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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 123)

Republican Impeachment Defense Claims Trump’s Ukraine Pressure Was Apolitical

WASHINGTON — House Republicans plan to argue that President Trump was acting on “genuine and reasonable” skepticism of Ukraine and “valid” concerns about possible corruption involving Americans, not political self-interest, when he pressed the country for investigations of his Democratic rivals, according to a draft of a report laying out their impeachment defense.

In a 123-page document that echoes the defiant messaging that Mr. Trump has employed in his own defense, the Republicans do not concede a single point of wrongdoing or hint of misbehavior by the president, according to a copy reviewed by The New York Times ahead of its planned release on Tuesday.

The report amounts to a pre-emptive attack by some of Mr. Trump’s most ardent supporters against Democrats’ arguments for impeachment. The Democrats have finalized a written report of their own and are scheduled to vote on Tuesday to transmit it to the House Judiciary Committee, kick-starting the next phase of the impeachment inquiry in the House as it barrels toward a likely vote on articles of impeachment.

In the Republicans’ dissenting views, they argue that after two months of investigation, the evidence “does not support” that Mr. Trump withheld a coveted White House meeting for Ukraine’s president or nearly $400 million in security assistance for the country as leverage for securing the investigations.

Westlake Legal Group republican-impeachment-report-1575324892513-articleLarge-v2 Republican Impeachment Defense Claims Trump’s Ukraine Pressure Was Apolitical Zelensky, Volodymyr Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 House of Representatives House Committee on the Judiciary Giuliani, Rudolph W Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr

Read the House Republicans’ Report on the Impeachment Inquiry

Republicans on three House committees on Monday finalized a report documenting their impeachment defense of President Trump. The Democrats are expected to release their own report in the near future.

The conclusion is at odds with sworn testimony from senior American diplomats, White House officials and other administration officials who recounted how Mr. Trump sought to use American influence over Ukraine to suit his domestic political purposes, repeatedly insisting that President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine announce investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and an unproven claim that Ukraine conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 election.

Rather than take those assertions at face value, the Republicans charge that they came from civil servants who dislike Mr. Trump’s agenda and style and are therefore allowing themselves to be part of a push by Democrats to undo the results of the 2016 election and thwart Mr. Trump’s re-election chances in 2020.

“The Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is not the organic outgrowth of serious misconduct; it is an orchestrated campaign to upend our political system,” the Republicans wrote. “The Democrats are trying to impeach a duly elected president based on the accusations and assumptions of unelected bureaucrats who disagreed with President Trump’s policy initiatives and processes.”

The argument mirrored one made at the White House on Monday by Kellyanne Conway, Mr. Trump’s counselor, who sought to portray Democrats’ case as flimsy.

“One out of 12 people had ever talked to the president of the United States and met him or discussed Ukraine with him — that is just mind-boggling to me,” Ms. Conway said, referring to the number of current and former government officials who testified publicly in the inquiry. “And we are supposed to impeach the president for high crimes and misdemeanors for that reason?”

Ms. Conway also dared the chairman of the Intelligence Committee who has been leading the inquiry, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, to testify publicly during the Judiciary Committee’s proceedings about his handling of the case. If he did, she promised to “show up on behalf of the White House,” which on Sunday declined to participate in a hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

Hours later, the Judiciary Committee unveiled the panel of constitutional scholars its members would question in that hearing to help inform its debate over whether Mr. Trump’s conduct was impeachable. The witnesses are Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School, Pamela S. Karlan of Stanford Law School, Michael J. Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina Law School and Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University Law School. Mr. Turley was invited by Republicans on the panel.

Democrats are expected to argue the virtual opposite of the Republican report. They will conclude, based on witness testimony and documentary evidence, that working with allies inside and outside his administration, Mr. Trump used the power of his office to pressure Ukraine to do his bidding in order to gain an advantage in the 2020 race.

Democrats’ case centers on a July phone call in which Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Zelensky to investigate Mr. Biden and the claim that Ukraine worked with Democrats to subvert the 2016 election. It is also likely to charge that Mr. Trump conditioned the White House meeting and military assistance money on a public commitment to the investigations.

The minority report was compiled by committee staff for the top three Republicans on the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform Committees.

It essentially formalizes a range of defenses Republicans road-tested during two weeks of public impeachment hearings in the Intelligence Committee last month. For members of the Judiciary Committee and the larger Republican conference in the House, it provides several alternative tacks for defending Mr. Trump or at least arguing against impeachment.

If the Democrats’ case hinges on linking actions by Mr. Trump and his agents to a unified pressure campaign, the Republican defense is staked on pulling those pieces apart and offering an alternate explanation for each.

Many of the actions in question, Republicans argue, stem from Mr. Trump’s “longstanding, deep-seated skepticism of Ukraine due to its history of pervasive corruption.”

“Understood in this proper context, the president’s initial hesitation to meet with President Zelensky or to provide U.S. taxpayer-funded security assistance to Ukraine without thoughtful review is entirely prudent,” the Republicans wrote.

Likewise, they argued, there was “nothing wrong with asking serious questions” about Mr. Biden and his younger son, Hunter Biden, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy firm when his father was vice president, or about “Ukraine’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.”

Though some officials who testified before the inquiry said that Hunter Biden’s role had prompted concerns about the appearance of a conflict of interest, no evidence had emerged to support any accusations of wrongdoing. And Mr. Trump’s own former national security advisers testified that the concerns he raised to Mr. Zelensky about 2016 were conspiracies promulgated by Russia to absolve its own interference campaign in 2016 and harm American democracy. They said the president had repeatedly been told as much.

Republicans also argued there was “nothing inherently improper” with Mr. Trump empowering Rudolph W. Giuliani, his private lawyer who led the push for investigations, to help steer Ukraine matters, despite testimony that there was widespread alarm at Mr. Giuliani’s involvement.

Fiona Hill, the former top Europe and Russia adviser at the White House, testified that her boss, John R. Bolton, had called Mr. Giuliani a “hand grenade.” Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are also investigating whether Mr. Giuliani’s Ukraine work broke the law.

The report spends relatively little time on the smear campaign by Mr. Giuliani and other Trump allies targeting Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former American ambassador to Kyiv, or Mr. Trump’s directive to remove her from her post months ahead of schedule. Ms. Yovanovitch’s removal is a key plank of Democrats’ case that Mr. Trump shunted aside the proper foreign policy apparatus to secure what he wanted from Ukraine, politically beneficial investigations.

Republicans do not suggest that Ms. Yovanovitch was treated fairly, but they play down her removal, arguing that it had no meaningful effect on her and writing that it was “not per se evidence of wrongdoing for the president’s political benefit.”

The report also repeats familiar Republican grievances about the denial of “fundamental fairness” in the investigative process put forward by Democrats. Mr. Trump’s decision to discourage participation in the inquiry, they wrote, was “a legitimate response to an unfair, abusive, and partisan process, and does not constitute obstruction of a legitimate impeachment inquiry.”

Democrats do not see it that way, and have prepared a catalog of all of the ways that Mr. Trump has obstructed their inquiry that could form the basis for its own article of impeachment in the Judiciary Committee.

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

Sanctions May Have Fueled Iran Protests, but Have Yet to Further U.S. Goals

Westlake Legal Group 02dc-policy1-facebookJumbo Sanctions May Have Fueled Iran Protests, but Have Yet to Further U.S. Goals United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Pompeo, Mike Obama, Barack Khamenei, Ali Iran Embargoes and Sanctions Economic Conditions and Trends Demonstrations, Protests and Riots

President Trump likes to say that Iran is “a different country” after 18 months of punishing American sanctions, and the protests sweeping Iranian cities suggest he may be right. Even his most vociferous critics acknowledge that Mr. Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign helped fuel that unrest.

