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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 124)

Fact Checking Trump’s Campaign Rally in Orlando

Westlake Legal Group 18dc-trumpfactcheck-facebookJumbo Fact Checking Trump’s Campaign Rally in Orlando United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Politics and Government Orlando (Fla)

President Trump officially began his campaign for re-election on Tuesday at a rally in Orlando, Fla. Here’s a fact-check of his remarks.

This article will be updated throughout the event.

“Nobody’s been tougher on Russia than Donald Trump.”

Whether Mr. Trump has been “tougher” than any other president is subjective. But it’s worth noting that observers of American relations with Russia point to a disconnect between aggressive policies enacted by the Trump administration and not-so-tough language from Mr. Trump himself.

In his resignation letter in December, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis emphasized that his views on “treating allies with respect and also being cleareyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors” — Russia, for example — were not shared by Mr. Trump.

The Trump administration has indeed imposed sanctions, ordered a missile attack on Syria despite Moscow’s opposition and approved arms sales to Ukraine — actions that could be called “tough.”

Yet Mr. Trump himself has repeatedly denied or played down Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, contradicting his own intelligence agencies.

“My personal view is that his assertion would be laughable if it were not so dangerous,” Harley Balzer, a professor emeritus at Georgetown University and a Russia expert, previously told The Times.

Withdrawing American troops from Syria, where Mr. Balzer said Russia has accused a humanitarian relief group of being terrorists, “hardly sends a ‘tough’ message.”

This view seems to be shared by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who called Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw American forces from Syria “correct.”

“In September, just before the election, the F.B.I. told President Obama about possible Russian interference and he did nothing because he thought that Hillary Clinton, crooked Hillary was going to win that’s why he did nothing. He did nothing.”

Mr. Trump is free to argue that Mr. Obama did not do enough in response to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, as some Democrats have. But he is wrong that Mr. Obama did nothing at all.

Privately, Obama administration officials warned Russia against meddling and Mr. Obama confronted President Vladimir V. Putin directly at a Group of 20 summit meeting in China before the November 2016 vote. Publicly, intelligence agencies issued a joint statement in October 2016 that blamed Russia for hacked emails released on WikiLeaks and other websites.

After the election, Mr. Obama imposed sanctions on Russia and ejected from the United States 35 people who were suspected of being Russian intelligence operatives.

“We are building the wall. We will have over 400 miles of wall built by the end of next year.”

Mr. Trump is once again mixing projects to replace existing barriers with construction of entirely new sectors of a wall along the southwestern border — and inflating the mileage.

The Customs and Border Protection agency has received funding for 258 miles of barriers: 175 miles from congressional appropriations, 30 miles from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund and 53 miles from the Pentagon’s coffers, according to an agency spokesman.

That’s 142 miles less than what Mr. Trump claimed. Even that figure relies on counting replacement projects as new wall, on contracts that have yet to be awarded and on funding that is tenuous. The 40 miles funded in the 2017 fiscal year, for example, is to replace old barriers with new fencing, while a federal judge in May blocked Mr. Trump from using the Pentagon funds to build his wall.

We enacted “the biggest tax cut in history.”

Despite dozens of repetitions, this claim remains false. The $1.5 trillion tax cut, enacted in December 2017, ranks below at least half a dozen others by several metrics. The 1981 Reagan tax cut is the largest as a percentage of the economy and by its reduction to federal revenue. The 2012 Obama cut amounted to the largest cut in inflation-adjusted dollars: $321 billion a year.

“We are taking billions and billions of dollars in and — remember this, and you know it as well as I do — we have never taken in 10 cents from China. We would lose $500 billion a year with China.”

The United States had a trade deficit of $381 billion in goods and services with China in 2018. The United States has collected tariff revenue on imports since the 1700s. Data compiled by Factcheck.org shows that the United States collected more than $10 billion in customs duties on Chinese imports every year between 2010 and 2016.

“Since the election, we have created 6 million new jobs. Nobody thought that would be possible. They said it wouldn’t be possible.”

Mr. Trump is including almost three months when he was not yet president, but his figures are accurate. The economy added about 6 million jobs from November 2016 to May 2019. In the 28 full months since he’s been president, February 2017 to May 2019, the figure was about 5.4 million jobs.

Far from being previously impossible, the economy added roughly 6.1 million jobs in the 28 months before Mr. Trump was president.

“We have lifted more than 6 million Americans off of food stamps.”

Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program did decline by about 6.9 million people from November 2016 to March 2019.

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

Fact-Checking Trump’s Campaign Kickoff Rally: Russia, the Wall and Tax Cuts

Westlake Legal Group 18dc-trumpfactcheck-facebookJumbo Fact-Checking Trump’s Campaign Kickoff Rally: Russia, the Wall and Tax Cuts United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Politics and Government Orlando (Fla)

President Trump officially began his campaign for re-election on Tuesday at a rally in Orlando, Fla. Here’s a fact-check of his remarks.

This article will be updated throughout the event.

“Nobody’s been tougher on Russia than Donald Trump.”

Whether Mr. Trump has been “tougher” than any other president is subjective. But it’s worth noting that observers of American relations with Russia point to a disconnect between aggressive policies enacted by the Trump administration and not-so-tough language from Mr. Trump himself.

In his resignation letter in December, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis emphasized that his views on “treating allies with respect and also being cleareyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors” — Russia, for example — were not shared by Mr. Trump.

The Trump administration has indeed imposed sanctions, ordered a missile attack on Syria despite Moscow’s opposition and approved arms sales to Ukraine — actions that could be called “tough.”

Yet Mr. Trump himself has repeatedly denied or played down Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, contradicting his own intelligence agencies.

“My personal view is that his assertion would be laughable if it were not so dangerous,” Harley Balzer, a professor emeritus at Georgetown University and a Russia expert, previously told The Times.

Withdrawing American troops from Syria, where Mr. Balzer said Russia has accused a humanitarian relief group of being terrorists, “hardly sends a ‘tough’ message.”

This view seems to be shared by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who called Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw American forces from Syria “correct.”

“In September, just before the election, the F.B.I. told President Obama about possible Russian interference and he did nothing because he thought that Hillary Clinton, crooked Hillary was going to win that’s why he did nothing. He did nothing.”

Mr. Trump is free to argue that Mr. Obama did not do enough in response to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, as some Democrats have. But he is wrong that Mr. Obama did nothing at all.

Privately, Obama administration officials warned Russia against meddling and Mr. Obama confronted President Vladimir V. Putin directly at a Group of 20 summit meeting in China before the November 2016 vote. Publicly, intelligence agencies issued a joint statement in October 2016 that blamed Russia for hacked emails released on WikiLeaks and other websites.

After the election, Mr. Obama imposed sanctions on Russia and ejected from the United States 35 people who were suspected of being Russian intelligence operatives.

“We are building the wall. We will have over 400 miles of wall built by the end of next year.”

Mr. Trump is once again mixing projects to replace existing barriers with construction of entirely new sectors of a wall along the southwestern border — and inflating the mileage.

The Customs and Border Protection agency has received funding for 258 miles of barriers: 175 miles from congressional appropriations, 30 miles from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund and 53 miles from the Pentagon’s coffers, according to an agency spokesman.

That’s 142 miles less than what Mr. Trump claimed. Even that figure relies on counting replacement projects as new wall, on contracts that have yet to be awarded and on funding that is tenuous. The 40 miles funded in the 2017 fiscal year, for example, is to replace old barriers with new fencing, while a federal judge in May blocked Mr. Trump from using the Pentagon funds to build his wall.

We enacted “the biggest tax cut in history.”

Despite dozens of repetitions, this claim remains false. The $1.5 trillion tax cut, enacted in December 2017, ranks below at least half a dozen others by several metrics. The 1981 Reagan tax cut is the largest as a percentage of the economy and by its reduction to federal revenue. The 2012 Obama cut amounted to the largest cut in inflation-adjusted dollars: $321 billion a year.

“We are taking billions and billions of dollars in and — remember this, and you know it as well as I do — we have never taken in 10 cents from China. We would lose $500 billion a year with China.”

The United States had a trade deficit of $381 billion in goods and services with China in 2018. The United States has collected tariff revenue on imports since the 1700s. Data compiled by Factcheck.org shows that the United States collected more than $10 billion in customs duties on Chinese imports every year between 2010 and 2016.

“Since the election, we have created 6 million new jobs. Nobody thought that would be possible. They said it wouldn’t be possible.”

