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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 102)

Durham Surprises Even Allies With Statement on F.B.I.’s Trump Case

Westlake Legal Group 20dc-durham-1-facebookJumbo Durham Surprises Even Allies With Statement on F.B.I.’s Trump Case United States Politics and Government United States Attorneys Trump, Donald J Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Organized Crime Legal Profession Justice Department Horowitz, Michael E Federal Bureau of Investigation Durham, John H Connecticut Barr, William P

WASHINGTON — Whether investigating charges of torture by the C.I.A., rolling up an organized crime network or prosecuting crooked government officials, John H. Durham, the veteran federal prosecutor named by Attorney General William P. Barr to investigate the origins of the Russia inquiry, burnished his reputation for impartiality over the years by keeping his mouth closed about his work.

At the height of the Boston mob prosecution that made his name, he not only rebuffed a local newspaper’s interview request, but he also told his office not to release his résumé or photo.

That wall of silence cracked this month when Mr. Durham, serving in the most politically charged role of his career, released an extraordinary statement questioning one key element of an overlapping investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz.

Mr. Horowitz had found that the F.B.I. acted appropriately in opening the inquiry in 2016 into whether the Trump campaign wittingly or unwittingly helped Russia influence the election in Donald J. Trump’s favor. In response, Mr. Durham, whose report is not expected to be complete for months, released a caveat-laden rebuttal: “Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the inspector general that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the F.B.I. case was opened.”

The statement seemed to support comments made half an hour earlier by Mr. Barr, who assailed what he called “an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign,” based “on the thinnest of suspicions.” Mr. Durham’s decision to go public in such a politically polarized environment surprised people who have worked with him. They found it out of character for him to intervene in such a high-profile way in an open case.

“It’s fair to characterize what John did as unusual in terms of his past practice and I don’t know what the rationale was,” said Kevin J. O’Connor, a former United States attorney for Connecticut who supervised Mr. Durham for several years in the early 2000s. “But I know John well enough to know that he did it because he — not the A.G. or anyone else — thought he had an obligation to.”

Others have been less willing to give Mr. Durham the benefit of the doubt, and it is clear he has placed his reputation for impartiality on the line by accepting this latest assignment.

Mr. Durham’s decision to speak out seemed to supply political fuel to Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly blasted the Russia inquiry as a “hoax” and a “witch hunt.” At a campaign rally in Hershey, Pa., the day after Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham issued their statements, Mr. Trump called F.B.I. agents involved in the Russia inquiry “scum.”

“I look forward to Bull Durham’s report — that’s the one I look forward to,” added Mr. Trump, who appointed Mr. Durham as the United States attorney for Connecticut in 2017.

The inspector general’s report makes no substantive reference to Mr. Durham’s investigation. But before the report’s release, Mr. Durham got into a sharp dispute with Mr. Horowitz’s team over a footnote in a draft of the report that seemed to imply that Mr. Durham agreed with all of Mr. Horowitz’s conclusions, which he did not, according to people familiar with the matter. The footnote did not appear in the final version of the report.

A former Justice Department investigator who knows both Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham, a Republican, said that while the men were aware of each other’s professional reputations, they are in no way close. Mr. Barr, who was unfamiliar with Mr. Durham’s recent work, made quiet inquiries before appointing him to lead the investigation, this person said.

The potential explosiveness of Mr. Durham’s mission was further underscored by the disclosure that he was examining the role of John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director, in how the intelligence community assessed Russia’s 2016 election interference.

Mr. Durham is known in New England’s close-knit law enforcement community for working long days on his own cases, and providing sought-after guidance on others’.

Wearing gunmetal-frame glasses and a drooping goatee, he rises early and dresses in the dark, often mismatching his suit jackets and pants. His reputation for discretion, on top of a long record of successful high-profile prosecutions, are among the reasons he has been a go-to person when Washington — under Republicans and Democrats alike — needs someone to handle sensitive tasks.

Mr. O’Connor, who was associate attorney general in 2008, was among those who recommended Mr. Durham lead an inquiry into the C.I.A.’s destruction in 2005 of videotapes depicting the torture of two operatives of Al Qaeda.

That investigation, started under an administration that had supported the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, continued into the Obama administration, which brought a very different agenda to the issue. After President Barack Obama took office, Mr. Durham’s brief was expanded to include a criminal investigation into the C.I.A.’s role in the deaths of two detainees in overseas locations, based on allegations of mistreatment by their interrogators.

Mr. Durham completed the torture investigation in 2012. The Justice Department, under Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., declined to prosecute anyone, saying that “the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.”

John A. Rizzo, the C.I.A.’s former acting general counsel, was questioned for more than eight hours in the investigation.

Mr. Durham “didn’t personally question me but he did the agency people who had contemporaneous knowledge of the plan to destroy the tapes, and he was very tough with them,” Mr. Rizzo, who retired from the C.I.A. in 2009, said in an interview.

Despite the political uproar at the time, “there were no leaks and he certainly didn’t issue any public statements,” Mr. Rizzo recalled. “I just don’t see him bending to political pressure, so I was surprised he made a statement here.”

Those who know him portray Mr. Durham as the consummate straight arrow who is unlikely to have bowed to pressure from Mr. Barr or anyone else in his current assignment. Mr. Durham declined to be interviewed for this article.

“He believes in four things: his family, his profession, his religion and the Boston Red Sox,” said Hugh F. Keefe, a Connecticut defense lawyer who says Mr. Durham is so by the book, he once asked Mr. Keefe whether he had reported a free Red Sox ticket to the I.R.S. “If anyone thinks they can lead him like a horse to water, they’re mistaken.”

Last year, Mr. Durham, a staunch Catholic, delivered rare public remarks at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford, Conn.

The topic was his prosecution of John Connolly Jr., an F.B.I. agent jailed for racketeering, obstruction of justice and murder stemming from his collaboration with Boston’s notorious Winter Hill gang, led by James (Whitey) Bulger, an F.B.I. informant.

In a preface to his presentation, Mr. Durham said, “It is as important for the system for prosecutors to protect the secrecy of proceedings, not because we want them to be secret, but because we’re not always right.” He added: “Maybe accusations that are lodged against somebody are untrue. And again, we can destroy the person or persons if that information gets out.”

Mr. Durham was born in Uxbridge, Mass., and received his law degree at the University of Connecticut in 1975. After a stint providing free legal advice to the Crow Indian tribe as part of what is now AmeriCorps, he worked as an assistant state’s attorney in Connecticut until 1982, when he began a 35-year career as an assistant United States attorney, serving in a range of roles leading organized crime and public corruption prosecutions.

He won 119 convictions from 1983 to 1989, including against associates of the Genovese, Gambino and Patriarca crime families, and provided evidence instrumental in convicting the Gambino boss John Gotti in New York.

In 1989, fishermen found the body of William (The Wild Guy) Grasso, the Patriarca state boss from New Haven, dead of a gunshot wound in weeds near the Connecticut River.

Mr. Durham, who colleagues said “could hear grass grow” on surveillance recordings, led a prosecution that linked mobsters in Connecticut and Rhode Island, even unveiling the first recorded mob-induction ceremony. Mr. Durham secured a raft of racketeering convictions against men linked to Mr. Grasso’s murder, gutting the Providence-based Patriarca mob. His doggedness, even after a note with his home address on it was found in a mobster-occupied Hartford jail cell, earned him the nickname “Bull.”

In 1999, Attorney General Janet Reno appointed Mr. Durham to lead an investigation into corrupt links, rumored for years, between F.B.I. agents and their criminal informants in Boston. Prosecutions of Mr. Bulger and his accomplice Stephen (the Rifleman) Flemmi uncovered a relationship with F.B.I. agents, a retired Massachusetts state trooper and others, in which the mobsters exchanged cases of wine, a stolen two-carat diamond ring, and money for “the keys to the kingdom of all organized crime information in Boston,” Mr. Durham told the college audience last year.

