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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 116)

Impeachment Hearing Takeaways: Democrats Allege ‘Brazen’ Trump Scheme While Republicans Lament ‘Unfair’ Process

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transcript

Impeachment Hearing Highlights

The House Judiciary Committee heard evidence presented by Democratic and Republican lawyers as it considers articles of impeachment against President Trump.

“No public official, including and especially the president of the United States, should use his public office for private gain. And we agree that no president may put himself before the country.” “It’s amazing that they start with impeachment, and then they spent two years trying to figure out what do we impeach him on?” “Mr. Chairman, if this were a court of law you’d be facing sanctions right now by the Bar Association —” “The gentleman will state his point of order and not make a speech —” “Mr. Chairman, how are we supposed to process over 8,000 pages of documents that came from various committees?” “The gentlemen — that is not a point of order. That is not a point of order.” “Where’s Adam? Where’s Adam? It’s his report. His name. Mr. Goldman, you’re a great attorney but you’re not Adam Schiff and you don’t wear a pin.” “The evidence is overwhelming that the president abused his power by pressure — by pressuring Ukraine and its new president to investigate a political opponent. The evidence is overwhelming that the president abused his power by ramping up that pressure, by conditioning a wanted White House meeting and a needed military aid that had been approved in order to get that president to investigate a political rival.” “Much has also been made about President Trump’s reference on the July 25 call to Hunter Biden’s position on the board of Burisma, a corrupt Ukrainian energy company, and the actions of certain Ukrainian officials in the run-up to the 2016 election. Democrats dismiss these conspiracy theories to suggest that the president has no legitimate reason other than his own political interests to raise these issues with President Zelensky. The evidence, however, shows that there are legitimate questions about both issues.” “My question is, why did you misquote Ms. Williams in terms of —” “I didn’t misquote her.” “Why did you do it?” “We certainly misquote her.” “So you stand — so from the standard that you apply to your fact-finding in your report, you believe that it was entirely proper to say that Ms. Williams found the call to be unusual when in fact, she found the call to be unusual, and inappropriate and of a political nature given that the former vice president is a political opponent of the president. Is that your testimony sir?” “I mean, we described what Ms. Williams said.” “Sir, is that your — no you didn’t.” Rep. Collins: “Mr. Chairman, if either, you can ask —” Rep. Nadler: “The gentleman —” Rep. Collins: “Mr. Chairman, I’m not — he can either ask or answer, he can’t do both.” Rep. Nadler: “The gentleman —” Rep. Collins: “You can ask or answer, you can’t do both.” Rep. Nadler: “The gentleman is not recognized.” “Point of order that he’s badgering the witness.” “He is not — the gentleman will continue.”

Westlake Legal Group 09dc-impeach1-sub-videoSixteenByNine3000-v2 Impeachment Hearing Takeaways: Democrats Allege ‘Brazen’ Trump Scheme While Republicans Lament ‘Unfair’ Process United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Democratic Party

The House Judiciary Committee heard evidence presented by Democratic and Republican lawyers as it considers articles of impeachment against President Trump.CreditCredit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Democrats and Republicans who squared off at Monday’s impeachment hearing in the House Judiciary Committee had one remarkable point of agreement: Both said that there are four key facts at the heart of the debate about whether President Trump should be impeached by the House and removed from office.

They just offered two completely different sets of facts.

Daniel S. Goldman, the chief investigator for the House Intelligence Committee, said during his presentation to the Judiciary Committee members that the Democratic case against the president can be “boiled down to four key takeaways.”

He said that Mr. Trump “directed a scheme to pressure Ukraine into opening two investigations”; that he used his office to withhold “an Oval Office meeting and $391 million in security assistance to pressure Ukraine”; that “everyone was in the loop”; and that “despite the public discovery of this scheme, which prompted the president to release the aid, he has not given up.”

When Republicans had the microphone, several offered their own four-part assessment of how best to understand what they viewed as the failure of Democrats to make the case.

Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, offered them in his usual, rapid-fire fashion: He asserted that Mr. Trump’s July 25 call with the president of Ukraine did not show evidence of pressure or a quid pro quo; that Mr. Zelensky has repeatedly denied feeling pressured; that Ukraine did not know the security aid was held up; and that the aid was eventually released without any announcement of an investigation that Mr. Trump wanted.

Democrats take issue with those four points, asserting that they are factually wrong or a questionable interpretation, just as Republicans challenge the four Democratic points. Together, they underscore how far apart both sides are in terms of agreeing on a common set of facts in the impeachment inquiry.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_165692631_d26fde44-a3d4-4788-b9de-3fc8ae8f562a-articleLarge Impeachment Hearing Takeaways: Democrats Allege ‘Brazen’ Trump Scheme While Republicans Lament ‘Unfair’ Process United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Democratic Party

Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, during the hearing on Monday.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Representative Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, denied requests for Republican witnesses, including the appearance of Representative Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, or the anonymous whistle-blower whose complaint focused on the president’s July 25 call with the president of Ukraine.

“The committee has previously tabled motions with regard to these matters at its December 4, 2019, hearing, and I see no reason to reconsider those requests,” Mr. Nadler wrote in a letter to Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

Republicans have repeatedly demanded a hearing to feature their own witnesses, including the whistle-blower, Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.; and Mr. Schiff, who they accuse of running an unfair impeachment investigation. Mr. Nadler has said for days that he would respond to their request.

In the letter, Mr. Nadler noted that Republicans had previously asked for the same witnesses to appear during hearings of the Intelligence Committee. “I concur in Chairman Schiff’s assessment and also find that these requests outside of the parameters of the impeachment inquiry,” Mr. Nadler wrote.

Under the rules of the impeachment inquiry, Republicans have the right to request a meeting of the Judiciary Committee to consider an appeal of Mr. Nadler’s decision, though because Democrats control the committee, it’s all but certain that the committee would support the chairman’s decision. In the letter, Mr. Nadler said he was willing to call such a meeting if the Republicans request it.

House Democrats are likely to use the testimony in Monday’s hearing as they begin drafting later this week the articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump amid an intense debate about how expansive the charges of high crimes and misdemeanors should be.

Democrats appear poised to accuse Mr. Trump of abuse of power for pressuring Ukraine to help him incriminate Democratic rivals while withholding American security aid. They are also expect to charge him with obstructing the congressional investigation by defying subpoenas, blocking witnesses from testifying and denying documents.

It is less clear whether Democrats will include charges of obstruction of justice for trying to impede the Russia investigation by Mr. Mueller, whose report last spring included evidence of 10 instances of possible obstruction.

Republicans seized on a new talking point on Monday, accusing Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee of improperly revealing phone records.

Representative Doug Collins of Georgia angrily demanded that Mr. Goldman tell lawmakers who made the decision to reveal the names of journalists and lawmakers in the Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report after their numbers were identified as part of subpoenas of phone company records.

“Who ordered it? You or Mr. Schiff?” Mr. Collins asked Mr. Goldman, referring to Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. Mr. Goldman declined answer but tried to explain that such identifications occur in the normal course of the examination of phone records.

The telephone numbers of the journalists and lawmakers — including Representative Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the committee — were included because they had been talking to the people being investigated as part of the impeachment inquiry.

But Republicans said the decision amounted to an “abuse of power” by the Democrats.

“Folks, you have made Joe McCarthy look like a piker,” said Representative James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a Republican and former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “This is a major step in the surveillance state getting out of control.”

Monday’s hearing began with both sides presenting their cases largely undisturbed. But once questioning began, Barry H. Berke, the Democratic lawyer, took aim at Stephen Castor, the Republican lawyer from the committee, grilling him aggressively.

In one testy exchange, Mr. Berke accused Mr. Castor of mischaracterizing the testimony of Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, by writing in a report that she found a July 25 call between Mr. Trump and the president of Ukraine merely “unusual.” Mr. Berke noted that she actually called it “unusual and inappropriate.” Mr. Castor denied misquoting her, saying it “wasn’t a block quote.”

The back-and-forth between the two lawyers caused Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a former Republican chairman of the committee to accuse Mr. Berke of “badgering the witness.” Mr. Nadler slammed his gavel. “He’s not,” Mr. Nadler said.

The headline from Democrats at Monday’s hearing was from the opening statement by Barry H. Berke, the top lawyer for Judiciary Democrats, who told the committee that Mr. Trump’s actions were “so brazen” that there was no question that he had abused his power to advance his own political interests.

“The evidence is overwhelming,” Mr. Berke said, repeating the phrase to counter Republican arguments that the impeachment inquiry had been rushed and inadequate. He said the facts were “uncontradicted” and “cannot be disputed.”

Mr. Goldman later said that the president had tried to distort next year’s election with false allegations, pointing to his weekend statements to reporters that Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal lawyer, would make a report to the Justice Department about Democrats.

“President Trump’s persistent and continuing effort to coerce a foreign country to help him cheat to win an election is a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and to our national security,” Mr. Goldman said.

Mr. Berke placed the president’s actions with Ukraine in the context of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election as investigated by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Mr. Berke played a video clip of Mr. Trump that year publicly calling on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, and another of him as president telling reporters he wanted Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Rather than leave the matter to voters next fall, as some Republicans have argued, Mr. Berke said the House had to act now because Mr. Trump was trying to corrupt the 2020 election.

During Monday’s hearing, Republicans focused more on the actions of the Democrats than Mr. Trump’s, arguing that the president has been the target of an illegitimate, partisan witch hunt.

Mr. Castor devoted the majority of his prepared testimony to how the Democrats have conducted their inquiry and, in his view, distorted the facts.

“The Democrats went searching for a set of facts on which to impeach the president — the emoluments clause, the president’s business and financial records, the Mueller report and allegations of obstruction there — before settling on Ukraine,” he said.

Mr. Castor maintained that Mr. Trump was not pursuing his own interests, but was only concerned about corruption in Ukraine. And he noted that President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has said he did not feel pressured, saying that “if President Trump was truly orchestrating a pressure campaign to force Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden, one would think that Ukraine would have felt some pressure.”