Mr. Trump is including almost three months when he was not yet president, but his figures are accurate. The economy added about 6 million jobs from November 2016 to May 2019. In the 28 full months since he’s been president, February 2017 to May 2019, the figure was about 5.4 million jobs.

Far from being previously impossible, the economy added roughly 6.1 million jobs in the 28 months before Mr. Trump was president.

“We have lifted more than 6 million Americans off of food stamps.”

Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program did decline by about 6.9 million people from November 2016 to March 2019.

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

Trump, at Rally in Orlando, Kicks Off His 2020 Re-election Bid

Westlake Legal Group 18dc-trumpvid-rally-facebookJumbo Trump, at Rally in Orlando, Kicks Off His 2020 Re-election Bid United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Orlando (Fla) Biden, Joseph R Jr

President Trump is holding a rally in Florida to formally launch his 2020 campaign. Here’s what he’s said so far:

After remarks by Vice President Mike Pence to a loud and cheering crowd, Melania Trump, the first lady, introduced President Trump, declaring that he “truly loves this country.”

Mr. Trump opened his rally attacking the media and predicting that journalists would not truthfully report that he had filled the 20,000-seat stadium, prompting a chant of “CNN sucks.” He then pointed to the news cameras and said, “By the way, that is a lot of fake news back there.”

It took only minutes for Mr. Trump to return to his most strongly-felt grievance. He railed against the Russia meddling investigation, saying it was an “ illegal attempt to overturn the results of the election, spy on our campaign, which is what they did, and subvert our democracy.” The crowd roared with approval and broke into chants of “lock her up.”

[Fact-checking Trump’s campaign kickoff rally: Russia, the wall and more.]

As he sought to feed the crowd red meat, Mr. Trump bragged about his record appointing judges to advance the conservative agenda and lashed out at Democrats for their treatment of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. “They tried to ruin his career. They tried to ruin his life,” he said. “They even wanted to impeach him on fraudulent charges.”

One of the central themes of Mr. Trump’s campaign will be immigration and the president did not disappoint his supporters, pledging to complete a wall across the border and warning that caravans of migrants would have been more dangerous if he had not already begun building it. The crowd responded with, “Build that wall!”

If there’s one thing Mr. Trump refuses to let go, it is the 33,000 emails that he claims Hillary Clinton deleted. “Can you imagine if I got a subpoena for emails,” he asked the crowd, saying Mrs. Clinton’s emails were acid washed. “If I deleted one email like a love note to Melania, it’s the electric chair for Trump.”

Mr. Trump polled his crowd — by cheering response — for his 2020 campaign slogan, pitting “Make American Great Again” against “Keep America Great.” The crowd chose the latter.

_______________

ORLANDO, Fla. — President Trump officially kicked off his campaign for re-election on Tuesday night, appearing at a “Make America Great Again” rally in front of a huge crowd of raucous supporters almost four years to the day since he announced an improbable run for public office from the golden-hued lobby of Trump Tower.

Giant television screens, food trucks, a band known as the Guzzlers and a celebration of all things Trump turned the 20,000-seat Amway Center into something between a playoff game and a music festival as Mr. Trump strode to the lectern.

Mr. Trump’s Tuesday rally is the beginning of what polls suggest will be a difficult 18 months for the president as he seeks another four years. Already trailing Democrats in many voter surveys and having never cracked 50 percent approval since taking office, Mr. Trump has become one of the most polarizing presidents in history.

But his decision to formally start his re-election bid in front of a frenzied crowd of die-hard supporters in Orlando, Fla., suggested that he had no intention of backing away from the dark messaging about immigration and trade that have proved so divisive. Nor would he abandon the personal attacks against his critics and the establishment that have supercharged his most loyal fans.

Trump supporters wearing red caps and “Make America Great Again” T-shirts under flimsy ponchos stood in a downpour on Tuesday afternoon, hours before the main event, waiting to get into the stadium. Some had been die-hard supporters since Mr. Trump opened his previous bid in 2015. Others were newer converts, who said they have been convinced over the past four years that his policies have improved their lives.

Danielle Cameron, 26, a human resources coordinator from Jacksonville, Fla., said she supported Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in 2016, and voted for Andrew Gillum in the Florida governor’s race last year. But after opening her own business, she said, “we recognized how the person we were voting for would have voted to increase the minimum wage in Florida to the point where we couldn’t have afforded to hire our employees.”

Ms. Cameron, who is African-American and called herself a “social justice warrior,” said she “started to re-evaluate where we stood politically and if we’re voting in our best interest.”

Mark Sglarata, who works in R.V. repair in Florida, said he came to support Mr. Trump because he lost jobs twice under President Barack Obama. “I haven’t lost my job once” under Mr. Trump, he said.

In interviews with a dozen Trump supporters, all dismissed the Mueller investigation as a distraction and expressed great confidence that Mr. Trump would ride to re-election.

“I just want to hear what his plans are for the next term,” said Terry Castro, 72, a retired business owner from Florida whose husband served in the military.

That was part of the challenge for the Trump campaign as it planned the event for a candidate who has not articulated a clear vision for what he wants to do with a second term. The rally mirrored his first announcement on June 16, 2015, which presented to the world the glossy, stiletto-heeled Trump aesthetic and the combative, anti-immigrant views of the candidate at the center of it.

For a president who wants to be seen as an outsider despite occupying the Oval Office, Tuesday night’s rally presented an opportunity to, at least for one night, turn the clock back to 2015, when Mr. Trump began campaigning as a disrupter with little to lose by making bold promises like the construction of a wall along the southwestern border.

But the stakes this time are much higher. And despite the accessories, and a crowd size Mr. Trump will be able to brag about, aides privately acknowledged before the speech that the candidate would not offer little new in his message.

Mr. Trump, after all, has been running for re-election since he moved into the White House: He filed papers with the Federal Election Commission for his re-election campaign on Jan. 20, 2017, the day he was inaugurated. The MAGA rallies he has regularly held in friendly red states have lost their novelty and much of the news media’s interest.

But the rally was expected to help consolidate his base in a must-win state where advisers view his poll numbers as too soft to be comfortable. Campaign officials are also hoping that packing a 20,000-seat stadium, a show of force no Democratic candidate can match, will reassure Mr. Trump, who has been rattled by his flagging poll numbers and frustrated by watching from the sidelines as the Democratic primary race heats up.

Without a new message or a clear agenda for a second term, Mr. Trump’s advisers are banking on the belief that the same basic playbook — Mr. Trump’s preternatural ability to shock and entertain — will again animate his core voters and retain the swing voters who gambled on him in 2016.

It remains to be seen if that strategy will succeed again or whether something new will emerge. “Trump hasn’t yet said how he wants to define the race,” said Jason Miller, a communications adviser on the 2016 campaign. “That’s ultimately going to be up to him.”

Republican strategists said that creating a contrast with progressive candidates like Mr. Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is his best bet for re-election, and Mr. Trump seems to agree.

During a visit to the battleground state of Iowa last week, the president warned that under the wrong leadership, the United States could tumble into a state of decline like Venezuela. And he notably name-checked Mr. Sanders.

Mr. Trump needs “to make suburban voters ask themselves by going to the polls, ‘What am I more annoyed by, Trump’s or the Democrats’ beliefs?’” said Steve Deace, an influential conservative radio host in Iowa.

But that calculus gets muddled in a scenario in which former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. emerges from his party’s nominating fight. Mr. Trump has been telling advisers that running against Mr. Biden would be a reprise of his 2016 race against Hillary Clinton, another more centrist candidate with a long track record who was anathema to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

Optimistic Democrats see danger ahead for the president.

“Trump begins the race in a perilous place,” said David Axelrod, a former top political adviser to Mr. Obama. “He is viewed unfavorably in the very Midwestern states that delivered him the White House, and it isn’t obvious where he would pick up states to replace them.”

Mr. Trump’s dreary polling numbers come despite a strong economy, which generally portends good things for an incumbent president. But Mr. Trump’s advisers have found, alarmingly, that voters do not credit him for it.

And Mr. Trump often steps on his list of accomplishments on jobs, tax cuts, deregulation and the appointment of conservative judges.

Still, his campaign aides feel confident of his re-election chances, mostly because of their dim view of the Democratic field. He is backed by a campaign operation that is sleeker and more sophisticated than the ragtag team he ran out of the 26th floor of Trump Tower in 2016. The campaign has invested millions of dollars in a digital strategy to harvest emails and phone numbers from potential supporters, and to advertise on sites like Facebook and YouTube, where his supporters can be found.

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump remains his own biggest asset and liability.