In late 2000, he uncovered government memos indicating that F.B.I. officials were involved in framing four men for the 1965 murder of a mobster, to protect a hit man who was one of the bureau’s informants, a scheme likely known to the bureau’s director at the time, J. Edgar Hoover. Mr. Durham alerted defense lawyers. Two of the four men had died in prison, but the surviving two were released, and the government paid a $100 million civil judgment in the case.

Mr. Durham and his team worked amid speculation that the Justice Department would pull the plug on what was becoming a deeply embarrassing prosecution. In 2000, a colleague told The Boston Herald that Mr. Durham would rather “pull an Archibald Cox” and resign than submit to pressure.

In a Washington Post op-ed this month, Mr. Holder cautioned Mr. Durham, whom he said he has been proud to know for at least a decade, about joining Mr. Barr in disputing the inspector general’s findings. “Anyone in Durham’s shoes would do well to remember that, in dealing with this administration, many reputations have been irrevocably lost,” he wrote.

Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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Trump Largely Ignores Impeachment as He Rallies Young Conservatives

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-trump-facebookJumbo Trump Largely Ignores Impeachment as He Rallies Young Conservatives WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. Turning Point USA Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump on Saturday largely ignored his having been branded the third impeached president in history as he rallied young conservative activists with campaign-style attacks on the “far-left ruling class” at the start of a two-week holiday vacation.

Speaking for more than an hour to thousands of high school and college students at the Turning Point USA conference, Mr. Trump referred briefly to his impeachment, accusing Democrats of pursuing an “illegal, unconstitutional hyperpartisan impeachment” against him.

But he did not dwell on the historic vote or spend much time attacking the congressional Democrats who charged him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress by pressuring a foreign government to assist him in smearing a political rival.

Instead, the president made it clear that he intended to seek re-election with the messages he has been delivering for years: a relentless attack on liberalism, promises of support for abortion and gun rights, denunciations of environmentalism, and a vow to secure the southwestern border against what he calls “criminal aliens.”

During his speech on Saturday, Mr. Trump received his loudest applause, and a standing ovation, when he bragged about turning away asylum seekers and exaggerated the amount of new border wall that his administration has built.

“We always remember the sacred truth,” the president said. “Our first duty, and our one true allegiance, is to you, the American citizen.”

Mr. Trump’s speech to the young supporters came just three days after the House impeachment votes, which set the stage for a trial in the Senate to determine whether he will be removed from office.

The timing of that trial remains uncertain. Lawmakers left Washington for the holidays without resolving a dispute over the procedures that will govern the trial and whether the Republican-led chamber will call witnesses Democrats have demanded.

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, has said senators should hear from senior administration officials who refused to testify during the House impeachment investigation. Those include Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, and John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser who, according to his lawyer, knows about “many relevant meetings and conversations” on Ukraine.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week that Democrats would not deliver the two approved articles of impeachment to the Senate until they agreed to fair procedures for the trial. As lawmakers left Washington in recent days, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said the two sides “remain at an impasse.”

Before arriving at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., late Friday, Mr. Trump denounced his impeachment on Twitter and vowed to seek vindication in the Senate. On Friday, he tweeted that he “never did anything wrong. Read the Transcripts. A Democrat Hoax!”

He also blasted a conservative Christian magazine for publishing an editorial calling for his removal from office. Mark Galli, the editor of the magazine, Christianity Today, wrote that Mr. Trump had tried to coerce a foreign leader to discredit one of his political opponents.

“That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral,” Mr. Galli wrote. On Twitter, the president excoriated the magazine as “far left,” saying it “would rather have a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns, than Donald Trump as your President.”

But in his remarks on Saturday, Mr. Trump appeared determined to dismiss the impeachment inquiry — which dominated much of the political debate over the last two months — as a failed political attack by his rivals.

“There’s no crime. There’s no nothing. How do you impeach when you have no crime?” the president asked the crowd, referring briefly to Ms. Pelosi as “crazy Nancy” insisting that she had no case against him. “It’s so unfair.”

He briefly focused on Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., after an audience member yelled out “Where’s Hunter?” That prompted the president to spend a few minutes denouncing — without evidence — the elder Mr. Biden, his rival for the White House, for the very corruption that the Democrats accused him of during the impeachment inquiry.

But if Ms. Pelosi and others believed the vote this week would incite a long diatribe by the president about impeachment, they were wrong.

He pointed to the country’s economic success, noting that the stock market has hit record highs and unemployment among many groups is at long-term lows. He repeatedly took credit for appointing 187 judges, replacing what he said were “crazy partisans” on the federal bench.

The rest of the speech was a return to his greatest hits: attacking the “fake news” media; warning of the dangers of immigration; complaining about unsubstantiated claims of spying on his presidential campaign; and mocking the use of windmills and the Democratic plan for a “green new deal” to protect the planet.

“They are noisy. They kill the birds,” Mr. Trump said of windmills. “You want to see a bird graveyard, go under a windmill someday. You will see more dead birds than you’ve ever seen in your life.”

The crowd of young supporters — many decked out in red “Make America Great Again” hats — welcomed the president’s messaging. They repeatedly jumped to their feet, at one point chanting, “Four more years.” Mr. Trump joked that they should change the chant to drive his liberal adversaries crazy.

“From now on, start yelling 16 more years,” he said.

Also on Friday, Mr. Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which establishes the Space Force, a new military branch that the president said would help the United States dominate the world’s “newest war fighting domain” in the future.

“It’s a big moment. That’s a big moment, and we’re all here for it,” he told about 500 troops at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington. “Space. Going to be a lot of things happening in space.”

The president also signed two spending bills that will keep the government operating until Sept. 30, avoiding a shutdown.

On Saturday, Mr. Trump spent part of the day at the Trump International Golf Club near his estate.

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Fear and Loyalty: How Donald Trump Took Over the Republican Party

Westlake Legal Group 21gop-dissent1-facebookJumbo Fear and Loyalty: How Donald Trump Took Over the Republican Party United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Republican Party Conservatism (US Politics)

BIRMINGHAM, Mich. — By the summer of 2017, Dave Trott, a two-term Republican Congressman, was worried enough about President Trump’s erratic behavior and his flailing attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act that he criticized the president in a closed-door meeting with fellow G.O.P. lawmakers.

The response was instantaneous — but had nothing to do with the substance of Mr. Trott’s concerns. “Dave, you need to know somebody has already told the White House what you said,” he recalled a colleague telling him. “Be ready for a barrage of tweets.”

Mr. Trott got the message: To defy Mr. Trump is to invite the president’s wrath, ostracism within the party and a premature end to a career in Republican politics. Mr. Trott decided not to seek re-election in his suburban Detroit district, concluding that running as anti-Trump Republican was untenable, and joining a wave of Republican departures from Congress that has left those who remain more devoted to the president than ever.

“If I was still there and speaking out against the president, what would happen to me?” Mr. Trott said before answering his own question: Mr. Trump would have lashed out and pressured House G.O.P. leaders to punish him.

Just under four years after he began his takeover of a party to which he had little connection, Mr. Trump enters 2020 burdened with the ignominy of being the first sitting president to seek re-election after being impeached.

But he does so wearing a political coat of armor built on total loyalty from G.O.P. activists and their representatives in Congress. If he does not enjoy the broad admiration Republicans afforded Ronald Reagan, he is more feared by his party’s lawmakers than any occupant of the Oval Office since at least Lyndon Johnson.

His iron grip was never firmer than over the last two months, during the House inquiry that concluded Wednesday with Mr. Trump’s impeachment on charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress. No House Republican supported either article, or even authorized the investigation in September, and in hearing after hearing into the president’s dealings with Ukraine, they defended him as a victim of partisan fervor. One Republican even said that Jesus had received fairer treatment before his crucifixion than Mr. Trump did during his impeachment.