But it is far from clear that what is unfolding on the streets today will make Iran more likely to renegotiate its nuclear deal or dial back its malign actions in the region, the two major American goals in dealing with the country.

If the lessons of the Arab Spring and the last big Iranian protests in 2009 are any guide, the crackdown on protesters may well succeed — and the Iranian government will press its case that the uprisings are more evidence of a broad American plot to destabilize the government. And even if Iran’s leaders begin to give some ground, it’s not enough to make partial concessions that don’t address Washington’s fundamental complaints, some administration officials have acknowledged in interviews. The government has to crack in the right way, and that is far from assured.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told “Fox & Friends” on Monday that the United States was supporting the protesters and that “we’ve done our best to make sure they can continue to communicate by using the internet,” despite a brief effort last week by Iran’s leadership to shut it down “in its entirety” in the country. He was referring to a quiet American effort, dating back several years, to provide ordinary Iranians with ways of communicating without government interference — what the United States calls free speech, and what the Iranian government calls an interference with its cybersovereignty.

But poking holes in Iran’s digital dragnet is a tactic to keep the protests going, not a strategy for transforming Iran’s behavior. And it runs the risk of playing into the Iranian government’s narrative that American efforts are aimed at regime change rather than a change of behavior — and has echoes of “Operation Ajax,” the C.I.A.’s recently acknowledged role in supporting a coup in the country in the mid-1950s.

And while Americans have long forgotten that episode, Iranians certainly have not, something Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is certainly aware of as he tries to ride out the uprisings.

In a series of speeches over the past year, Mr. Pompeo and his special envoy for Iran, Brian H. Hook, have made their strategy clear: By constantly ramping up sanctions, they are betting that Ayatollah Khamenei and the government of President Hassan Rouhani will decide that the cost at home is not worth resisting the United States’ pressure but simply cannot say when, or how, that will happen. And they may be proved right: It was a mix of sanctions and sabotage that forced Iran to the table seven years ago, leading to the 2015 agreement that Mr. Trump discarded last year.

“There is a universe in which the Iranian leadership, given the severity of the crisis, seizes this moment to reach a deal with the U.S. that would remove these sanctions in exchange for Tehran complying with the nuclear deal and starting negotiations on a new, broader agreement,” said Robert Malley, the president of the International Crisis Group and one of the negotiators of the 2015 accord when he served on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council.

Mr. Malley added that it was also possible that the Trump administration, “recognizing the limits of its maximum-pressure campaign in curbing Iran’s nuclear or regional ambitions, agrees.”

But the far more likely scenario, given the mood in both capitals, he said, was “one in which the Iranian regime views the unrest chiefly as a foreign, U.S.-inspired plot and refuses to negotiate from a position of weakness.”

Meanwhile, he said, Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo, “buoyed by the sense that its pressure campaign can bring the regime to its knees,” double down.

In fact, that standoff appears to be where things are now headed. Mr. Pompeo insisted on Monday that the root of the protests is what Iranian leaders have done to their economy, not that the sanctions have worsened.

“These protests are a direct result of economic collapse, the absence of political freedoms and a regime that has sent their young boys off to fight and come back dead, and hasn’t used that money for the betterment of the Iranian people,” he said on Fox. “You’re seeing these protests as a direct result of that.”

But he may be underestimating the ayatollah’s skills in putting down dissent over 30 years in office. He “doesn’t feel existential angst,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iranian-American scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

The pressure on the leadership will not build “unless and until we start seeing fissures among Iran’s security forces, and so far there are no signs of that,” he added.

The key question is whether economic conditions deteriorate. Mr. Hook noted in an interview on Monday that as the country cuts back further on subsidies, there will be more protests of the kind spurred by the 50 percent surge in gasoline prices. “The regime is running out of money after wasting billions on proxy wars and graft,” Mr. Hook said. “We expect to see additional subsidy cuts and rationing.”

Even if that proves right, Ayatollah Khamenei may in fact be betting that he can wait things out until the American elections, hoping that any Democrat who may be elected would restore the 2015 agreement. It is an uncertain bet — few have made that commitment, and it is almost unimaginable that any future American president would re-enter the agreement without getting something from Iran in return.

In many ways, the decisions the administration finds itself confronting now are similar to the ones the Obama administration confronted in 2009 amid the outbreak of the so-called Green Revolution. It was the first uprising of Mr. Obama’s presidency, less than five months after his inauguration. He reacted with a caution that many of his aides later regretted, declining to speak out in favor of the protesters for fear that it would play into the hands of the Iranian government.

Mr. Pompeo took a swipe at that approach on Monday.

“This administration has taken a completely opposite view of the important political protests, the freedom-seeking, the freedom-loving people of Iran, than President Obama and his administration did,” he said.

He went on to trumpet the somewhat vague effort to put technology into the hands of the Iranian people to allow them to communicate — and slip out images of the carnage as Iranian forces opened up on protesters in places like Mahshahr, a city of 120,000 people where the Revolutionary Guards crushed protesters on Nov. 18, killing as many as 100.

“After the 2017-18 protests in Iran, we accelerated efforts to enable Iranians to communicate with each other and with the outside world,” Mr. Hook said on Monday. Over the past few weeks, he said, “tens of thousands of Iranians used circumvention tools facilitated by the U.S. and our partners, even during the shutdown.”

But both the State Department and American intelligence officials were surprised that the Iranian government took the extraordinary step of shutting down the entire domestic internet infrastructure, even if only for a few days. Taking such an extreme step may have been part of an effort to undercut the use of those American-provided tools, which encrypt communications and give alternate pathways to transmit messages. But no one envisioned a total network shutdown.

Now American officials are trying to examine exactly what happened, and why the Iranians turned the system back on. One senior intelligence official said the best guess so far was that when the government turned off the network, it prompted all kinds of side effects — including a halt to many kinds of commerce — that only worsened the economic pain.

In the meantime, the administration is lauding what it says is a partial victory. Yes, the Iranians may be trying to reassemble the elements of the nuclear program, it notes, and they have not yet re-engaged in negotiations. But the uprisings are soaking up political time and attention.

“Because of our economic pressure campaign,” Mr. Hook insisted, “the regime has far less money and less time to spend on its ambition to dominate the Middle East. This reversal was long overdue.”

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

Trump Says U.S. Will Impose Metal Tariffs on Brazil and Argentina

Westlake Legal Group 02dc-trumptariffs-facebookJumbo Trump Says U.S. Will Impose Metal Tariffs on Brazil and Argentina United States International Relations United States Economy Trump, Donald J Steel and Iron International Trade and World Market Customs (Tariff) Currency Brazil Argentina Aluminum

President Trump said on Monday that he would impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from Brazil and Argentina, widening a global trade war and hitting an ally, Brazil’s conservative president.

Mr. Trump, in a message on Twitter, said what he called currency manipulation by Brazil and Argentina was hurting American farmers. “Therefore, effective immediately, I will restore the Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the U.S. from those countries.”

The Trump administration never imposed tariffs on Brazilian and Argentine metals, though it did force them to limit shipments to the United States under a quota system last year. The United States initially exempted Brazil and Argentina from the president’s sweeping metal tariffs in 2018, with the United States saying it would continue negotiations with those countries on a trade deal.

It is unclear what prompted Mr. Trump’s message. But last week the Brazilian currency, the real, fell to a record low against the dollar after the country’s economic minister signaled that he was not concerned about exchange-rate fluctuations.

Argentina’s peso has weakened with the country in the midst of an economic crisis.

The surprise announcement on Monday was the latest escalation in the biggest global trade conflict in decades. Mr. Trump has also threatened new tariffs on products from China, Mexico, the European Union, Vietnam and elsewhere.