“This is a candidate, a president and personality who just throws out the script and improvises,” said Kevin Madden, a Republican political consultant. “He’ll probably operate within the stagecraft they provide him, but the message discipline you would expect from an incumbent campaign launching a re-election? It’s not going to look anything like that.”

There are also some basic principles of Trumpworld that have not changed. The president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is overseeing most of the operation, as he did last time. Mr. Trump primarily trusts only his family members and a small handful of other people, and he is a begrudging recipient of bad news.

That point was on public display over the past six weeks, after The New York Times and other outlets reported that early campaign polling from March showed a bleak landscape for the president.

Mr. Trump ordered aides to deny that there were numbers showing him trailing Mr. Biden, and to say instead that the full array of numbers was more favorable. Such numbers “don’t exist,” Mr. Trump told ABC News last week. Within days, the network obtained those numbers and proved him wrong.

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

Central Park Five: Trump Will Not Apologize for Calling for Death Penalty in 1989

[What you need to know to start the day: Get New York Today in your inbox.]

President Trump said on Tuesday that he would not apologize for his harsh comments in 1989 about the Central Park Five, the five black and Latino men who as teenagers were wrongly convicted of the brutal rape of a jogger in New York City.

Mr. Trump was asked about newspaper advertisements he bought back then calling for New York State to adopt the death penalty after the attack. (The ads never explicitly called for the death penalty for the five defendants.)

“You have people on both sides of that,” he said at the White House. “They admitted their guilt.”

“If you look at Linda Fairstein and if you look at some of the prosecutors, they think that the city never should have settled that case — so we’ll leave it at that,” he added, referring to the former prosecutor who was running the Manhattan district attorney’s sex crimes unit at the time.

Mr. Trump’s remarks about the Central Park Five were strikingly similar to comments he made in reaction to the deadly violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. A woman was killed after a driver slammed his vehicle into counterprotesters. At the time, the president said, “There was blame on both sides.”

In 1989, Mr. Trump placed full-page advertisements in four New York City newspapers, including The New York Times, calling for the state to adopt the death penalty for killers. He made clear that he was voicing this opinion because of the rape and assault of Trisha Meili, a woman who had been jogging in Central Park.

“I want to hate these murderers and I always will,” Mr. Trump wrote in the May 1989 ad. “I am not looking to psychoanalyze or understand them, I am looking to punish them.”

He wrote in all caps: “Bring back the death penalty and bring back our police!”

ImageWestlake Legal Group 18nytrump1-articleLarge Central Park Five: Trump Will Not Apologize for Calling for Death Penalty in 1989 washington dc Trump, Donald J Meili, Trisha Fairstein, Linda Central Park Jogger Case (1989) Central Park (Manhattan, NY)

Mr. Trump placed full-page advertisements in four New York City newspapers in 1989 calling for the state to adopt the death penalty.

At the time, Mr. Trump was an up-and-coming real estate developer, but the advertisements attracted widespread attention.

The five teenagers were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to prison for gang-raping and nearly killing Ms. Meili.

They said the police had coerced them into confessing to a crime they did not commit. Their convictions were vacated in 2002, and the city paid $41 million in 2014 to settle their civil rights lawsuit.

Barry Scheck, a founder of the nonprofit Innocence Project who was part of a team of lawyers who worked with prosecutors to reinvestigate the Central Park Five case, called Mr. Trump’s response disturbing.

“It’s shocking and deeply troubling that after all of these years, he would not have recognized that by calling for the reinstitution of the death penalty, it contributed to an atmosphere that deprived these men of a fair trial,” Mr. Scheck said.

The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., said in a statement on Tuesday that the men “were wrongfully convicted and what happened to them was an injustice.”

A Netflix mini-series, “When They See Us,” which premiered this month, renewed focus on the case and generated public outrage.

Much of that outrage targeted Ms. Fairstein, the former prosecutor. She has resigned from a number of prominent boards, including that of Vassar College, her alma mater.

The lead prosecutor on the 1989 case, Elizabeth Lederer, resigned this month as a lecturer at Columbia Law School.

The Netflix series is a dramatized account based on the experiences of the men — Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray and Yusef Salaam — who spent years in prison before being cleared of the charges.

The district attorney’s office determined that the attack on Ms. Meili was an assault committed by a man named Matias Reyes, who surfaced in 2002 and confessed to the crime, an admission confirmed by DNA evidence.

He had been accused of raping, maiming and murdering on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Ms. Meili was the second woman he raped and beat in the park that week.

The five boys were elsewhere in the park at the time, an investigation by the district attorney’s office found in 2002.

Read more about the Central Park Five
The Central Park Five: ‘We Were Just Baby Boys’

May 30, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 02park-five1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Central Park Five: Trump Will Not Apologize for Calling for Death Penalty in 1989 washington dc Trump, Donald J Meili, Trisha Fairstein, Linda Central Park Jogger Case (1989) Central Park (Manhattan, NY)
City Releases Trove of Documents in Central Park Jogger Case

July 20, 2018

Westlake Legal Group 21jogger001-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Central Park Five: Trump Will Not Apologize for Calling for Death Penalty in 1989 washington dc Trump, Donald J Meili, Trisha Fairstein, Linda Central Park Jogger Case (1989) Central Park (Manhattan, NY)

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Shanahan Withdraws as Defense Secretary Nominee, and Mark Esper Is Named Acting Pentagon Chief

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday withdrew the nomination of Patrick M. Shanahan to be the permanent defense secretary, leaving the Pentagon in transition at a time of escalating tensions with Iran and questions about the role of the military on the border with Mexico.

Mr. Shanahan, a former Boeing executive who had been serving as the acting defense secretary, announced his resignation as an F.B.I. background investigation, conducted on all cabinet nominees, was continuing because of incidents of family violence.

Mr. Shanahan’s ex-wife had accused him of punching her in the stomach, which Mr. Shanahan has denied. He said his ex-wife started the fight, and his spokesman said she was arrested and charged with domestic violence. The charges were eventually dropped.

Mr. Trump named Mark T. Esper, the secretary of the Army and a former Raytheon executive, to take over as acting secretary of defense. He did not say whether Mr. Esper would be nominated for the permanent position, but told reporters he was a “highly respected” graduate of West Point and Harvard and predicted that “he’ll do very well.”

The president said the withdrawal was the choice of Mr. Shanahan, who told Mr. Trump of his decision in an Oval Office meeting on Tuesday, shortly before Mr. Trump made the announcement in a Twitter post.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Shanahan said that “I would welcome the opportunity to be secretary of defense, but not at the expense of being a good father.” He said that he became worried that his “continuation in the confirmation process would force my three children to relive a traumatic chapter in our family’s life and reopen wounds we have worked years to heal.”

Mr. Shanahan’s resignation is not expected to have much effect on defense policy. Unlike his predecessor, Jim Mattis, Mr. Shanahan had largely acquiesced to the White House on a wide range of issues, including Mr. Trump’s recent decisions to deploy 2,500 troops to the Persian Gulf to counter the influence of Iran.

In addition to Mr. Esper, who was confirmed as secretary of the Army in November 2017, officials said Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, and Richard V. Spencer, the secretary of the Navy, were on the short list for defense secretary.

Mr. Shanahan’s divorce generated 4,700 pages in numerous filings in King County Superior Court in Seattle. The court documents, which were viewed by The New York Times, paint a portrait of a family torn apart by different views on how the three Shanahan children should be raised, as well as over Mr. Shanahan’s extended absences while he was at Boeing.

Two particular incidents stand out. On the night of Aug. 27, 2010, at the couple’s residence in Seattle, Mr. Shanahan’s wife at the time, Kimberley Jordinson Shanahan, called 911 after a fight with Mr. Shanahan. According to a statement from the couple’s son, the two argued over, among other things, a briefcase belonging to Mr. Shanahan that Mrs. Shanahan wanted to open.

Mr. Shanahan refused to allow his wife to take the briefcase, and a tug of war ensued. “My dad yanked the briefcase out of my mom’s hands and put it in the trunk of his car,” the couple’s oldest son, William C. Shanahan, said in the statement. “Then he slammed the trunk and locked the car. My mom was yelling, ‘Get the briefcase, get the briefcase.’”

Ms. Jordinson told the police that Mr. Shanahan punched her in the stomach while trying to take back the briefcase. He denied that accusation, and police charged her with domestic violence, but then dropped the charge.