Perhaps more revealing, some G.O.P. lawmakers who initially said Mr. Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine was inappropriate later dropped their criticism. People close to Mr. Trump attributed the shift both to his public defense of the call as “perfect’’ and to private discussions he and his allies had with concerned lawmakers.

This fealty hardly guarantees Mr. Trump re-election: He has never garnered a 50 percent approval rating as president and over half of voters tell pollsters they will oppose him no matter who the Democrats nominate.

But the shoulder-to-shoulder unity stands in contrast to Democrats at the moment, with their contentious moderate-versus-liberal primary that was on full display in Thursday night’s debate. And it is all the more striking given Mr. Trump’s deviations from longstanding party orthodoxy on issues like foreign policy and tariffs.

“He has a complete connection with the average Republican voter and that’s given him political power here,” said Representative Patrick McHenry, Republican of North Carolina, adding: “Trump has touched the nerve of my conservative base like no person in my lifetime.”

Interviews with current and former Republican lawmakers as well as party strategists, many of whom requested anonymity so as not to publicly cross the president, suggest that many elected officials are effectively faced with two choices. They can vote with their feet by retiring — and a remarkable 40 percent of Republican members of Congress have done so or have been defeated at the ballot box since Mr. Trump took office.

Or they can mute their criticism of him. All the incentives that shape political behavior — with voters, donors and the news media — compel Republicans to bow to Mr. Trump if they want to survive.

Sitting in a garland-bedecked hotel restaurant in his former district, Mr. Trott said that he did not want to seek re-election “as a Trumper” — and that he knew he had little future in the party as an opponent of the president.

There is no market, he said, for independence. Divergence from Trumpism will never be good enough for Democrats; Mr. Trump will target you among Republicans, Mr. Trott added, and the vanishing voters from the political middle will never have a chance to reward you because you woould not make it through a primary. That will be ensured in part by the megaphone the president wields with the conservative news media.

“Trump is emotionally, intellectually and psychologically unfit for office, and I’m sure a lot of Republicans feel the same way,” Mr. Trott said. “But if they say that, the social media barrage will be overwhelming.” He added that he would be open to the presidential candidacy of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York.

On the other hand, Mr. Trump dangles rewards to those who show loyalty — a favorable tweet, or a presidential visit to their state — and his heavy hand has assured victory for a number of Republican candidates in their primaries. That includes Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who did as many Fox News appearances as possible to draw the president’s attention.

“The greatest fear any member of Congress has these days is losing a primary,” said former Representative Carlos Curbelo, Republican of Florida, who lost his general election last year in a heavily Hispanic Miami-area district. “That’s the foremost motivator.”

The larger challenge with Mr. Trump is that all politics is personal with him, and he carefully tracks who on television is praising him or denouncing his latest rhetorical excess. “He is the White House political director,” Scott Reed, a longtime Republican consultant, said.

More conventional presidents may be more understanding of lawmakers who are pulled in a different direction by the political demands of their districts — but Mr. Trump has shown little tolerance for such dissent. Mr. Curbelo, for instance, occasionally spoke out against Mr. Trump, particularly over immigration policy, and the president took notice.

Riding with Mr. Trump in his limousine on Key West last year, Mr. Curbelo recalled in an interview that the president had noted that people were lining the streets to show their support for him, and asked Mr. Curbelo if they were in his district.

He said they were, prompting the president to turn to others in the car and say: “Maybe Carlos will stop saying such nasty things about me,” Mr. Curbelo recalled.

He said they all laughed but the “passive aggressive” comment, as he put it, was not lost on him.

Increasingly, though, Mr. Trump does not even have to make implied threats within his party — Republicans can ascertain the benefit of sticking with him.

Representative Elise Stefanik hails from an upstate New York district that the president carried by 14 points yet she had not previously hesitated to go her own way.

“I have one of the most independent records in the House,” Ms. Stefanik said. “And I have critiqued the president, have voted differently than the president.”

Yet after she vehemently criticized the impeachment hearings and found herself under attack by George Conway, the anti-Trump husband of the White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, she welcomed the embrace of the president, his family and news media allies such as the Fox News host Sean Hannity — and the campaign donations that poured in.

Ms. Stefanik said she opposed impeachment because Democrats failed to make a convincing case. But she said that she would not have even voted to censure the president, and that she was chiefly driven by wanting to “stand up for my district.”

And, Ms. Stefanik noted, since her “no” vote she had received “the most positive calls since I was sworn into office.”

The incentive to show fealty to Mr. Trump has become evident to the Club for Growth, a fiscal conservative group that was made famous for its willingness to tangle with Republican leaders and was hostile to Mr. Trump in 2016.

The group’s president, David McIntosh, said conservative voters had lost interest in punishing ideological heresies and were motivated by one overarching factor unrelated to policy.

“Poll after poll showed us that Republican primary voters wanted their nominees to support President Trump,” he said, “so in order to make sure they were viable and would get re-elected, they ended up being supporters of his.”

Mr. McIntosh and Republican lawmakers said Mr. Trump’s largely conservative record had made it easier to remain loyal, noting his tax cuts, deregulation and judicial appointments.

Lawmakers not seeking re-election are often the most candid about the slavish devotion Mr. Trump engenders with voters — and the pressure it puts on them.

“Public officials need to be held accountable, and I don’t think any governmental system works well with blind loyalty without reason,” said Representative Francis Rooney of Florida, who announced his intention to retire earlier this year after criticizing Mr. Trump for his conduct with Ukraine and suffering an immediate backlash.

Mr. Rooney ultimately voted against impeachment, but told colleagues he felt uneasy about it. Recalling an appearance on a Florida television station afterward, Mr. Rooney said: “They interviewed me after the vote and then they interviewed one of these Cape Coral Republican ladies and she said, ‘Well, it’s about time they came around to realize it’s a big media hoax.’ How do you argue with that? How do you reason with that?”

Many of the Republicans who may have considered impeaching Mr. Trump are gone. They were part of a 40-seat loss the party had in the House last year, which deprived the caucus of many of its most independent figures and left it more supportive of the president than ever.

So why was there no introspection within the party after the midterms about the damage Mr. Trump did to Republican candidates, particularly in the suburbs?

“If you go to any Republican event, you’re going to find more people at that event than ever before,” Mr. Trott said “and every single one of them to a person will be all in for President Trump. They’ll all have ‘Make American Great Again’ hats on and they’ll be saying what a tremendous president he is.”

Mr. Trott recounted one of his most vivid memories of his time serving with Mr. Trump. It was the day in 2017 when House Republicans voted to repeal the A.C.A. and celebrated afterward at the White House.

Mr. Trott was one of the first lawmakers to enter the Oval Office after the Rose Garden celebration and he stood behind the president’s desk when Mr. Trump pulled out a sheet of paper.

“He already had a list of 20 people who had voted against him two hours earlier,” he recalled.

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U.S. Braces for Major North Korean Weapons Test as Trump’s Diplomacy Fizzles

Westlake Legal Group merlin_157243128_75d05ee5-d298-4016-bcff-1ffa1fcb1ee1-facebookJumbo U.S. Braces for Major North Korean Weapons Test as Trump’s Diplomacy Fizzles United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Nuclear Tests North Korea Missiles and Missile Defense Systems Kim Jong-un Defense and Military Forces Biegun, Stephen E Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament

WASHINGTON — American military and intelligence officials tracking North Korea’s actions by the hour say they are bracing for an imminent test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching American shores, but appear resigned to the fact that President Trump has no good options to stop it.

If the North goes ahead with the test in the coming days — Pyongyang promised a “Christmas gift” if no progress had been made on lifting sanctions — it would be a glaring setback for Mr. Trump’s boldest foreign policy initiative, even as he faces an impeachment trial at home.

American officials are playing down the missile threat, though similar tests two years ago prompted Mr. Trump to suggest that “fire and fury,” and perhaps a war, could result.

Mr. Trump often cites the suspension of long-range missile and underground nuclear tests for the past two years as evidence that his leader-to-leader diplomacy with the North was working — and that such negotiating skills would persuade the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, to give up his arsenal.

