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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 110)

The Breach Widens as Congress Nears a Partisan Impeachment

Westlake Legal Group 13dc-assess1-facebookJumbo The Breach Widens as Congress Nears a Partisan Impeachment United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sensenbrenner, F James Jr Republican Party Nadler, Jerrold impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Democratic Party

WASHINGTON — It was the rarest of moments in the nation’s capital, a seemingly sincere attempt at persuasion across the partisan breach by the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee on the eve of the panel’s vote to impeach President Trump.

“I know this moment must be difficult, but you still have a choice,” Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York told his Republican colleagues at the start of more than 17 hours of debate on whether to remove Mr. Trump from office. “I hope that we are able to work together to hold this president — or any president — accountable for breaking his most basic obligations to the country and to its citizens.”

A short time later, the former Republican chairman of the committee responded with a plea to Democrats to abandon impeachment: “Put aside your partisan politics,” Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin implored, “because the future of our country and the viability of our Constitution as the framers decided it, are at stake.”

But the appeals to rise above the tribalism of the moment from the two veteran lawmakers fell on deaf ears. They persuaded no one, and only served to contrast with the rancorous, sometimes personally vindictive debate that unfolded over the next two days in the Ways and Means Committee Room not far from the Capitol.

This was the very divisive impeachment debate that Democrats had always hoped to avoid.

In March, Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her new Democratic majority that barring “something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should” try to impeach Mr. Trump. “It divides the country,” she said then. “And he’s just not worth it.”

But now, less than three months after the allegations in a whistle-blower complaint catapulted Democrats into an investigation of whether the president pressured Ukraine for political gain, the country is exactly where Ms. Pelosi worried it would be — on the brink of an intensely partisan impeachment with deep consequences for both parties and the country.

When she gave the green light for impeachment articles to be drafted this month, Ms. Pelosi said, “the president leaves us no choice but to act,” arguing that to do nothing in the face of Mr. Trump’s transgressions would invite lasting damage to the Constitution and the institutions of government.

But by Friday morning, as the committee formally paved the way for the House to impeach Mr. Trump next week, both sides seemed to sense that political vandalism had already taken place. Representative Mike Johnson, Republican of Louisiana, predicted “irreparable damage to our country” and closed his final argument with a lament: “God help us.”

It wasn’t just that the committee eventually voted to approve two articles of impeachment, charging Mr. Trump with abusing the power of his office and obstructing Congress. Throughout the committee’s debate, the lawmakers from the two parties couldn’t even agree on a basic set of facts in front of them.

They called each other liars and demagogues and accused each other of being desperate and unfair. At one point, Republicans all but abandoned their pursuit of trying to persuade their Democratic colleagues, instead making a motion to strike the most critical lines out of the articles — essentially taking the “impeach” out of impeachment.

“It is silly,” Mr. Nadler complained about the proposed amendment not long before his Democratic majority rejected it on a 23-17 vote, the same party-line margin that emerged throughout the day, time after time, no matter the argument or the issue.

Lawmakers in both parties appeared to feel the weight of history as they delivered impassioned arguments over and over again, in five-minute chunks, alternating between Democrats and Republicans well into the night on Wednesday, and again on Thursday.

But if the passion was similar, the substance was not. Even for members of a profession who are used to talking past each other, it was striking how unwilling both Republicans and Democrats on the committee were to concede even an inch to the other side.

“Ukraine was not aware of the aid,” Mr. Johnson insisted Thursday, referring to the $391 million in security assistance that Mr. Trump had ordered withheld. If they didn’t know the money had been frozen, he explained, Ukraine couldn’t have been on the receiving end of a pressure campaign by the president.

When it was his turn, Representative Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee, asserted exactly the opposite, alluding to email evidence and testimony that disproved Mr. Johnson’s argument. “They knew it on July the 25th,” Mr. Cohen said of the Ukranians. “There were communications from the embassy that have been released that they knew the aid was being held up. They knew it was being held up.”

It was an example of the different impeachment realities that the two parties are living in. But it was hardly the only one.

Representative Hank Johnson, Democrat of Georgia, described Mr. Trump’s July 25 call with the President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine one way, saying it “shows that the president tried to get President Zelensky to interfere in the upcoming presidential election.” His Republican colleague, Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, saw it differently: “We saw the call transcript, and there is no conditionality.”

And after Representative Andy Biggs, Republican of Arizona, said it was “clear” that Mr. Trump cared about rooting out corruption in Ukraine, Representative Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California, scoffed: “The president never brings up corruption.”

As the skies darkened outside and the clock ticked toward midnight on Thursday, both sides appeared to grow weary of the verbal combat.

“Republican colleagues are working overtime to try to convince us that we didn’t see what we saw with our own eyes and we didn’t hear what we heard with our own ears,” complained Representative Veronica Escobar, Democrat of Texas.

Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the panel, had a more colorful way of expressing his frustration after being accused of trying to “muddy the waters” with fuzzy facts and questionable interpretations.

“If this was a muddying the waters, y’all are an E.P.A. hazardous waste site at this point,” Mr. Collins snapped back.

After three-and-a-half hours of opening statements on Wednesday, a marathon session on Thursday seemed like it would never finish as both sides engaged in a kind of mutually assured destruction — refusing to be the ones to call it quits first.

Determined to avoid the accusation that they shut down debate prematurely, Mr. Nadler gave every member who wanted it a chance to speak. Republicans, grumpy about a rumor circulating that their members wanted to leave early to attend the Congressional Ball at the White House that evening, refused to give Democrats the satisfaction of ending their speeches either.

The night finally ended with predictable rancor when Mr. Nadler abruptly called a recess right before taking a final vote, saying he wanted “the members on both sides of the aisle to think about what has happened over these last two days and to search their consciences.”

Instead, his decision — made without any warning and without the kind of bipartisan consultation that is common on the Judiciary Committee — added to the sense of mounting tension inside the grand room, where nerves were already frayed.

It was clear that despite Mr. Nadler’s advice, nothing had changed by 10 the next morning, when the weary committee members returned for a rare Friday session to take the party-line vote that had been a certainty all along.

Mr. Nadler moved swiftly to call for the final votes on the two articles of impeachment, and both passed with all 23 Democrats in favor of impeaching Mr. Trump and all 17 Republicans opposed.

In just 7 minutes, the work was over, and Mr. Nadler banged his gavel.

“Without objection,” he said, as some Republicans in the room scowled, “this meeting is adjourned.”

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It Was a Great Day for Trump, Except for That ‘Scam’

Westlake Legal Group 13dc-TRUMP-facebookJumbo It Was a Great Day for Trump, Except for That ‘Scam’ United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Polls and Public Opinion Luntz, Frank I Johnson, Boris impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Abdo Benitez, Mario

WASHINGTON — President Trump had plenty of good news to talk about on Friday, beginning with the news from across the Atlantic that a close ally, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, had just seen his party win a decisive majority in Parliament. There were also his accomplishments at home to promote: finishing the first phase of a trade deal with China, averting a government shutdown and moving forward with House Democrats on his signature North American trade pact.

“This has been a wild week,” Mr. Trump said, stating the obvious to reporters in the Oval Office as he praised Mr. Johnson and hailed the China accord as a “phenomenal deal.”

On any other day, the session with reporters would have been an unqualified victory lap for Mr. Trump, a leader who has long felt he does not receive enough credit for his policy accomplishments, and who on Friday had several such wins to crow about. Except that earlier in the morning, the House Judiciary Committee had voted to advance two articles of impeachment against him, prompting an all-but-certain impeachment vote and Senate trial.

Nothing about the vote was a surprise, but Mr. Trump’s private frustration and embarrassment over most likely becoming the third president in American history to be impeached bubbled again to the surface, at least momentarily, dashing the hopes of advisers who have been encouraging him to keep focused on “presidenting.”

“I think it’s a horrible thing to be using the tool of impeachment, which is supposed to be used in an emergency,” Mr. Trump said, scowling as he sat next to President Mario Abdo Benítez of Paraguay. “It’s a scam. It’s something that shouldn’t be allowed. And it’s a very bad thing for our country.”

The timing and mechanics of an impeachment trial in the Republican-controlled Senate remain in flux, but Mr. Trump said he would support a lengthy proceeding, an idea his aides have long said he favors. He added that it would give him a chance to learn more about a whistle-blower whose account of Mr. Trump’s July call with the Ukrainian president formed the basis of the impeachment inquiry.

The president’s support for a more drawn-out process was at odds with a plan set forth by Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, who has tried to persuade the president to support an abbreviated trial.