The second incident took place in Florida on Nov. 23, 2011, after the couple’s divorce in September of that year. According to a statement from Ms. Jordinson, William Shanahan, then 17, attacked his mother after she confronted him about a relationship that she said he was having with the family’s 36-year-old former nanny. Ms. Jordinson said William pinned her against a wall and then got a baseball bat, “which he used to hit me repeatedly in the head, back, arms, neck, left and right hip, and the back of my legs.”

Ms. Jordinson said that she was knocked unconscious, and that William packed a bag and left the house. The couple’s youngest son, Jack, ran to a neighbor’s house and called the police. Ms. Jordinson was hospitalized.

Westlake Legal Group all-the-major-firings-and-resignations-in-trump-administration-promo-1530825933054-articleLarge Shanahan Withdraws as Defense Secretary Nominee, and Mark Esper Is Named Acting Pentagon Chief Trump, Donald J Shanahan, Patrick M (1962- ) Defense Department Appointments and Executive Changes

The Turnover at the Top of the Trump Administration

Since President Trump’s inauguration, White House staffers and cabinet officials have left in firings and resignations, one after the other.

Mr. Shanahan, who had remained living in Seattle, booked William into a hotel and flew to Florida the next day. He stayed there with his son in the hotel for four days before William turned himself in to the police, according to the statement from Ms. Jordinson. Mr. Shanahan paid for defense attorneys for his son, who eventually entered into a plea bargain with the state.

In an interview with The Washington Post published Tuesday, Mr. Shanahan said that “bad things can happen to good families.” He called the episode “a tragedy,” and said that dredging it up publicly “will ruin my son’s life.”

Mr. Shanahan and Pentagon aides have known for months that the divorce details, which are publicly available in King County Superior Court, could have come up at his confirmation hearing. One Pentagon official said Tuesday that aides thought Mr. Shanahan would be able to ride out the storm because he was never charged with a crime.

A person familiar with the situation said White House officials did not know about Mr. Shanahan’s domestic strife until reading about it last week in Washington Babylon, a website that says it covers “shocking true stories and political sleaze.” The allegations did not come up during Mr. Shanahan’s 2017 confirmation hearing to be deputy defense secretary. F.B.I. officials declined to comment on whether they knew about the divorce filing at the time.

Asked on Tuesday about Mr. Shanahan’s decision to withdraw, Mr. Trump called him “a wonderful person” but said he had “heard about” the allegations against Mr. Shanahan only on Monday. He said it is “a tough time for him.”

“It’s very unfortunate,” the president told reporters. He insisted that Mr. Shanahan’s background had been thoroughly checked. “We have a very good vetting process,” he said.

To aides, Mr. Trump expressed incredulity that another of his appointees was facing personal difficulties that made his nomination impossible. “Can you believe this?’’ Mr. Trump said to aides, according to a person in the room.

According to a sheet of talking points the White House gave administration officials, officials are advised to tell reporters or congressional representatives who ask whether Mr. Trump asked for Mr. Shanahan’s resignation that the acting defense secretary “offered his resignation today out of devotion to, and in support of, his family.”

While he was widely viewed as readily consenting to the views of the White House and two administration hawks — John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, and Mr. Pompeo — Mr. Shanahan also stumbled when dealing with lawmakers who would have to confirm him as defense secretary. Even as he defended the president’s proposal to create a Space Force in the military, and said that the Pentagon would not be viewed as the “Department of No” to Mr. Trump, Mr. Shanahan failed to convince Congress that he was ready to lead the country’s 1.35 million active duty troops.

In February, Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma and chairman of the Armed Services Committee, praised the humility of Mr. Shanahan’s predecessor, Jim Mattis, and said Mr. Shanahan did not share that trait. Mr. Inhofe later told reporters he was kidding.

Mr. Inhofe said on Tuesday that he continued to be concerned about not having a confirmed defense secretary. “When you have the word ‘acting’ after your name, you’re not it,” he said. “You’re perceived as not the person in charge and that’s a problem.”

Mr. Shanahan was brought on as deputy secretary of defense to make the bureaucracy operate more like a business, and was known for digging into details at the Pentagon. On some Saturdays he held five-hour meetings about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. Mr. characterized the F-35 program as deeply flawed.

Critics said Mr. Shanahan was unfairly criticizing the F-35’s contractor and Boeing’s chief competitor, Lockheed Martin, but the Defense Department’s inspector general conducted an ethics investigation into whether Mr. Shanahan “repeatedly dumped” on Boeing’s competitors, and ultimately cleared him of the allegations. Once that hurdle was removed, Mr. Trump nominated Mr. Shanahan to be secretary.

Mr. Trump’s decision not to move ahead with Mr. Shanahan is the latest evidence of the difficulty that the president has had in permanently filling the top jobs in his administration.

The president also has an acting chief of staff at the White House and an acting secretary of homeland security.

Mr. Shanahan’s last day as acting defense secretary is June 23.

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Trump, at Rally in Florida, Kicks Off His 2020 Re-election Bid

President Trump is holding a rally in Florida to formally launch his 2020 campaign. Here’s what he’s said so far:

After remarks by Vice President Mike Pence to a loud and cheering crowd, Melania Trump, the first lady, introduced President Trump, declaring that he “truly loves this country.”

Mr. Trump opened his rally attacking the media and predicting that journalists would not truthfully report that he had filled the 20,000-seat stadium, prompting a chant of “CNN sucks.” He then pointed to the news cameras and said, “By the way, that is a lot of fake news back there.”

It took only minutes for Mr. Trump to return to his most strongly-felt grievance. He railed against the Russia meddling investigation, saying it was an “ illegal attempt to overturn the results of the election, spy on our campaign, which is what they did, and subvert our democracy.” The crowd roared with approval and broke into chants of “lock her up.”

_______________

ORLANDO, Fla. — President Trump officially kicked off his campaign for re-election on Tuesday night, appearing at a “Make America Great Again” rally in front of a huge crowd of raucous supporters almost four years to the day since he announced an improbable run for public office from the golden-hued lobby of Trump Tower.

Giant television screens, food trucks, a band known as the Guzzlers and a celebration of all things Trump turned the 20,000-seat Amway Center into something between a playoff game and a music festival as Mr. Trump strode to the lectern.

Mr. Trump’s Tuesday rally is the beginning of what polls suggest will be a difficult 18 months for the president as he seeks another four years. Already trailing Democrats in many voter surveys and having never cracked 50 percent approval since taking office, Mr. Trump has become one of the most polarizing presidents in history.

But his decision to formally start his re-election bid in front of a frenzied crowd of die-hard supporters in Orlando, Fla., suggested that he had no intention of backing away from the dark messaging about immigration and trade that have proved so divisive. Nor would he abandon the personal attacks against his critics and the establishment that have supercharged his most loyal fans.

Trump supporters wearing red caps and “Make America Great Again” T-shirts under flimsy ponchos stood in a downpour on Tuesday afternoon, hours before the main event, waiting to get into the stadium. Some had been die-hard supporters since Mr. Trump opened his previous bid in 2015. Others were newer converts, who said they have been convinced over the past four years that his policies have improved their lives.

Danielle Cameron, 26, a human resources coordinator from Jacksonville, Fla., said she supported Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in 2016, and voted for Andrew Gillum in the Florida governor’s race last year. But after opening her own business, she said, “we recognized how the person we were voting for would have voted to increase the minimum wage in Florida to the point where we couldn’t have afforded to hire our employees.”

Ms. Cameron, who is African-American and called herself a “social justice warrior,” said she “started to re-evaluate where we stood politically and if we’re voting in our best interest.”

Mark Sglarata, who works in R.V. repair in Florida, said he came to support Mr. Trump because he lost jobs twice under President Barack Obama. “I haven’t lost my job once” under Mr. Trump, he said.

In interviews with a dozen Trump supporters, all dismissed the Mueller investigation as a distraction and expressed great confidence that Mr. Trump would ride to re-election.

“I just want to hear what his plans are for the next term,” said Terry Castro, 72, a retired business owner from Florida whose husband served in the military.

That was part of the challenge for the Trump campaign as it planned the event for a candidate who has not articulated a clear vision for what he wants to do with a second term. The rally mirrored his first announcement on June 16, 2015, which presented to the world the glossy, stiletto-heeled Trump aesthetic and the combative, anti-immigrant views of the candidate at the center of it.