The administration’s argument has now changed. Should Mr. Kim resume tests, American officials say, it will be a sign that he truly feels jammed, and has concluded Washington will not lift crushing sanctions on his impoverished nation anytime soon.

Left unaddressed, however, is the challenge that a new missile test would represent, and what that would mean for the sanctions strategy. Over the past week, Stephen E. Biegun, the North Korea envoy who was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday as the next deputy secretary of state, has traveled across East Asia to also try to stem new efforts by Russia and China to weaken those sanctions.

Military officials say there are no plans to try to destroy a missile on the launchpad, or intercept it in the atmosphere — steps both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama considered, and rejected. It is unclear if the military’s Cyber Command is still trying to sabotage the launches from afar, as it did under the Obama administration, with mixed results.

Instead, officials say, if the North resumes its missile tests, the Trump administration will turn to allies and again lobby the United Nations Security Council for tightened sanctions — a strategy that has been tried for two decades.

Beneath the recent threats is the onset of a cold reality: In the 18 months after Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim first met in Singapore, with declarations of warmth not seen since the suspension of the Korean War in 1953, the North has bolstered its arsenal of missiles and its stockpile of bomb-ready nuclear material.

New estimates from a leading authority suggest that Mr. Kim has expanded his arsenal substantially since Mr. Trump announced on Twitter after Singapore that “there is No Longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”

Siegfried S. Hecker, the former head of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and one of the few Westerners who has seen the North’s uranium production facilities, says he believes the country has fuel for about 38 warheads — well beyond an earlier low-end estimate that he and other scientists and intelligence analysts had issued.

In recent weeks, the North has conducted ground tests of what appear to be new missile engines that Pyongyang said would bolster its “nuclear deterrent,” suggesting that it has little intention of giving up its ability.

“I think part of this may be bluff on their part,” John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, said to NPR on Thursday. “They think the president’s desperate for a deal, and if they put an artificial time constraint on it, they may think they’re going to get a better deal. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

“But,” he noted, “this is all part of the North Korean playbook.”

A new element of the playbook could be that Mr. Kim is calculating that impeachment has weakened Mr. Trump, making him more desperate for a policy victory.

Senior foreign policy officials and military commanders are bracing for perhaps the most serious cycle of crisis yet.

“What I would expect is some kind of long-range ballistic missile would be the ‘gift,’ ” Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., the commander of Pacific Air Forces, said Tuesday. “Does it come on Christmas Eve? Does it come on Christmas Day? Does it come after the new year? One of my responsibilities is to pay attention to that.”

With no diplomatic progress between Washington and Pyongyang since the implosion of the last summit in February between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, administration officials are loath to see Mr. Trump leap into another face-to-face negotiation. While Mr. Trump’s initial diplomatic outreach to Mr. Kim raised hopes and generated positive headlines, the president accepted vague language calling for the “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” as an ironclad commitment by the North to rid itself of its own weapons.

The expected North Korean escalation will leave Mr. Trump with an unpalatable choice. He could reprise his alarming threats of military action from late 2017, infusing the 2020 election year with a sense of crisis, which could cost him votes — and risk real conflict.

Or he could endure the new provocation and double down, betting that greater sanctions could somehow force the North to abandon its decades-long course toward a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the continental United States.

When Mr. Trump emerged from his daylong Singapore meeting with Mr. Kim, the first time the leaders had ever met, he sounded certain that progress would be swift.

“I think he will do these things,’’ Mr. Trump said. “I may be wrong. I may stand before you in six months and say, hey, I was wrong.”

Roadblocks appeared almost immediately. The North refused to turn over an inventory of its weapons and delivery systems. However, there were signs Mr. Kim wanted to open up his nation’s economy, analysts said.

After exchanging warm letters, the leaders met again in Hanoi, with Mr. Trump offering a grand bargain — an end to all sanctions for full disarmament. The president even offered to help build hotels along North Korea’s east coast.

Mr. Kim said he would agree to dismantle the main nuclear site at Yongbyon, the heart of the North’s nuclear program, in return for relief from the most onerous sanctions, which Mr. Obama began in 2016 and Mr. Trump accelerated. Mr. Trump was tempted to accept, former aides said, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mr. Bolton stopped him, arguing that important uranium enrichment sites of the North’s were outside the walls of the facility. The talks ended in failure.

In the months that followed, the administration debated whether it should soften its demand that the North dismantle all of its nuclear infrastructure before receiving substantial benefits. There was talk of negotiating an interim “nuclear freeze”; while that would keep the problem from worsening, it ran the risk of enshrining a nuclear arsenal already a third the size of Pakistan’s and India’s.

It took until October for a new North Korean team to assemble and meet with Mr. Biegun. He thought the meeting went well until, at the end of the day, the North’s delegation returned to read a clearly prewritten statement denouncing the United States.

The teams have not met since.

The recent threats from Mr. Kim come as he is preparing for two important political events — a year-end plenary session of the Workers’ Party of Korea and a New Year’s speech. Mr. Kim had declared at the start of 2019 that North Korea would not give up a single weapon until the United States lifts sanctions. He then gave Mr. Trump a year-end deadline.

Now Mr. Kim finds himself empty-handed, unable to stride into the party plenum in triumph or deliver a pronouncement of victory on Jan. 1. Backed into a corner, he is trying once again to use his main leverage — the threat of weapons tests or military action — to coerce Mr. Trump into sanctions relief, analysts say.

“Things have not worked out the way he has anticipated,” said Jean H. Lee, a Korea expert at the Wilson Center. “I suspect that he will keep provoking President Trump to compel him to get back to negotiations, but try to avoid overtly confronting him, because he wants to leave open an opportunity.”

Mr. Kim could choose to launch a satellite rather than an intercontinental ballistic missile on the bet that might push Mr. Trump to loosen sanctions without inciting a violent reaction.

Mr. Kim could also coax China and Russia into further easing sanctions at the United Nations. Both nations are eager to reassert a leadership role on the North Korea issue.

On Thursday, Luo Zhaohui, China’s vice minister of foreign affairs, said at a news conference in Beijing that easing sanctions, as China and Russia had proposed on Wednesday at the United Nations, was the “best solution” to “break the deadlock on the peninsula.”

Analysts say China does not appear to be forcing all North Korean workers to leave its borders, as it is required by a United Nations resolution. China said it complies with the sanctions resolutions. American officials say Beijing also must stop ship-to-ship transfers carried out by North Korea of energy products.

American efforts to maintain a common front against the North may be further complicated next week when President Xi Jinping of China hosts a summit with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea. Mr. Trump’s efforts to get the South to cover the full cost of the American troops based there has strained relations between the allies.

Mr. Trump contemplated attacking North Korea early in his administration, when officials floated the idea of a “bloody nose” strategy intended to signal that Washington would never allow the North to reach the point when it could hold American cities hostage with nuclear weapons. “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely,” Mr. Trump tweeted in August 2017.

More recently, Mr. Trump has shown a keen interest in winding down conflicts rather than starting new ones. Mr. Trump has also forced out hawkish senior advisers, including Mr. Bolton, who once argued for a pre-emptive strike on North Korea.

But Mr. Trump’s current approach — gradual diplomacy backed by the “boa constrictor” of sanctions, perhaps toward an interim freeze — is unfolding in the shadow of similar efforts by four presidents who failed to stop the North.

Mr. Trump has essentially shrugged off the 13 short-range missile or rocket tests that North Korea has conducted since May. An intercontinental missile launch would be more difficult to ignore, though, and it is unclear how he might respond, especially if such a test intensifies criticism that Mr. Kim has manipulated him.

Thus far, Mr. Trump is showing little appetite for a return to the “fire and fury” tensions of two years ago.

“I have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House this month before adding, in what could prove to be wishful thinking, “I think we both want to keep it that way.”

Steven Lee Myers contributed reporting from Beijing.