A central theme pushed by Republicans during Monday’s hearing was the blame-Ukraine defense, in which they contended that Mr. Trump was justified in asking Ukraine for investigations because had genuine concerns about corruption there.

“Democrats dismiss these as conspiracy theories to suggest that President Trump has no legitimate reason — other than his own political interests — to raise these issues with President Zelensky,” Mr. Castor said. “The evidence, however, shows that there are legitimate questions about both issues.”

Mr. Castor did not explain, however, why Mr. Trump never mentioned the word “corruption” in either of his phone calls with Mr. Zelensky if that was his concern. Intelligence agencies and former advisers to Mr. Trump have warned against advancing such claims, attributing them to an effort by Russia to shift responsibility after its operation to tilt the 2016 election.

“I am not saying that it was Ukraine and not Russia,” Mr. Castor said. “I am saying that both countries can work to influence an election.”

Monday’s hearing provided another venue for Republicans to lodge repeated complaints about the way Mr. Nadler is running the impeachment process, raising parliamentary points and forcing party-line votes.

Republicans pressed Mr. Nadler to schedule a hearing day that they would be allowed to organize, including calling witnesses of their choice. Later in the day, Mr. Nadler denied the request.

They objected to the content of Mr. Berke’s presentation, arguing that it violated the committee’s rules of decorum against making disparaging remarks about the president. Mr. Nadler shut down the criticisms.

Republicans also complained that the lawyers making the opening presentations had not been sworn in under oath and that committee Republicans had not received until last weekend 8,000 pages of information from the House investigation.

They also used the moment to jab at Mr. Schiff, for not presenting the evidence his panel gathered himself, prompting Mr. Collins to say: “Instead he is sending his staff to do his job for him. I guess that’s what you get when you’re making up impeachment as you go.”

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

Impeachment Hearing Updates: Republicans Call Hearing ‘Unfair’ While Democrats Accuse Trump of ‘Brazen’ Actions

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Westlake Legal Group 09dc-livevid-sub2-videoSixteenByNine3000 Impeachment Hearing Updates: Republicans Call Hearing ‘Unfair’ While Democrats Accuse Trump of ‘Brazen’ Actions United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Democratic Party

The House Judiciary Committee will hear evidence presented by Democratic and Republican lawyers before it will consider articles of impeachment later in the week.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Republicans seized on a new talking point Monday, accusing Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee of improperly revealing phone records of members of Congress and journalists during their investigation of Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

Representative Doug Collins of Georgia angrily demanded that Mr. Goldman, the chief Democratic investigator for the Intelligence Committee, tell the lawmakers who made the decision to reveal the names of the journalists and lawmakers after their numbers were identified as part of subpoenas of phone company records.

“Who ordered it? You or Mr. Schiff?” Mr. Collins asked Mr. Goldman, referring to Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. Mr. Goldman declined to say that anyone had specifically ordered the numbers be revealed in the report.

Mr. Goldman tried to explain that such identifications occur in the normal course of the examination of phone records during an investigation.

The information was collected when Democrats subpoenaed the phone records of several people being investigated as part of the impeachment inquiry. The telephone numbers of the journalists and lawmakers — including Representative Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the committee — were included because they were talking to the people targeted by the subpoenas.

But Republicans sought to make an issue of the Democratic decision to reveal the names of Mr. Nunes and the others in the committee’s public report, saying that the decision amounted to an “abuse of power” by the Democrats.

Representative James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a former Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, also lashed out at Mr. Goldman, accusing him of smearing innocent people by revealing the names of the people discovered by the phone records.

“Folks, you have made Joe McCarthy look like a piker,” Mr. Sensenbrenner said, adding: “This is a major step in the surveillance state getting out of control.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_165680898_cbd306c8-5e45-47db-83b1-899c72db3467-articleLarge Impeachment Hearing Updates: Republicans Call Hearing ‘Unfair’ While Democrats Accuse Trump of ‘Brazen’ Actions United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Democratic Party

“This is a big deal,” Barry H. Berke told lawmakers.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Call it the clash of the lawyers. After several hours in which both sides spent more than an hour presenting their cases, largely undisturbed, Barry Berke, the Democratic lawyer took aim at Stephen Castor, the Republican lawyer from the committee, grilling him aggressively.

In one testy exchange, Mr. Berke accused Mr. Castor of mischaracterizing the testimony of Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence. Mr. Berke noted that the Republican impeachment report said Ms. Williams thought the call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine was “unusual.”

“Isn’t it a fact that she said the call struck her as ‘unusual and inappropriate’? Isn’t that what she said?” Mr. Berke insisted.

“It wasn’t a block quote,” Mr. Castor said, grimacing and scowling several times as Mr. Berke pressed him for an answer.

The remarkable back-and-forth between the two lawyers for the committee sparked more procedural objections from Republican lawmakers on the panel, who repeatedly tried to object to Mr. Berke’s questioning of Mr. Castor.

“Point of order, he’s badgering the witness” said Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a former Republican chairman of the committee. Mr. Nadler slammed his gavel, refusing to concede the point.

“He’s not,” Mr. Nadler said.

In what amounted to the opening argument in the effort to impeach President Trump, the lawyer for Judiciary Democrats told the committee that the president’s actions were “so brazen” that there was no question that he had abused his power to advance his own political interests over those of the nation.

“The evidence is overwhelming,” said Barry H. Berke, the lawyer, repeating the phrase to emphasize the point countering Republican arguments that the impeachment inquiry had been rushed and inadequate. The facts assembled in recent weeks were “uncontradicted” and “cannot be disputed,” he added, as he played video clips from witnesses who testified last month before the House Intelligence Committee.

Another Democratic lawyer, Daniel S. Goldman, the counsel for the House Intelligence Committee that gathered the evidence being presented on Monday, said that Mr. Trump continued to try to distort next year’s election with false allegations, pointing to his weekend statements to reporters that Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal lawyer, would make a report to the Justice Department about Democrats.

“President Trump’s persistent and continuing effort to coerce a foreign country to help him cheat to win an election is a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and to our national security,” Mr. Goldman said.

Mr. Berke placed the president’s actions with Ukraine in the context of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election on his behalf, as investigated by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Mr. Berke played a video clip of Mr. Trump that year publicly calling on “Russia, if you’re listening,” to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, and another of him as president telling reporters he wanted Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Rather than leave the matter to voters next fall, as some Republicans have argued, Mr. Berke said the House had to act now because Mr. Trump was trying to corrupt the 2020 election. “That’s not a reason to postpone this discussion,” he said. “That’s a reason we must have this discussion.”

The Republican presentation to the committee is focused more on the actions of the Democrats than on Mr. Trump’s, arguing that the president has been the target of an illegitimate, partisan witch hunt.

Stephen Castor, the lawyer representing Republicans on the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, devoted the majority of his prepared testimony to how the Democrats have conducted their inquiry and, in his view, distorted the facts to fit their preconceived narrative.

“This unfair process reflects the degree to which Democrats are obsessed with impeaching President Trump by any means necessary,” Mr. Castor told lawmakers. “The Democrats went searching for a set of facts on which to impeach the president — the emoluments clause, the president’s business and financial records, the Mueller report and allegations of obstruction there — before settling on Ukraine.”

Mr. Castor maintained that Mr. Trump was not pursuing his own interests, but was only concerned about corruption in Ukraine. “He was asking for assistance in helping our country move forward from the divisiveness of the Russia collusion investigation,” Mr. Castor said.

He noted that President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has said he did not feel pressured and Mr. Castor asserted that he did not know at the time he talked with Mr. Trump on the telephone on July 25 that the president had suspended American aid.

“If President Trump was truly orchestrating a pressure campaign to force Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden, one would think that Ukraine would have felt some pressure,” he said.

Mr. Castor embraced the blame-Ukraine defense, contending that Mr. Trump had genuine concerns about corruption there when he suspended American aid and was justified in asking for an investigation into supposed efforts by Ukraine to influence the 2016 election against him.

“Democrats dismiss these as conspiracy theories to suggest that President Trump has no legitimate reason — other than his own political interests — to raise these issues with President Zelensky,” Mr. Castor said. “The evidence, however, shows that there are legitimate questions about both issues.”

Mr. Castor did not explain, however, why Mr. Trump never mentioned the word “corruption” in either of his phone calls with Mr. Zelensky if that was his concern but instead mentioned only Mr. Biden and issues associated with Democrats. And intelligence agencies and former advisers to Mr. Trump have warned against advancing claims that Ukraine interfered in the election, attributing them to an effort by Russia to shift responsibility after its operation to tilt the 2016 election.

“Let me say very clearly that election influence is not binary,” Mr. Castor said. “I am not saying that it was Ukraine and not Russia; I am saying that both countries can work to influence an election. A systemic, coordinated Russian interference effort does not mean that some Ukrainian officials did not work to oppose President Trump’s candidacy.”

The White House refused to participate in Monday’s hearing, arguing that it was tilted against Mr. Trump and part of an illegitimate effort to overturn his election. But that did not stop Mr. Trump himself from participating — at least via social media.

After posting or reposting nearly 100 messages on Twitter on Sunday, most of them complaining about the impeachment effort and assailing Democrats, the president began lobbing digital missiles on Monday as the hearing progressed.

The House Judiciary Committee opened a new phase in the impeachment inquiry on Monday as Democrats accused President Trump of violating his oath of office by pursuing his own political interests above those of the nation.

“President Trump put himself before country,” Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said, repeating the phrase five times during his opening statement as the panel prepared to hear evidence.

His Republican counterpart, Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, said the Democrats were out to get “a president they don’t like” from the moment he took office regardless of the evidence. “They spent two years trying to figure out what do we impeach him on,” he said.

Republicans have lodged repeated complaints about the way Mr. Nadler is running the hearing and the larger impeachment process, raising parliamentary points and forcing party-line votes.

Among other things, Republicans pressed Mr. Nadler repeatedly to schedule a hearing day that they would be allowed to organize, including calling witnesses of their choice. Mr. Nadler said he would think about it, but made no commitment.