With next year’s election approaching, the Trump administration appeared to be working toward a resolution on several of these fronts. It has been trying to seal a first-phase trade deal with China, though the two sides are continuing to grapple over terms. And the administration has been pushing for Congress to approve its revision of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which would check off a major campaign promise for Mr. Trump.

But the tariffs on Brazil and Argentina suggest that Mr. Trump has not abandoned his confrontational approach.

On Monday, he said on Twitter that American stock markets “are up as much as 21%” since he announced the metal tariffs on March 1, 2018, and that the United States was taking in “massive amounts of money” in tariff revenue.

The announcement also revived the threat of steel and aluminum tariffs in particular, which the administration has steadily rolled back over the last year as it reached settlements with Canada, Mexico and other countries.

The president began placing stiff tariffs on global metals last year to stop what his administration contended was a flood of imported steel and aluminum that was threatening American producers and thus American national security. The idea has been disputed, with several countries bringing cases against the United States at the World Trade Organization.

Tariffs have had limited benefits for the steel industry. Many American steel producers supported the tariffs and say they have provided some protection against cheaper metals imported from abroad. But other economic factors have proved more influential, including China’s large-scale production and a weakening manufacturing sector in the United States and abroad.

The tariffs have also angered American manufacturers of automobiles, machinery, food packaging and other products, who must pay more for the metal they purchase.

As of Monday morning, neither the Office of the United States Trade Representative nor the Commerce Department had issued the formal notices that would put tariffs on Brazil and Argentina into effect.

Both Argentina and Brazil have benefited from the president’s trade war with China, which has hurt American exports of soybeans and other products.

Brazil and Argentina have picked up much of that business, replacing the United States as a large purveyor of farm goods to China.

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

Trump Says U.S. Will Reinstate Metal Tariffs on Brazil and Argentina

Westlake Legal Group defaultPromoCrop Trump Says U.S. Will Reinstate Metal Tariffs on Brazil and Argentina United States International Relations Trump, Donald J International Trade and World Market Customs (Tariff) Brazil Argentina

President Trump said on Monday that he would reinstate tariffs on steel and aluminum from Brazil and Argentina, accusing the two countries of artificially weakening their currencies and hurting American farmers.

Mr. Trump, in a message on Twitter, said the currency manipulation by Brazil and Argentina was hurting American farmers. “There, effective immediately, I will restore the Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the U.S. from those countries.”

The Trump administration initially exempted Brazil and Argentina from the president’s sweeping metal tariffs in 2018, after the United States said it had reached trade deals with those countries.

It is unclear exactly what prompted Mr. Trump’s message on Twitter. Argentina’s currency has weakened but the country has been in the midst of an economic crisis.

But both Argentina and Brazil have benefited from the president’s trade war with China, which has hurt American exports of soybeans and other products.

Brazil and Argentina have picked up much of that business, replacing the United States as a large purveyor of farm goods to China.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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

Trump Says U.S. Will Reinstate Metal Tariffs on Brazil and Australia

Westlake Legal Group defaultPromoCrop Trump Says U.S. Will Reinstate Metal Tariffs on Brazil and Australia United States International Relations Trump, Donald J International Trade and World Market Customs (Tariff) Brazil Argentina

President Trump said on Monday that he would reinstate tariffs on steel and aluminum from Brazil and Argentina, accusing the two countries of artificially weakening their currencies and hurting American farmers.

Mr. Trump, in a message on Twitter, said the currency manipulation by Brazil and Argentina was hurting American farmers. “There, effective immediately, I will restore the Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the U.S. from those countries.”

The Trump administration initially exempted Brazil and Argentina from the president’s sweeping metal tariffs in 2018, after the United States said it had reached trade deals with those countries.

It is unclear exactly what prompted Mr. Trump’s message on Twitter. Argentina’s currency has weakened but the country has been in the midst of an economic crisis.

But both Argentina and Brazil have benefited from the president’s trade war with China, which has hurt American exports of soybeans and other products.

Brazil and Argentina have picked up much of that business, replacing the United States as a large purveyor of farm goods to China.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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

Sidelined for Months, Judiciary Panel Will Reclaim Impeachment Drive It Once Led

Westlake Legal Group 00dc-impeach1-facebookJumbo Sidelined for Months, Judiciary Panel Will Reclaim Impeachment Drive It Once Led United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2020 House Committee on the Judiciary

This spring, as President Trump defiantly rejected congressional attempts to investigate his conduct and policies, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, asked his Democratic colleagues on his famously voluble panel a loaded question: When all is said and done, given the facts before us, are we heading toward impeaching this president?

The answer came back mixed, said people familiar with the private discussion in an office building opposite the Capitol, with many of the panel’s progressive firebrands saying impeachment was inevitable, while some of its more senior members held back, wary of embracing a process likely to unleash forces well beyond their control.

Half a year later, after several twists and turns and the near-death of the prospect of impeaching Mr. Trump in the House, the answer to Mr. Nadler’s question has become clear, even as the divisions that were evident on that spring day remain.

After being unceremoniously sidelined for two months while the Intelligence Committee assembled a case that the president pressured Ukraine to help him in the 2020 election, the judiciary panel is poised to retake the national stage this week to swiftly draft and debate articles of impeachment and almost certainly vote to make Mr. Trump only the third president in history to be impeached.

“News of the Judiciary Committee’s demise has been greatly exaggerated,” said Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, a top Democratic leader and member of the panel.

What comes next is likely to be a messy and raucous process. And there were already signs late Sunday that the panel, the arbiter of presidential impeachment proceedings past, was again at the center of the maelstrom its Democratic members have been expecting, one way or another, for months.

In a five-page letter packed with complaints about an “unfair process,” Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, turned down an offer from Mr. Nadler for Mr. Trump or his lawyers to participate on Wednesday when the committee summons yet-unnamed legal experts to help inform its debate over whether Mr. Trump’s conduct warrants impeachment.

But Mr. Cipollone said Mr. Trump’s team reserved the right to change course once more information about the hearing became available, and might consider taking part in future Judiciary Committee proceedings “if you afford the administration the ability to do so meaningfully.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have conspicuously avoided locking in a timeline for the inquiry, but privately they are said to be aiming for a full House vote on impeachment articles before the Christmas recess, barring unexpected developments. That would leave the Judiciary Committee with as little as two weeks to do its work.

“Even at this late date,” Mr. Cipollone wrote, “it is not yet clear whether you will afford the president at least these basic, fundamental rights, or continue to deny them.”

Mr. Nadler, in consultation with Ms. Pelosi and his members, will have to decide how to handle requests like Mr. Cipollone’s, weighing a desire to demonstrate fairness to Mr. Trump against a determination to maintain forward momentum in the proceedings. It is one of the many delicate tasks, fraught with political risks and legal intricacies, that have fallen to the judiciary panel as the impeachment inquiry enters a critical phase.

The first milestone will come in the form of a written report from the Intelligence Committee, which is to be approved on Tuesday. The handoff of the report, which will most likely form much of the basis for articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump, will be a stylistic and substantive turning point for the inquiry that will almost certainly inflame a debate that has already roiled Congress and divided the country.

Large, disorderly and stacked with some of Congress’s most outspoken progressives and conservatives, the Judiciary Committee is the polar opposite of the small and staid intelligence panel, where rules drafted to facilitate the handling of government secrets allowed Democrats to tightly control every aspect of the impeachment inquiry.

The judiciary rules, instead, are fundamentally democratic, intended to provide wide latitude for divisive debates over the nation’s most pressing policy issues, many of the them cultural hot buttons that fuel each party’s activist base. Barring some momentous new evidence, not a single lawmaker on either side is expected to budge.

And while the Intelligence Committee conducted much of its investigative work behind closed doors, the judiciary panel will work entirely in the public glare.