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A Law Professor’s Provocative Argument: Trump Has Not Yet Been Impeached

Westlake Legal Group merlin_165420984_6e71ae73-06b4-4960-8736-9ad478bb84fe-facebookJumbo A Law Professor’s Provocative Argument: Trump Has Not Yet Been Impeached United States Politics and Government Turley, Jonathan Trump, Donald J Tribe, Laurence H impeachment Feldman, Noah Constitution (US)

WASHINGTON — Maybe President Trump has not been impeached after all, or at least not yet.

Impeachment happens, according to Noah Feldman, a Harvard law professor, only when the House transmits the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

So “technically speaking,” he said, “the president still hasn’t been impeached.”

That idea has left much of the legal academy unconvinced, including Laurence H. Tribe, one of Professor Feldman’s colleagues at Harvard. “The argument is textually bizarre, historically inaccurate, structurally misguided and functionally misleading,” Professor Tribe said.

Professor Feldman was one of three constitutional scholars to testify in favor of impeachment before the House Judiciary Committee this month. Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University and the sole scholar invited by Republicans to testify against impeachment at that hearing, also disagreed with Professor Feldman.

Mr. Trump was impeached on Wednesday, Professor Turley said. “Article I, Section 2 says that the House ‘shall have the sole power of impeachment.’ It says nothing about a requirement of referral to complete that act.”

The question of precisely when impeachment happens would ordinarily be of interest to almost no one. But it has taken on at least symbolic weight given Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s statement that the House may not transmit the articles of impeachment until it is satisfied that the Senate will conduct a fair trial.

Professor Feldman set out his views in a Bloomberg Opinion article on Thursday and elaborated on them in an interview. History supported his position, he said, as the framers of the Constitution drew on English procedures under which the House of Commons brought charges of impeachment to the House of Lords.

“The act known as impeachment was an act that took place in the upper house when people from the lower house appeared at the bar of that other house and said, ‘We hereby impeach so-and-so for high crimes and misdemeanors,’” Professor Feldman said.

He added that the term itself supported his view.

“If you think of the other meanings of the word ‘impeach’ — impeaching the credibility of a witness, for instance — it happens when you are looking at a person and saying ‘you have done wrong,’” Professor Feldman said. “You’re impeaching their character, you’re impeaching their credibility. That’s an act that you do in the forum where the decision will be made.”

But impeachment is functionally similar to a criminal indictment, and few people would say a grand jury had not indicted someone after voting to do so even if no trial followed. But Professor Feldman said that was a poor analogy.

The Constitution itself is terse. As Professor Turley noted, it gives the House “the sole power of impeachment,” which suggests that the House may also decide when it has impeached the president. The Senate, by contrast, is granted “the sole power to try all impeachments.”

In his article, Professor Feldman wrote that “the constitutional logic of impeachment” requires the House to transmit the articles before the president can be said to have been impeached. “A president who has been genuinely impeached,” he wrote, “must constitutionally have the right to defend himself before the Senate.”

Professors Feldman and Tribe used the same thought experiment to come to opposite conclusions on the question of when impeachment happens. Suppose, they said, that President Richard M. Nixon had not resigned in the face of pending impeachment, as he did, but after the House voted for articles of impeachment and before transmitting them to the Senate.

“If Nixon had resigned in the few minutes between a House impeachment and the transmission of the articles,” Professor Feldman said on Twitter, “constitutionally he would not have been impeached.”

Professor Tribe took the contrary view. “We would all say, for sure, that Nixon had been impeached,” he said.

Professor Feldman was not without allies. “A vote to impeach without attempting a prosecution (like not delivering the articles) is unrecognizable historically as ‘impeachment,’” Jed Shugerman, a law professor at Fordham, wrote on Twitter.

The debate struck some observers as fit for a faculty lounge but of no larger consequence. The two Harvard professors were “engaged in what may truly, and literally, be described as a paradigmatic *academic* debate about whether the House has already impeached Trump,” Martin S. Lederman, a law professor at Georgetown, wrote on Twitter.

On that point, Professors Tribe and Feldman were united in their disagreement, if for different reasons.

“There are academic debates all the time that have no direct relevance to public discourse,” Professor Feldman said. “This one is paradigmatically not an academic dispute. It’s paradigmatically a dispute about what people are saying in the highest circles of the U.S. government about the most significant thing Congress can do under the Constitution.”

Professor Tribe, an author, with Joshua Matz, of “To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment,” said taking Professor Feldman’s analysis seriously could lead to pernicious consequences.

“It does affect things atmospherically,” he said. “If the president latches onto the idea that one of the Democratic experts who testified before the House Judiciary Committee says he hasn’t been impeached yet,” Professor Tribe said, “that will become a kind of distracting rallying cry.”

Still, Professor Feldman acknowledged that the upshot of his position was “more symbolic than practical.”

“The only consequence is that if some time passes and they never present the articles the president can begin to say, with credibility, that he has not actually been impeached,” Professor Feldman said.

Frank O. Bowman, a law professor at the University of Missouri and the author of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump,” said “the technical argument that Trump is not really and truly ‘impeached’ without transmission of the articles is unconvincing to me. But I also think it’s irrelevant.”

What was more urgent, he said, was questioning what he called Ms. Pelosi’s “silly, counterproductive strategy” of holding off sending the charges to the Senate.

In an article in The Atlantic, Professor Bowman wrote that “it is no proper business of the House to forestall a senatorial verdict, however deplorable it may think it, with procedural tricks.”

“The Democrats’ implied assertion that the House has any say in the procedures the Senate adopts for an impeachment trial,” he added, “smacks of hypocrisy.”

On Wednesday, almost every news outlet in America published headlines saying that Mr. Trump had been impeached. Was that wrong?

Professor Feldman said he had no quarrel with the headlines, which he said used an acceptable colloquial shorthand. But, he added, “it’s not accurate in a technical, historical or constitutional sense.”

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A Law Professor’s Provocative Argument: Trump Has Not Yet Been Impeached

Westlake Legal Group merlin_165420984_6e71ae73-06b4-4960-8736-9ad478bb84fe-facebookJumbo A Law Professor’s Provocative Argument: Trump Has Not Yet Been Impeached United States Politics and Government Turley, Jonathan Trump, Donald J Tribe, Laurence H impeachment Feldman, Noah Constitution (US)

WASHINGTON — Maybe President Trump has not been impeached after all, or at least not yet.

Impeachment happens, according to Noah Feldman, a Harvard law professor, only when the House transmits the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

So “technically speaking,” he said, “the president still hasn’t been impeached.”

That idea has left much of the legal academy unconvinced, including Laurence H. Tribe, one of Professor Feldman’s colleagues at Harvard. “The argument is textually bizarre, historically inaccurate, structurally misguided and functionally misleading,” Professor Tribe said.

Professor Feldman was one of three constitutional scholars to testify in favor of impeachment before the House Judiciary Committee this month. Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University and the sole scholar invited by Republicans to testify against impeachment at that hearing, also disagreed with Professor Feldman.

Mr. Trump was impeached on Wednesday, Professor Turley said. “Article I, Section 2 says that the House ‘shall have the sole power of impeachment.’ It says nothing about a requirement of referral to complete that act.”

The question of precisely when impeachment happens would ordinarily be of interest to almost no one. But it has taken on at least symbolic weight given Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s statement that the House may not transmit the articles of impeachment until it is satisfied that the Senate will conduct a fair trial.

Professor Feldman set out his views in a Bloomberg Opinion article on Thursday and elaborated on them in an interview. History supported his position, he said, as the framers of the Constitution drew on English procedures under which the House of Commons brought charges of impeachment to the House of Lords.

“The act known as impeachment was an act that took place in the upper house when people from the lower house appeared at the bar of that other house and said, ‘We hereby impeach so-and-so for high crimes and misdemeanors,’” Professor Feldman said.

He added that the term itself supported his view.