They objected to the content of Mr. Berke’s presentation, arguing that it violated the committee’s rules of decorum against making disparaging remarks about the president. Mr. Nadler shut down the criticisms, noting that those rules do not apply to staff lawyers.

Republicans also complained that the lawyers making the opening presentations had not been sworn in under oath and that committee Republicans had not received until last weekend 8,000 pages of information from the House investigation, giving them little time to digest them before Monday’s hearing.

Republicans also used the moment to jab at Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, for not presenting the evidence his panel gathered himself.

“The author of the Schiff report is not here,” Mr. Collins said. “Instead he is sending his staff to do his job for him. I guess that’s what you get when you’re making up impeachment as you go.”

The hearing may be an important factor in shaping the articles of impeachment that House Democrats are drafting against Mr. Trump amid an intense debate about how expansive the charges of high crimes and misdemeanors should be.

Democrats appear poised to accuse Mr. Trump of abuse of power and bribery for pressuring Ukraine to help him incriminate Democratic rivals while withholding American security aid. They also expect to charge him with obstructing the congressional investigation by defying subpoenas, blocking current and former administration officials from testifying, and trying to intimidate those who have.

Less clear is whether they will include charges of obstruction of justice for trying to impede the Russia investigation by Mr. Mueller. In his report last spring, Mr. Mueller submitted evidence of 10 instances of possible obstruction but said he could not judge whether they were illegal. Attorney General William P. Barr, a Trump appointee, declared that the president’s actions were not illegal, but Democrats dismiss his judgment as skewed and partisan.

Mr. Nadler said he and his fellow Democrats would not decide the shape of the articles of impeachment until after hearing evidence on Monday.

“There are possible drafts that various people are writing,” Mr. Nadler said on “State of the Union” on CNN on Sunday. “But the fact is we’re not going to make any decision as to how broad the articles should be — as to what they contain, what the wording is — until after the hearing.”

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Barr and Durham Publicly Disagree With Horowitz Report on Russia Inquiry

WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr sharply criticized on Monday the F.B.I.’s decision to open the Russia investigation, undercutting a major finding in a long-awaited watchdog report and at the same time showing his willingness to act as President Trump’s vocal defender.

The report, by the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, found that the F.B.I. had adequate reason in 2016 to open an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia. Mr. Horowitz broadly rejected Mr. Trump’s accusations that F.B.I. officials conspired to sabotage his campaign, but Mr. Barr highlighted findings that underscored his and the president’s shared view that investigators were nonetheless overly invasive in scrutinizing people associated with a presidential campaign.

“The inspector general’s report now makes clear that the F.B.I. launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Mr. Barr said in a statement.

John H. Durham, a federal prosecutor whom Mr. Barr appointed to run a separate criminal investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation, backed Mr. Barr’s findings in his own highly unusual statement. “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,” Mr. Durham said.

Westlake Legal Group fbi-ig-report-document-1575915185139-articleLarge Barr and Durham Publicly Disagree With Horowitz Report on Russia Inquiry United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Federal Bureau of Investigation Durham, John H Barr, William P

Read the Inspector General’s Report on the Russia Investigation

The Justice Department’s inspector general released this report into the early stages of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation.

The statements from the Justice Department’s top official and one of his key investigators gave Mr. Trump’s supporters ammunition to dispute one of the key findings in the long-awaited report by Mr. Horowitz that excoriated the F.B.I.’s handling of a wiretap application used in the early stages of its Russia investigation.

While the report was searing in its conclusion that the wiretap application process was marked with errors, it exonerated former bureau leaders of accusations by the president and his allies that Mr. Trump was the victim of a politicized conspiracy to sabotage his campaign and his presidency.

Mr. Horowitz concluded that the F.B.I. had sufficient evidence in July 2016 to lawfully open the investigation and to use informants. But he did note that the bureau’s standards were very low.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Inspector General Report on F.B.I. Russia Inquiry Finds Serious Errors But Debunks Anti-Trump Plot

WASHINGTON — A long-awaited report by the Justice Department’s inspector general released on Monday sharply criticized the F.B.I.’s handling of a wiretap application used in the early stages of its Russia investigation but debunked President Trump’s accusations that former bureau leaders engaged in a politicized conspiracy to sabotage him.

Investigators uncovered “no documentary or testimonial evidence” that political bias affected how officials conducted the investigation, said the report, which totaled more than 400 pages. The F.B.I. had sufficient evidence in July 2016 to lawfully open the investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane, and officials followed procedures in using informants to approach campaign aides, the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, determined.

But Mr. Horowitz also uncovered substantial dysfunction, carelessness and serious errors in one part of the sprawling inquiry: the F.B.I.’s applications for court orders approving a wiretap targeting Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser with ties to Russia. He found that one low-ranking F.B.I. lawyer altered a related document and referred the lawyer for possible prosecution.

By puncturing conspiracy theories promoted by Mr. Trump and his allies, yet sharply criticizing law enforcement actions that have not been the subject of public debate, Mr. Horowitz’s mixed findings may offer vindication for both critics and allies of Mr. Trump. The exhaustive report by an independent official is likely to stand as a definitive accounting of the F.B.I.’s actions in the early stages of the Russia investigation.

Attorney General William P. Barr, who was said to be skeptical of Mr. Horowitz’s conclusion that officials had a proper basis to open the Russia investigation, praised the inspector general but reiterated his longstanding complaints about the F.B.I. inquiry, saying the bureau’s “malfeasance and misfeasance” detailed in the report reflected a “clear abuse” of the wiretap application process.

“The inspector general’s report now makes clear that the F.B.I. launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Mr. Barr said in a statement that echoed his willingness to act as Mr. Trump’s defender at the end of the special counsel investigation that grew out of the Russia inquiry.

Westlake Legal Group fbi-ig-report-document-1575915185139-articleLarge Inspector General Report on F.B.I. Russia Inquiry Finds Serious Errors But Debunks Anti-Trump Plot Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Strzok, Peter Steele, Christopher (1964- ) Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Search and Seizure Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2016 Page, Carter Ohr, Bruce Mueller, Robert S III Justice Department Inspectors General Informers Horowitz, Michael E Federal Bureau of Investigation Comey, James B Clinesmith, Kevin Classified Information and State Secrets Barr, William P

Read the Inspector General’s Report on the Russia Investigation

The Justice Department’s inspector general released this report into the early stages of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation.

Mr. Horowitz’s findings on the wiretap application showed that when it mattered most — with the stakes the greatest and no room for error — F.B.I. officials on various teams still made numerous and serious mistakes in wielding a powerful surveillance tool. The discovery calls into question the bureau’s surveillance practices in routine cases without such high-stakes political implications.

“That so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, handpicked teams on one of the most sensitive F.B.I. investigations that was briefed to the highest levels within the F.B.I., and that F.B.I. officials expected would eventually be subjected to close scrutiny, raised significant questions regarding the F.B.I. chain of command’s management and supervision of the FISA process,” the report said.

The report came on the same day that House Democrats moved forward with their impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump, with a lawyer for the Judiciary Committee telling its members during a hearing that the president’s dealings with Ukraine were “so brazen” that there was no question that he had abused his power to advance his own political interests over the country’s.

The report, as well as Mr. Barr’s criticism, is certain to extend the debate over the legitimacy of the F.B.I.’s inquiry. Mr. Barr has publicly said he thinks the Trump campaign was subjected to “spying” and tapped John H. Durham, the United States attorney in Connecticut, to lead yet another investigation into the Russia investigation.

Though the report largely exonerated F.B.I. officials of the president’s most inflammatory accusations, Mr. Trump’s persistent attacks have nonetheless already damaged the bureau’s reputation. Top officials were fired, while others left the bureau.

Much of the report focused on the paperwork associated with the wiretapping of Mr. Page, who was first approved for targeting in October 2016, about a month after he had stepped down from the Trump campaign. The Justice Department obtained three renewals of court permission to eavesdrop on Mr. Page — two under the Trump administration.

The four applications contained dozens of significant inaccuracies, material omissions or assertions that were not backed in supporting documents, according to the report, which grouped them in a chart. The applications for the wiretap relied on historical information about Mr. Page’s contacts before 2016, and claims about his 2016 interactions with Russians came from a notorious dossier of opposition research collected by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent paid by Democrats.

For example, the F.B.I. never told the main Justice Department, which in turn never told the court, that Mr. Page had for years been providing information to the C.I.A. about his prior contacts with Russian intelligence officials, including an encounter cited in the application as a reason to be suspicious of him. That made his history less suspicious, Mr. Horowitz suggested.

The F.B.I.’s omission of Mr. Page’s contacts with the C.I.A. relates to the criminal referral that Mr. Horowitz made about an F.B.I. lawyer assigned to assist the Russia investigation team. He found that the lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, altered an email from the C.I.A. to a colleague during a renewal application.

An F.B.I. official who had to sign an affidavit attesting to the accuracy and completeness of a court filing had specifically asked about any relationship with the C.I.A. Mr. Clinesmith altered the email so that it stated that Mr. Page was “not a source,” contributing to the Justice Department’s failure to discuss his relationship with the C.I.A. in a renewal application.

Mr. Horowitz has referred his findings about Mr. Clinesmith to prosecutors for a potential criminal investigation for making a false statement. Mr. Clinesmith left the Russia investigation in February 2018 after the inspector general identified him as one of a handful of F.B.I. officials who expressed animus toward Mr. Trump’s election as president in internal texts. He resigned from the bureau in September.

In addition to the other issues with the wiretap application, the F.B.I. in January 2017 interviewed a primary source for important claims about Mr. Page in Mr. Steele’s dossier. In the interview, the source contradicted some of what Mr. Steele had written. But F.B.I. officials said only that they found the source “truthful and cooperative,” leaving the false impression in renewal applications that his account had confirmed rather than raised doubts about the dossier’s reporting.

Indeed, as recently as July 2018, when the Justice Department sent a letter to the court discussing certain errors or omissions in its Page wiretap applications, the report said, it continued to defend the reliability of Mr. Steele’s reporting and the court filings by portraying Mr. Steele’s source has having corroborated his dossier.