For a president who wants to be seen as an outsider despite occupying the Oval Office, Tuesday night’s rally presented an opportunity to, at least for one night, turn the clock back to 2015, when Mr. Trump began campaigning as a disrupter with little to lose by making bold promises like the construction of a wall along the southwestern border.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_155165592_19c9ceae-a92d-4dfb-8f5c-15c7713347cc-articleLarge Trump, at Rally in Florida, Kicks Off His 2020 Re-election Bid United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Orlando (Fla) Biden, Joseph R Jr

Mr. Trump has been running for re-election since he moved into the White House: He filed papers with the Federal Election Commission for his re-election campaign the day he was inaugurated.CreditEric Thayer for The New York Times

But the stakes this time are much higher. And despite the accessories, and a crowd size Mr. Trump will be able to brag about, aides privately acknowledged before the speech that the candidate would not offer little new in his message.

Mr. Trump, after all, has been running for re-election since he moved into the White House: He filed papers with the Federal Election Commission for his re-election campaign on Jan. 20, 2017, the day he was inaugurated. The MAGA rallies he has regularly held in friendly red states have lost their novelty and much of the news media’s interest.

But the rally was expected to help consolidate his base in a must-win state where advisers view his poll numbers as too soft to be comfortable. Campaign officials are also hoping that packing a 20,000-seat stadium, a show of force no Democratic candidate can match, will reassure Mr. Trump, who has been rattled by his flagging poll numbers and frustrated by watching from the sidelines as the Democratic primary race heats up.

Without a new message or a clear agenda for a second term, Mr. Trump’s advisers are banking on the belief that the same basic playbook — Mr. Trump’s preternatural ability to shock and entertain — will again animate his core voters and retain the swing voters who gambled on him in 2016.

It remains to be seen if that strategy will succeed again or whether something new will emerge. “Trump hasn’t yet said how he wants to define the race,” said Jason Miller, a communications adviser on the 2016 campaign. “That’s ultimately going to be up to him.”

Republican strategists said that creating a contrast with progressive candidates like Mr. Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is his best bet for re-election, and Mr. Trump seems to agree.

During a visit to the battleground state of Iowa last week, the president warned that under the wrong leadership, the United States could tumble into a state of decline like Venezuela. And he notably name-checked Mr. Sanders.

Mr. Trump needs “to make suburban voters ask themselves by going to the polls, ‘What am I more annoyed by, Trump’s or the Democrats’ beliefs?’” said Steve Deace, an influential conservative radio host in Iowa.

But that calculus gets muddled in a scenario in which former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. emerges from his party’s nominating fight. Mr. Trump has been telling advisers that running against Mr. Biden would be a reprise of his 2016 race against Hillary Clinton, another more centrist candidate with a long track record who was anathema to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

Optimistic Democrats see danger ahead for the president.

“Trump begins the race in a perilous place,” said David Axelrod, a former top political adviser to Mr. Obama. “He is viewed unfavorably in the very Midwestern states that delivered him the White House, and it isn’t obvious where he would pick up states to replace them.”

Mr. Trump’s dreary polling numbers come despite a strong economy, which generally portends good things for an incumbent president. But Mr. Trump’s advisers have found, alarmingly, that voters do not credit him for it.

And Mr. Trump often steps on his list of accomplishments on jobs, tax cuts, deregulation and the appointment of conservative judges.

Still, his campaign aides feel confident of his re-election chances, mostly because of their dim view of the Democratic field. He is backed by a campaign operation that is sleeker and more sophisticated than the ragtag team he ran out of the 26th floor of Trump Tower in 2016. The campaign has invested millions of dollars in a digital strategy to harvest emails and phone numbers from potential supporters, and to advertise on sites like Facebook and YouTube, where his supporters can be found.

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump remains his own biggest asset and liability.

“This is a candidate, a president and personality who just throws out the script and improvises,” said Kevin Madden, a Republican political consultant. “He’ll probably operate within the stagecraft they provide him, but the message discipline you would expect from an incumbent campaign launching a re-election? It’s not going to look anything like that.”

There are also some basic principles of Trumpworld that have not changed. The president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is overseeing most of the operation, as he did last time. Mr. Trump primarily trusts only his family members and a small handful of other people, and he is a begrudging recipient of bad news.

That point was on public display over the past six weeks, after The New York Times and other outlets reported that early campaign polling from March showed a bleak landscape for the president.

Mr. Trump ordered aides to deny that there were numbers showing him trailing Mr. Biden, and to say instead that the full array of numbers was more favorable. Such numbers “don’t exist,” Mr. Trump told ABC News last week. Within days, the network obtained those numbers and proved him wrong.

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The Evangelical, the ‘Pool Boy,’ the Comedian and Michael Cohen

MIAMI BEACH — Senator Ted Cruz was running neck and neck with Donald J. Trump in Iowa just before the caucuses in 2016, but his campaign was expecting a last-minute boost from a powerful endorser, Jerry Falwell Jr.

Mr. Falwell was chancellor of one of the nation’s largest Christian colleges, Liberty University, and a son of the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., the televangelist and co-founder of the modern religious right.

Months earlier, Mr. Falwell had provided Liberty’s basketball arena for Mr. Cruz’s formal presidential announcement and required that the student body attend, giving the Texas Republican a guaranteed audience of thousands of cheering young religious conservatives.

With the caucuses now fast approaching, the senator’s father, Rafael Cruz, an evangelical pastor who had taken the lead in wooing Mr. Falwell, alerted the campaign that Mr. Falwell had pledged to endorse his son.

But when the time came for an announcement, Mr. Falwell rocked the Cruz campaign and grabbed the attention of the entire political world. He endorsed Mr. Trump instead, becoming one of the first major evangelical leaders to get behind the thrice-married, insult-hurling real estate mogul’s long-odds presidential bid.

Mr. Falwell — who is not a minister and spent years as a lawyer and real estate developer — said his endorsement was based on Mr. Trump’s business experience and leadership qualities. A person close to Mr. Falwell said he made his decision after “consultation with other individuals whose opinions he respects.” But a far more complicated narrative is emerging about the behind-the-scenes maneuvering in the months before that important endorsement.

That backstory, in true Trump-tabloid fashion, features the friendship between Mr. Falwell, his wife and a former pool attendant at the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach; the family’s investment in a gay-friendly youth hostel; purported sexually revealing photographs involving the Falwells; and an attempted hush-money arrangement engineered by the president’s former fixer, Michael Cohen.

The revelations have arisen from a lawsuit filed against the Falwells in Florida; the investigation into Mr. Cohen by federal prosecutors in New York; and the gonzo-style tactics of the comedian and actor Tom Arnold.

Over the last two years, Mr. Arnold has fashioned himself an anti-Trump sleuth and crusader, working to dig up evidence of past malfeasance on television and in social media. In that role, Mr. Arnold befriended Mr. Cohen — who had lately become a vivid, if not entirely reliable, narrator of the Trump phenomenon — and then surreptitiously recorded him describing his effort to buy and bury embarrassing photographs involving the Falwells.

ImageWestlake Legal Group xxfalwells-02-articleLarge The Evangelical, the ‘Pool Boy,’ the Comedian and Michael Cohen United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2016 Miami Hostel Liberty University Falwell, Jerry Jr (1962- ) Evangelical Movement Endorsements Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Arnold, Tom

Mr. Falwell addressed the Republican National Convention in 2016 and has advised the Trump administration on policy.CreditJohn Moore/Getty Images

That attempt, Mr. Cohen says on the recording, came months before he brought Mr. Falwell “to the table” for Mr. Trump. Until then, he adds, “none of the evangelicals wanted to support Trump.”

There is no evidence that Mr. Falwell’s endorsement was part of a quid pro quo arranged by Mr. Cohen. Indeed, the relationship, if any, between the endorsement and the photo episode remains unclear. But the new details — some of which have been reported by news outlets including BuzzFeed and Reuters over the last year — show how deeply Mr. Falwell was enmeshed in Mr. Cohen’s and Mr. Trump’s world.

And they add another layer to one of the enduring curiosities of the Trump era: the support the president has received from evangelical Christians, who have traditionally demanded that their political leaders exhibit “family values” and moral “character.” Mr. Falwell’s father forged those words into weapons against the Democrats after he co-founded the Moral Majority political movement, which propelled Ronald Reagan into the White House and made religious conservatives a vital constituency for any Republican who would be president.

By the time Republicans cast their first votes in 2016, Mr. Trump was starting to show surprising strength among some white evangelicals. But with Mr. Falwell serving as the torchbearer of his father’s legacy, his endorsement became a permission slip for deeply religious conservatives who were attracted by Mr. Trump’s promises to make America great again but wary of his well-known history of infidelity, his previous support of abortion rights and his admission that he had never asked for God’s forgiveness.