“If you think of the other meanings of the word ‘impeach’ — impeaching the credibility of a witness, for instance — it happens when you are looking at a person and saying ‘you have done wrong,’” Professor Feldman said. “You’re impeaching their character, you’re impeaching their credibility. That’s an act that you do in the forum where the decision will be made.”

But impeachment is functionally similar to a criminal indictment, and few people would say a grand jury had not indicted someone after voting to do so even if no trial followed. But Professor Feldman said that was a poor analogy.

The Constitution itself is terse. As Professor Turley noted, it gives the House “the sole power of impeachment,” which suggests that the House may also decide when it has impeached the president. The Senate, by contrast, is granted “the sole power to try all impeachments.”

In his article, Professor Feldman wrote that “the constitutional logic of impeachment” requires the House to transmit the articles before the president can be said to have been impeached. “A president who has been genuinely impeached,” he wrote, “must constitutionally have the right to defend himself before the Senate.”

Professors Feldman and Tribe used the same thought experiment to come to opposite conclusions on the question of when impeachment happens. Suppose, they said, that President Richard M. Nixon had not resigned in the face of pending impeachment, as he did, but after the House voted for articles of impeachment and before transmitting them to the Senate.

“If Nixon had resigned in the few minutes between a House impeachment and the transmission of the articles,” Professor Feldman said on Twitter, “constitutionally he would not have been impeached.”

Professor Tribe took the contrary view. “We would all say, for sure, that Nixon had been impeached,” he said.

Professor Feldman was not without allies. “A vote to impeach without attempting a prosecution (like not delivering the articles) is unrecognizable historically as ‘impeachment,’” Jed Shugerman, a law professor at Fordham, wrote on Twitter.

The debate struck some observers as fit for a faculty lounge but of no larger consequence. The two Harvard professors were “engaged in what may truly, and literally, be described as a paradigmatic *academic* debate about whether the House has already impeached Trump,” Martin S. Lederman, a law professor at Georgetown, wrote on Twitter.

On that point, Professors Tribe and Feldman were united in their disagreement, if for different reasons.

“There are academic debates all the time that have no direct relevance to public discourse,” Professor Feldman said. “This one is paradigmatically not an academic dispute. It’s paradigmatically a dispute about what people are saying in the highest circles of the U.S. government about the most significant thing Congress can do under the Constitution.”

Professor Tribe, an author, with Joshua Matz, of “To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment,” said taking Professor Feldman’s analysis seriously could lead to pernicious consequences.

“It does affect things atmospherically,” he said. “If the president latches onto the idea that one of the Democratic experts who testified before the House Judiciary Committee says he hasn’t been impeached yet,” Professor Tribe said, “that will become a kind of distracting rallying cry.”

Still, Professor Feldman acknowledged that the upshot of his position was “more symbolic than practical.”

“The only consequence is that if some time passes and they never present the articles the president can begin to say, with credibility, that he has not actually been impeached,” Professor Feldman said.

Frank O. Bowman, a law professor at the University of Missouri and the author of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump,” said “the technical argument that Trump is not really and truly ‘impeached’ without transmission of the articles is unconvincing to me. But I also think it’s irrelevant.”

What was more urgent, he said, was questioning what he called Ms. Pelosi’s “silly, counterproductive strategy” of holding off sending the charges to the Senate.

In an article in The Atlantic, Professor Bowman wrote that “it is no proper business of the House to forestall a senatorial verdict, however deplorable it may think it, with procedural tricks.”

“The Democrats’ implied assertion that the House has any say in the procedures the Senate adopts for an impeachment trial,” he added, “smacks of hypocrisy.”

On Wednesday, almost every news outlet in America published headlines saying that Mr. Trump had been impeached. Was that wrong?

Professor Feldman said he had no quarrel with the headlines, which he said used an acceptable colloquial shorthand. But, he added, “it’s not accurate in a technical, historical or constitutional sense.”

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

A Law Professor’s Provocative Argument: Trump Has Not Yet Been Impeached

Westlake Legal Group merlin_165420984_6e71ae73-06b4-4960-8736-9ad478bb84fe-facebookJumbo A Law Professor’s Provocative Argument: Trump Has Not Yet Been Impeached United States Politics and Government Turley, Jonathan Trump, Donald J Tribe, Laurence H impeachment Feldman, Noah Constitution (US)

WASHINGTON — Maybe President Trump has not been impeached after all, or at least not yet.

Impeachment happens, according to Noah Feldman, a Harvard law professor, only when the House transmits the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

So “technically speaking,” he said, “the president still hasn’t been impeached.”

That idea has left much of the legal academy unconvinced, including Laurence H. Tribe, one of Professor Feldman’s colleagues at Harvard. “The argument is textually bizarre, historically inaccurate, structurally misguided and functionally misleading,” Professor Tribe said.

Professor Feldman was one of three constitutional scholars to testify in favor of impeachment before the House Judiciary Committee this month. Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University and the sole scholar invited by Republicans to testify against impeachment at that hearing, also disagreed with Professor Feldman.

Mr. Trump was impeached on Wednesday, Professor Turley said. “Article I, Section 2 says that the House ‘shall have the sole power of impeachment.’ It says nothing about a requirement of referral to complete that act.”

The question of precisely when impeachment happens would ordinarily be of interest to almost no one. But it has taken on at least symbolic weight given Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s statement that the House may not transmit the articles of impeachment until it is satisfied that the Senate will conduct a fair trial.

Professor Feldman set out his views in a Bloomberg Opinion article on Thursday and elaborated on them in an interview. History supported his position, he said, as the framers of the Constitution drew on English procedures under which the House of Commons brought charges of impeachment to the House of Lords.

“The act known as impeachment was an act that took place in the upper house when people from the lower house appeared at the bar of that other house and said, ‘We hereby impeach so-and-so for high crimes and misdemeanors,’” Professor Feldman said.

He added that the term itself supported his view.

“If you think of the other meanings of the word ‘impeach’ — impeaching the credibility of a witness, for instance — it happens when you are looking at a person and saying ‘you have done wrong,’” Professor Feldman said. “You’re impeaching their character, you’re impeaching their credibility. That’s an act that you do in the forum where the decision will be made.”

But impeachment is functionally similar to a criminal indictment, and few people would say a grand jury had not indicted someone after voting to do so even if no trial followed. But Professor Feldman said that was a poor analogy.

The Constitution itself is terse. As Professor Turley noted, it gives the House “the sole power of impeachment,” which suggests that the House may also decide when it has impeached the president. The Senate, by contrast, is granted “the sole power to try all impeachments.”

In his article, Professor Feldman wrote that “the constitutional logic of impeachment” requires the House to transmit the articles before the president can be said to have been impeached. “A president who has been genuinely impeached,” he wrote, “must constitutionally have the right to defend himself before the Senate.”

Professors Feldman and Tribe used the same thought experiment to come to opposite conclusions on the question of when impeachment happens. Suppose, they said, that President Richard M. Nixon had not resigned in the face of pending impeachment, as he did, but after the House voted for articles of impeachment and before transmitting them to the Senate.

“If Nixon had resigned in the few minutes between a House impeachment and the transmission of the articles,” Professor Feldman said on Twitter, “constitutionally he would not have been impeached.”

Professor Tribe took the contrary view. “We would all say, for sure, that Nixon had been impeached,” he said.

Professor Feldman was not without allies. “A vote to impeach without attempting a prosecution (like not delivering the articles) is unrecognizable historically as ‘impeachment,’” Jed Shugerman, a law professor at Fordham, wrote on Twitter.

The debate struck some observers as fit for a faculty lounge but of no larger consequence. The two Harvard professors were “engaged in what may truly, and literally, be described as a paradigmatic *academic* debate about whether the House has already impeached Trump,” Martin S. Lederman, a law professor at Georgetown, wrote on Twitter.

On that point, Professors Tribe and Feldman were united in their disagreement, if for different reasons.