The report placed primary blame for the significant errors and omissions on sloppiness by F.B.I. case agents, including one unnamed investigator who mischaracterized information and failed to advise the Justice Department officials working on court filings of several important facts.

The inspector general found that this pattern was not intentional, but that explanations offered in defense of the agents — such as that they were busy with the Russia investigation at the time and “the Carter Page FISA was a narrow aspect of their overall responsibilities” — were unsatisfactory.

Mr. Horowitz took no position on whether the outcome would have been different — and the intelligence court would not have approved wiretapping Mr. Page or extending the surveillance for additional periods — without the misstatements and omissions.

Still, notwithstanding now-famous text messages sent by several other F.B.I. officials that indicated a dislike for Mr. Trump, the bureau’s top counterintelligence official, Bill Priestap, made the decisions to open the investigation and scrutinize four Trump campaign figures with links to Russia, and Mr. Horowitz found that he had a sufficient and lawful basis to do so.

“Priestap’s exercise of discretion in opening the investigation was in compliance with department and F.B.I. policies, and we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced his decision,” the report said.

Mr. Trump’s frequent F.B.I. targets participated in Mr. Horowitz’s investigation, sitting for hours of interviews. That list includes James B. Comey, the former director; Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy and acting director; James A. Baker, the former general counsel; Lisa Page, a former senior counsel to Mr. McCabe; and Peter Strzok, a former senior counterintelligence agent.

Mr. Horowitz had previously uncovered text messages that Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok had exchanged on their work phones expressing hostility toward Mr. Trump, but his report found no evidence that any investigative steps were influenced by their personal political opinions. He made a similar finding about the Hillary Clinton email investigation, which involved many of the same law enforcement officials.

A footnote cited other F.B.I. officials who supported Mr. Trump’s campaign and expressed hostility toward Mrs. Clinton. It quoted text messages celebrating his surprise electoral win, including one by an agent who later explained to the inspector general that he was glad Mrs. Clinton lost because “I didn’t want a criminal in the White House.” The report similarly does not accuse these officials of taking official actions based on their personal political opinions.

Mr. Trump’s allies have argued that law enforcement officials abused their powers by using opposition research to get a wiretap and that the Justice Department should have done more to alert the court that Mr. Trump’s political opponents had funded Mr. Steele’s efforts.

A lengthy footnote in the application told the court that the information was most likely opposition research but did not specifically name the funders: the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign. Mr. Horowitz observed that is standard practice not to explicitly name Americans or American organizations in such sensitive documents; Mr. Trump, for example, is referred to as “Candidate #1.”

“The Carter Page FISA application did not identify by name Steele’s clients or the presidential candidates, which is consistent with the department’s general practice of not disclosing the true identities of U.S. persons who are not the surveillance targets in FISA applications,” Mr. Horowitz wrote.

Despite the particular attention it has received, the wiretap of Mr. Page was but a very small piece of a much larger, sprawling F.B.I. investigation into Russian interference. Investigators obtained nearly 500 search warrants and interviewed hundreds of witnesses, according to the special counsel’s report.

The report found that Mr. Steele’s information was not used in the opening of the Russia investigation, as Mr. Trump’s allies have frequently but falsely suggested as part of their claim that the F.B.I. spied on the Trump campaign as part of a politicized plot.

But the inspector general also determined that F.B.I. did not place informants or undercover agents in the campaign, and it did not ask them to “report on the Trump campaign.” Nor did the inspector general find evidence that undercover agents or informants were told to meet with Trump campaign officials before the opening of Crossfire Hurricane. Members told the inspector general that no investigative steps were before the actual opening of the investigation in late July 2016.

Instead, it confirms that the F.B.I. opened the inquiry after WikiLeaks began publicly releasing hacked Democratic emails and officials learned that a Trump campaign aide had previously bragged to a pair of Australian diplomats of knowing that Russia had dirt on Mrs. Clinton in the form of hacked emails it was willing to release anonymously to help Mr. Trump.

That campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, has subsequently accused the person who told him about Russia’s possession of those emails, a Maltese professor named Joseph Mifsud, of being an F.B.I. and C.I.A. asset engaged in a conspiracy to entrap the Trump campaign. But Mr. Horowitz is said to have found no evidence to corroborate that he worked for the F.B.I.

The inspector general also noted that the F.B.I. apparently requested information from another agency but that portion remains blacked out. It was previously reported that Mr. Mifsud did not work for the C.I.A., either.

Mr. Papadopoulos was later convicted of lying to the F.B.I. about his interactions with Mr. Mifsud. Mr. Trump has also raised the specter of a “deep state” conspiracy involving Mr. Mifsud.

In addition, the inspector general looked at the role of a Justice Department official named Bruce G. Ohr, who has been vilified by Mr. Trump and his allies because he was in contact with Mr. Steele and because his wife worked for the political research firm that employed Mr. Steele.

The inspector general criticized Mr. Ohr for failing to keep his supervisors informed of his actions, but does not accuse him of being part of a conspiracy. The inspector general described Mr. Ohr making “consequential errors in judgment,” requesting meetings with senior law enforcement officials outside his area of responsibility, by making himself “a witness” in the investigation.

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Trump’s Abuse of Power Was ‘Brazen’ and ‘Clear,’ Democrats Argue in Impeachment Case

Westlake Legal Group 09dc-impeach1-facebookJumbo Trump’s Abuse of Power Was ‘Brazen’ and ‘Clear,’ Democrats Argue in Impeachment Case United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Castor, Stephen R Berke, Barry H

WASHINGTON — House Democrats delivered a scathing summation of their impeachment case against President Trump on Monday, arguing that the president had put his personal and political interests above those of the nation in soliciting re-election help from Ukraine in a pattern of conduct that clearly warranted his impeachment.

In a contentious hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Barry H. Berke, the Democratic counsel, told lawmakers that the evidence against Mr. Trump was “overwhelming” and that the case for impeaching him was urgent. Summarizing the findings of more than two months of inquiry, Mr. Berke asserted that the president had repeatedly put the integrity of American elections and national security at risk by pressing Ukraine to tarnish his political rivals, and trying to conceal it from Congress.

“The scheme by President Trump was so brazen, so clear — supported by documents, actions, sworn testimony, uncontradicted contemporaneous records — that it’s hard to imagine that anybody could dispute those acts, let alone argue that that conduct does not constitute an impeachable offense or offenses,” Mr. Berke said.

“This is a big deal,” he added, appealing to the deeply divided panel of lawmakers sitting before him. “President Trump did what a president of our nation is not allowed to do.”

The presentations by Mr. Berke and another Democratic lawyer for the Intelligence Committee will form the basis for a debate in the committee, expected to begin as soon as Wednesday, over articles of impeachment charging the president with “high crimes and misdemeanors” for only the fourth time in American history.

Mr. Trump is accused of having pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to announce investigations of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and an unsupported claim that Democrats conspired with Ukraine to interfere in the 2016 election, while withholding as leverage a White House meeting and nearly $400 million in security assistance the country needed to hold off Russian aggression.

The hearing, which unfolded in the stately House Ways and Means Committee room near the Capitol, featured bitter rounds of partisan sparring between Democrats and Republicans and testy cross-examinations of lawyers from both parties. Republicans arrived primed to poke holes in Democrats’ case and condemn the process they have used to assemble it. They repeatedly interrupted the Democrats’ public presentation, and their own counsel used two addresses to try to dismantle it.

“Very simply, the evidence in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry does not support the Democrats’ conclusion that President Trump abused his power for his own personal, political benefit,” said Stephen R. Castor, a lawyer representing Republicans on both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.

Mr. Castor said there was “simply no clear evidence” that Mr. Trump had “malicious intent in withholding a meeting or security assistance,” and ample evidence that the president had legitimate concerns about corruption in Ukraine. And he accused Democrats of having gone “searching for a set of facts on which to impeach the president,” essentially manufacturing a scandal where there was not one.

The White House once again refused to participate in the day’s proceedings, despite appeals by Democrats to come to the table before it is too late. Mr. Trump and his allies, though, have now publicly turned their attention toward a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, where they believe they will have an easier time mounting a defense.

But that did not stop Mr. Trump himself from participating — at least via social media.

After posting or reposting nearly 100 messages on Twitter on Sunday, most of them complaining about the impeachment effort and assailing Democrats, the president began lobbing digital missiles on Monday as the hearing progressed.

Both Democrats and Republicans had already submitted competing written reports on the Ukraine matter last week. But even if the facts recited have become well known over the course of the last two months, the hearing provided the clearest account yet of the respective cases.

During his 45-minute presentation, Daniel S. Goldman, a lawyer who led the Intelligence Committee’s Ukraine investigation, described “a monthslong scheme” by the president “to solicit foreign help in his 2020 re-election campaign, withholding official acts from the government of Ukraine in order to coerce and secure political interference in our domestic affairs.”

Mr. Goldman said that Mr. Trump continues to try to distort next year’s election with false allegations, pointing to his weekend statements to reporters that Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal lawyer, would make a report to the Justice Department about Democrats.

“President Trump’s persistent and continuing effort to coerce a foreign country to help him cheat to win an election is a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and to our national security,” Mr. Goldman said.

Mr. Castor lamented that the Democrat who led the inquiry, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, would not testify himself about the report. And he suggested that the memories and accounts of several witnesses had been colored by an anonymous C.I.A. whistle-blower complaint about the Ukraine matter that helped start the inquiry.

Republican lawmakers also bitterly complained when Mr. Berke, who appeared at a witness table at the start of the hearing to deliver his argument against Mr. Trump, later climbed onto the dais and led the cross-examination of Mr. Castor. It is highly unusual both for House lawyers to testify in hearings, and for one lawyer to question another in that way, but Democrats left themselves latitude under the rules of the process to do so.

“Bang the gavel harder — still doesn’t make it right,” Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, told the chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler, as he repeatedly hammered down Republican objections.

For now, Democrats appear to have elected to press ahead without them. The committee is expected to unveil and then begin debate over articles of impeachment, or formal charges against the president, later this week.