“I’ll do whatever they want to do,” Mr. Trump said, before adding, “I wouldn’t mind a long process because I’d like to see the whistle-blower, who is a fraud.”

Mr. Trump’s extensive comments on impeachment seemed at least momentarily to conflict with the operative stance at the White House of emphasizing what the president was getting done for the American people — similar to the approach aides to President Bill Clinton took when he was impeached. But while Mr. Clinton seethed and obsessed over the proceedings in private, Mr. Trump’s use of his preferred pressure release valve — Twitter — hit a new peak this week.

“How do you get Impeached when you have done NOTHING wrong (a perfect call), have created the best economy in the history of our Country, rebuilt our Military, fixed the V.A. (Choice!), cut Taxes & Regs, protected your 2nd A, created Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, and soooo much more? Crazy!” Mr. Trump wrote Friday morning.

Mr. Trump was in a meeting in the White House residence and not watching television as the Judiciary Committee vote began, but he kept his aides close throughout morning. That group included two in-house strategists focused on impeachment messaging: Tony Sayegh, a former Treasury Department spokesman, and Pam Bondi, a former Florida attorney general. Other advisers described the president, who has publicly and privately marveled over the unity he sees in the Republican Party around impeachment, as in good spirits.

Another ally in the mix was Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer whose work to dredge up unflattering information on Mr. Trump’s political opponents landed him at the center of the Democratic-led impeachment effort.

Mr. Giuliani was ushered into the White House moments before the vote, and one senior administration official said he was there, in part, to talk about a trip he had taken to interview Ukrainians in Budapest and Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, for an anti-impeachment documentary.

Last month, Mr. Giuliani told an associate that Mr. Trump had approved of his participation in the documentary when he briefed the president about it during a meeting at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

By the time the Paraguayan president arrived at the White House just before noon, Mr. Trump was flanked by several additional advisers, including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, his national security adviser.

“It’s a very sad thing for our country but it seems to be very good for me politically,” Mr. Trump said. “The polls have gone through the roof for Trump.”

Mr. Trump and his advisers firmly believe they are winning the public opinion battle around impeachment. His advisers are leaning on polls they say show shifting fortunes in politically crucial swing states, and they are closely watching the behavior of House Democrats they believe are in vulnerable districts.

Frank Luntz, a longtime Republican pollster, offered a different assessment: Public opinion has remained polarized and static as impeachment moves forward, even with a strong economy and several trade accords in the making. “When taken together it’s a political home run,” Mr. Luntz said.

At least, it should be.

“The president never gets the credit he deserves because there’s always something ugly under the surface,” Mr. Luntz added. “Any other president would be in the 60th percentile after a week like this.”

The president’s approval rating continues to hover around 41 percent, according to national polls.

Kenneth P. Vogel contributed reporting.

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Supreme Court to Rule on Release of Trump’s Financial Records

Westlake Legal Group 00dc-scotus-trump-facebookJumbo Supreme Court to Rule on Release of Trump’s Financial Records United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump Tax Returns McDougal, Karen (1971- ) Mazars USA Federal Taxes (US) Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- )

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether President Trump can block the release of his financial records, setting the stage for a blockbuster ruling on the power of presidents to resist demands for information from prosecutors and Congress.

The court’s ruling, expected by June, could require disclosure of information the president has gone to extraordinary lengths to protect. Or the justices could rule that Mr. Trump’s financial affairs are not legitimate subjects of inquiry so long as he remains in office.

Either way, the court is now poised to produce a once-in-a-generation statement on presidential accountability.

The case will test the independence of the court, which is dominated by Republican appointees, including two named by Mr. Trump. In earlier Supreme Court cases in which presidents sought to avoid providing evidence, the rulings did not break along partisan lines.

To the contrary, the court was unanimous in ruling against Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton in such cases, with Nixon and Clinton appointees voting against the presidents who had placed them on the court. The Nixon case led to his resignation in the face of mounting calls for his impeachment. The Clinton case led to Mr. Clinton’s impeachment, though he survived a Senate vote on his removal.

Mr. Trump asked the court to block three sets of subpoenas, and the justices agreed to decide his appeals in all three. The court said that arguments would be held over two hours in late March or early April, but it did not specify the date.

All of the subpoenas sought information from Mr. Trump’s accountants or bankers, not from Mr. Trump himself, and the firms have indicated that they will comply with the court’s ruling. Had the subpoenas sought evidence from Mr. Trump himself, there was at least a possibility that he would try to defy a ruling against him, prompting a constitutional crisis.

One of the cases concerned a subpoena to Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, from the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a Democrat. It sought eight years of business and personal tax records in connection with an investigation of the role that Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization played in hush-money payments made in the run-up to the 2016 election.

Both Mr. Trump and his company reimbursed the president’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, for payments made to the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels, who claimed that she had an affair with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Cohen was also involved in payments to Karen McDougal, a Playboy model who had also claimed she had a relationship with Mr. Trump. The president has denied the relationships.

Mr. Trump sued to stop his accounting firm from turning over the records, but lower courts ruled against him. In a unanimous ruling, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, said state prosecutors may require third parties to turn over a sitting president’s financial records for use in a grand jury investigation.

In a footnote to the decision, Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann, wrote that the information sought was in a sense unexceptional.

“We note that the past six presidents, dating back to President Carter, all voluntarily released their tax returns to the public,” Judge Katzmann wrote. “While we do not place dispositive weight on this fact, it reinforces our conclusion that the disclosure of personal financial information, standing alone, is unlikely to impair the president in performing the duties of his office.”

In their petition urging the Supreme Court to hear their appeal, Trump v. Vance, No. 19-635, Mr. Trump’s lawyers argued that he was immune from all criminal proceedings and investigations so long as he remained in office. But even if some federal investigations may be proper, the petition said, the Supreme Court should rule that state and local prosecutors may not seek information about a sitting president’s conduct.

“That the Constitution would empower thousands of state and local prosecutors to embroil the president in criminal proceedings is unimaginable,” Mr. Trump’s lawyers wrote.

Mr. Vance responded that the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Nixon in 1974 essentially decided the central issue in Mr. Trump’s appeal. “This court has long recognized,” Mr. Vance wrote, “that a sitting president may be subject to a subpoena in a criminal proceeding.”

That the subpoena in the Nixon case came from a federal court rather than a state grand jury made no difference, Mr. Vance wrote. “The states’ strong interests in operating a fair and just criminal judicial process should be respected no less than the federal government’s parallel interests recognized in Nixon,” he wrote.

The Justice Department filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the court to hear Mr. Trump’s appeal seeking to keep his financial records private. The brief did not adopt the broad position taken by Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers — that he is immune from criminal investigation while he remains in office. Rather, the department’s brief said that courts should require prosecutors to meet a demanding standard before they are allowed to obtain the information.

The second subpoena, also directed to the accounting firm, came from the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is investigating the hush-money payments and whether Mr. Trump inflated and deflated descriptions of his assets on financial statements to obtain loans and reduce his taxes.

When Mr. Trump’s lawyers went to court to try to block the subpoena, they argued that the committee was powerless to obtain his records because it had no legislative need for them. They said the panel was engaged in an improper criminal inquiry and was not seeking information to help it enact legislation.

In October, a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit refused to block the subpoena.

“Having considered the weighty interests at stake in this case, we conclude that the subpoena issued by the committee to Mazars is valid and enforceable,” Judge David S. Tatel, who was appointed by President Clinton, wrote for the majority. Judge Patricia A. Millett, appointed by President Barack Obama, joined the majority opinion.

In dissent, Judge Neomi J. Rao, appointed by Mr. Trump, wrote that “allegations of illegal conduct against the president cannot be investigated by Congress except through impeachment.”

In a brief urging the Supreme Court to deny review in the case, Trump v. Mazars USA, No. 19-715, lawyers for the committee argued that they had a legitimate need for the information they sought.

“The election of a president who has decided to maintain his ties to a broad array of business ventures raises questions about the adequacy of existing legislation concerning financial disclosures, government contracts with federal officeholders and government ethics,” the brief said. “Whether new legislation on these subjects is needed is a natural subject of congressional inquiry.”

The third set of subpoenas came from the House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees and were addressed to two financial institutions that did business with Mr. Trump, Deutsche Bank and Capital One. They sought an array of financial records related to the president, his companies and his family.

A different three-judge panel of the Second Circuit ordered most of the requested materials to be disclosed. It made an exception for sensitive personal information unrelated to the committee’s investigations.