“For those of the more fundamentalist variant of evangelicalism, the Falwell family, and the Falwell endorsements, are an important factor,” said Jim Guth, a political-science professor at Furman University who has long studied evangelical politics. Mr. Cruz still managed to win in Iowa. But Mr. Trump soon won South Carolina with strong evangelical support, sending him on a solid path toward the nomination.

Three years later, Mr. Falwell remains an unwavering Trump supporter. Last month he went so far as to suggest that the president deserved an extended term as “reparations” for time lost to the Mueller investigation. In turn, he has had entree to the White House, providing input on education policies that stand to benefit Liberty.

The Falwells declined to comment for this article. Mr. Falwell has said there were no compromising photographs, and the person close to them, who would speak only on the condition of anonymity, said the Falwells “did not know anything about Mr. Cohen’s alleged efforts” on their behalf. Mr. Falwell’s endorsement of Mr. Trump, the person said, was made after careful consideration. Mr. Cohen, he said, “did not try to exert any inappropriate pressure.”

Mr. Falwell began to grow close to Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen after Mr. Trump came to speak at Liberty, in Lynchburg, Va., in 2012. Mr. Cohen, who was working to connect his boss with important political constituencies and their leaders for a possible presidential run four years later, came along for the trip.

Mr. Trump lacked the religious bona fides of those who typically filled the school’s speaker lineup. But he was the star of the top-rated “Apprentice” reality show, and Mr. Falwell admired his career in real estate.

As it happened, the Falwell family was exploring a real estate venture of its own.

Earlier that year, Mr. Falwell and his wife, Becki, had stayed at the Fontainebleau — the grande dame of the Miami Beach hotel scene and a somewhat unlikely vacation spot for the chancellor of a university whose student code prohibited short skirts, coed dorm visits and sex outside of “biblically ordained” marriage.

The Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel, where the Falwells befriended a pool attendant.CreditJeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group, via Getty Images

Once a glamorous hangout for John F. Kennedy, Frank Sinatra and Elvis, the Fontainebleau was now the stomping grounds of the Kardashians, Paris Hilton and Lady Gaga, known for allowing topless sunbathing and for a cavernous nightclub that one travel guide described as “30,000 square feet of unadulterated fun.” Techno music was pumped out at its 11 pools, where waitresses in polka-dot swimsuits served drinks and white-uniformed male attendants brought fresh towels and positioned umbrellas for tips.

The Falwells struck up a conversation with one of those pool attendants, Giancarlo Granda. Mr. Granda, then 21 and the son of immigrants from Cuba and Mexico, was working at the hotel while studying finance at Florida International University.

The Falwells, according to the person close to them, were impressed with Mr. Granda’s ambition. Soon he was hiking and water skiing with them in Virginia. Within months, they were offering to help him get started in business in Florida.

Unsure how to capitalize on the offer, Mr. Granda consulted a close high school friend, Jesus Fernandez Jr., whose father, Jesus Fernandez Sr., had worked in Miami real estate for decades, the Fernandezes would later assert. Together, they directed Mr. Granda to a South Beach youth hostel that was for sale. The building also housed a restaurant and a liquor store.

The Miami Hostel is known as one of the best budget party hostels in South Beach.CreditAngel Valentin for The New York Times

Mr. Falwell and his wife agreed to help finance the purchase after a meeting in Florida with Mr. Granda, the real estate agents, the younger Mr. Fernandez and his father — who was facing a $34 million bankruptcy. Negotiations were underway when Mr. Trump visited Liberty, and the Falwells invited Mr. Granda to fly up for the occasion. A photo taken on a private plane, reviewed by The New York Times, shows him holding a copy of “Trump: The Art of the Deal.”

Mr. Falwell introduced Mr. Trump to Liberty’s students as “one of the greatest visionaries of our time,” who “single-handedly forced President Obama to release his birth certificate.” Mr. Trump shared his secrets to winning in business and life: “Get even” and “Always have a prenuptial agreement,” though he quickly added, “I won’t say it here, because you people don’t get divorced.”

Mr. Granda, with a copy of “Trump: The Art of The Deal,” traveled by private plane to hear Mr. Trump speak at Liberty in 2012.

Offstage, he posed for pictures with the Falwells and shook hands with their special guest, Mr. Granda.

In 2013, the Falwells completed the deal for the Miami Hostel, which rents beds for as little as $15 a night, bunking 12 people to a room. The hostel became known as one of South Beach’s best budget party hostels and is sometimes listed as gay-friendly.

The Falwells’ involvement came to light in a 2017 Politico article by Brandon Ambrosino, a Liberty graduate. He reported that the hostel featured a sign on its front gate declaring its house rules: “No Soliciting, Fundraising, Politics, Salesmen, Religion.”

“Inside the Falwells’ hostel, the stench of general decay and cigarette smoke is overpowering,” Mr. Ambrosino wrote. Tourism pamphlets included one for Tootsie’s Cabaret, “74,000 square feet of adult entertainment and FULL NUDITY.”

On a recent overnight visit, the sign forbidding politics and religion was gone, and there were no visible fliers for adult clubs. The hostel was tidy and relatively quiet — common for this time of year, Miami’s off-season. A warning was posted that the hostel was not responsible for accidents on the premises, “especially if you are drunk.”

Real estate records show that an LLC called Alton Hostel Inc. bought the hostel and its building for $4.7 million in cash. Within weeks, Alton Hostel secured a $3.8 million mortgage from Carter Bank & Trust, the Virginia-based bank the Falwells had long used to finance and expand Liberty University. The source of Alton Hostel’s initial full-cash payment is not known. But Mr. Falwell would later say in a sworn affidavit that his family’s financial contribution to the deal amounted to a loan of $1.8 million, including $800,000 for renovations. The Falwells’ son Jerry Falwell III, who goes by “Trey” and was 23 at the time, was listed as manager of the LLC; Mr. Granda was added later as a co-manager. In his affidavit, Mr. Falwell said his wife was also a member of the LLC.

Around South Beach, people involved in the deal regarded it as the sort of thing Miami’s young and good-looking could luck into when they encountered wealthy visitors.

“Miami is a very touristy place,” one of the brokers, Roberto Bracho, said in an interview. “If you are in the right place at the right time, you can hit the jackpot.”

The Miami Hostel offers beds for as little as $15 a night, bunking 12 people to a room.CreditAngel Valentin for The New York Times

The situation quickly deteriorated. The Fernandezes believed that they had been promised an ownership share. The Falwells denied making any such promise, and in his affidavit, Mr. Falwell sought to minimize his involvement, saying that, as an adviser on the deal, he could not have given them a stake.

The Fernandezes threatened a lawsuit.

Mr. Cohen had kept in close touch with the Falwells after Mr. Trump’s 2012 visit. He would later say he viewed them as family.

Mr. Cohen even turned to a Falwell lieutenant — Liberty’s deputy chief information officer at the time, John Gauger — as he worked to build Mr. Trump’s political profile. Mr. Gauger also ran his own consulting firm, RedFinch Solutions.

Mr. Cohen hired RedFinch to manipulate two online polls in Mr. Trump’s favor — one in 2014 by CNBC, and another in early 2015 in the Drudge Report — Mr. Gauger told The Wall Street Journal in January.

At around the same time, Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump were arranging with The National Enquirer and its chief, the Trump ally David Pecker, to buy and bury stories about Mr. Trump and women that could harm his political prospects. Mr. Cohen’s confessed role in two such deals — one with The Enquirer to silence the former Playboy model Karen McDougal, the other with the pornographic actress Stormy Daniels, whom he initially paid out of his own pocket — contributed to the three-year sentence he is now serving at the federal prison in Otisville, N.Y.

Mr. Cohen, a longtime fixer for Mr. Trump, described an effort to buy and bury embarrassing photos involving the Falwells.CreditJohn Taggart for The New York Times

By Mr. Cohen’s account, the Falwells appeared to be in need of just that sort of help.

By late 2015, the lawsuit over ownership of the hostel had devolved into a fight over compromising photos, according to several people involved in the case. It was understood that between Mr. Granda, the Fernandezes and their lawyers, one or more people were in possession of photographs that could be used as leverage against the Falwells.

And so Mr. Cohen tried to play the fixer for his friends.

In a recent legal filing, Mr. Fernandez Jr. said he was forced to change his name because of the case. He became Gordon Bello. His father, Mr. Fernandez, Sr., became Jett Bello. Their name changes took place after Mr. Cohen intervened.

Mr. Cohen described his involvement in his conversation with Mr. Arnold, which was first reported last month by Reuters.

