raged against the proceedings. In an irate and rambling six-page letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Mr. Trump portrayed himself as the victim of enemies determined to destroy his presidency with false accusations.

“This is nothing more than an illegal, partisan attempted coup that will, based on recent sentiment, badly fail at the voting booth,” Mr. Trump declared, describing a process enshrined in the Constitution as an attempted government overthrow.

“History will judge you harshly as you proceed with this impeachment charade,” he wrote.

In a missive full of unproven charges, hyperbole and long-simmering grievances against his own government — at one point, he referred to leaders of the F.B.I. as “totally incompetent and corrupt” — Mr. Trump angrily disputed both of the impeachment charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The letter ignored the extensive evidence uncovered during a two-month inquiry by the House Intelligence Committee, based in part on the testimony by members of his own administration. It found that Mr. Trump sought to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals while holding back nearly $400 million in military assistance the country badly needed and a White House meeting for its president.

The charges accuse Mr. Trump of engaging in a corrupt scheme to enlist a foreign power for his own political benefit in the 2020 election, followed by an effort to conceal his actions by blocking congressional investigations. On Wednesday, the House is all but certain to approve them on nearly party-line votes, making him the third president ever to be impeached.

Past presidents have offered contrition as they stared down looming House impeachment votes. President Bill Clinton issued a personal apology from the White House Rose Garden in 1998, biting his lip and saying he was “profoundly sorry” for his actions in the Monica Lewinsky affair days before the House voted to impeach him. President Richard M. Nixon resigned his office in 1974 rather than face the vote at all.

But Mr. Trump was defiant and unrepentant on Tuesday. He accused Ms. Pelosi and her party of fabricating lies, saying that the speaker and Democrats were possessed by “Impeachment Fever” and vowing that he and the Republican Party would emerge stronger after he was vindicated in a Senate trial.

“You are the ones interfering in America’s elections,” he wrote in the letter, on stationery embossed with the presidential seal. “You are the ones subverting America’s democracy. You are the ones Obstructing Justice. You are the ones bringing pain and suffering to our Republic for your own selfish personal, political, and partisan gain.”

The letter appeared to preview the grievance-filled narrative of Mr. Trump’s 2020 campaign, echoing the rants he delivers at arena-style rallies around the country as he campaigns for re-election.

The president wrote that he knew his letter would not change the outcome. But he said that the document was “for the purpose of history and to put my thoughts on a permanent and indelible record.”

In her own message on Tuesday evening to Democratic lawmakers, Ms. Pelosi made no reference to the president’s letter, instead urging her colleagues to “proceed in a manner worthy of our oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Westlake Legal Group trump-pelosi-letter-1576612247421-articleLarge-v2 Trump Denounces ‘Partisan Attempted Coup’ on Eve of House Vote Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Schumer, Charles E Mulvaney, Mick McConnell, Mitch Bolton, John R

Read Trump’s Letter to Pelosi Protesting Impeachment

President Trump sent a letter on Tuesday to Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressing his “most powerful protest” against the impeachment process. The House is expected to vote on two articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump on Wednesday.

Mr. Trump and Ms. Pelosi released their letters as Democrats began drafting rules for debate on the House floor. Meeting in a tiny hearing room just upstairs from the chamber, the House Rules Committee kicked off the broader House debate over the fate of Mr. Trump’s presidency.

“This scheme to corrupt an American presidential election subordinated the democratic sovereignty of the people to the private political ambitions of one man, the president himself,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the Judiciary Committee. “It immediately placed the national security interests of the United States of America at risk.”

Republicans responded with the same ferocity that has characterized their defense of Mr. Trump throughout the impeachment inquiry, insisting that the president had done nothing wrong and certainly nothing that warranted impeachment, and accusing Democrats of orchestrating an unfair and illegitimate process.

“No matter what happened and no matter where the investigations led, the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives was pushing since the day they took over to impeach President Trump,” said Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the senior Republican on the Rules Committee.

Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, accused Democrats of ignoring the rules in order to rush Mr. Trump’s impeachment. “What’s up is down and what’s down is up,” he said. “We’re more Alice in Wonderland than we are House of Representatives.”

None of them disputed the now-familiar facts surrounding the case against Mr. Trump, that he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading political rival, as he was holding back vital military assistance from the country.

The Rules Committee voted along party lines on Tuesday night to allow a total of six hours of debate over impeachment on the House floor on Wednesday, divided equally among Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

As House Democrats moved methodically toward the votes, the Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate clashed over the procedures that would guide an impeachment trial that is likely to begin early next year.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, rejected demands by Democrats to call four White House officials as witnesses. He said there was no reason now for the Senate to agree to take testimony from officials who might bolster Democrats’ case against the president. Later, in a strikingly public rejection of the oath senators take during an impeachment trial to “do impartial justice,” Mr. McConnell insisted he had no obligation to be evenhanded in his handling of the proceeding.