“The committees’ interests in pursuing their constitutional legislative function is a far more significant public interest than whatever public interest inheres in avoiding the risk of a chief executive’s distraction arising from disclosure of documents reflecting his private financial transactions,” Judge Jon O. Newman wrote for the majority.

In urging the Supreme Court to block the Second Circuit’s ruling while the justices decided how to proceed in the case, Trump v. Deutsche Bank AG, No. 19A640, Mr. Trump wrote that “these ‘dragnet’ subpoena look nothing like a legislative inquiry.”

The committees responded that they need the information to address interference in American elections.

“Legislative efforts to secure the financial system from abuse have obvious importance,” lawyers for the committee told the justices. “And nothing is more urgent than efforts to guard against foreign influence in our systems for electing officials, particularly given the upcoming 2020 elections.”

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Ukraine’s Leader, Wiser to Washington, Seeks New Outreach to Trump

Westlake Legal Group 12dc-lobby-1-facebookJumbo Ukraine’s Leader, Wiser to Washington, Seeks New Outreach to Trump Zelensky, Volodymyr Yanukovych, Viktor F United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Telizhenko, Andrii Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2020 Mercury Public Affairs Manafort, Paul J Lobbying and Lobbyists Lanza, Bryan

WASHINGTON — Eager to repair their country’s fraught relationship with Washington, allies of President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine have met with lobbyists with close ties to the Trump administration, hopeful of creating new channels of communication.

After more than two months of anxious waiting, Mr. Zelensky finally appears to have won support from the White House for a candidate to fill Ukraine’s vacant ambassadorship to the United States.

And Mr. Zelensky, still deeply dependent on American assistance, has been signaling, in hardly subtle fashion, that he and his officials will not assist in the impeachment process, keeping quiet in particular about the fact that his government knew weeks earlier than it has publicly acknowledged that Mr. Trump had frozen nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine.

Nearly every world leader has struggled to figure out how to deal with Mr. Trump. But few face greater pressure to find the answer — or more hurdles to doing so — than Mr. Zelensky.

Wiser now to the ways of Washington, he and his team are carefully trying to reestablish themselves in a variety of ways as an important ally with a substantive agenda deserving of Washington’s attention and support.

They have a long ways to go. Mr. Zelensky’s team has been discouraged by the absence of expected support from Mr. Trump for Ukraine’s peace talks with Russia, as well as the lack of follow-through from the White House on a promised Oval Office meeting with Mr. Zelensky that the administration had quietly signaled might happen in late January.

Mr. Zelensky’s allies were frustrated further by Mr. Trump’s meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday with Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister. And when the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani paid an unexpected visit to Kyiv last week in a continued effort to dig up dirt on Mr. Trump’s political opponents, no Ukrainian government officials met him.

Asked by an official at the German Marshall Fund on Friday what the Zelensky administration wants from Washington, Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, who has been in Washington this week meeting with administration and congressional officials, said “all we are asking from our colleagues in the U.S. administration is fair treatment.”

He added, “We don’t want to be shamed and blamed.”

The continued push to try to overcome Mr. Trump’s grudge against Ukraine suggests Zelensky administration officials have concluded that impeachment will fail in the Senate and that they will almost certainly need to work with Mr. Trump for at least another year, and possibly another five years if Mr. Trump is re-elected.

“Our relations are not in good shape,” said Olena Zerkal, a former deputy foreign minister under Mr. Zelensky. “I don’t believe in any chemistry between our leaders.”

Mr. Zelensky’s willingness to accommodate the Trump administration has hardly gone unnoticed in Kyiv.

After the White House released a rough transcript of a July 25 call between the American and Ukrainian presidents, Mr. Zelensky was panned in Ukraine on social media for seeming too eager to please Mr. Trump. That included signaling a willingness to pursue the investigations sought by Mr. Trump into political targets like the family of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Monica Zelensky,” the Ukrainian president was called on social media in Kyiv, in a reference to the intern whose sexual relations with Bill Clinton led to the last impeachment proceedings of an American president.

Even a White House visit, if it happens, risks being seen not so much as a triumph for Mr. Zelensky as more kowtowing to Mr. Trump, who could cite it as evidence he never linked such a visit, or American military assistance for Ukraine, to investigations that would benefit him politically.

“In Kyiv, we have to place bets on the current power in Washington,” said Nikolay Kapitonenko, professor at the Institute of International Relations. But outreach to the Republican administration is not risk free, he said, adding, “Zelensky understands that taking any side is dangerous.”

The importance of American support for Ukraine — and the desire for more of it from Mr. Trump — has been on display in recent days.

An American diplomat traveled to Kyiv to express support for the Ukrainians headed into Mr. Zelensky’s first face-to-face meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Monday in Paris.

But Trump administration officials privately told the Ukrainians that Mr. Trump himself would signal support, according to Americans and Ukrainians familiar with the matter, either via Twitter, as first reported by The Daily Beast, or possibly even an invitation for Mr. Zelensky to visit the White House next month. While Mr. Trump posted more than 100 tweets on Sunday, none expressed support for the Ukrainians headed into the peace talks.

The Trump administration had also resisted calls to levy sanctions against a Russian gas pipeline that would circumvent Ukraine. The White House reportedly worked to undermine congressional efforts to block the pipeline, though sanctions language was added to a $738 billion military policy bill that passed the House on Wednesday. And the military assistance that Democrats accuse Mr. Trump of using as leverage to force the investigations reportedly still has not fully reached Ukraine.

Those are among the issues that may help explain why the Ukrainians are considering stepping up their lobbying in Washington, despite potential political and financial costs.

During his campaign and early in his presidency, Mr. Zelensky proclaimed that he had no need to hire lobbyists like the government of his predecessor. “I never met a single lobbyist,” he said. “I don’t need this. I never paid a coin and I never will.”

Yet, in the weeks before Mr. Zelensky was elected in April, his advisers quietly worked with a Washington lobbying firm, Signal Group, to arrange meetings in Washington with Trump administration officials, as well as congressional offices and think tanks that focus on Ukraine-United States relations.

Mr. Zelensky distanced himself from the arrangement, even though Signal Group reported in a filing under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, that it was paid nearly $70,000 by Mr. Zelensky’s party through a lawyer named Marcus Cohen. Mr. Cohen, on the other hand, claimed that the money came from his own pocket, not from Mr. Zelensky’s party.

The Justice Department’s National Security Division, which oversees FARA, sent a letter to Mr. Cohen requesting information about the arrangement, then urged him to register as a foreign agent, according to people with knowledge of the situation. One of the people said that the division also audited Signal Group’s filings, informing the firm in a letter in October that the inquiry was closed.

Signal defended its FARA filings as accurate, and referred questions about Mr. Cohen’s representations to him or Mr. Zelensky’s team. Neither responded to requests for comment.

Mr. Zelensky “may find that it is best to be his own spokesperson on this subject for a while to prevent others from interpreting his words for him,” at least until “trust can be rebuilt,” Heather A. Conley, who was a deputy assistant secretary of state in the bureau of European and Eurasian affairs from 2001 to 2005, said in an email.

Ms. Conley, who is director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, was among the think tank officials who met with one Mr. Zelensky’s advisers in April in a meeting arranged by Signal and Mr. Cohen.

They discussed Mr. Zelensky’s anticorruption and economic overhaul plans, Ms. Conley said, adding, “Ukraine faces a fraught landscape in Washington — with or without a lobbyist.”

The discussions about hiring a lobbyist, which are described as preliminary, have divided Mr. Zelensky’s team.

Some are concerned that hiring a lobbying firm with ties to Mr. Trump could jeopardize Democratic support. And some are wary of becoming involved with K Street at all, because of the specter of Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, who was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for crimes related to his lobbying for a deeply unpopular former Ukrainian government.

Yet two of the firms being discussed for possible lobbying engagement have links to Mr. Manafort, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions.

A representative of one of the firms, Mercury Public Affairs, which worked with Mr. Manafort on his Ukraine effort, met in Kyiv last month with a top aide to Mr. Zelensky. The lobbyist, Bryan Lanza, has ties to the Trump White House, and was in Ukraine on unrelated business according to people familiar with the meeting.

It was arranged by an American lawyer named Andrew Mac, who himself registered last month with the Justice Department as an unpaid lobbyist for Mr. Zelensky. Mr. Mac, who splits his time between Washington and Kyiv, was appointed by Mr. Zelensky last month as an adviser responsible for building support among the Ukrainian diaspora.