The stakes are high. For party leaders, who have warily eyed recent national polling that shows public opinion essentially unmoved by weeks of fact-finding laying out how Mr. Trump twisted the foreign policy process to meet his own domestic political interests, the debate offers perhaps a final chance to move independent voters behind them before putting Mr. Trump on trial in the Senate.

Democrats, led by Mr. Nadler, intend to try to rein in their more fiery progressives and infuse the proceedings with gravitas, mindful of their role in history. But the freewheeling nature of the panel, with its hyperpartisan members, does not easily lend itself to that task. And their handling of the report by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel who investigated Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign, earned Mr. Nadler and his committee a reputation for being unable to fully control their own proceedings.

Republicans instead want to mire Democrats in a sloppy fight, making the hearings into such a confusing mishmash of competing information that even Republicans troubled by Mr. Trump’s actions see no upside in breaking with him. They plan to take advantage of early impeachment advocacy by Mr. Nadler and Democrats on the panel to portray the Ukraine matter as simply another attempt by Mr. Trump’s critics to take him down.

“Any article to come out of this? There is no world in which a Republican, especially on the Judiciary Committee, will accept this,” Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the panel’s top Republican, said in an interview. “We have seen this sideshow up close all year.”

Joining Mr. Collins on Republicans’ side of the dais are some of the most ardent culture warriors and defenders of Mr. Trump: Louie Gohmert of Texas, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Jim Jordan of Ohio, who led the president’s defense in the Intelligence Committee. They have already shown a flair for the dramatic, organizing conservative lawmakers to storm the Intelligence Committee’s secure chambers in a stunt to stall the proceedings, which they called a “kangaroo court.”

Mr. Collins, a Georgia lawyer with an auctioneer’s cadence and a lawyer’s knack for tripping up committee business with time-consuming parliamentary tactics, is ready to make the proceedings as painful as possible for Democrats. He warned that if Mr. Nadler intended to jam articles of impeachment through the committee, he would go down in history as “a giant rubber stamp” for Ms. Pelosi and Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the Intelligence Committee chairman.

It will be up to Mr. Nadler, a loquacious progressive from Manhattan’s Upper West Side who is now one of the House’s leaders, to maintain order and inject gravity and fairness into the proceedings.

Democrats have spent weeks speculating that his relationship with Ms. Pelosi had been badly strained by his earlier push for impeachment, which she publicly opposed, believing the process was too divisive and unlikely, in any event, to result in the president’s removal. Both sides deny it, but privately lawmakers around him conceded that they were wary of comparisons to Mr. Schiff, who oversaw hearings in the Intelligence Committee with an iron fist and tight lips.

Republicans have been quick to weaponize Mr. Nadler’s patience against him in the past, taking advantage of his reticence to simply gavel them into silence.

“We will bend over backward to be fair,” said Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington. “Let’s see if he stands straight instead of standing corrupt. Let’s put the onus on the president to for once perhaps behave.”

The clash will begin during Wednesday’s hearing. But the panel is expected to convene another session in the coming days for Mr. Schiff or his staff members to formally present the Intelligence Committee’s findings for consideration, a spectacle akin to the presentation of evidence by Ken Starr, the independent counsel, during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment.

Articles of impeachment themselves will be drafted in private, but debated, edited and amended out in the open — a process that could take two to three days of public work.

Privately, Democrats believe they could end up with three to four articles of impeachment: one or two focused on the president’s alleged abuse of power related to Ukraine, another chronicling his obstruction of congressional requests for witnesses and documents, and potentially an article focused on findings by Mr. Mueller charging Mr. Trump with obstructing justice when he tried to thwart the Russia investigation.

That last potential charge is the subject of a lively private debate among Democrats about how broad of a case to make against the president. At least one senior member of the committee, Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California, said in an interview that she remained unconvinced that Mr. Mueller’s case united House Democrats in the same way the Ukraine affair has.

“As you will recall, I did not step forward urging movement for impeachment based on the Mueller report,” said Ms. Lofgren, who worked for the committee during impeachment proceedings against President Richard M. Nixon and served on it during Mr. Clinton’s impeachment. “What we have got before us, which has been explored factually by the Intelligence Committee, is clear and serious.”

Mr. Nadler and other members of the Judiciary Committee spent months this summer aggressively pushing within their caucus for impeachment based on Mr. Mueller’s findings, making only limited headway amid historic White House stonewalling and drawing public criticism for seeming to fumble a case many Democrats once thought would be an ironclad shot at impeaching Mr. Trump. That was the state of play in September when they were thrust to the side by Ms. Pelosi after an anonymous whistle-blower complaint related to Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine found its way to the Intelligence Committee.

Democrats on the judiciary panel have spent the interim preparing out of public view to close whatever case the caucus can agree on. A small army of staff lawyers has spent weeks exhaustively researching House rules and precedents from the Clinton and Nixon impeachments to help Mr. Nadler navigate the coming hearings. And like millions of other Americans, they have had their televisions tuned to the intelligence hearings and the evidence that will soon be in their hands.

“The Judiciary Committee has been very closely watching the testimony,” said Representative David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island.

Michael D. Shear and Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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Trump’s Lawyers Won’t Participate in Impeachment Hearing on Wednesday

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_163633758_54db907c-38ff-487b-afe6-9da2ac68902d-articleLarge Trump’s Lawyers Won’t Participate in Impeachment Hearing on Wednesday United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Nadler, Jerrold impeachment House of Representatives House Committee on the Judiciary

Representative Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is convening his panel’s first impeachment hearing Wednesday.Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Lawyers for President Trump said on Sunday that they will not participate in the House Judiciary Committee’s first public hearing on Wednesday as House Democrats prepare to shift the direction of the inquiry toward drafting articles of impeachment against the president.

Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the committee, had offered the president or his lawyers the opportunity to participate in the hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry, when a panel of legal experts will offer an assessment of whether Mr. Trump committed impeachable offenses.

“We cannot fairly be expected to participate in a hearing while the witnesses are yet to be named and while it remains unclear whether the Judiciary Committee will afford the president a fair process through additional hearings,” Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, wrote in a letter to Mr. Nadler. “Under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing.”

He did not rule out participation in future hearings.

Mr. Trump has stonewalled the inquiry, seeking to block witnesses and documents, and his lawyers had privately questioned whether to participate in the Wednesday hearing, as the president and his allies continue to call the proceedings “deranged” and a “witch hunt.” People familiar with the president’s legal strategy have said privately that his lawyers are deeply suspicious of taking part in a process they view as unfair to Mr. Trump.

On Friday, Mr. Nadler also informed the administration that the president and his lawyers had a week to tell the committee whether they would call witnesses or present evidence as part of their defense against possible impeachment articles stemming from allegations that Mr. Trump pressured Ukraine to help him in his re-election campaign. The House Intelligence Committee is expected to approve a written report of its findings in its investigation of Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine on Tuesday, after which the focus of the impeachment proceedings will shift to Mr. Nadler’s panel.

“We’re certainly hoping that the president, his counsel, will take advantage of that opportunity if he has not done anything wrong,” said Representative Val Demings, Democrat of Florida and a member of both the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. Speaking on ABC’s “This Week” before the White House announcement, she added, “If he has not done anything wrong, we’re certainly anxious to hear his explanation of that.”

During the remainder of his Thanksgiving vacation at Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach estate, Mr. Trump remained relatively quiet about the inquiry, except for a few Twitter posts sharing articles late Saturday night that asserted Mr. Trump’s innocence.

A number of Mr. Trump’s allies appeared on television shows Sunday morning to aggressively condemn the process outlined by the House.

Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, before the announcement questioned why the White House would want to participate in “just another rerun.”

“We’ve already had constitutional scholars in the committee talking about — from the Mueller report and others, is there an impeachable offense?” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Mr. Collins renewed demands for Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee and the lead Democrat overseeing last month’s public testimony, to testify. (It is unlikely that Mr. Schiff will do so.)