“There are academic debates all the time that have no direct relevance to public discourse,” Professor Feldman said. “This one is paradigmatically not an academic dispute. It’s paradigmatically a dispute about what people are saying in the highest circles of the U.S. government about the most significant thing Congress can do under the Constitution.”

Professor Tribe, an author, with Joshua Matz, of “To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment,” said taking Professor Feldman’s analysis seriously could lead to pernicious consequences.

“It does affect things atmospherically,” he said. “If the president latches onto the idea that one of the Democratic experts who testified before the House Judiciary Committee says he hasn’t been impeached yet,” Professor Tribe said, “that will become a kind of distracting rallying cry.”

Still, Professor Feldman acknowledged that the upshot of his position was “more symbolic than practical.”

“The only consequence is that if some time passes and they never present the articles the president can begin to say, with credibility, that he has not actually been impeached,” Professor Feldman said.

Frank O. Bowman, a law professor at the University of Missouri and the author of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump,” said “the technical argument that Trump is not really and truly ‘impeached’ without transmission of the articles is unconvincing to me. But I also think it’s irrelevant.”

What was more urgent, he said, was questioning what he called Ms. Pelosi’s “silly, counterproductive strategy” of holding off sending the charges to the Senate.

In an article in The Atlantic, Professor Bowman wrote that “it is no proper business of the House to forestall a senatorial verdict, however deplorable it may think it, with procedural tricks.”

“The Democrats’ implied assertion that the House has any say in the procedures the Senate adopts for an impeachment trial,” he added, “smacks of hypocrisy.”

On Wednesday, almost every news outlet in America published headlines saying that Mr. Trump had been impeached. Was that wrong?

Professor Feldman said he had no quarrel with the headlines, which he said used an acceptable colloquial shorthand. But, he added, “it’s not accurate in a technical, historical or constitutional sense.”

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

Mitch McConnell, Master of the Blockade, Plots Impeachment Strategy

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WASHINGTON — Shattering convention, he held open a Supreme Court seat for 11 months. He twice changed Senate rules to create a record-setting assembly line of conservative federal judicial confirmations. He has been ruthless in his control of the Senate floor, denying Republicans and Democrats alike much opportunity to debate legislation.

In response, Democrats have called Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, the grim reaper. He embraces the nickname with enthusiasm.

Now, as a showdown intensifies over President Trump’s impeachment trial, the test for Mr. McConnell is whether he can again bulldoze over Democrats while keeping his Republican colleagues together, persuading them to share both his low regard for the impeachment charges and his view of the Senate’s role.

As his successful blockade of Judge Merrick B. Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court showed in 2016, Mr. McConnell is not afraid to defy norms and take intense heat for doing so, as long as he emerges a winner.

“Only one outcome will preserve core precedents rather than smash them into bits in a fit of partisan rage because one party still cannot accept the American people’s choice in 2016,” Mr. McConnell said this week on the Senate floor as he unspooled a 30-minute dissection of what he saw as the flaws in the Democratic-led House impeachment inquiry, his voice dripping with disdain. “The Senate’s duty is clear.”

He did not say precisely what that duty was — or how, in his words, the Senate would “put this right.” But it is very evident that Mr. McConnell’s goal is for the Republican-led Senate to make short work of any trial of Mr. Trump on the two House-passed articles of impeachment, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Mr. McConnell wants any proceeding to be bare-bones, with presentations by House prosecutors and defenders of the president followed by a vote to acquit the president of what Mr. McConnell characterizes as partisan accusations that fall far short of the constitutional standard for impeachment.

Democrats, on the other hand, are pressing to hear from potentially central witnesses whom Mr. Trump barred from testifying before the House inquiry about his dealings with Ukraine, including John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, and Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff. They also want relevant documents that the Trump administration withheld from the House.

“If the House’s case is so weak,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, taunting Mr. McConnell, “why is Leader McConnell so afraid of witnesses and documents?”

Mr. McConnell’s position has drawn outrage from Democrats, who argue that he is essentially aiding and abetting the president’s misconduct.

“His refusal to permit witnesses and documents really makes him complicit in the Trump cover-up, as it will rightly be seen, and that is going to be one of the main points in his legacy,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut.

The issue was left unresolved as Congress exited town on Thursday for the holidays, and Mr. McConnell and Mr. Schumer remain at odds over how to open the Senate trial when and if one occurs.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who labeled Mr. McConnell a “rogue” majority leader because of his openly hostile attitude toward the House impeachment proceedings, has held off on sending the House articles across the Capitol. First, she says, she wants to make certain fair ground rules are set for the Senate proceedings.

Democrats hope the procedural fight keeps the spotlight squarely on Mr. McConnell — who has already declared himself “not an impartial juror” — and makes other Senate Republicans queasy about shutting down witnesses when many Americans would expect such testimony as a standard part of any trial.

The issue could be particularly tricky for some Republicans who will be on the ballot next year, such as Senator Susan Collins of Maine, and who will want to be seen as taking impeachment seriously and not rushing to judgment.

And Ms. Pelosi believes that Mr. Trump is so eager for the public vindication of a Senate acquittal that he will put pressure on the majority leader to make it happen even if it means offering some concessions to Mr. Schumer.

For now, however, Mr. McConnell — and many other Senate Republicans — seem unmoved by the House posture. He spent much of Thursday gleefully ridiculing Democrats’ negotiating tactics.

“Do you think this is leverage, to not send us something we’d rather not do?” he asked reporters this week as he cracked a broad smile outside the Senate chamber, in a departure from his usual dour expression.

For Mr. McConnell, the role of Mr. Trump’s protector in a Senate trial is not necessarily a comfortable one. Though they have worked closely on judges and are linked politically, Mr. McConnell has privately grimaced at some of Mr. Trump’s more incendiary tweets and actions, and he has at times taken issue publicly with the president, particularly on Russia.

The majority leader has made clear that he believes Russia was behind the 2016 election interference and has backed penalizing Moscow. When Mr. Trump insisted that Mr. McConnell told him that his phone call with the president of Ukraine was “innocent,” Mr. McConnell told reporters that he never recalled such a conversation. But he has run the Senate floor with an eye toward minimizing any divisions between Senate Republicans and Mr. Trump.

As majority leader, he has essentially been given sole power by his Republican colleagues to decide what to put on the floor. He has been very stingy in what he has allowed, severely limiting the legislative activity in the Senate to spare Republicans vulnerable in next year’s elections tough votes.

But in the event of a Senate impeachment trial, he has less “ball control,” as Mr. McConnell, an avid sports fan, recently described it in an interview with Fox News. Unless a bipartisan agreement is reached, the conduct of the trial will probably be determined by a series of votes. With a slim 53-seat majority, he can afford to lose very few Republicans, and would much prefer to not lose a single one. A shift of four Republicans willing to entertain witnesses could take matters out of his hands.

That would be irritating to Mr. McConnell, who is himself on the ballot next year and has made clear that he has no interest in any separation from Mr. Trump. He has said he will work in concert with Mr. Trump’s legal team during the impeachment trial, and on Friday, he escorted Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, and Eric Ueland, the legislative affairs chief, to the Senate floor to discuss how the proceeding would work.

Calling witnesses could inject unpredictability into a Senate trial and lead to the disclosure of new information damaging to the president. Mr. McConnell likes neither unpredictability nor anything that threatens his own political power.

“He only moves if he is personally concerned about his own re-election or the election of his majority,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and a longtime student of Mr. McConnell from across the aisle.

In an interview with PBS, Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and a chief architect of the impeachment, accused Mr. McConnell of “basically surrendering his institutional role to be a coequal branch of government, and acting like the president’s lieutenant.”

Mr. McConnell said he considered the demand for witnesses from Senate Democrats an acknowledgment that the House did a shoddy job on the impeachment. He said the call for more testimony equated to a demand that the Senate “redo House Democrats’ homework for them.”

To date, the vast majority of Republicans in the Senate seem to share Mr. McConnell’s opinion of what he calls the thinnest and weakest impeachment case in history.