In a sign of the scrutiny in Kyiv on its new government’s tumultuous relationship with Mr. Trump, and efforts to calm it, secretly recorded video and photographs circulated of Mr. Lanza’s meeting with the Zelensky aide in a restaurant.

In an article featuring the photographs, a Ukrainian news outlet noted that Mr. Lanza helped lift sanctions against the corporate empire of the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a Kremlin ally. That arrangement was assailed by critics in Washington as a sweetheart deal that represented a capitulation to the Kremlin, while Mr. Lanza also lobbied to help remove potentially crippling sanctions on the Chinese telecom giant ZTE.

Mr. Mac said Mr. Lanza had been “very effective in working for his clients on difficult matters.”

Another firm that was discussed by Mr. Zelensky’s aides, Prime Policy Group, also has a Manafort link — albeit a more dated one. It was started by Charlie Black, a former business partner of Mr. Manafort’s in the 1980s and ’90s. Mr. Black’s firm has represented other clients in Ukraine, including Sergey Tigipko, a Ukrainian billionaire and former official in the government of Viktor F. Yanukovych.

Mr. Black said he had not had any conversations with Mr. Zelensky’s team about a possible contract, but would not be opposed to such an engagement.

Mr. Mac met this month in Washington to discuss Ukrainian energy issues with the former Representative Billy Tauzin, a Democrat turned Republican from Louisiana who is now a lobbyist. While someone with knowledge of the deliberations said Mr. Tauzin was not being considered as a potential lobbyist for Ukraine, he has connections that could be helpful. His congressional staff once included Dan Brouillette, who was confirmed this month as secretary of the Energy Department, upon which the Ukrainian government has relied for help with its power supply during brutally cold winters.

Ms. Conley suggested that Mr. Zelensky would be better served by an ambassador than a lobbyist, but the process of filling that vacancy has not been quick.

At least three names had been floated in recent months, and the Zelensky administration’s current preference for the position, Volodymyr Yelchenko, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, had been awaiting approval since late September or early October, according to people familiar with the process. They said that the State Department had signed off on Mr. Yelchenko weeks ago, but that the Ukrainians had grown anxious waiting for the White House to do so.

Officials in Kyiv were told that the approval would be formally communicated this week, they said. The White House and State Department did not respond to questions about the approval of Mr. Yelchenko.

Some attributed the delay to a quiet push by some Trump allies for a prospective ambassador who is closely aligned with Mr. Giuliani, Andrii Telizhenko, who had served as a low-ranking diplomat in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington under the previous government.

He was embraced by Mr. Trump’s allies after claiming that the former American ambassador to Kyiv and other Ukrainian officials worked to undermine Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign. In recent months, Mr. Telizhenko has worked closely with Mr. Giuliani to advance those claims. As part of the effort, the two men traveled together to Hungary and Ukraine last week to record interviews with former Ukrainian officials for a series of programs by a conservative cable channel seeking to undermine the impeachment proceedings.

It is unclear whether Mr. Zelensky’s team ever seriously considered Mr. Telizhenko as an ambassador candidate.

Kenneth P. Vogel reported from Washington, and Andrew E. Kramer from Kyiv.

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U.S. and China Reach Initial Trade Deal

Westlake Legal Group 13dc-uschina-facebookJumbo U.S. and China Reach Initial Trade Deal United States International Relations United States Economy Trump, Donald J International Trade and World Market Customs (Tariff)

BEIJING — The United States and China have agreed to an initial trade deal that will result in a reduction of tariffs and purchases of American farm goods, marking a significant de-escalation in the 19-month battle that has rattled the world economy.

“We have agreed to a very large Phase One Deal with China,” President Trump said in a tweet. “They have agreed to many structural changes and massive purchases of Agricultural Product, Energy, and Manufactured Goods, plus much more.”

Mr. Trump said the United States would reduce its overall tariff rate on Chinese goods to 7.5 percent, down from the current rate of 25 percent and that a round of tariffs scheduled for Sunday would be cancelled.

Wang Shouwen, China’s vice commerce minister, said at a news conference in Beijing that the two sides had made “significant progress” and that the agreement would result in the United States removing some of the tariffs it has placed on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods. Those tariffs would come off “phase by phase” and the United States would agree to exempt more Chinese products from being taxed, he said.

“This will create better conditions for China and the United States to strengthen cooperation,” Mr. Wang said.

The agreement includes a commitment by Beijing to buy more American agriculture products and to strengthen laws protecting foreign companies operating in China, as well as beefing up intellectual property rules and providing more transparency around currency movements. Mr. Wang said both sides have agreed to complete legal reviews as quickly as possible and that an official signing was still being worked out.

Some advisers to the White House said China had agreed to buy $50 billion worth of American farm products next year but China has so far not confirmed that figure and the United States trade representative did not provide an official figure in its statement.

“The Phase One agreement also includes a commitment by China that it will make substantial additional purchases of U.S. goods and services in the coming years,” U.S.T.R. said on Friday.

Chinese officials on Friday said that imports of American agriculture products would increase by a “considerable margin” to meet China’s needs for goods like soybean and pork.

The deal came as a relief of investors, who have been haunted by the steady drumbeat of tariffs that have depressed business sentiment and stirred economic uncertainty. The S&P 500 was up slightly in early-morning trading.

An agreement will also give Mr. Trump another trade win that he can tout heading into his re-election campaign and as Congress forges ahead with his impeachment. The agreement came on the same week that the administration agreed with House Democrats to revise the terms of a trade pact with Canada and Mexico.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

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For Trump, Impeachment May Be a Political Plus but Also a Personal Humiliation

Westlake Legal Group merlin_165853935_5e1a4057-d755-46c5-aaf6-2ae2fd5b0e13-facebookJumbo For Trump, Impeachment May Be a Political Plus but Also a Personal Humiliation Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Nixon, Richard Milhous impeachment Clinton, Bill

WASHINGTON — Under pressure over his possible impeachment, President Richard M. Nixon supposedly talked to the paintings in the White House. President Bill Clinton absently toyed with his old campaign buttons. President Trump punches out Twitter messages in the lonely midnight hour.

Long after his staff has gone home, long after the lights have gone out elsewhere around the capital, the besieged 45th president hunkers down in the upstairs residential portion of the Executive Mansion venting his frustration and cheering on his defenders through social media blasts.

This is a season of conflicting impulses for a president who often seems governed by them. As the House moves toward what even he says is an inevitable vote to impeach him for high crimes and misdemeanors, Mr. Trump toggles between self-pity and combativeness. He looks forward to a Senate trial that he seems sure to win and thinks that it will help him on the campaign trail when he travels the country boasting that he had been “exonerated” after the latest partisan “witch hunt.”

But he nurses resentment over the red mark about to be tattooed on his page in the history books as only the third president in American history to be impeached. No matter what some of his critics say, advisers said he genuinely does not want to be impeached, viewing it as a personal humiliation. Even in private, he accepts no blame and expresses no regret, but he rails against the enemies he sees all around him.

“He doesn’t like what’s happening,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a vocal ally who has spoken with the president several times this week. “He thinks it’s unfair. But I think he’s resolved himself that they’re going to do it, they’re out to get him. I think he’s more determined now to win than ever.”

Mr. Trump’s mood has actually improved in the past couple of weeks, advisers say, as Republicans have risen to his defense. He has grown more energized, bombarding followers with tweets and retweets defending himself and attacking his enemies.

He set a record for his presidency on Thursday with 123 total tweets in a single day, eclipsing the record he had set on Sunday with 105, according to Bill Frischling of Factba.se, a service that compiles and analyzes data on Mr. Trump’s presidency. That was more in a single day than he posted in any full week in 2017. All told, it brought his total since Sunday to 367, the most since taking office of any week — with two days still to go.

Eighty-seven of the tweets on Thursday came from 7 to 10 a.m., just as the House Judiciary Committee was opening its marathon meeting to approve two articles of impeachment.

Mr. Trump decided against presenting a defense during a Democratic-run House inquiry he deemed unfair, conceding that a vote to impeach along party lines was inevitable. But he has set his sights on a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate as a more conducive venue to air his views about the impeachment battle and mount a defense that he imagines more like an offense.

That could put him at odds with Senate Republicans whose interests are not the same as his. Absent dramatic new revelations, Mr. Trump appears assured of escaping conviction in the Senate since that would require a two-thirds vote. But he has been eager to call witnesses Senate Republican leaders are not anxious to summon, like former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the unidentified C.I.A. whistle-blower whose complaint kicked off the impeachment inquiry.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, talked with Mr. Trump this week about holding a relatively abbreviated trial without calling witnesses, according to a person briefed on the conversation. Mr. McConnell envisioned a trial lasting about 10 to 12 days and sought to convince Mr. Trump that a quick acquittal without the spectacle of a parade of witnesses would be better for the president.