“It’s an internal kind of time frame to try and finish this out by the end of the year because they want to get at this president right now before everybody completely sees through the process sham of the elections for next year,” Mr. Collins said. “We’re rushing this.”

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Trump’s Other Personal Lawyer: Close to the Right, but Far From Giuliani

WASHINGTON — Jay Sekulow is a real lawyer, and he plays one on TV.

Mr. Sekulow, the coordinator of President Trump’s personal legal team, does not have an office in the White House. He is best known as a prodigious fund-raiser on evangelical television and a litigator for the Christian right, not for handling criminal prosecutions or executive power disputes. In 2016, Mr. Sekulow said he voted for Hillary Clinton, according to people close to him.

Yet with the House Judiciary Committee set to begin impeachment hearings on Wednesday and Mr. Trump enmeshed in legal battles on other fronts — like his tax returns, claims of immunity from prosecution and elements of his immigration and health care policies — Mr. Sekulow has emerged as one of Mr. Trump’s most trusted advisers and loyal defenders in the news media.

Operating under the name Constitutional Litigation & Advocacy Group from a co-working space in a Pennsylvania Avenue office building, Mr. Sekulow, 63, coordinates the efforts of eight outside lawyers enlisted to help Mr. Trump. He is in regular touch with the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, and speaks frequently with the president.

A long list of lawyers have cycled tumultuously in and out of Mr. Trump’s orbit over the past three years: Donald F. McGahn II, his first White House counsel; Ty Cobb and John M. Dowd, who represented him in the early stages of the special counsel’s investigation; and Emmet T. Flood, who saw Mr. Trump through the completion of the Mueller report. Then there is Rudolph W. Giuliani, like Mr. Sekulow a personal lawyer for Mr. Trump, whose aggressive digging for political dirt in Ukraine has put him under federal investigation and led to the president facing a House impeachment inquiry.

But Mr. Sekulow has hung on.

He was recommended by the erstwhile Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon to help guide Mr. Trump’s legal response to the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Like Mr. Giuliani, he has New York roots and spent decades as a pugilistic advocate on television, in Mr. Sekulow’s case in a natty on-air uniform of bespoke suit and three-corner silk pocket square.

Unlike Mr. Giuliani, he has avoided messy public conflicts that upstage his client, and he reflects the embattled president’s reliance on evangelical Christians, a crucial political constituency. He declined to be interviewed on the record for this article.

“Jay is not a criminal lawyer, and he’s not even a checks-and-balances constitutional lawyer,” said Paul Rosenzweig, who was senior counsel to Ken Starr for the Whitewater investigation during the Clinton administration. “The substantive background he has is not a particularly good fit for any of those tasks. But he’s been at it for two years, so maybe he’s got more experience in defending this president than anybody.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group 00dc-sekulow2-articleLarge Trump’s Other Personal Lawyer: Close to the Right, but Far From Giuliani United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Trump Tax Returns Sekulow, Jay Alan Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Religion-State Relations Religion and Belief Mercer University Jews for Jesus Evangelical Movement Christians and Christianity

Mr. Sekulow, left, in 2003 outside the Supreme Court, where he won a string of religious liberty cases.Credit…Dennis Cook/Associated Press

Mr. Sekulow was born in Brooklyn and grew up an observant Jew, first on Long Island and later in Atlanta, where his father, a clothing buyer, moved the family to take a job at a department store.

Mr. Sekulow attended Atlanta Baptist College, today known as Mercer University. It was around that time, he has said, that he became a Christian, in part because of the influence of a college friend, Glenn Borders, who led him through an exploration of the Bible. He would go on to be active in Jews for Jesus, an organization of evangelical believers of Jewish ancestry.

In a first-person biography on the Jews for Jesus website, he wrote that during his reading of the Old and New Testaments, “my suspicion that Jesus might really be the messiah was confirmed.” At a later gathering, “they invited people who wanted to commit their life to Jesus to come up the aisle to meet with them at the front of the church,” Mr. Sekulow wrote. “I responded to that invitation.”

After graduating from law school at Mercer, Mr. Sekulow worked briefly at the Internal Revenue Service, then opened a law firm in Atlanta with a few Mercer classmates and his brother Gary. Working a network of contacts, including a local pastor, Mr. Sekulow swiftly moved from routine real estate closings and wills to a business renovating and flipping historic properties, at the time a popular tax shelter for the wealthy.

The venture imploded in 1986, a development Mr. Sekulow omits from his Jews for Jesus biography. Mr. Sekulow; his brother Gary; his father, Stanley; his law partner Stuart Roth; and their business associates were sued for fraud and securities violations. They declared bankruptcy, leaving a trail of unpaid debts.

Within a year of his bankruptcy, Mr. Sekulow reinvented himself as a litigator for the Christian right. As general counsel for Jews for Jesus, he argued before the Supreme Court and won a 9-to-0 victory in 1987, successfully making the case that by banning Jews for Jesus from distributing pamphlets at Los Angeles International Airport, the Board of Airport Commissioners violated the group’s First Amendment rights.

Within months Mr. Sekulow founded his own faith-based advocacy group, Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism, or CASE, to meet, Mr. Sekulow wrote, “a growing need to challenge the state’s infringement upon the right of Christians to proclaim the gospel” in “parks, school campuses at every level, malls, street corners and, of course, airports.”

Mr. Sekulow won a string of Supreme Court cases in the early and mid-1990s by arguing that bans on various forms of religious expression in public places violated the practitioners’ right to free speech.

His legal successes impressed the televangelists Janice Crouch and Paul Crouch Sr., founders of Trinity Broadcasting Network and icons of what is commonly called prosperity gospel, the belief that following God yields wealth and health. Many mainstream Christians consider the theology heretical.

Mr. Sekulow appeared on the rhinestone-clad couple’s “Praise the Lord” TV show, where they solicited “love gifts” for the young lawyer they called “our little Jew” and “our little David,” battling the Goliath of the secular state.

The Crouches gave Mr. Sekulow his own show, broadcast from a mock courtroom in a TBN studio in Mobile, Ala., and produced by their son, Paul Crouch Jr.

“We got him launched,” the younger Mr. Crouch, who has since left TBN, said in an interview.

Mr. Sekulow still appears on TBN, which carries his show and hawks his books, like “Unholy Alliance,” whose blurb says it “exposes the attempts by fundamentalist Muslims to destroy our legal system and liberties.” Paul Crouch Jr. has also asked Mr. Sekulow to appear in “Trump 2024,” an election-year Christian documentary about Mr. Trump that assumes a second term.

In 1990, the televangelist Pat Robertson, a close friend of the Crouches, hired Mr. Sekulow as chief counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice, a group founded in opposition to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Over three decades, CASE and the A.C.L.J., funded by donations Mr. Sekulow solicits on TV and through telemarketers, have channeled tens of millions of dollars to the Sekulow family and their affiliated businesses, financing homes in Washington, Tennessee and France; private jet travel; and a chauffeur.

Over the years, several news outlets have investigated the groups and their payments to Mr. Sekulow and his wife, sons, brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew. In 2017, The Guardian, citing documents, published an article saying that between 2000 and 2017 CASE has “steered more than $60 million to Sekulow, his family and their businesses,” including for property, production services and a private jet lease.

The same day, The Washington Post published an investigation of the organizations’ tax records, finding that between 2011 and 2015 the interconnected charities paid $5.5 million in compensation directly to Mr. Sekulow and five family members, another $7.5 million to “businesses owned by Mr. Sekulow and his sister-in-law for producing and consulting on TV, movie and radio shows, including his weekday program, ‘Jay Sekulow Live!,’” and $21 million to a law firm co-owned by Mr. Sekulow: Constitutional Litigation & Advocacy Group.