“There’s a bunch of photographs, personal photographs, that somehow the guy ended up getting — whether it was off of Jerry’s phone or somehow maybe it got AirDropped or whatever the hell the whole thing was,” Mr. Cohen told Mr. Arnold in the recording, which Mr. Arnold shared with The Times. Mr. Cohen never identified “the guy.”

“These are photos between husband and wife,” Mr. Cohen added, joking that “the evangelicals are kinkier than Tom Arnold.” He explained, “I was going to pay him, and I was going to get the negatives and do an agreement where they turn over all the technology that has the photographs or anything like that, any copies.”

But the payoff “never happened,” he said, “and the guy just either deleted them on his own or what have you.”

The person close to the Falwells said that Mr. Cohen was neither their lawyer nor their fixer, and that they had not been aware of “his alleged actions regarding photographs” until parts of the recording were released.

Mr. Cohen, who declined interview requests, told Mr. Arnold that he had been trying to protect Mrs. Falwell. “Even though she has a very nice figure,” he said on the recording, “nobody wants their private photos published.” In the process, he said, he had obtained one of the photos, of Mrs. Falwell, and still had it.

With a few weeks to go before the Iowa caucuses kicked off the primary season on Feb. 1, 2016, Mr. Cruz was steadily racking up high-level endorsements. He was banking on strong evangelical support to push him past Mr. Trump in the state.

In mid-January, Mr. Cruz’s father reported back to his staff that Mr. Falwell had committed to endorsing his son, according to two people involved in the campaign at the time. A news release was prepared, they said, while aides began vetting Mr. Falwell’s background, as is standard for presidential endorsers.

Senator Ted Cruz announced his presidential run at Liberty University in 2015. His campaign was anticipating an endorsement from Mr. Falwell when the evangelical leader instead threw his support behind Mr. Trump.CreditTravis Dove for The New York Times

Signs that something was amiss came shortly afterward, when Mr. Trump arrived at Liberty for another speech. Mr. Falwell introduced Mr. Trump as a man who “lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught.” Despite the generous introduction, the appearance seemed an unmitigated disaster for Mr. Trump. He betrayed his ignorance of the Bible by referring to a passage in “Two Corinthians” rather than “Second Corinthians,” and loosely used the words “hell” and “damn.” Even so, rumors began to spread that Mr. Falwell was leaning toward Mr. Trump.

Rick Tyler, a senior Cruz adviser, called Mr. Falwell to say that if there was ever a good time to make his support official, this was it. That was when Mr. Falwell told him he had learned that he could not make any endorsement in the primaries. “He said his board wouldn’t allow him to endorse,” Mr. Tyler said in an interview.

Around that time, Mr. Falwell was coming under heavy pressure to get behind Mr. Trump, according to someone who spoke to Mr. Falwell then. A few days later, Mr. Falwell announced his endorsement of Mr. Trump, calling him “a successful executive and entrepreneur, a wonderful father and a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again.”

In an email, the person close to the Falwells said the Liberty chancellor had “never seriously considered endorsing Mr. Cruz,” and did not know how the campaign had gotten that impression. What’s more, he said, Mr. Cohen “did nothing more than ask” Mr. Falwell to endorse Mr. Trump.

Though Mr. Falwell said he was making the endorsement as a private individual, not as the head of the university, the decision roiled the Liberty community. Some graduates and students expressed stunned disappointment. One of Liberty’s trustees, Mark DeMoss — an alumnus and a longtime confidant of Mr. Falwell’s father — told The Washington Post that Mr. Trump did not exhibit “Christ-like behavior that Liberty has spent 40 years promoting with its students.” (After clashing with Mr. Falwell and other board members, he resigned, he said in a statement at the time.)

Speaking to Liberty students in 2012, Mr. Trump shared two pieces of advice he said he often gave: “Get even,” and “Always have a prenuptial agreement.”CreditParker Michels-Boyce/The News & Advance, via Associated Press

At the Cruz campaign headquarters, the reaction was “anger and shock,” Mr. Tyler said. “Something changed, obviously.”

The relationship between Mr. Falwell and Mr. Trump would prove mutually beneficial.

Mr. Trump sought to make Mr. Falwell his secretary of education, Mr. Falwell has said. After he declined, he disclosed that he would serve as an outside adviser to the administration on education policy — a role in which, Mr. Falwell indicated, he would call for rollbacks of regulations governing accreditation, recruitment and student borrowing. (“A lot of what we sent them is actually what got implemented,” he told The New York Times Magazine last year.)

Mr. Falwell, in turn, has remained one of the president’s most vocal defenders, even in the rare moments when other Republicans wouldn’t, as in August 2017, when Mr. Trump said there had been “very fine people on both sides” of the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that resulted in the murder of a young counterdemonstrator.

That month, with settlement talks involving the hostel at an impasse, the Fernandezes, now the Bellos, filed a written complaint. The complaint, first reported by BuzzFeed News several months after it was filed, asserted that “verbal offers were made to Granda to provide him with financial assistance.” Mr. Falwell, the complaint read, “indicated that he wanted to help Granda establish a new career and build a business” as the Falwells’ relationship with Mr. Granda “evolved.”

In his sworn affidavit, Mr. Falwell said the family had made Mr. Granda a co-manager of the LLC in return for serving as its local representative. Mr. Falwell saw the hostel as a good opportunity to introduce his son and Mr. Granda to real estate investing, according to the person close to the family. Mr. Granda, he said, received only a “modest income,” and a financial stake that was of limited value because of the property’s heavy debt.

Mr. Arnold’s anti-Trump antics have largely consisted of his public search for more recordings like the “Access Hollywood” outtake in which Mr. Trump boasted about grabbing women’s genitalia. Last year, Mr. Arnold even got his own television show on the Viceland network, “The Hunt for The Trump Tapes.” It produced no new tapes during its eight-episode run.

But it did help lead to the recording of Mr. Cohen discussing the Falwells.

Mr. Arnold first met Mr. Cohen last June at the Loews Regency hotel in Manhattan, as Mr. Arnold was taping his show. Their meeting didn’t result in a Cohen appearance on the program, but Mr. Cohen agreed to a photo with Mr. Arnold, which went viral on Twitter, and the two stayed in touch.

Early this year, after noticing the articles in The Journal and BuzzFeed about Liberty, Mr. Cohen and the Fernandez suit, Mr. Arnold began suggesting on Twitter, without presenting any evidence, that the Falwells had been in a sexual relationship with Mr. Granda. Those tweets led Mr. Cohen to call Mr. Arnold and deny any such relationship. He then described his efforts to help with the photos.

The comedian and actor Tom Arnold, left, secretly recorded Mr. Cohen describing his plan to help the Falwells by paying off someone who claimed to have compromising photos.CreditTom Arnold

That conversation, two months before Mr. Cohen went to prison, left more questions than answers. Mr. Cohen has publicly said nothing more. No photos have surfaced, and it is unclear how many there are. In all, three people said they had seen at least one photo, though their descriptions varied and could not be verified.

Nor is it certain whom Mr. Cohen hoped to pay off. He never mentions the Bellos — formerly the Fernandezes — or their lawsuit on the tape, but makes reference to the “pool boy,” leaving open the possibility that the photos came from Mr. Granda, and that Mr. Granda then shared them with the Bellos. Then again, “the guy” to whom Mr. Cohen refers could be some other person entirely.

Mr. Granda, now working toward a graduate degree in real estate at Georgetown University, referred questions to his lawyer. The lawyer, Aaron Resnick, said his client had never interacted with Mr. Cohen, whom he called “a convicted felon and admitted liar.” He said any suggestion that Mr. Granda was the person referred to on the tape would be false, and he bristled at what he called “tabloid fodder” directed at a first-generation Hispanic-American.

In a statement to The Times, the senior Bello said he and his son had been respectful to the Falwells, “despite the sensitive details surrounding this case.” It was Mr. Cohen — acting as their lawyer, he said — who had revealed “his client’s indiscretions.” He said the pending lawsuit prohibited him from offering more details about the photographs or why he and his son had felt compelled to change their names.

Mr. Falwell has granted only one interview about the Arnold recording, to Todd Starnes of Fox News Radio, telling him there were “no compromising or embarrassing photos,” and saying, “We never engaged or paid Cohen to represent us in any legal or other professional capacity.”

The new details about the lead-up to his endorsement of Mr. Trump have not affected Mr. Falwell’s continued enthusiastic support. Earlier this month, Mr. Falwell chastised a pastor who was embroiled in a controversy over his decision to pray for Mr. Trump during the president’s surprise visit to his church in the Washington suburbs.