Mr. Trump seemed amenable, but he often changes his mind and no one is certain where he will end up. He sent his White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, and his legislative affairs director, Eric Ueland, to meet with Mr. McConnell at the Capitol on Thursday.

Still to be determined is who will represent Mr. Trump at the trial, whether it is short or long. Mr. Trump is said to have talked with several prominent lawyers about taking on his case, but multiple people said that Mr. Cipollone had resisted bringing in new representation, leaving him to serve as lead counsel.

Among those being considered is Alan Dershowitz, the famed lawyer who represented O.J. Simpson, Jeffrey Epstein, Roman Polanski and Mike Tyson and has defended the president on television. But he would probably offer guidance from the private legal team outside the White House as Mr. Cipollone takes the lead.

For Mr. Trump, the impeachment battle has become the defining test of his presidency, weighing him down and charging him up all at once.

Some advisers said the collective burden of three years in office and the nonstop investigations had taken a toll on him. People who have spent time around him lately said he seemed fatigued and might have gained weight. Some who work in the White House have noticed that he seems more standoffish, less likely to engage in small talk with those outside his inner circle.

Concerns about his health spiked after a mysterious, unannounced weekend trip last month to the hospital. The White House insisted it was simply a head start on his annual medical checkup, but provided few details about what was done and why. His White House physician climbed into the presidential limousine for the ride to the hospital rather than travel in another vehicle in the motorcade.

Other presidents facing impeachment strove to hide how much it weighed on them, even as they brooded and raged in private. Mr. Nixon sought to give the impression it had not affected him, but behind the scenes, aides worried about his stability in the last days in the White House. He asked Henry A. Kissinger, his secretary of state, to kneel and pray with him.

“Nixon tried to hold it inside, but not too successfully,” said Evan Thomas, the author of “Being Nixon,” a biography of the president. “Remember ‘the president is not a crook’? And the sweat on his face as he said it?”

Mr. Clinton seemed to mentally disappear during meetings as his mind dwelled on the struggle to remain in office. During a Middle East peace negotiation in Gaza, an aide spied the president scribbling down on his notepad: “Focus on your job. Focus on your job.”

Mr. Trump, in his own way, is more transparent. Rather than pretend he is not bothered by the attacks on him, he lashes out at his enemies. Rather than affect a stiff-upper-lip demeanor in public, he fumes about the injustice he feels. “Trump is incapable of impulse control,” said Douglas B. Sosnik, a senior adviser to Mr. Clinton during impeachment.

Mr. Trump lately has taken the advice of some advisers by highlighting policy priorities, as Mr. Clinton did. In recent days, he advanced trade deals with China and with Mexico and Canada. During an event on child care on Thursday, he stuck largely to the script and never mentioned the word “impeachment.”

For a while after the revelations about his efforts to pressure Ukraine to help him against his Democratic rivals while withholding American security aid, Mr. Trump grew deeply upset. He felt isolated and abandoned, according to people in contact with him. He questioned why Democrats would not just let him govern. He lamented that he had done nothing wrong. He was angry at any Republican on television saying otherwise.

Since the public hearings before the House Intelligence Community, he has felt invigorated, pointing to the testimony of Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union who did not directly implicate Mr. Trump telling him to link the aid to his demand for investigations of Democrats, although Mr. Sondland added that he thought that was clear.

What Mr. Trump’s advisers worry about is the snapback of his anger once the impeachment process is over. They predict he will be furious, and looking for payback.

Mr. Graham said he warned Mr. Trump against that in a phone call on Wednesday night. “I just told him we know how impeachment ends, then after that your fate’s in your own hands,” Mr. Graham said. “Get back to being president and have a good story to tell.”

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

For Trump, Impeachment May Be a Political Plus but Also a Personal Humiliation

Westlake Legal Group merlin_165853935_5e1a4057-d755-46c5-aaf6-2ae2fd5b0e13-facebookJumbo For Trump, Impeachment May Be a Political Plus but Also a Personal Humiliation Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Nixon, Richard Milhous impeachment Clinton, Bill

WASHINGTON — Under pressure over his possible impeachment, President Richard M. Nixon supposedly talked to the paintings in the White House. President Bill Clinton absently toyed with his old campaign buttons. President Trump punches out Twitter messages in the lonely midnight hour.

Long after his staff has gone home, long after the lights have gone out elsewhere around the capital, the besieged 45th president hunkers down in the upstairs residential portion of the Executive Mansion venting his frustration and cheering on his defenders through social media blasts.

This is a season of conflicting impulses for a president who often seems governed by them. As the House moves toward what even he says is an inevitable vote to impeach him for high crimes and misdemeanors, Mr. Trump toggles between self-pity and combativeness. He looks forward to a Senate trial that he seems sure to win and thinks that it will help him on the campaign trail when he travels the country boasting that he had been “exonerated” after the latest partisan “witch hunt.”

But he nurses resentment over the red mark about to be tattooed on his page in the history books as only the third president in American history to be impeached. No matter what some of his critics say, advisers said he genuinely does not want to be impeached, viewing it as a personal humiliation. Even in private, he accepts no blame and expresses no regret, but he rails against the enemies he sees all around him.

“He doesn’t like what’s happening,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a vocal ally who has spoken with the president several times this week. “He thinks it’s unfair. But I think he’s resolved himself that they’re going to do it, they’re out to get him. I think he’s more determined now to win than ever.”

Mr. Trump’s mood has actually improved in the past couple of weeks, advisers say, as Republicans have risen to his defense. He has grown more energized, bombarding followers with tweets and retweets defending himself and attacking his enemies.

He set a record for his presidency on Thursday with 123 total tweets in a single day, eclipsing the record he had set on Sunday with 105, according to Bill Frischling of Factba.se, a service that compiles and analyzes data on Mr. Trump’s presidency. That was more in a single day than he posted in any full week in 2017. All told, it brought his total since Sunday to 367, the most since taking office of any week — with two days still to go.

Eighty-seven of the tweets on Thursday came from 7 to 10 a.m., just as the House Judiciary Committee was opening its marathon meeting to approve two articles of impeachment.

Mr. Trump decided against presenting a defense during a Democratic-run House inquiry he deemed unfair, conceding that a vote to impeach along party lines was inevitable. But he has set his sights on a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate as a more conducive venue to air his views about the impeachment battle and mount a defense that he imagines more like an offense.

That could put him at odds with Senate Republicans whose interests are not the same as his. Absent dramatic new revelations, Mr. Trump appears assured of escaping conviction in the Senate since that would require a two-thirds vote. But he has been eager to call witnesses Senate Republican leaders are not anxious to summon, like former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the unidentified C.I.A. whistle-blower whose complaint kicked off the impeachment inquiry.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, talked with Mr. Trump this week about holding a relatively abbreviated trial without calling witnesses, according to a person briefed on the conversation. Mr. McConnell envisioned a trial lasting about 10 to 12 days and sought to convince Mr. Trump that a quick acquittal without the spectacle of a parade of witnesses would be better for the president.

Mr. Trump seemed amenable, but he often changes his mind and no one is certain where he will end up. He sent his White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, and his legislative affairs director, Eric Ueland, to meet with Mr. McConnell at the Capitol on Thursday.

Still to be determined is who will represent Mr. Trump at the trial, whether it is short or long. Mr. Trump is said to have talked with several prominent lawyers about taking on his case, but multiple people said that Mr. Cipollone had resisted bringing in new representation, leaving him to serve as lead counsel.

Among those being considered is Alan Dershowitz, the famed lawyer who represented O.J. Simpson, Jeffrey Epstein, Roman Polanski and Mike Tyson and has defended the president on television. But he would probably offer guidance from the private legal team outside the White House as Mr. Cipollone takes the lead.

For Mr. Trump, the impeachment battle has become the defining test of his presidency, weighing him down and charging him up all at once.

Some advisers said the collective burden of three years in office and the nonstop investigations had taken a toll on him. People who have spent time around him lately said he seemed fatigued and might have gained weight. Some who work in the White House have noticed that he seems more standoffish, less likely to engage in small talk with those outside his inner circle.