“CASE and A.C.L.J. comply with all rules and regulations of the Internal Revenue Service,” the law and justice center said in a statement to The New York Times. “We have independent auditors and two independent tax law firms, and we’re in good standing in all 50 states.”

During the Obama administration Mr. Sekulow continued his work at the center, fighting against the Affordable Care Act and defending an Operation Rescue activist sued over “undercover” videos filmed at a Planned Parenthood clinic. During the recession, the group used telemarketers to solicit “sacrificial gifts” from struggling people by phone, according to the Guardian article.

Mr. Robertson said in an interview that if Mr. Sekulow were being “compensated as an attorney for the work that he does, he would be making in the seven-figure range.” Unlike Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Sekulow is paid for representing Mr. Trump; Mr. Sekulow’s son Jordan and Mr. Roth are also on the Trump payroll.

Every weekday Mr. Sekulow takes to the Christian airwaves, amplifying White House talking points and raising money for the A.C.L.J. Last month he and his son worked to impugn the impeachment inquiry’s “alleged whistle-blower,” casting him as part of an Obama administration “chain of deep staters.” As witnesses testified before the House Intelligence Committee, his show promoted its “exclusive live analysis of Adam Schiff’s phony, lacking-due-process” hearings.

After a federal appeals court again rejected Mr. Trump’s efforts to shield his tax returns from New York criminal investigators last month, Mr. Sekulow vowed to take the battle to the Supreme Court, telling CBS News that the president’s claims of legal immunity even from murder “go to the heart of our republic.”

Whether he will argue the case himself before the Supreme Court has not yet been decided.

Charlie Savage contributed reporting.

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Trump’s Trade Deal Steals a Page From Democrats’ Playbook

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WASHINGTON — House Democrats return to Washington on Monday facing a difficult choice: Should they hand President Trump a victory in the midst of a heated impeachment battle or walk away from one of the most progressive trade pacts ever negotiated by either party?

The Trump administration agreed with Canada and Mexico on revisions to the North American Free Trade Agreement one year ago, but the deal still needs the approval of Congress. A handshake agreement with the administration in the coming days would give the Democratic caucus a tangible accomplishment on an issue that has animated its base. It could also give Democrats a chance to lock in long-sought policy changes to a trade pact they criticize as prioritizing corporations over workers, laying the groundwork for future trade agreements.

Those factors have coaxed Democrats to the table at an improbable moment, when Washington is split by partisan fights and deeply divided over an impeachment inquiry. After months of talks, including through the Thanksgiving break, both sides say they’re in the final phase of negotiations. But Democrats insist the administration must make more changes to the labor, environmental and other provisions before Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California will bring legislation implementing the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement to a vote.

“By any standard, what we’ve already negotiated is substantially better than NAFTA,” said Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, who is heading the Democratic group negotiating with the administration. “Labor enforcement, in my judgment, is the last hurdle.”

The deal presents a dilemma for Democrats because it contains measures they have supported for years, from requiring more of a car’s parts to be made in North America to rolling back a special system of arbitration for corporations and strengthening Mexican labor unions.

In borrowing from the Democrats’ playbook, the revised pact reflects Mr. Trump’s populist trade approach — one that has blurred party lines and appealed to many of the blue-collar workers Democrats once counted among their base. It also reflects a broader backlash to more traditional free trade deals, which have been criticized for hollowing out American manufacturing and eliminating jobs.

“Taken as a whole, it looks more like an agreement that would’ve been negotiated under the Obama administration,” said Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio and a former trade representative during the George W. Bush administration, who supports the pact. “There are some aspects to it that Democrats have been calling for, for decades.”

In fact, it goes so far to the left of traditional Republican views on trade that some congressional Republicans only grudgingly support it — or may vote against the final deal.

Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, one of the most ardent Republican critics of the deal, has called the pact “a complete departure from the free trade agreements we’ve pursued through our history” and urged fellow Republicans to vote it down.

“If we adopt this agreement, it will be the first time that I know of in the history of the Republic that we will agree to a new trade agreement that is designed to diminish trade,” Mr. Toomey said at a hearing in July, sitting next to a large red sign that said: “NAFTA > U.S.M.C.A.”

Still, most Republicans have supported the pact and urged rapid action. If the deal is not approved soon, proponents fear it could become the target of more frequent attacks by Democratic presidential candidates, making it even more difficult for Democrats in Congress to vote for the pact.

Mr. Trump has spent weeks accusing Ms. Pelosi of being “grossly incompetent” and prioritizing impeachment over a trade deal that could benefit workers. “She’s incapable of moving it,” Mr. Trump said last week, warning that a “great trade deal for the farmers, manufacturers, workers of all types, including unions” could fall apart if the Democrats don’t take action.

While long demonized by Mr. Trump, Democrats and labor unions, NAFTA has become critical to companies and consumers across North America, guiding commerce around the continent for a quarter century. Entire industries have grown up around the trade agreement, which allows goods like cars, avocados and textiles to flow tariff free among Canada, Mexico and the United States.

But Mr. Trump and other critics have blamed the deal for encouraging companies to move their factories to Mexico. The president has routinely called NAFTA the “worst trade deal ever made” and promised during his campaign that he would rewrite it in America’s favor — or scrap it altogether.

The revised pact took over a year of rancorous talks to complete, resulting in a complex 2,082-page agreement covering a wide range of topics. While much of it simply updates NAFTA for the 21st century, it also contains changes intended to encourage manufacturing in the United States, including by raising how much of a car must be made in North America to qualify for zero tariffs.

The new agreement requires at least 70 percent of an automaker’s steel and aluminum to be bought in North America, which could help boost United States metal production. And 40 to 45 percent of a car’s content must be made by workers earning an average wage of $16 an hour. That $16 floor is an effort to force auto companies to either raise low wages in Mexico or hire more workers in the United States and Canada, an outcome Democrats have long supported.

It also rolls back a special system of arbitration for corporations that the Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has criticized as allowing companies to bypass the American legal system and Trump administration officials describe as an incentive for companies to send their factories abroad.

The pact also includes, at least on paper, provisions that aim to do away with sham Mexican labor unions that have done little to help workers by requiring every company in Mexico to seek worker approval of collective bargaining agreements by secret ballot in the next four years.

Some Democrats are skeptical that the Mexican government will allocate the necessary funds to ensure that companies are complying with these changes. But if the rules are enforced, Democrats say they may help stem the flow of jobs to Mexico and put American workers on a more equal footing.

Several sticking points remain, including a provision that offers an advanced class of drugs 10 years of protection from cheaper alternatives, which Democratic lawmakers say would lock in high drug prices.

Other Democratic proposals aim to add teeth to the pact’s labor and environmental provisions. Democrats want to reverse a change made by the Trump administration that they say essentially guts NAFTA’s enforcement system. They are also arguing for additional resources that would allow customs officials to inspect factories or stop goods at the border if companies violate labor rules.

Mr. Neal told reporters late last month that he believed House Democrats could soon work out their differences with Robert Lighthizer, Mr. Trump’s trade representative.

Ms. Pelosi, who has continued to suggest that she wants to “get to yes” on the deal, responded to Mr. Trump’s rebuke last week by saying that she needed to see the administration’s commitments in writing before moving forward.

The agreement still has skeptics, including labor leaders and others on the left.

“Unless Donald Trump agrees to add stronger labor and environmental standards and enforcement, and secures progress on labor reforms in Mexico, NAFTA job outsourcing will continue,” said Lori Wallach, the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “And the Big Pharma giveaways Trump added must go: They make U.S.M.C.A. worse than NAFTA.”

But Democrats say that if the additional changes they are seeking get made, the deal would be more progressive than the original NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership — both of which were negotiated by Democratic administrations. Mr. Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership within days of taking office.