“I’m not an impartial juror,” he told reporters. “This is a political process. I’m not impartial about this at all.”

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, had requested in a letter to Mr. McConnell that the Senate take testimony during trial from four key figures, including Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, and John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser.

After Mr. McConnell’s rebuff, Mr. Schumer said that holding a trial without witnesses “would be an aberration.” In an interview, he added that the move would shirk the responsibility the Senate has to get to the truth about what occurred, and that it “eats away at the foundation of the republic.”

“The bottom line is that a trial with no witnesses, a trial with no documents is not a trial,” he said, adding, “We are going to do everything we can to get these documents and get these witnesses.”

The bitter exchange between the Senate leaders came as the most politically vulnerable House Democrats continued to announce their support for the impeachment charges.

One centrist lawmaker, Representative Jared Golden, Democrat of Maine, announced Tuesday that he would support impeaching Mr. Trump for abuse of power, one of the two articles, but would vote against the article charging the president with obstruction of Congress.

“While I do not dispute that the White House has been provocative in its defiance and sweeping in its claims of executive privilege,” Mr. Golden said in a statement, “I also believe there are legitimate and unresolved constitutional questions about the limits of executive privilege.”

Others announced they would vote for both articles even though they were aware that the decision could cost them support in their conservative-leaning districts, and possibly even their seats.

Representative Anthony Brindisi, a freshman Democrat from upstate New York, said in a statement that he would vote for the articles of impeachment with “profound sadness.” But he said Mr. Trump needed to be held accountable.

“I will be voting not as Democrat or Republican but as an American who has been given this responsibility by the people I serve and the community I love,” Mr. Brindisi wrote in an early-morning series of posts on Twitter.

Like Mr. Golden, Mr. Brindisi is one of 23 freshman lawmakers who represent a district that voted for Mr. Trump in 2016.

By evening, a majority of the House — all Democrats — had said they would vote in favor. The cascade of announcements from lawmakers who had been deeply skeptical of the drive to force Mr. Trump from office was a sign of Democratic unity on the eve of the House vote.

Mr. Brindisi said in a newspaper opinion article that he became convinced of the president’s wrongdoing after carefully reviewing the evidence collected by the House Intelligence Committee in nearly two months of testimony from national security officials and diplomats in Mr. Trump’s government.

“The fact that the president made a political request to a foreign leader of a troubled country with the intention for it to impact an American rival is beyond disappointing,” Mr. Brindisi wrote. “It is unconstitutional. I took an oath to defend the Constitution. What the President admitted to doing is not something I can pretend is normal behavior.”

In her own statement, Representative Chrissy Houlahan, Democrat of Pennsylvania, said she would vote to impeach the president in order to make sure Congress did not send the message that his behavior was appropriate.

“I grieve for our nation,” Ms. Houlahan said. “But I cannot let history mark the behavior of our president as anything other than an unacceptable violation of his oath of office. The future of our republic and of our values depend on that.”

Reporting was contributed by Catie Edmonson, Nicholas Fandos, Sheryl Stolberg and Emily Cochrane.

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

Trump Denounces ‘Partisan Impeachment Crusade’ on Eve of House Vote

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday denounced what he called a “partisan impeachment crusade” being waged against him by Democrats, calling the effort to remove him an unconstitutional abuse of power and an “attempted coup” that would come back to haunt them at the ballot box next year.

“I have no doubt the American people will hold you and the Democrats fully responsible in the upcoming 2020 election,” Mr. Trump wrote in a rambling, six-page letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent on the eve of House votes to impeach him on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. “They will not soon forgive your perversion of justice and abuse of power.”

Mr. Trump wrote that he knew his letter would not change the outcome of Wednesday’s votes, expected to occur almost entirely on party lines, to impeach him. But he said the missive was “for the purpose of history and to put my thoughts on a permanent and indelible record.”

The president angrily disputed both impeachment charges against him in the letter, saying he had done nothing wrong and asserting that Ms. Pelosi and her allies were using the Constitution to attack him for the successful policies he had implemented.

Westlake Legal Group trump-pelosi-letter-1576612247421-articleLarge-v2 Trump Denounces ‘Partisan Impeachment Crusade’ on Eve of House Vote Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Schumer, Charles E Mulvaney, Mick McConnell, Mitch Bolton, John R

Read Trump’s Letter to Pelosi Protesting Impeachment

President Trump sent a letter on Tuesday to Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressing his “most powerful protest” against the impeachment process. The House is expected to vote on two articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump on Wednesday.

“More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials,” Mr. Trump wrote.

“History will judge you harshly as you proceed with this impeachment charade,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Your legacy will be that of turning the House of Representatives from a revered legislative body into a Star Chamber of partisan persecution.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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