Concerns about his health spiked after a mysterious, unannounced weekend trip last month to the hospital. The White House insisted it was simply a head start on his annual medical checkup, but provided few details about what was done and why. His White House physician climbed into the presidential limousine for the ride to the hospital rather than travel in another vehicle in the motorcade.

Other presidents facing impeachment strove to hide how much it weighed on them, even as they brooded and raged in private. Mr. Nixon sought to give the impression it had not affected him, but behind the scenes, aides worried about his stability in the last days in the White House. He asked Henry A. Kissinger, his secretary of state, to kneel and pray with him.

“Nixon tried to hold it inside, but not too successfully,” said Evan Thomas, the author of “Being Nixon,” a biography of the president. “Remember ‘the president is not a crook’? And the sweat on his face as he said it?”

Mr. Clinton seemed to mentally disappear during meetings as his mind dwelled on the struggle to remain in office. During a Middle East peace negotiation in Gaza, an aide spied the president scribbling down on his notepad: “Focus on your job. Focus on your job.”

Mr. Trump, in his own way, is more transparent. Rather than pretend he is not bothered by the attacks on him, he lashes out at his enemies. Rather than affect a stiff-upper-lip demeanor in public, he fumes about the injustice he feels. “Trump is incapable of impulse control,” said Douglas B. Sosnik, a senior adviser to Mr. Clinton during impeachment.

Mr. Trump lately has taken the advice of some advisers by highlighting policy priorities, as Mr. Clinton did. In recent days, he advanced trade deals with China and with Mexico and Canada. During an event on child care on Thursday, he stuck largely to the script and never mentioned the word “impeachment.”

For a while after the revelations about his efforts to pressure Ukraine to help him against his Democratic rivals while withholding American security aid, Mr. Trump grew deeply upset. He felt isolated and abandoned, according to people in contact with him. He questioned why Democrats would not just let him govern. He lamented that he had done nothing wrong. He was angry at any Republican on television saying otherwise.

Since the public hearings before the House Intelligence Community, he has felt invigorated, pointing to the testimony of Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union who did not directly implicate Mr. Trump telling him to link the aid to his demand for investigations of Democrats, although Mr. Sondland added that he thought that was clear.

What Mr. Trump’s advisers worry about is the snapback of his anger once the impeachment process is over. They predict he will be furious, and looking for payback.

Mr. Graham said he warned Mr. Trump against that in a phone call on Wednesday night. “I just told him we know how impeachment ends, then after that your fate’s in your own hands,” Mr. Graham said. “Get back to being president and have a good story to tell.”

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

U.S. Settles on Outline of Elusive China Trade Deal

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WASHINGTON — The United States has settled on final terms of a partial trade deal with China, several people familiar with the negotiations said, a development that could ease tensions between the world’s largest economies just days before the long-running trade war is set to escalate.

President Trump met with his top economic advisers Thursday afternoon at the White House, where the president agreed to significant reductions on tariffs he has placed on $360 billion of Chinese goods in return for China’s commitment to purchase American farm products and make other concessions, the people said.

As part of the agreement, the president is expected to announce that he will delay or cancel tariffs on $160 billion of consumer products from China that are scheduled to go into effect on Sunday. Those additional tariffs would have resulted in the United States taxing nearly everything China ships into the United States and foregoing them would prevent another escalation in a trade fight that has inflicted economic damage on both sides of the Pacific.

Mr. Trump said on Twitter on Thursday morning that the United States was closing in on a deal.

“Getting VERY close to a BIG DEAL with China. They want it, and so do we!” the president wrote.

Mr. Trump is expected to make an official policy announcement on Friday about progress toward a trade deal he initially announced in October. However, both sides have said before that they were on the verge of an agreement, only for the talks to collapse. The text of the agreement has not been finished and it is unclear whether China has agreed to all of the details included in the plan.

Michael Pillsbury, a China scholar at the Hudson Institute who advises the White House on trade, said that he had spoken to the president on Thursday afternoon about the agreement.

“This is a historic breakthrough,” Mr. Pillsbury said, attributing the agreement to the strong relationship between Mr. Trump and his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping.

Mr. Pillsbury said that Mr. Trump was agreeing to roll back some of the tariffs he had imposed on China in exchange for Beijing bolstering its annual purchases of American products to about $50 billion next year. As part of the pact, Mr. Pillsbury said, China would also enforce stronger protections for American intellectual property, open its markets to American financial institutions and commit to greater transparency surrounding the management of its currency.

An agreement would come after 19 months of back and forth between the United States and China over trade practices that the president has criticized as unfair to American companies and workers. Mr. Trump, who campaigned on a promise to change the terms of trade in America’s favor, has spent the better part of two years punishing China with tariffs on machinery, chemicals, food, apparel and other products. China has retaliated with its own penalties, including cutting off purchases of American farm goods, like soybeans and pork.

Businesses across the globe have been hoping for a resolution that would help limit the damage from a fight that has pinched American farmers and manufacturers and contributed to slowing growth in China. An agreement with China would give the president something to promote on the campaign trail, along with a North American trade deal that was completed this week.

The deal under consideration would not resolve all of Mr. Trump’s issues with China. That includes China’s history of coercing technology away from American firms, as well as industrial policies that economists say have helped China dominate global industries like steel and solar panels and put American companies out of business.

Mr. Pillsbury said those concerns would be addressed in subsequent negotiations after the 2020 election.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington directed inquiries to the Ministry of Commerce in Beijing.

Stocks rose to a record on Thursday, with the S&P 500 gaining nearly 0.9 percent, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note touched 1.91 percent, the highest level in almost a month. Asian markets continued the rally on Friday morning, with stocks rising in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

The American benchmark has been trading in record territory as investors anticipate a de-escalation of the trade war, and amid signs that the domestic economy is holding up.

“We’re encouraged that China and the United States seem on the verge of a breakthrough on the Phase 1 negotiations,” said Myron Brilliant, the executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “If accurate, it would be a positive first step in improving our commercial relationship at a time of great uncertainty.”

But the backlash from China skeptics started even before any official announcement had been made.

Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, tweeted that the White House “should consider the risk that a near-term deal with #China would give away the tariff leverage needed for a broader agreement on the issues that matter the most.”

On Thursday, three powerful Senate Democrats, including Chuck Schumer of New York, sent a letter to Mr. Trump, warning that any first-phase deal that did not include meaningful changes to the way China structured its economy would be “a severe and unacceptable loss for the American people.”

Some mocked the president for solving a crisis of his own making.

“China Phase-1 deal is the equivalent of a gunman, who had taken hostages, surrendering to authorities, with no one killed, but his manifesto never published,” Jorge Guajardo, the former Mexican ambassador to China, tweeted. “No harm done to anyone, back to normalcy, madman contained, but the shopping mall lost a lot a customers during standoff.”

For a year and a half, Mr. Trump has alternated between praising China and ratcheting up tariffs on the country as he tried to press Beijing for trade concessions. In October, Mr. Trump announced that the United States and China had reached an agreement in principle on the first phase of a trade deal. But in the weeks since, a concrete agreement proved elusive as the two countries grappled over its precise terms.

Chinese negotiators pushed their American counterparts to remove as many of the existing tariffs as possible, while the Trump administration pressed China to make more purchases of soybeans, poultry and other goods to help relieve the pressure the trade war had put on American farmers. Mr. Trump also wants China to buy more American products to help narrow the trade gap between what the United States sells to China and what it imports.

To ensure that China keeps its commitments, the Trump administration has insisted on periodic reviews, as well as an agreement that China’s agricultural purchases would not drop below a certain amount. If China violates the terms of the agreement, tariffs that the Trump administration had removed would snap back into place.

China has been willing to discuss purchases of American agriculture, especially since a disease has devastated its swine population and led to spiraling pork prices. But in previous discussions, Chinese negotiators had pushed back against promising set purchase amounts far into the future, saying such an arrangement could anger its trading partners and violate its commitment to the World Trade Organization to treat all members equally.

In recent months, American and Chinese officials have been locked in a contentious discussion of what proportion of American concerns about Chinese economic practices are being addressed in the Phase 1 deal, and whether a corresponding proportion of Mr. Trump’s tariffs should be rolled back. The Chinese had enumerated the American requests into a list of more than 100 items, and have argued that if they resolve half of them, then half of Mr. Trump’s existing tariffs should be removed.

Some American analysts have criticized the approach, saying a significant reduction could leave the United States with less leverage for the second- and third-phase discussions that are planned, in which even more difficult subjects like Chinese subsidies would be included. They also point to the depreciation this year in China’s currency, the renminbi, saying that drop would almost offset the effect of the tariffs.