By the weekend, lawmakers will very likely vote along party lines to recommend the full House vote to adopt the articles. They are on track to do so before Christmas, setting up a Senate trial early in the new year.

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Impeachment Hearing Updates: Democrats Accuse Trump of ‘Brazen’ Actions, While Republicans Call Hearing ‘Unfair’

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Westlake Legal Group 09dc-livevid-sub2-videoSixteenByNine3000 Impeachment Hearing Updates: Democrats Accuse Trump of ‘Brazen’ Actions, While Republicans Call Hearing ‘Unfair’ United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Democratic Party

The House Judiciary Committee will hear evidence presented by Democratic and Republican lawyers before it will consider articles of impeachment later in the week.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Call it the clash of the lawyers. After several hours in which both sides spent more than an hour presenting their cases, largely undisturbed, Barry Berke, the Democratic lawyer took aim at Stephen Castor, the Republican lawyer from the committee, grilling him aggressively.

In one testy exchange, Mr. Berke accused Mr. Castor of mischaracterizing the testimony of Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence. Mr. Berke noted that the Republican impeachment report said Ms. Williams thought the call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine was “unusual.”

“Isn’t it a fact that she said the call struck her as ‘unusual and inappropriate’? Isn’t that what she said?” Mr. Berke insisted.

“It wasn’t a block quote,” Mr. Castor said, grimacing and scowling several times as Mr. Berke pressed him for an answer.

The remarkable back-and-forth between the two lawyers for the committee sparked more procedural objections from Republican lawmakers on the panel, who repeatedly tried to object to Mr. Berke’s questioning of Mr. Castor.

“Point of order, he’s badgering the witness” said Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a former Republican chairman of the committee. Mr. Nadler slammed his gavel, refusing to concede the point.

“He’s not,” Mr. Nadler said.

When it was the Republican turn to grill the lawyers, Representative Doug Collins of Georgia aggressively pressed Daniel S. Goldman, the Democratic chief investigator for the House Intelligence Committee.

In a tense back-and-forth, Mr. Collins angrily demanded that Mr. Goldman reveal who made a decision to identify the phone numbers of journalists and members of Congress after subpoenas of records from phone companies.

“Who ordered it? You or Mr. Schiff?” Mr. Collins asked Mr. Goldman, who repeatedly denied that anyone had ordered the numbers be identified, attempting to explain that such identifications occur in the normal course of the examination of phone records during an investigation.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_165680898_cbd306c8-5e45-47db-83b1-899c72db3467-articleLarge Impeachment Hearing Updates: Democrats Accuse Trump of ‘Brazen’ Actions, While Republicans Call Hearing ‘Unfair’ United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Democratic Party

“This is a big deal,” Barry H. Berke told lawmakers.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

In what amounted to the opening argument in the effort to impeach President Trump, the lawyer for Judiciary Democrats told the committee that the president’s actions were “so brazen” that there was no question that he had abused his power to advance his own political interests over those of the nation.

“The evidence is overwhelming,” said Barry H. Berke, the lawyer, repeating the phrase to emphasize the point countering Republican arguments that the impeachment inquiry had been rushed and inadequate. The facts assembled in recent weeks were “uncontradicted” and “cannot be disputed,” he added, as he played video clips from witnesses who testified last month before the House Intelligence Committee.

Another Democratic lawyer, Daniel S. Goldman, the counsel for the House Intelligence Committee that gathered the evidence being presented on Monday, said that Mr. Trump continued to try to distort next year’s election with false allegations, pointing to his weekend statements to reporters that Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal lawyer, would make a report to the Justice Department about Democrats.

“President Trump’s persistent and continuing effort to coerce a foreign country to help him cheat to win an election is a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and to our national security,” Mr. Goldman said.

Mr. Berke placed the president’s actions with Ukraine in the context of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election on his behalf, as investigated by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Mr. Berke played a video clip of Mr. Trump that year publicly calling on “Russia, if you’re listening,” to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, and another of him as president telling reporters he wanted Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Rather than leave the matter to voters next fall, as some Republicans have argued, Mr. Berke said the House had to act now because Mr. Trump was trying to corrupt the 2020 election. “That’s not a reason to postpone this discussion,” he said. “That’s a reason we must have this discussion.”

The Republican presentation to the committee is focused more on the actions of the Democrats than on Mr. Trump’s, arguing that the president has been the target of an illegitimate, partisan witch hunt.

Stephen Castor, the lawyer representing Republicans on the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, devoted the majority of his prepared testimony to how the Democrats have conducted their inquiry and, in his view, distorted the facts to fit their preconceived narrative.

“This unfair process reflects the degree to which Democrats are obsessed with impeaching President Trump by any means necessary,” Mr. Castor told lawmakers. “The Democrats went searching for a set of facts on which to impeach the president — the emoluments clause, the president’s business and financial records, the Mueller report and allegations of obstruction there — before settling on Ukraine.”

Mr. Castor maintained that Mr. Trump was not pursuing his own interests, but was only concerned about corruption in Ukraine. “He was asking for assistance in helping our country move forward from the divisiveness of the Russia collusion investigation,” Mr. Castor said.

He noted that President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has said he did not feel pressured and Mr. Castor asserted that he did not know at the time he talked with Mr. Trump on the telephone on July 25 that the president had suspended American aid.

“If President Trump was truly orchestrating a pressure campaign to force Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden, one would think that Ukraine would have felt some pressure,” he said.

In his second presentation to the committee, Mr. Castor embraced the blame-Ukraine defense, contending that Mr. Trump had genuine concerns about corruption there when he suspended American aid and was justified in asking for an investigation into supposed efforts by Ukraine to influence the 2016 election against him.

“Democrats dismiss these as conspiracy theories to suggest that President Trump has no legitimate reason — other than his own political interests — to raise these issues with President Zelensky,” Mr. Castor said. “The evidence, however, shows that there are legitimate questions about both issues.”

Mr. Castor did not explain, however, why Mr. Trump never mentioned the word “corruption” in either of his phone calls with Mr. Zelensky if that was his concern but instead mentioned only Mr. Biden and issues associated with Democrats. And intelligence agencies and former advisers to Mr. Trump have warned against advancing claims that Ukraine interfered in the election, attributing them to an effort by Russia to shift responsibility after its operation to tilt the 2016 election.

“Let me say very clearly that election influence is not binary,” Mr. Castor said. “I am not saying that it was Ukraine and not Russia; I am saying that both countries can work to influence an election. A systemic, coordinated Russian interference effort does not mean that some Ukrainian officials did not work to oppose President Trump’s candidacy.”

The White House refused to participate in Monday’s hearing, arguing that it was tilted against Mr. Trump and part of an illegitimate effort to overturn his election. But that did not stop Mr. Trump himself from participating — at least via social media.

After posting or reposting nearly 100 messages on Twitter on Sunday, most of them complaining about the impeachment effort and assailing Democrats, the president began lobbing digital missiles on Monday as the hearing progressed.

He also reposted approvingly a message by Buck Sexton, a conservative radio host: “Simply mind boggling that here we are, heading into year 4 of the Trump presidency, in a time of tremendous American economic prosperity and relative peace, and Democrats are *STILL* trying to ram Russia/Ukraine hysteria down the throats of normal Americans, like total psychos.”

Mr. Trump added: “True!”

The House Judiciary Committee opened a new phase in the impeachment inquiry on Monday as Democrats accused President Trump of violating his oath of office by pursuing his own political interests above those of the nation.

“President Trump put himself before country,” Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said, repeating the phrase five times during his opening statement as the panel prepared to hear evidence.

His Republican counterpart, Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, said the Democrats were out to get “a president they don’t like” from the moment he took office regardless of the evidence. “They spent two years trying to figure out what do we impeach him on,” he said.

Republicans have lodged repeated complaints about the way Mr. Nadler is running the hearing and the larger impeachment process, raising parliamentary points and forcing party-line votes.

Among other things, Republicans pressed Mr. Nadler repeatedly to schedule a hearing day that they would be allowed to organize, including calling witnesses of their choice. Mr. Nadler said he would think about it, but made no commitment.

They objected to the content of Mr. Berke’s presentation, arguing that it violated the committee’s rules of decorum against making disparaging remarks about the president. Mr. Nadler shut down the criticisms, noting that those rules do not apply to staff lawyers.

Republicans also complained that the lawyers making the opening presentations had not been sworn in under oath and that committee Republicans had not received until last weekend 8,000 pages of information from the House investigation, giving them little time to digest them before Monday’s hearing.

“Mr. Chairman, if this was a court of law, you’d be facing sanctions,” Representative Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania told Mr. Nadler.

“The gentleman will suspend and not make a speech,” Mr. Nadler scolded.

Republicans also used the moment to jab at Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, for not presenting the evidence his panel gathered himself.

“The author of the Schiff report is not here,” Mr. Collins said. “Instead he is sending his staff to do his job for him. I guess that’s what you get when you’re making up impeachment as you go.”

The hearing may be an important factor in shaping the articles of impeachment that House Democrats are drafting against Mr. Trump amid an intense debate about how expansive the charges of high crimes and misdemeanors should be.

Democrats appear poised to accuse Mr. Trump of abuse of power and bribery for pressuring Ukraine to help him incriminate Democratic rivals while withholding American security aid. They also expect to charge him with obstructing the congressional investigation by defying subpoenas, blocking current and former administration officials from testifying, and trying to intimidate those who have.

Less clear is whether they will include charges of obstruction of justice for trying to impede the Russia investigation by Mr. Mueller. In his report last spring, Mr. Mueller submitted evidence of 10 instances of possible obstruction but said he could not judge whether they were illegal. Attorney General William P. Barr, a Trump appointee, declared that the president’s actions were not illegal, but Democrats dismiss his judgment as skewed and partisan.

Mr. Nadler said he and his fellow Democrats would not decide the shape of the articles of impeachment until after hearing evidence on Monday.

“There are possible drafts that various people are writing,” Mr. Nadler said on “State of the Union” on CNN on Sunday. “But the fact is we’re not going to make any decision as to how broad the articles should be — as to what they contain, what the wording is — until after the hearing.”