Jesús Seade, Mexico’s chief negotiator for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, said many tweaks Democrats want are “improvements.”

“If the amendments suggested are acceptable improvements, then there’s no reason we should not be shaking hands next week,” he said on Friday, after meeting with Canadian officials.

Some congressional Republicans, who generally oppose unions and believe the deal’s new rules could burden auto companies, have been taken aback by how far the administration has gone to woo Democrats.

At a private lunch on June 11 at the Capitol, Republican senators peppered Vice President Mike Pence with questions about why the administration was not lobbying Democrats harder to back the deal. Mr. Pence claimed that it already had the support of 80 Democrats, a high number that caught some Republicans by surprise, according to a person familiar with the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“What’s in it for Pelosi?” asked Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska.

Mr. Pence responded that the pact had the most aggressive labor and automotive standards ever put in a trade agreement — an admission for some Republicans in the room that it was the worst trade agreement they had been asked to support.

Jennifer Hillman, a trade expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, said many of Mr. Lighthizer and Mr. Trump’s views on trade “are basically borrowing what Democrats have said for many, many years.”

“To the extent that Trump gained votes in the industrial Midwest, it was by espousing Democratic trade ideas,” she said.

Throughout the negotiations, Mr. Lighthizer has kept up a steady dialogue with labor unions like the United Steelworkers and Democrats like Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Neal and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio. At times, Mr. Lighthizer appeared more at odds with congressional Republicans and traditional allies like the Chamber of Commerce, who he said should give up “a little bit of the sugar” that had sweetened trade agreements for multinational corporations.

“If you can get some labor unions on board, Democrats on board, mainstream Republicans on board, I think you can get big numbers,” Mr. Lighthizer said in January 2018. “If you do, that’s going to change the way all of us look at these kind of deals.”

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Trump’s Intervention in SEALs Case Tests Pentagon’s Tolerance

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He was limp and dusty from an explosion, conscious but barely. A far cry from the fierce, masked Islamic State fighters who once seized vast swaths of Iraq and Syria, the captive was a scraggly teenager in a tank top with limbs so thin that his watch slid easily off his wrist.

Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher and other Navy SEALs gave the young captive medical aid that day in Iraq in 2017, sedating him and cutting an airway in his throat to help him breathe. Then, without warning, according to colleagues, Chief Gallagher pulled a small hunting knife from a sheath and stabbed the sedated captive in the neck.

The same Chief Gallagher who later posed for a photograph holding the dead captive up by the hair has now been celebrated on the campaign trail by President Trump, who upended the military code of justice to protect him from the punishment resulting from the episode. Prodded by Fox News, Mr. Trump has made Chief Gallagher a cause célèbre, trumpeting him as an argument for his re-election.

The violent encounter in a faraway land opened a two-year affair that would pit a Pentagon hierarchy wedded to longstanding rules of combat and discipline against a commander in chief with no experience in uniform but a finely honed sense of grievance against authority. The highest ranks in the Navy insisted Chief Gallagher be held accountable. Mr. Trump overruled the chain of command and the secretary of the Navy was fired.

The case of the president and a commando accused of war crimes offers a lesson in how Mr. Trump presides over the armed forces three years after taking office. While he boasts of supporting the military, he has come to distrust the generals and admirals who run it. Rather than accept information from his own government, he responds to television reports that grab his interest. Warned against crossing lines, he bulldozes past precedent and norms.

As a result, the president finds himself more removed than ever from a disenchanted military command, adding the armed forces to the institutions under his authority that he has feuded with, along with the intelligence community, law enforcement agencies and diplomatic corps.

“We’re going to take care of our warriors and I will always stick up for our great fighters,” Mr. Trump told a rally in Florida as he depicted the military hierarchy as part of “the deep state” he vowed to dismantle. “People can sit there in air-conditioned offices and complain, but you know what? It doesn’t matter to me whatsoever.”

The president’s handling of the case has distressed active-duty and retired officers and the civilians who work closely with them. Mr. Trump’s intervention, they said, emboldens war criminals and erodes the order of a professional military.

“He’s interfering with the chain of command, which is trying to police its own ranks,” said Peter D. Feaver, a specialist on civilian-military relations at Duke University and former aide to President George W. Bush. “They’re trying to clean up their act and in the middle of it the president parachutes in — and not from information from his own commanders but from news talking heads who are clearly gaming the system.”

Chris Shumake, a former sniper who served in Chief Gallagher’s platoon, said in an interview that he was troubled by the impact the president’s intervention could have on the SEALs.

“It’s blown up bigger than any of us could have ever expected, and turned into a national clown show that put a bad light on the teams,” said Mr. Shumake, speaking publicly for the first time. “He’s trying to show he has the troops’ backs, but he’s saying he doesn’t trust any of the troops or their leaders to make the right decisions.”

Chief Gallagher, who has denied any wrongdoing, declined through his lawyer to be interviewed. Mr. Trump’s allies said the president was standing up to political correctness that hamstrings the warriors the nation asks to defend it, as if war should be fought according to lawyerly rules.

“From the beginning, this was overzealous prosecutors who were not giving the benefit of the doubt to the trigger-pullers,” Pete Hegseth, a weekend host of “Fox & Friends” who has promoted Chief Gallagher to the president both on the telephone and on air, said this past week. “That’s what the president saw.”

Chief Gallagher, 40, a seasoned operator with a deeply weathered face from eight combat deployments, sometimes went by the nickname Blade. He sought out the toughest assignments, where gunfire and blood were almost guaranteed. Months before deploying, he sent a text to the SEAL master chief making assignments, saying he was “down to go” to any spot, no matter how awful, so long as “there is for sure action and work to be done.”

“We don’t care about living conditions,” he added. “We just want to kill as many people as possible.”

Before deployment, he commissioned a friend and former SEAL to make him a custom hunting knife and a hatchet, vowing in a text, “I’ll try and dig that knife or hatchet on someone’s skull!”

He was in charge of 22 men in SEAL Team 7’s Alpha Platoon, which deployed to Mosul, Iraq, in early 2017. But his platoon was nowhere near the action, assigned an “advise and assist” mission supporting Iraqi commandos doing the block-by-block fighting. The SEALs were required to stay 1,000 meters behind the front lines.

That changed on May 6, 2017, when an Apache helicopter banked over a dusty patchwork of fields outside Mosul, fixed its sights on a farmhouse serving as an Islamic State command post and fired two Hellfire missiles reducing it to rubble.

Chief Gallagher saw the distant explosion from an armored gun truck. When he heard on the radio that Iraqi soldiers had captured an Islamic State fighter and took him to a nearby staging area, he raced to the scene. “No one touch him,” he radioed other SEALs. “He’s mine.”

When the captive was killed, other SEALs were shocked. A medic inches from Chief Gallagher testified that he froze, unsure what to do. Some SEALs said in interviews that the stabbing immediately struck them as wrong, but because it was Chief Gallagher, the most experienced commando in the group, no one knew how to react. When senior platoon members confronted Chief Gallagher, they said, he told them, “Stop worrying about it; they do a lot worse to us.”

The officer in charge, Lt. Jacob Portier, who was in his first command, gathered everyone for trophy photos, then held a re-enlistment ceremony for Chief Gallagher over the corpse, several SEALs testified.

A week later, Chief Gallagher sent a friend in California a text with a photo of himself with a knife in one hand, holding the captive up by the hair with the other. “Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife,” he wrote.

As the deployment wore on, SEALs said the chief’s behavior grew more erratic. He led a small team beyond the front lines, telling members to turn off locator beacons so they would not be caught by superiors, according to four SEALS, who confirmed video of the mission obtained by The New York Times. He then tried to cover up the mission when one platoon member was shot.