But others say an across-the-board reduction in the rate of all existing tariffs does offer the Americans some advantages, including not having to pick and choose among industries that would receive tariff relief.

The last tranche of tariffs, scheduled to go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, would extend levies to cover nearly every shoe, laptop and toy that the United States imports from China — a total of $539.5 billion of merchandise last year. Companies have been eagerly watching to see whether the administration would issue the official announcement that will stop those levies from going into effect.

Many of Mr. Trump’s advisers have been wary of increasing tariffs on China as negotiators from both sides are trying to reach agreement on the first phase of a trade deal. Still, the urge to delay the tariffs — or to reach a deal — has not been unanimous. Peter Navarro, Mr. Trump’s hawkish trade adviser, circulated a memo this week that makes the case for forging ahead with additional tariffs and delaying any deal until after the 2020 election.

On the Chinese side, Thursday’s agreement appears to be a big victory for the more nationalistic wing of the Chinese government, which has argued consistently that the Trump administration will back down a considerable extent on tariffs if Beijing stands firm.

Ana Swanson and Alan Rappeport reported from Washington, and Keith Bradsher from Beijing. Matt Phillips contributed reporting from New York.

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Impeachment Highlights: Judiciary Committee Finished Debate and Recessed for Vote Friday Morning

Video

transcript

Highlights From House Committee Debate on Articles of Impeachment

A day of tense debate over proposed amendments to the articles of impeachment against President Trump featured several arguments among members of the House Judiciary Committee.

“The members who have gone before and the people who have set this committee up and the people who have set our Congress up are the ones right now that should be hanging their head in shame. We had two hearings, none of which featured fact witnesses. There’s not a Democrat in this room that should be happy about this.” “The threat of impeachment is the only threat, the only enforcement mechanism that Congress has on a president who would usurp powers and destroy the separation of powers, especially given the Department of Justice’s policy that a president, sitting president, cannot be indicted, and the administration’s assertion that he cannot even be investigated criminally. That leaves only impeachment as a remedy and as a check on presidential power. And if you don’t want a dictatorship, you have to allow Congress to exercise the power of impeachment.” “Impeachment is a crucial part of the Constitution that ensures a democratic government. It was created by the founders as a check to prevent a president from becoming a king. And it is incredible to me to see some of my colleagues bend over backwards to cover up for this president. My sister is a yoga teacher. She doesn’t contort the way some of my Republican colleagues distort the facts, all to protect this president.” “The bottom line is the aid was lawfully delayed and lawfully delivered. And that means that this entire process has been a sham. My amendment — it basically covers and sets forth clearly what the holding or the pause of the Ukrainian aid was about, and they got their money and they got it on time.” “And I don’t want to make light of anybody’s substance abuse issues. I know president’s working real hard to solve those throughout the country, but it’s a little hard to believe that Burisma hired Hunter Biden to resolve their international disputes when he could not resolve his own dispute with Hertz rental car over leaving cocaine and a crack pipe in the car.” “The pot calling the kettle black is not something that we should do. I don’t know — I don’t know what members, if any, have had any problems with substance abuse, been busted in D.U.I. — I don’t know. But if I did, I wouldn’t raise it against anyone on this committee.”

Westlake Legal Group 12vid-Impeachment-Highlight-videoSixteenByNine3000 Impeachment Highlights: Judiciary Committee Finished Debate and Recessed for Vote Friday Morning Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Democratic Party

A day of tense debate over proposed amendments to the articles of impeachment against President Trump featured several arguments among members of the House Judiciary Committee.CreditCredit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Democrats in the House moved closer Thursday night to impeaching President Trump for abusing the power of his office and obstructing Congress, finishing more than 14 hours of debate before scheduling a final vote in the Judiciary Committee for Friday morning.

After debate over articles of impeachment lasted well into Thursday night, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the committee chairman, recessed until Friday morning, when he said a final vote would be taken.

The committee is considering two articles of impeachment accusing President Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for pressuring Ukraine to conduct politically motivated investigations and blocking the congressional inquiry into his actions.

When they vote to approve the articles, as both sides expect, they will be acting for only the third time in modern history to recommend impeachment to the full House, likely to be followed by a trial in the Senate to determine if he should be removed from office.

The recess came after more than 14 hours of debate during which Republicans repeatedly sought to derail or water down the articles of impeachment drafted by the Democratic majority in the House. The committee rejected all five amendments proposed by Republicans.

Article I accuses Mr. Trump of “abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections,” a key argument that Democrats made repeatedly during impassioned and sometimes rancorous debate.

Article II charges the president with “unprecedented, categorical and indiscriminate defiance of subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives” and said that Mr. Trump “abused the powers of the presidency in a manner offensive to and subversive of the Constitution.”

Republicans made five attempts to derail or water down the articles of impeachment with amendments.

All of them were rejected on a party-line vote, failing 17 to 23:

1) Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, offered an amendment to strike Article I, which accuses Mr. Trump of abuse of power because, he said, “Article I ignores the truth.”

2) Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, offered a proposal meant to justify the president’s conduct and cast aspersions on Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Debate over the amendment turned bitterly personal.

3) Representative Andy Biggs, Republican of Arizona, proposed edits to the articles, which assert that Mr. Trump withheld Ukraine security aid because of lawful concerns about corruption in that country, not for corrupt personal purposes.

4) Representative Guy Reschenthaler, Republican of Pennsylvania, proposed eliminating the obstruction of Congress article, arguing Democrats had not been fair to the president.

5) Mr. Jordan proposed eliminating the conclusion that Mr. Trump should be impeached.

Westlake Legal Group trump-impeachment-house-vote-whip-count-promo-1576184833145-articleLarge-v7 Impeachment Highlights: Judiciary Committee Finished Debate and Recessed for Vote Friday Morning Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Democratic Party

‘No Choice’ or ‘a Sham’: Where Every House Member Stands on the Articles of Impeachment

See what House members have said about the articles of impeachment against the president.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_165850710_7fa59fe5-829d-478a-a2be-444868eb8e59-articleLarge Impeachment Highlights: Judiciary Committee Finished Debate and Recessed for Vote Friday Morning Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Democratic Party

Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, questioned Hunter Biden’s experience.Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

The debate turned bitterly personal after Mr. Gaetz offered a proposal meant to justify President Trump’s conduct and cast aspersions on Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Mr. Gaetz sought to remove the reference to the elder Mr. Biden, and the description of him as “a political opponent,” from the article charging Mr. Trump with abuse of power for pressing Ukraine for investigations. Instead, he proposed inserting the phrase “a well-known corrupt company, Burisma, and its corrupt hiring of Hunter Biden.”

The proposal was an attempt to argue that Mr. Trump was acting out of a concern for corruption, not political self-interest, when he asked President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. The president and his Republican allies have maintained that it was inappropriate for Hunter Biden, who had no experience on energy issues, to serve on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, and accused the former vice president of trying to protect his son and the company from being investigated for corruption.

In arguing in favor of his proposal, Mr. Gaetz read into the Congressional Record a graphic news article describing the younger Mr. Biden’s substance abuse, including cocaine.

“I don’t want to make light of anybody’s substance abuse issues,” Mr. Gaetz said, adding that “it’s a little hard to believe that Burisma hired Hunter Biden to resolve their international disputes when he could not resolve his own dispute with Hertz rental car over leaving cocaine and a crack pipe in the car.”

Democrats quickly, if obliquely, cried hypocrisy, making veiled references to Mr. Gaetz’s past arrest for driving under the influence.

“The pot calling the kettle black is not something we should do,” Representative Hank Johnson, Democrat of Georgia, shot back, looking toward the Republican side of the dais. Nervous laughter filled the hearing room.

“I don’t know what members, if any, have had any problems with substance abuse, been busted in D.U.I.,” Mr. Johnson continued. “I don’t know, but if I did, I wouldn’t raise it against anyone on this committee. I don’t think it’s proper.”

The amendment failed on a party-line vote after more than two-and-a-half hours of debate.

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House Panel Delays Vote on Impeachment Articles

Westlake Legal Group 12dc-impeach1-sub-facebookJumbo House Panel Delays Vote on Impeachment Articles United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment Constitution (US)

WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday abruptly put off a historic impeachment vote, turning back Republican attempts to derail the process and setting up final action on Friday to approve charges that President Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress.