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Highlights From the Horowitz Report on the Russia Investigation

Westlake Legal Group 09dc-fbihighlight-1-facebookJumbo Highlights From the Horowitz Report on the Russia Investigation Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Surveillance of Citizens by Government Strzok, Peter Steele, Christopher (1964- ) Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Presidential Election of 2016 Papadopoulos, George (1987- ) Page, Carter Ohr, Bruce Mifsud, Joseph McCabe, Andrew G Justice Department Inspectors General Informers Horowitz, Michael E Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Federal Bureau of Investigation Espionage and Intelligence Services Comey, James B Clinesmith, Kevin

WASHINGTON — A much-anticipated report on the early stages of the F.B.I.’s investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia heavily criticized how the F.B.I. obtained court orders to eavesdrop on a former Trump campaign aide but found no evidence of political bias or improper motivation by the F.B.I.

The 434-page report by the Justice Department’s independent inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, is an exhaustive examination of a case that has reverberated throughout official Washington for more than three years, challenging Republicans’ longstanding support for federal law enforcement, overturning the bureau’s leadership and igniting scrutiny that has continued long past the exhaustive special counsel’s report released in April.

The report found no evidence to back up the president’s claim that the F.B.I.’s investigations of his campaign and four former aides were inspired and tainted by political bias.

But in a finding that President Trump is certain to seize on, the report documented a pattern of omissions, errors and inconsistencies in the bureau’s applications for warrants to eavesdrop on Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide.

Here are some of the key findings, which will be updated by reporters from The Times.

The report debunked essential elements of the president’s conspiracy theory.

The president’s narrative, for which he has offered little evidence, is essentially that a cabal of politically biased law enforcement and intelligence officials — a “deep state” — set out to sabotage and spy on his campaign because they were opposed to his election and wanted to undermine him once he won.

Mr. Trump and his allies claimed a wide-reaching conspiracy to use false opposition research funded by Democrats to justify opening an investigation that would allow them to infiltrate and spy on the Trump campaign, wiretap Mr. Page and sabotage Mr. Trump’s presidency.

Mr. Horowitz did not find evidence supporting that narrative.

“We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions” by the bureau, the report concluded.

The report also said, “Witnesses told us that they did not recall observing during these discussions any instances or indications of improper motivations or political bias on the part of the participants.”

In August 2016, in an operation the F.B.I. dubbed “Crossfire Hurricane,” the bureau opened investigations into four Trump campaign officials: Mr. Page; campaign chairman Paul Manafort; George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser and Michael T. Flynn, who went to become Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser.

There were procedural problems in the process of getting warrants.

Mr. Horowitz cited multiple errors and omissions related in the applications to eavesdrop on Mr. Page, findings that may bring a renewed focus on the secret process to obtain and approve such warrants.

In October 2016, the Justice Department obtained permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to wiretap Mr. Page, who had recently stepped down from his role as a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. Mr. Page had close ties to Russia, which he had visited in the summer of 2016, and had previously interacted with Russia’s foreign spy service. The wiretap application portrayed Mr. Page as a suspected unregistered agent of a foreign power. The court extended the warrant three times.

The warrant applications relied heavily on information provided by Christopher Steele, a British former intelligence agent who said his information came from a confidential source. In a serious failing, the bureau failed to inform the court that when agents interviewed Mr. Steele’s source, that person failed to back up some of Mr. Steele’s assertions, the report found.

Mr. Horowitz also found that investigators should have told the court that Mr. Page had previously given information to the C.I.A. about his overseas contacts. Mr. Page has described himself as an unpaid confidential intelligence source to the C.I.A. and F.B.I.

Mr. Horowitz also found that, Kevin Clinesmith, a low-level F.B.I. lawyer, altered an email that was apparently included in the packet of information that went to the court as part of an application to renew the warrant. Mr. Horowitz has made a criminal referral about Mr. Clinesmith for possibly making a false statement that misled his colleague.

The report shows the relatively low bar for the F.B.I. to open an incredibly consequential investigation.

Without consulting with the Justice Department, top F.B.I. counterintelligence investigators made the decision to open Crossfire Hurricane, according to the report. The investigators had consulted with the deputy F.B.I. director and the bureau’s top lawyer.

The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, was not involved in the decision, the report said. Sometime after the investigation was opened, Mr. Comey told the attorney general, Loretta Lynch, and deputy attorney general, Sally Yates, a few details about it.

The report says there was nothing wrong with this. The Justice Department guidelines for opening an investigation give the F.B.I. the authority to start an investigation — no matter how politically sensitive — on its own.

“We believe that investigations affecting core First Amendment activity and national political campaigns raise significant constitutional and prudential issues,” the report said.

Still, Mr. Horowitz said that in the future a top official — such as the deputy attorney general — should be notified before “such an investigation so that department leadership can consider these issues from the outset.”

Mr. Trump has long claimed the Obama administration had been behind the investigation.

The report found that President Barack Obama and top administration officials played no role in the investigation. Mr. Comey said he believes he told Mr. Obama and other top White House officials about the broad outlines of the investigation in an August 2016 meeting in the Situation Room, at least a month after it was opened.

“Comey said he thought it was important that the President know the nature of the F.B.I.’ s efforts without providing any specifics,” according to the report.

Mr. Comey said that the meeting was also attended by: White House chief of staff, Denis McDonough; national security adviser, Susan Rice; Mr. Brennan and two other top intelligence officials. Mr. Comey said after he relayed this information no one responded or followed up with questions.

The inspector general also took on media reports that Mr. Obama’s C.I.A. director, John Brennan, gave the F.B.I. information that led to the inquiry. Mr. Comey told the inspector general that the information Mr. Brennan passed to the F.B.I. related to election interference but “Brennan did not provide any information that predicated or prompted the F.B.I. open Crossfire Hurricane.”

The report appeared to absolve them of taking investigative action out of bias against Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump and his allies have demonized a group of top F.B.I. officials who oversaw the opening and early stages of the Trump-Russia investigation, portraying them as a cabal who launched a witch hunt in a politicized coup attempt. These include the former director, James B. Comey; the former deputy and acting director, Andrew G. McCabe; Peter Strzok, a former top counterintelligence agent; Lisa Page, a former F.B.I. lawyer who worked on the case; and James A. Baker, the former general counsel.

During an earlier examination into the handling of investigations into Mrs. Clinton’s personal email server, Mr. Horowitz uncovered the fact that Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page had sent text messages to each other expressing animus toward Mr. Trump while working on the Russia case. He also found messages by Mr. Clinesmith indicating that he did not like Mr. Trump or his policies. The findings led Mr. Mueller to remove Mr. Strzok and Mr. Clinesmith from the special counsel team.

But as he also did in his report on the Clinton email investigation, Mr. Horowitz said that, while these text messages demonstrated bad judgment and cast a cloud over the bureau, he found no evidence that any of the actions they took with the investigation stemmed from their personal political views.

Separately, Mr. Trump’s allies have disparaged a senior Justice Department expert in Russian organized crime, Bruce G. Ohr, who knew and met with Mr. Steele even after the F.B.I. had officially severed its relationship with Mr. Steele for speaking to the press about his dossier. Mr. Ohr’s wife, Nellie, was a researcher at Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that hired Mr. Steele.

The report is critical of Mr. Ohr’s decision not to let his supervisors at the Justice Department know about his interactions with Mr. Steele and the F.B.I., but said Mr. Ohr did not violate a specific policy or that he was part of an attempted coup.

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Report on F.B.I. Russia Inquiry Finds Serious Errors But Debunks Anti-Trump Plot

Westlake Legal Group 09dc-fbi1-sub-facebookJumbo Report on F.B.I. Russia Inquiry Finds Serious Errors But Debunks Anti-Trump Plot Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Strzok, Peter Steele, Christopher (1964- ) Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Search and Seizure Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2016 Page, Carter Ohr, Bruce Mueller, Robert S III Justice Department Inspectors General Informers Horowitz, Michael E Federal Bureau of Investigation Comey, James B Clinesmith, Kevin Classified Information and State Secrets Barr, William P

WASHINGTON — A long-awaited report by the Justice Department’s inspector general released on Monday sharply criticized the F.B.I.’s handling of a wiretap application used in the early stages of its Russia investigation but exonerated former bureau leaders of President Trump’s accusations that they engaged in a politicized conspiracy to sabotage him.

Investigators uncovered “no documentary or testimonial evidence” of political bias behind official actions related to the investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane, said the report, which totaled more than 400 pages. The F.B.I. had sufficient evidence in July 2016 to lawfully open the investigation, and its use of informants to approach campaign aides followed procedures, the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, determined.

But Mr. Horowitz also uncovered substantial dysfunction, carelessness and serious errors in one part of the sprawling inquiry: the F.B.I.’s applications for court orders approving a wiretap targeting Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser with ties to Russia, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. He found that one low-ranking F.B.I. lawyer altered a related document and referred the lawyer for possible prosecution.

Given the highly fraught context of investigating someone linked to a presidential campaign, the report said, the Crossfire Hurricane investigators knew their work would be scrutinized — yet they nevertheless “failed to meet the basic obligation to ensure that the Carter Page FISA applications were ‘scrupulously accurate.’”

The findings on the wiretap application showed that when it mattered most — with the stakes the greatest and no room for error — F.B.I. officials still made numerous and serious mistakes in wielding a powerful surveillance tool. Mr. Horowitz’s discovery calls into question the bureau’s surveillance practices in routine cases without such high-stakes political implications.

The exhaustive report by an independent official is likely to stand as a definitive accounting of the F.B.I.’s actions in the early stages of the Russia investigation, and it suggests a complex impact. By debunking conservative conspiracy theories yet sharply criticizing law enforcement actions that have not been the subject of public debate, Mr. Horowitz’s mixed findings may offer vindication for both critics and allies of Mr. Trump.

Signs have emerged that Mr. Trump and his allies may try to reject the findings they dislike. In recent days, associates of Attorney General William P. Barr have let it be known that he is skeptical of Mr. Horowitz’s expected conclusion that officials had a proper and lawful basis to open the Russia investigation.