At various points, he appeared to be either amped up or zoned out; several SEALs told investigators they saw him taking pills, including the narcotic Tramadol. He spent much of his time scanning the streets of Mosul from hidden sniper nests, firing three or four times as often as the platoon’s snipers, sometimes targeting civilians.

One SEAL sniper told investigators he heard a shot from Chief Gallagher’s position, then saw a schoolgirl in a flower-print hijab crumple to the ground. Another sniper reported hearing a shot from Chief Gallagher’s position, then seeing a man carrying a water jug fall, a red blotch spreading on his back. Neither episode was investigated and the fate of the civilians remains unknown.

Chief Gallagher had been accused of misconduct before, including shooting through an Afghan girl to hit the man carrying her in 2010 and trying to run over a Navy police officer in 2014. But in both cases no wrongdoing was found.

SEALs said they reported concerns to Lieutenant Portier with no result. The lieutenant outranked Chief Gallagher but was younger and less experienced. SEALs said in interviews that the chief often yelled at his commanding officer or disregarded him altogether. After the deployment, Lieutenant Portier was charged with not reporting the chief for war crimes but charges were dropped. So SEALs said they started firing warning shots to keep pedestrians out of range. One SEAL told investigators he tried to damage the chief’s rifle to make it less accurate.

By the end of the deployment, SEALs said, Chief Gallagher was largely isolated from the rest of the platoon, with some privately calling him “el diablo,” or the devil.

Chief Gallagher was reported by six fellow SEALs and arrested in September 2017, charged with nearly a dozen counts including murder and locked in the brig in San Diego to await his trial. He denied the charges and called those reporting him liars who could not meet his high standards, referring to them repeatedly in public as “the mean girls” and saying they sought to get rid of him.

David Shaw, a former SEAL who deployed with the platoon, said he saw no evidence of that. “All six were some of the best performers in the platoon,” he said, speaking publicly for the first time. “These were guys were hand-selected by the chief based on their skills and abilities, and they are guys of the highest character.”

Chief Gallagher’s case was already simmering on the conservative talk show circuit when another service member, Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, an Army Green Beret, was charged last winter with killing an unarmed man linked to the Taliban in Afghanistan. On Dec. 16, barely minutes after a segment on “Fox & Friends,” Mr. Trump took to Twitter to say he would review the case, repeating language from the segment.

In the tweet, Mr. Trump included the handle of Mr. Hegseth, who speaks regularly with the president and has been considered for top jobs in the administration. An Army veteran, Mr. Hegseth served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan before heading two conservative veterans organizations “committed to victory on the battlefield,” as the biography for his speaker’s bureau puts it.

Upset at what he sees as “Monday morning quarterbacking” of soldiers fighting a shadowy enemy where “second-guessing was deadly,” Mr. Hegseth has for years defended troops charged with war crimes, including Chief Gallagher, Major Golsteyn and Lt. Clint Lorance, often appealing directly to the president on Fox News.

“These are men who went into the most dangerous places on earth with a job to defend us and made tough calls on a moment’s notice,” Mr. Hegseth said on Fox in May. “They’re not war criminals, they’re warriors, who have now been accused of certain things that are under review.”

Mr. Hegseth found a ready ally in Mr. Trump, a graduate of a military high school who avoided serving in Vietnam by citing bone spurs in his foot. Mr. Trump has long sought to identify himself with the toughest of soldiers and loves boasting of battlefield exploits to the point that he made up details of an account of a “whimpering” Islamic State leader killed in October.

In March, the president twice called Richard V. Spencer, the Navy secretary, asking him to release Chief Gallagher from pretrial confinement in a Navy brig, Mr. Spencer later wrote in The Washington Post. After Mr. Spencer pushed back, Mr. Trump made it an order.

By May, Mr. Trump prepared to pardon both Chief Gallagher and Major Golsteyn for Memorial Day, even though neither had yet faced trial. At the Pentagon, a conservative bastion where Fox News is the network of choice on office televisions, senior officials were aghast. They persuaded Mr. Trump to hold off. But that was not the end of the matter.

In June, Chief Gallagher appeared before a military jury of five Marines and two sailors in a two-week trial marred by accusations of prosecutorial misconduct. The medic who had been inches away from Chief Gallagher changed his story on the stand, claiming that he was the one who killed the captive.

In early July, the jury acquitted Chief Gallagher on all charges but one: posing for a trophy photo with a corpse. He was sentenced to the maximum four months in prison and demoted. Having already been confined awaiting trial, he walked out of the courtroom a free man.

“Congratulations to Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher, his wonderful wife Andrea, and his entire family,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “You have been through much together. Glad I could help!”

In the months afterward, Chief Gallagher was feted on conservative talk shows. Mr. Hegseth spoke privately with Mr. Trump about the case.

As it happened, the president shares a lawyer with Chief Gallagher — Marc Mukasey, a former prosecutor representing Mr. Trump in proceedings against his company. Mr. Mukasey said he never discussed Chief Gallagher with anyone in the administration. “I have been religious about keeping matters separate,” he said.

Another person with ties to Mr. Trump who worked on Chief Gallagher’s case was Bernard B. Kerik, a New York City police commissioner under former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who is now the president’s personal lawyer. Like Mr. Hegseth, Mr. Kerik repeatedly appeared on Fox News pleading Chief Gallagher’s case.

The much-investigated president saw shades of himself in the case — Chief Gallagher’s lawyers accused prosecutors of improprieties, a claim that advisers said resonated with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Spencer tried to head off further intervention. On Nov. 14, the Navy secretary sent a note to the president asking him not to get involved again. But Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, called to say Mr. Trump would order Chief Gallagher’s punishment reversed and his rank restored. In addition, he pardoned Major Golsteyn and Lieutenant Lorance.

“This was a shocking and unprecedented intervention in a low-level review,” Mr. Spencer wrote. “It was also a reminder that the president has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices.”

Mr. Spencer threatened to resign. The Army secretary, Ryan McCarthy, also weighed in, arguing that the country’s standards of military justice protected American troops by setting those troops up as a standard around the world.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper took the complaints to the president. The Pentagon also sent an information packet to the White House describing the cases, including a primer on why there is a Uniform Code of Military Justice. Mr. Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the president it was important to allow the process to go forward.

Caught in the middle was Rear Adm. Collin Green, who took command of the SEALs four days before Chief Gallagher was arrested. He made it a priority to restore what he called “good order and discipline” after a series of scandals, tightening grooming standards and banning unofficial patches with pirate flags, skulls, heads on pikes and other grim symbols used to denote rogue cliques, similar to motorcycle gangs.

For Admiral Green, the Gallagher case posed a challenge because after his acquittal, the chief regularly undermined the SEAL command, appearing without authorization on Fox News and insulting the admiral and other superiors on social media as “a bunch of morons.”

The admiral wanted to take Chief Gallagher’s Trident pin, casting him out of the force. He called both Mr. Spencer and the chief of naval operations, Adm. Michael Gilday, and said he understood the potential backlash from the White House, but in nearly all cases SEALs with criminal convictions had their Tridents taken.

Both Mr. Spencer and Admiral Gilday agreed the decision was his to make and said they would defend his call. Mr. Esper briefed Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, on Nov. 19 and the next day the Navy established a review board of fellow enlisted SEALs to decide the question.

But a day later, an hour after the chief’s lawyer blasted the decision on Fox News, the president stepped in again. “The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!”

Three days later, Mr. Spencer was fired, faulted by Mr. Esper for not telling him about an effort to work out a deal with the White House to allow the Navy process to go forward.

In an interview with Mr. Hegseth this past week, Chief Gallagher thanked Mr. Trump for having his back. “He keeps stepping in and doing the right thing,” the chief said. “I want to let him know the rest of the SEAL community is not about this right now. They all respect the president.”

Dave Philipps reported from Colorado Springs, Co., Peter Baker and Helene Cooper from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York.

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