Amid Republicans’ cries of outrage, Democrats were poised to approve along party lines an article of impeachment that accused Mr. Trump of abusing the powers of his office by pressuring Ukraine to announce investigations of his political rivals, using official acts as leverage as he sought advantage for his 2020 re-election campaign. They were also on track to adopt a second article of impeachment against Mr. Trump for obstructing Congress, based on an across-the-board defiance of their subpoenas that Democrats branded an attempt to conceal the Ukraine scheme.

Debate stretched into the night on Thursday, as Republicans offered amendments to gut or water down the articles, and Democrats declined to cut off the discussion, even as members of both parties repeated the same arguments again and again. After more than 12 hours of back-and-forth, Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, announced he would postpone the final votes for Friday, although the outcome was certain.

Gathered in the Ways and Means Committee room for the second consecutive day, lawmakers feuded over the two articles of impeachment all day Thursday, their tempers flaring and patience wearing thin. Republicans’ amendments were rebuffed in one lopsided vote after another.

The charges on the cusp of approval stemmed from an investigation by the House Intelligence Committee that concluded that Mr. Trump had used the levers of government to pressure Ukraine into investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his political rival, and a theory that Democrats conspired with Ukraine to interfere in the 2016 election. The president, Democrats asserted, conditioned nearly $400 million in security assistance for the former Soviet republic and a White House meeting for its leader on the public announcement of the investigations Mr. Trump wanted.

“Ample facts demonstrate that President Trump put his personal interests above the country, its citizens and the Constitution,” said Mr. Nadler said. “This is the highest of constitutional crimes: abuse of power.”

He added, “So the president must be impeached to safeguard the security of our elections, to safeguard the separation of powers, both of which are essential to safeguard our liberties.”

The Judiciary Committee vote now expected on Friday would make Mr. Trump, whose unorthodox and polarizing presidency has preoccupied the nation like few of his modern predecessors, only the fourth president in American history to face impeachment by the House for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Though the charges allude to a pattern of past conduct, they do not explicitly mention his embrace of Russian election interference in 2016 or efforts to thwart a special counsel investigation of it.

The full House is expected to debate and vote on the articles next week, just days before Congress is scheduled to leave town for Christmas. A trial in the Republican controlled Senate would begin in early 2020, 10 months before the next election.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, dismissed the case against Mr. Trump as “pretty weak stuff,” predicting there was “no chance” it would garner the 67 votes needed for conviction in the Senate. In an interview with Fox News, Mr. McConnell appeared to put aside any notion of impartiality as a juror in the coming trial.

“There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position in how to handle this,” Mr. McConnell said.

His comments came hours after he had met in his Capitol office with Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, and Eric Ueland, the legislative affairs director, to strategize on the process.

While the Judiciary Committee debated, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would refrain from pressing Democrats to support the articles, instead encouraging them to follow their consciences on a vote heavy with historic and political weight.

“People have to come to their own conclusions,” she said. Republican leaders, however, began an all-out effort to keep their members in line to vote “no.”

Democratic leaders anticipate that a handful of their members — particularly more moderate lawmakers from districts Mr. Trump won in 2016 — may join Republicans in opposing one or both of the articles. But they expect the defections to be narrow.

Far from expressing remorse for the charges against him, the president once again declared his total innocence and raged against the Democrats leading the charge to impeach him. He turned to Twitter, his favored platform, to retweet dozens of allies who were defending his conduct and slamming the Democrats.

Mr. Trump made clear he was watching the proceedings, accusing two representatives of misquoting from a July phone call he had with Ukraine’s president in which Mr. Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart to “do us a favor though” with regard to the investigations.

As the debate grinded on through the night, a tuxedoed Mr. Trump hobnobbed with Republican lawmakers at the White House’s congressional Christmas ball.

“We’re going to have a fantastic year,” he said.

Determined not to lend the proceedings legitimacy, Mr. Trump never mounted a defense in the House, declining repeated invitations from Democrats to take part in the process. He would be given a fairer chance in the Senate, the president and his team concluded.

The vote set for Friday would cap more than two days of intense debate in the Judiciary Committee, a body known for attracting some of the House’s most progressive and conservative members. Lawmakers had stayed late into Wednesday night offering, one by one, statements of fact and principle about the presidency, the Constitution, the country and Mr. Trump himself. Members on both sides of the dais lamented that their opposites would not reconsider, though none of the pleaders really expected any change.

Thursday’s proceeding was rawer, airing out all the pent-up bitterness of years of near existential political warfare. Republicans argued that Democrats were merely impeaching the president because they abhorred his unorthodox style and his conservative policies, citing years’ worth of strident cries from the most liberal members of their party championing Mr. Trump’s removal.

“This impeachment is going to fail,” said Representative Mike Johnson, Republican of Louisiana. “The Democrats are going to pay a heavy political price for it, but the Pandora’s box they have opened today will do irreparable injury to our country in years ahead.”

Democrats accused Republicans of turning a blind eye to misconduct by Mr. Trump out of reflexive loyalty to their party.

“This is about conscience, the conscience of the nation, the conscience of my friends on the other side of the aisle,” said Representative Hank Johnson, Democrat of Georgia. “Do you believe that we should allow this to go unaddressed, what the president did? Because we are a country of precedent, we are a country of rule of law, we are a country of norms and traditions.”

The debate traces back months, through a lengthy Intelligence Committee investigation, to the submission of an anonymous C.I.A. whistle-blower complaint alleging a systematic campaign by Mr. Trump to solicit Ukraine’s help in the 2020 election, by asking its president to investigate his political rivals.

Unlike past impeachment cases, there was no special prosecutor or independent counsel to look into the Ukraine matter. Beginning in late September, the House Intelligence Committee did so itself, calling more than a dozen American diplomats and administration officials to testify, first in private, then in public. Over the course of the fall, they confirmed and expanded on the facts in the whistle-blower’s complaint, uncovering a broad scheme by Mr. Trump and allies inside and outside the government to supplant long-held American policy toward Ukraine in line with the president’s personal political interests.

Thursday’s debate touched on the finer points of criminal law and constitutional standards for impeachment as lawmakers dug into the details of the case, tussling over whether Trump’s “high crimes and misdemeanors” actually met the threshold for his removal. Republicans said the president’s actions needed to be statutory crimes to warrant impeachment, and accused Democrats of putting forth a vague charge of abuse of power because they had a flimsy factual record to back up their case. They did not concede any wrongdoing.

“The entire argument for impeachment in this case is based on a charge that is not a crime, much less a high crime, and that has never been approved by the House of Representatives in a presidential impeachment before, ever in history,” said Representative Steve Chabot, Republican of Ohio and one of the managers of the impeachment case against President Bill Clinton in 1998. “If that is the best you’ve got, you wasted a whole lot of time and taxpayer dollars because so many of you, Mr. Chairman, hate this president.”

Democrats rejected that theory, arguing that Mr. Trump’s actions were clearly high crimes because they were offenses against the Constitution itself, but could also be construed as criminal violations of the law. Representative Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California, posited that Mr. Trump could be charged with criminal bribery and honest services fraud.

In seeking to clear Mr. Trump, Republicans returned again and again to statements by the president and Ukrainian leaders since the inquiry began that there was no pressure applied by Mr. Trump or felt in Kyiv. They pointed out that Ukraine did not announce the investigations Mr. Trump wanted and that the military aid the president had blocked for months was eventually released and a meeting between the presidents occurred.

“Show me the Ukrainian that was pressured,” said Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and a loquacious defender of Mr. Trump. “Show me the Ukrainian that knew that any of this was tied to any conditionality.”

But Democrats said that, too, was fallacious, noting that Mr. Trump allowed the aid to be delivered only after he had been briefed about the whistle-blower complaint. The security assistance funds were released “because the president got caught,” said Representative Val Demings, Democrat of Florida. She insisted that lawmakers ought not to be persuaded by the fact that Mr. Trump never explicitly said he was tying official acts to political favors.

“I can tell you this,” said Ms. Demings, a former police chief, “when a robber points a gun at you to take their money, they usually don’t walk up and say. ‘I’m robbing you.’”

Despite the seriousness of the proceedings, the debate took turns for the tawdry and personal. Around noon, Mr. Gaetz proposed an amendment highlighting unproven corruption allegations around Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son, and proceeded to read aloud from a news article graphically describing the younger Mr. Biden’s history of substance abuse. Democrats shook their heads and one of them, Mr. Johnson of Georgia, offered a word of caution to Mr. Gaetz with a veiled reference to the Florida Republican’s own past arrest on charges of driving under the influence.

“The pot calling the kettle black is not something we should do,” Mr. Johnson said.

Michael D. Shear and Sheryl Gay Stolberg contributed reporting.

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