On Monday, Mr. Barr praised Mr. Horowitz’s work but excoriated the F.B.I. investigation, saying the bureau’s “malfeasance and misfeasance” detailed in the report reflected a “clear abuse” of the wiretap application process.

“The inspector general’s report now makes clear that the F.B.I. launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Mr. Barr said in a statement.

The report, as well as Mr. Barr’s criticism, is certain to extend the debate over the legitimacy of the F.B.I.’s inquiry, which grew into the special counsel investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III. Mr. Barr has publicly said he thinks the Trump campaign was subjected to “spying” and tapped John H. Durham, the United States attorney in Connecticut, to lead yet another investigation into the Russia investigation.

Though the report largely exonerated F.B.I. officials of the president’s most inflammatory accusations, Mr. Trump’s persistent attacks have nonetheless already damaged the bureau’s reputation. Top officials were fired, while others left the bureau.

Much of the report focused on the paperwork associated with the wiretapping of Mr. Page, who was first approved for targeting in October 2016, about a month after he had stepped down from the Trump campaign. The Justice Department obtained three renewals of court permission to eavesdrop on Mr. Page — two under the Trump administration.

The four applications contained dozens of significant inaccuracies, material omissions or assertions that were not backed in supporting documents, according to the report, which grouped them in a chart. The applications for the wiretap relied on historical information about Mr. Page’s contacts before 2016, and claims about his 2016 interactions with Russians came from a notorious dossier of opposition research collected by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent paid by Democrats.

For example, the F.B.I. never told the main Justice Department, which in turn never told the court, that Mr. Page had for years been providing information to the C.I.A. about his prior contacts with Russian intelligence officials, including an encounter cited in the application as a reason to be suspicious of him. That made his history less suspicious, Mr. Horowitz suggested.

The F.B.I.’s omission of Mr. Page’s contacts with the C.I.A. relates to the criminal referral that Mr. Horowitz made about an F.B.I. lawyer assigned to assist the Russia investigation team. He found that the lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, altered an email from the C.I.A. to a colleague during a renewal application.

An F.B.I. official who had to sign an affidavit attesting to the accuracy and completeness of a court filing had specifically asked about any relationship with the C.I.A. Mr. Clinesmith altered the email so that it stated that Mr. Page was “not a source,” contributing to the Justice Department’s failure to discuss his relationship with the C.I.A. in a renewal application.

Mr. Horowitz has referred his findings about Mr. Clinesmith to prosecutors for a potential criminal investigation for making a false statement. Mr. Clinesmith left the Russia investigation in February 2018 after the inspector general identified him as one of a handful of F.B.I. officials who expressed animus toward Mr. Trump’s election as president in internal texts. He resigned from the bureau in September.

In addition to the other issues with the wiretap application, the F.B.I. in January 2017 interviewed a primary source for important claims about Mr. Page in Mr. Steele’s dossier. In the interview, the source contradicted some of what Mr. Steele had written. But F.B.I. officials said only that they found the source “truthful and cooperative,” leaving the false impression in renewal applications that his account had confirmed rather than raised doubts about the dossier’s reporting.

Indeed, as recently as July 2018, when the Justice Department sent a letter to the court discussing certain errors or omissions in its Page wiretap applications, the report said, it continued to defend the reliability of Mr. Steele’s reporting and the court filings by portraying Mr. Steele’s source has having corroborated his dossier.

The report placed primary blame for the significant errors and omissions on sloppiness by F.B.I. case agents, including one unnamed investigator who mischaracterized information and failed to advise the Justice Department officials working on court filings of several important facts.

The inspector general found that this pattern was not intentional, but that explanations offered in defense of the agents — such as that they were busy with the Russia investigation at the time and “the Carter Page FISA was a narrow aspect of their overall responsibilities” — were unsatisfactory.

Mr. Horowitz took no position on whether the outcome would have been different — and the intelligence court would not have approved wiretapping Mr. Page or extending the surveillance for additional periods — without the misstatements and omissions.

Still, notwithstanding now-famous text messages sent by several other F.B.I. officials that indicated a dislike for Mr. Trump, the bureau’s top counterintelligence official, Bill Priestap, made the decisions to open the investigation and scrutinize four Trump campaign figures with links to Russia, and Mr. Horowitz found that he had a sufficient and lawful basis to do so.

“Priestap’s exercise of discretion in opening the investigation was in compliance with department and F.B.I. policies, and we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced his decision,” the report said.

Mr. Trump’s frequent F.B.I. targets participated in Mr. Horowitz’s investigation, sitting for hours of interviews. That list includes James B. Comey, the former director; Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy and acting director; James A. Baker, the former general counsel; Lisa Page, a former senior counsel to Mr. McCabe; and Peter Strzok, a former senior counterintelligence agent.

Mr. Horowitz had previously uncovered text messages that Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok had exchanged on their work phones expressing hostility toward Mr. Trump, but his report found no evidence that any investigative steps were influenced by their personal political opinions. He made a similar finding about the Hillary Clinton email investigation, which involved many of the same law enforcement officials.

A footnote cited other F.B.I. officials who supported Mr. Trump’s campaign and expressed hostility toward Mrs. Clinton. It quoted text messages celebrating his surprise electoral win, including one by an agent who later explained to the inspector general that he was glad Mrs. Clinton lost because “I didn’t want a criminal in the White House.” The report similarly does not accuse these officials of taking official actions based on their personal political opinions.

Mr. Trump’s allies have argued that law enforcement officials abused their powers by using opposition research to get a wiretap and that the Justice Department should have done more to alert the court that Mr. Trump’s political opponents had funded Mr. Steele’s efforts.

A lengthy footnote in the application told the court that the information was most likely opposition research but did not specifically name the funders: the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign. Mr. Horowitz observed that is standard practice not to explicitly name Americans or American organizations in such sensitive documents; Mr. Trump, for example, is referred to as “Candidate #1.”

”The Carter Page FISA application did not identify by name Steele’s clients or the presidential candidates, which is consistent with the department’s general practice of not disclosing the true identities of U.S. persons who are not the surveillance targets in FISA applications,” Mr. Horowitz wrote.

Despite the particular attention it has received, the wiretap of Mr. Page was but a very small piece of a much larger, sprawling F.B.I. investigation into Russian interference. Investigators obtained nearly 500 search warrants and interviewed hundreds of witnesses, according to the special counsel’s report.

The report found that Mr. Steele’s information was not used in the opening of the Russia investigation, as Mr. Trump’s allies have frequently but falsely suggested as part of their claim that the F.B.I. spied on the Trump campaign as part of a politicized plot.

But the inspector general also determined that F.B.I. did not place informants or undercover agents in the campaign, and it did not ask them to “report on the Trump campaign.” Nor did the inspector general find evidence that undercover agents or informants were told to meet with Trump campaign officials before the opening of Crossfire Hurricane. Members told the inspector general that no investigative steps were before the actual opening of the investigation in late July 2016.

Instead, it confirms that the F.B.I. opened the inquiry after WikiLeaks began publicly releasing hacked Democratic emails and officials learned that a Trump campaign aide had previously bragged to a pair of Australian diplomats of knowing that Russia had dirt on Mrs. Clinton in the form of hacked emails it was willing to release anonymously to help Mr. Trump.

That campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, has subsequently accused the person who told him about Russia’s possession of those emails, a Maltese professor named Joseph Mifsud, of being an F.B.I. and C.I.A. asset engaged in a conspiracy to entrap the Trump campaign. But Mr. Horowitz is said to have found no evidence to corroborate that he worked for the F.B.I.

The inspector general also noted that the F.B.I. apparently requested information from another agency but that portion remains blacked out. It was previously reported that Mr. Mifsud did not work for the C.I.A., either.

Mr. Papadopoulos was later convicted of lying to the F.B.I. about his interactions with Mr. Mifsud. Mr. Trump has also raised the specter of a “deep state” conspiracy involving Mr. Mifsud.

In addition, the inspector general looked at the role of a Justice Department official named Bruce G. Ohr, who has been vilified by Mr. Trump and his allies because he was in contact with Mr. Steele and because his wife worked for the political research firm that employed Mr. Steele.

The inspector general criticized Mr. Ohr for failing to keep his supervisors informed of his actions, but does not accuse him of being part of a conspiracy. The inspector general described Mr. Ohr making “consequential errors in judgment,” requesting meetings with senior law enforcement officials outside his area of responsibility, by making himself “a witness” in the investigation.

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Amazon Accuses Trump of ‘Improper Pressure’ on JEDI Contract

Westlake Legal Group defaultPromoCrop Amazon Accuses Trump of ‘Improper Pressure’ on JEDI Contract United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Microsoft Corp Enterprise Computing Defense Department Defense Contracts Cloud Computing Bezos, Jeffrey P Amazon.com Inc

Amazon said in a legal complaint unsealed on Monday that it had lost a multibillion-dollar cloud computing contract with the Pentagon because President Trump used “improper pressure” to divert it from the company to harm its chief executive, Jeff Bezos.

Amazon had been considered the front-runner for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure project, known as JEDI, partly because it had built cloud services for the Central Intelligence Agency. It is also the country’s biggest cloud computing provider. But in October, the Pentagon awarded the contract to Microsoft.

Mr. Trump has openly criticized Mr. Bezos, who owns The Washington Post. The president has accused the paper of spreading “fake news.”

In its complaint, Amazon said that Mr. Trump attacked the company behind the scenes to hurt Mr. Bezos, “his perceived political enemy.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Impeachment Hearing Updates: Trump Actions Pose ‘Clear And Present Danger’ To Fair Elections, Democrat Charges

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Westlake Legal Group 09dc-livevid-sub2-videoSixteenByNine3000 Impeachment Hearing Updates: Trump Actions Pose ‘Clear And Present Danger’ To Fair Elections, Democrat Charges United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Democratic Party

The House Judiciary Committee will hear evidence presented by Democratic and Republican lawyers before it will consider articles of impeachment later in the week.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

In what amounted to the opening argument in the effort to impeach President Trump, the lawyer for Judiciary Democrats told the committee that the president’s actions were “so brazen” that there was no question that he had abused his power to advance his own political interests over those of the nation.