“He is absolutely right,” said Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the No. 3 Senate Republican. “This is a political, not a legal trial. We know what the outcome is going to be and we are not going to allow Schumer to manipulate the process.”

Mr. McConnell’s hard-line stance on witnesses is already drawing caustic comparisons by Democrats to his handling of the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. The day Mr. Scalia’s death was announced, Mr. McConnell quickly announced that he would not allow President Barack Obama to fill the seat. Judge Garland’s nomination languished and died at the end of that year. In the end, a newly inaugurated President Trump nominated Neil M. Gorsuch, who was confirmed in April 2017.

“The senators who never gave Merrick Garland a vote and who’ve been cranking through the confirmation of unqualified judges can’t find enough smelling salts and fainting couches when Pelosi plays a little hardball on an impeachment trial,” Representative Jim Himes, Democrat of Connecticut, said on Twitter on Thursday.

Mr. McConnell held to his position on the court vacancy under tremendous pressure from Democrats. His Republican colleagues stuck with him and suffered little political damage, a result that might fortify them in the impeachment fight as well, making the outcome of the current stalemate difficult to predict.

“He usually gets pretty much where he wants to go,” said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas and a close ally of Mr. McConnell’s. “And he’s got very thick skin.”

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Administration Threatened Veto Over Ukraine Aid in Spending Package

Westlake Legal Group merlin_166127883_16e641fd-3e98-4fb5-8e20-c3b89972f4d9-facebookJumbo Administration Threatened Veto Over Ukraine Aid in Spending Package Vetoes (US) United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Treasury Department Shutdowns (Institutional) Office of Management and Budget (US) Law and Legislation Federal Budget (US) Defense Department

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s advisers rejected a bid to force his administration to quickly release military assistance for Ukraine early next year, threatening in recent weeks that he would veto must-pass spending legislation if Congress did not remove the directive.

According to three officials familiar with the discussions, Democrats ultimately agreed to drop the language, which would have forced the administration to release $250 million in defense aid to Ukraine within 45 days of enactment of the spending package, in order to avoid a government shutdown. Mr. Trump was expected to sign the $1.4 trillion in spending legislation on Friday.

Before leaving on Friday night for his holiday break at his Florida estate, he signed a critical defense policy bill at Joint Base Andrews.

The discussion in the final days of negotiations over a dozen spending bills, first reported by The Washington Post, came after the administration’s decision to withhold Ukraine military assistance became a central issue in the inquiry that led to Mr. Trump’s impeachment this week for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The officials who described the discussions did so on the condition of anonymity because the talks were private.

A House Intelligence Committee investigation concluded, based on extensive evidence and sworn testimony from administration officials, that Mr. Trump had frozen nearly $400 million in security assistance that Congress had allocated for Ukraine this year, using it as leverage in his quest to get the country’s president to announce investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

Lawmakers in both parties had expressed concerns about the decision to withhold this year’s money, and Democrats had proposed new language so that funds could not be withheld in the future.

Had the language been kept in the spending package, the budget office would have had to release the funds for a defense program, the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, within 45 days after the measure became law. The Pentagon would then be allowed to spend the money.

But Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, and Eric Ueland, the White House director of legislative affairs, negotiated with lawmakers to have the language removed from the spending legislation, along with other provisions deemed to be so-called poison pills that would lead to a White House veto.

The spending package Mr. Trump is set to sign on Friday does, however, have language strengthening reporting requirements if the money is not obligated by budget officials within 90 days.

Two administration officials said that the veto threat was not a direct issue regarding Ukraine, but part of a broader effort to defend the president’s authority to spend money at any time and in any manner that he determines appropriate.

The administration also objected to Democratic language that would have required the Office of Management and Budget to make public budget documents, known as apportionment letters, related to the release of aid to federal agencies, one official said. Those letters were used to freeze the Ukraine aid.

The administration argued, according to one official, that the documents were already sent upon request to Congress and the specific directives in the spending legislation were unnecessary.

Democrats also agreed to soften language surrounding the disbursement of aid to Central American countries, which Mr. Trump has previously threatened to end, according to one person familiar with the talks.

Had Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats refused to remove the language, the administration could have publicly announced its intent to veto the legislation and further jeopardized efforts to fund the government before funding lapsed at midnight Friday.

Leading Democrats played down the decision to eliminate the spending controls, which was part of a wide-ranging negotiation among the White House and senior Democrats and Republicans to forge a spending agreement that would avert a second consecutive Christmastime shutdown.

“These issues were negotiated primarily by the Appropriations Committee and O.M.B.,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi. “These matters were two among dozens that had to be resolved in order to reach agreement on the two minibuses between both houses of Congress and the White House.

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

Administration Threatened Veto Over Ukraine Aid in Spending Package

Westlake Legal Group merlin_166127883_16e641fd-3e98-4fb5-8e20-c3b89972f4d9-facebookJumbo Administration Threatened Veto Over Ukraine Aid in Spending Package Vetoes (US) United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Treasury Department Shutdowns (Institutional) Office of Management and Budget (US) Law and Legislation Federal Budget (US) Defense Department

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s advisers rejected a bid to force his administration to quickly release military assistance for Ukraine early next year, threatening in recent weeks that he would veto must-pass spending legislation if Congress did not remove the directive.

According to three officials familiar with the discussions, Democrats ultimately agreed to drop the language, which would have forced the administration to release $250 million in defense aid to Ukraine within 45 days of enactment of the spending package, in order to avoid a government shutdown at midnight Friday. Mr. Trump was expected to sign the $1.4 trillion in spending legislation on Friday, along with a critical defense policy bill.

The discussion in the final days of negotiations over a dozen spending bills, first reported by The Washington Post, came after the administration’s decision to withhold Ukraine military assistance became a central issue in the inquiry that led to Mr. Trump’s impeachment this week for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The officials who described the discussions did so on the condition of anonymity because the talks were private.

A House Intelligence Committee investigation concluded, based on extensive evidence and sworn testimony from administration officials, that Mr. Trump had frozen nearly $400 million in security assistance that Congress had allocated for Ukraine this year, using it as leverage in his quest to get the country’s president to announce investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

Lawmakers in both parties had expressed concerns about the decision to withhold this year’s money, and Democrats had proposed new language so that funds could not be withheld in the future.

Had the language been kept in the spending package, the budget office would have had to release the funds for a defense program, the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, within 45 days after the measure became law. The Pentagon would then be allowed to spend the money.

But Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, and Eric Ueland, the White House director of legislative affairs, negotiated with lawmakers to have the language removed from the spending legislation, along with other provisions deemed to be so-called poison pills that would lead to a White House veto.

The spending package Mr. Trump is set to sign on Friday does, however, have language strengthening reporting requirements if the money is not obligated by budget officials within 90 days.

Two administration officials said that the veto threat was not a direct issue regarding Ukraine, but part of a broader effort to defend the president’s authority to spend money at any time and in any manner that he determines appropriate.

The administration also objected to Democratic language that would have required the Office of Management and Budget to make public budget documents, known as apportionment letters, related to the release of aid to federal agencies, one official said. Those letters were used to freeze the Ukraine aid.

The administration argued, according to one official, that the documents were already sent upon request to Congress and the specific directives in the spending legislation were unnecessary.

Democrats also agreed to soften language surrounding the disbursement of aid to Central American countries, which Mr. Trump has previously threatened to end, according to one person familiar with the talks.

Had Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats refused to remove the language, the administration could have publicly announced its intent to veto the legislation and further jeopardized efforts to fund the government before funding lapsed at midnight Friday.

Leading Democrats played down the decision to eliminate the spending controls, which was part of a wide-ranging negotiation among the White House and senior Democrats and Republicans to forge a spending agreement that would avert a second consecutive Christmastime shutdown.

“These issues were negotiated primarily by the Appropriations Committee and O.M.B.,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi. “These matters were two among dozens that had to be resolved in order to reach agreement on the two minibuses between both houses of Congress and the White House.

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