“The evidence is overwhelming,” said Barry H. Berke, the lawyer, repeating the phrase to emphasize the point to counter in advance Republican arguments that the impeachment inquiry has been rushed and inadequate. The facts assembled in recent weeks were “uncontradicted” and “cannot be disputed,” he added, as he played video clips from witnesses who testified last month before the House Intelligence Committee.

Another Democratic lawyer, Daniel S. Goldman, the counsel for the House Intelligence Committee that gathered the evidence being presented on Monday, said that Mr. Trump continues to try to distort next year’s election with false allegations, pointing to his weekend tweet saying that Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal lawyer, would make a report to the Justice Department about Democrats.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_165677574_fa1d86d2-6a72-4960-ba54-2800c68246e3-articleLarge Impeachment Hearing Updates: Trump Actions Pose ‘Clear And Present Danger’ To Fair Elections, Democrat Charges United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Democratic Party

“This is a big deal,” Barry H. Berke told lawmakers.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“President Trump’s persistent and continuing effort to coerce a foreign country to help him cheat to win an election is a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and to our national security,” Mr. Goldman said.

Mr. Berke placed the president’s actions with Ukraine in the context of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election on his behalf, as investigated by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Mr. Berke played a video clip of Mr. Trump that year publicly calling on “Russia, if you’re listening,” to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, and another of him as president telling reporters he wanted Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Rather than leave the matter to voters next fall, as some Republicans have argued, Mr. Berke said the House had to act now because Mr. Trump was trying to corrupt the 2020 election. “That’s not a reason to postpone this discussion,” he said. “That’s a reason we must have this discussion.”

The Republican presentation to the committee is focused more on the actions of the Democrats than on Mr. Trump’s, arguing that the president has been the target of an illegitimate, partisan witch hunt.

Stephen Castor, the lawyer representing Republicans on the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, devoted the majority of his prepared testimony to how the Democrats have conducted their inquiry and, in his view, distorted the facts to fit their preconceived narrative.

“This unfair process reflects the degree to which Democrats are obsessed with impeaching President Trump by any means necessary,” Mr. Castor told lawmakers. “The Democrats went searching for a set of facts on which to impeach the president — the emoluments clause, the president’s business and financial records, the Mueller report and allegations of obstruction there — before settling on Ukraine.”

Mr. Castor maintained that Mr. Trump was not pursuing his own interests, but was only concerned about corruption in Ukraine. “He was asking for assistance in helping our country move forward from the divisiveness of the Russia collusion investigation,” Mr. Castor said.

He noted that President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has not said he felt pressured and asserted that he did not know at the time he talked with Mr. Trump on the telephone on July 25 that the president had suspended American aid.

“If President Trump was truly orchestrating a pressure campaign to force Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden, one would think that Ukraine would have felt some pressure,” he said.

The White House refused to participate in Monday’s hearing, arguing that it was tilted against Mr. Trump and part of an illegitimate effort to overturn his election. But that did not stop Mr. Trump himself from participating — at least via social media.

After posting or reposting nearly 100 messages on Twitter on Sunday, most of them complaining about the impeachment effort and assailing Democrats, the president began lobbing digital missiles on Monday as the hearing progressed.

He also reposted approvingly a message by Buck Sexton, a conservative radio host: “Simply mind boggling that here we are, heading into year 4 of the Trump presidency, in a time of tremendous American economic prosperity and relative peace, and Democrats are *STILL* trying to ram Russia/Ukraine hysteria down the throats of normal Americans, like total psychos.”

Mr. Trump added: “True!”

The House Judiciary Committee opened a new phase in the impeachment inquiry on Monday as Democrats accused President Trump of violating his oath of office by pursuing his own political interests above those of the nation.

“President Trump put himself before country,” Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said, repeating the phrase five times during his opening statement as the panel prepared to hear evidence.

His Republican counterpart, Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, said the Democrats were out to get “a president they don’t like” from the moment he took office regardless of the evidence. “They spent two years trying to figure out what do we impeach him on,” he said.

Republicans have lodged repeated complaints about the way Mr. Nadler is running the hearing and the larger impeachment process, raising parliamentary points and forcing party-line votes.

Among other things, Republicans pressed Mr. Nadler repeatedly to schedule a hearing day that they would be allowed to organize, including calling witnesses of their choice. Mr. Nadler said he would think about it, but made no commitment.

They objected to the content of Mr. Berke’s presentation, arguing that it violated the committee’s rules of decorum against making disparaging remarks about the president. Mr. Nadler shut down the criticisms, noting that those rules do not apply to staff lawyers.

Republicans also complained that the lawyers making the opening presentations had not been sworn in under oath and that committee Republicans had not received until last weekend 8,000 pages of information from the House investigation, giving them little time to digest them before Monday’s hearing.

“Mr. Chairman, if this was a court of law, you’d be facing sanctions,” Representative Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania told Mr. Nadler.

“The gentleman will suspend and not make a speech,” Mr. Nadler scolded.

Republicans also used the moment to jab at Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, for not presenting the evidence his panel gathered himself.

“The author of the Schiff report is not here,” Mr. Collins said. “Instead he is sending his staff to do his job for him. I guess that’s what you get when you’re making up impeachment as you go.”

The hearing may be an important factor in shaping the articles of impeachment that House Democrats are drafting against Mr. Trump amid an intense debate about how expansive the charges of high crimes and misdemeanors should be.

Democrats appear poised to accuse Mr. Trump of abuse of power and bribery for pressuring Ukraine to help him incriminate Democratic rivals while withholding American security aid. They also expect to charge him with obstructing the congressional investigation by defying subpoenas, blocking current and former administration officials from testifying, and trying to intimidate those who have.

Less clear is whether they will include charges of obstruction of justice for trying to impede the Russia investigation by Mr. Mueller. In his report last spring, Mr. Mueller submitted evidence of 10 instances of possible obstruction but said he could not judge whether they were illegal. Attorney General William P. Barr, a Trump appointee, declared that the president’s actions were not illegal, but Democrats dismiss his judgment as skewed and partisan.

Mr. Nadler said he and his fellow Democrats would not decide the shape of the articles of impeachment until after hearing evidence on Monday.

“There are possible drafts that various people are writing,” Mr. Nadler said on “State of the Union” on CNN on Sunday. “But the fact is we’re not going to make any decision as to how broad the articles should be — as to what they contain, what the wording is — until after the hearing.”

  • The president and his advisers repeatedly pressured Mr. Zelensky of Ukraine and his government to investigate people and issues of political concern to Mr. Trump, including Mr. Biden. Here’s a timeline of events since January.

  • A C.I.A. officer who was once detailed to the White House filed a whistle-blower complaint on Mr. Trump’s interactions with Mr. Zelensky. Read the complaint.

Video

transcript

Who Are the Main Characters in the Whistle-Blower’s Complaint?

President Trump’s personal lawyer. The prosecutor general of Ukraine. Joe Biden’s son. These are just some of the names mentioned in the whistle-blower’s complaint. What were their roles? We break it down.

Congressman: “Sir, let me repeat my question: Did you ever speak to the president about this complaint?” Congress is investigating allegations that President Trump pushed a foreign government to dig up dirt on his Democratic rivals. “It’s just a Democrat witch hunt. Here we go again.” At the heart of an impeachment inquiry is a nine-page whistle-blower complaint that names over two dozen people. Not counting the president himself, these are the people that appear the most: First, Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani. According to documents and interviews, Giuliani has been involved in shadowy diplomacy on behalf of the president’s interests. He encouraged Ukrainian officials to investigate the Biden family’s activities in the country, plus other avenues that could benefit Trump like whether the Ukrainians intentionally helped the Democrats during the 2016 election. It was an agenda he also pushed on TV. “So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden.” “Of course I did!” A person Giuliani worked with, Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s former prosecutor general. He pushed for investigations that would also benefit Giuliani and Trump. Lutsenko also discussed conspiracy theories about the Bidens in the U.S. media. But he later walked back his allegations, saying there was no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens. This is where Hunter Biden comes in, the former vice president’s son. He served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company run by this guy, who’s had some issues with the law. While Biden was in office, he along with others, called for the dismissal of Lutsenko’s predecessor, a prosecutor named Viktor Shokin, whose office was overseeing investigations into the company that Hunter Biden was involved with. Shokin was later voted out by the Ukrainian government. Lutsenko replaced him, but was widely criticized for corruption himself. When a new president took office in May, Volodymyr Zelensky, Zelensky said that he’d replace Lutsenko. Giuliani and Trump? Not happy. They viewed Lutsenko as their ally. During a July 25 call between Trump and the new Ukrainian president, Trump defended him, saying, “I heard you had a prosecutor who is very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair.” In that phone call, Trump also allegedly asked his counterpart to continue the investigation into Joe Biden, who is his main rival in the 2020 election. Zelensky has publicly denied feeling pressured by Trump. “In other words, no pressure.” And then finally, Attorney General William Barr, who also came up in the July 25 call. In the reconstructed transcript, Trump repeatedly suggested that Zelensky’s administration could work with Barr and Giuliani to investigate the Bidens and other matters of political interest to Trump. Since the whistle-blower complaint was made public, Democrats have criticized Barr for dismissing allegations that Trump had violated campaign finance laws during his call with Zelensky and not passing along the complaint to Congress. House Democrats have now subpoenaed several people mentioned in the complaint, as an impeachment inquiry into the president’s conduct continues.

Westlake Legal Group vidxx-trump-ukraine-1-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 Impeachment Hearing Updates: Trump Actions Pose ‘Clear And Present Danger’ To Fair Elections, Democrat Charges United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Democratic Party

President Trump’s personal lawyer. The prosecutor general of Ukraine. Joe Biden’s son. These are just some of the names mentioned in the whistle-blower’s complaint. What were their roles? We break it down.CreditCredit…Illustration by The New York Times

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