Suggesting that the pastor was being too accommodating of critics, Mr. Falwell directed a tweet at him reading, “Grow a pair,” a crude reference to the pastor’s masculinity. After the post drew criticism on Twitter as being beneath a religious leader, Mr. Falwell responded that he did not need to adhere to strict religious standards.

“I have never been a minister,” he tweeted, saying that it was up to the students and faculty of Liberty to keep the school “strong spiritually.’’ He added, “While I am proud to be a conservative Christian, my job is to keep LU successful academically, financially and in athletics.”

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ICE Signals Mass Immigration Arrests, but Not the ‘Millions’ Trump Promised

Westlake Legal Group 18dc-immig-facebookJumbo ICE Signals Mass Immigration Arrests, but Not the ‘Millions’ Trump Promised United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Immigration and Emigration Immigration and Customs Enforcement (US) Illegal Immigration Homeland Security Department Deportation

WASHINGTON — Immigration and Customs Enforcement in recent days has bulked up the branch responsible for carrying out deportations in preparation for the mass arrests of undocumented immigrants, two Department of Homeland Security officials said on Tuesday, adding that the agency could not immediately deport “millions of illegal aliens” as President Trump had promised the night before.

Senior ICE officials, many of whom were blindsided by Mr. Trump’s tweet, have signaled for weeks that the agency would conduct raids targeting thousands of migrant families in homes and communities, something one of the homeland security officials confirmed on Tuesday was expected in the coming weeks.

ICE has requested that agents in Homeland Security Investigations — the branch of the agency that conducts long-term investigations into human trafficking and drug smuggling — assist Enforcement and Removal Operations, which deports undocumented immigrants, according to the two homeland security officials. They said the nationwide reallocation of resources was rare and a sign that ICE would soon conduct mass arrests.

But agents were not clear what specifically Mr. Trump was referring to in his tweet on Monday, which came less than 24 hours before he was scheduled to appear in Florida for a rally to kick off his 2020 re-election campaign.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Trump repeated that immigration officials planned to conduct a deportation operation next week. “They know. They know,” Mr. Trump said as he left for Florida. “They’re going to start next week and when people come into our country and they come in illegally, they’ll have to go out.”

But immigration laws prevent the Trump administration from immediately deporting asylum-seeking Central American families, who make up a majority of the migrants arrested at the border. The operation planned by ICE officials would instead target those in the interior of the country who have been issued a final removal order or missed their court date.

A president releasing the timeline of such raids would be unprecedented because it could spread panic in communities and potentially threaten the success of the raids. An operation targeting families also would not immediately result in the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, according to officials who were not authorized to speak publicly about the details of the coming operation or Mr. Trump’s tweet.

ICE charters planes that carry only a couple of hundred migrants back to Central America daily.

While roughly a million undocumented immigrants have been issued removal orders, many of them may be appealing their cases and cannot be deported. The roughly 6,000 deportation officers in ICE also do not know the locations of many of the migrants.

Last fiscal year, Enforcement and Removal Operations deported more than 250,000 undocumented immigrants. Under President Barack Obama, whom critics nicknamed the “deporter in chief” for aggressively sending home criminals and recent border-crossers, the annual number of deportations peaked in 2012 at about 410,000.

ICE officials have changed their minds multiple times in recent days about when to begin the operation to target families, according to one of the homeland security officials. The agency has long been hesitant about such raids because of the bad optics they generate.

On Tuesday afternoon, ICE released a statement saying it was committed to enforcing immigration law, including “routine targeted enforcement operations, criminals, individuals subject to removal orders and work site enforcement.”

This month, in his first extensive comments with reporters as ICE’s acting director, Mark Morgan told reporters that the agency would increase efforts to deport migrants who missed a court hearing or otherwise received a deportation order.

He specified that this would include families, a sign that the agency was preparing to give in to White House pressure to raid migrant families’ homes and neighborhoods.

While ICE officials argue that undocumented adults who have been given a final order of removal should be deported quickly, the idea of rounding up and deporting those who have children in the United States has been fraught for years, even before Mr. Trump took office. Many families include an undocumented parent and a child who is a citizen of the United States and cannot be deported.

Ronald D. Vitiello, ICE’s former acting director, had warned that such an operation would generate public outrage. Mr. Trump pulled Mr. Vitiello’s nomination in April, saying he wanted the agency to go in a “tougher direction.”

The concern among law enforcement officials about backlash was heightened after last summer’s decision by the Trump administration to separate migrant families at the border. The images of the crying children and distraught parents ultimately forced Mr. Trump to back off the policy.

Widespread raids of families could provoke a similar outcry, much of it directed against the gun-wielding agents making the arrests. That has left homeland security’s leadership nervous about the potential consequences of the operation.

For Mr. Trump, the threat of imminent mass deportations is a stark reminder that he intends to seek re-election by doubling down on the central campaign theme that propelled him to the White House in 2016 — stoking fear of immigrants.

But Mr. Trump has largely failed to make good on his immigration promises. His demand for a wall along the southwestern border has been denied by Congress, and courts have blocked some of his more aggressive efforts to deny entry to migrants.

That has enraged Mr. Trump, who has at times come under fire from conservative activists and television hosts for not living up to his promises. His vaguely worded tweet on Monday night appeared to be intended to reassure his supporters that his plans for deporting undocumented immigrants are on track.

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Shanahan Withdraws as Defense Secretary Nominee; Mark Esper Named Acting Pentagon Chief

President Trump on Tuesday withdrew the nomination of Patrick M. Shanahan to be the permanent defense secretary, leaving the Pentagon in transition at a time of escalating tensions with Iran and questions about the role of the military at the border with Mexico.

Mr. Shanahan, a former Boeing executive who had been serving as the acting defense secretary, announced his resignation as a routine F.B.I. background investigation, conducted on all cabinet nominees, was continuing because of Mr. Shanahan’s divorce. Mr. Shanahan’s ex-wife had accused him of punching her in the stomach, which Mr. Shanahan has denied. He said that his ex-wife started the fight, and his spokesman said that she was arrested and charged with domestic violence, charges which were eventually dropped.

Mr. Trump named Mark T. Esper, the secretary of the Army and a former Raytheon executive, to take over as acting secretary of defense. He did not say whether Mr. Esper would be nominated for the permanent position.

In a Twitter post, the president said the withdrawal was the decision of Mr. Shanahan, who has served for six months as acting defense secretary. But it is the president’s prerogative to withdraw the nomination.

According to court documents viewed by The New York Times, in 2011 Mr. Shanahan’s son, who was 17 at the time, hit his mother repeatedly with a baseball bat, and she was hospitalized. The next day, Mr. Shanahan flew from Seattle to Florida and stayed with his son in a hotel room for several days before his son turned himself in to the authorities.

“I would welcome the opportunity to be secretary of defense, but not at the expense of being a good father,” Mr. Shanahan said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

In an interview with The Washington Post published Tuesday, Mr. Shanahan said that “bad things can happen to good families.” He called the episode “a tragedy,” and said that dredging it up publicly “will ruin my son’s life.”

Westlake Legal Group all-the-major-firings-and-resignations-in-trump-administration-promo-1530825933054-articleLarge Shanahan Withdraws as Defense Secretary Nominee; Mark Esper Named Acting Pentagon Chief Trump, Donald J Shanahan, Patrick M (1962- ) Defense Department Appointments and Executive Changes

The Turnover at the Top of the Trump Administration

Since President Trump’s inauguration, White House staffers and cabinet officials have left in firings and resignations, one after the other.

During his tenure, Mr. Shanahan was criticized for slighting Lockheed Martin, Boeing’s chief competitor, for its mismanagement of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, an aircraft that is years behind schedule and millions of dollars over budget.

He was widely viewed as acquiescing to the White House and other government officials, including John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, and Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state. As he defended the president’s proposal to create a Space Force in the military, Mr. Shanahan famously said that the Pentagon would not be viewed as the “Department of No.”

Before Mr. Trump plucked him to be the acting secretary, Mr. Shanahan was a deputy secretary of defense, brought on to make the bureaucracy operate more like a business. His reputation at Boeing was as someone who could meld technical details with a broad vision. At the Pentagon, he was known for digging into the details. He held five-hour meetings about F-35 fighter jets on some Saturdays.

Earlier this year, the defense department’s inspector general conducted an ethics investigation into whether Mr. Shanahan “repeatedly dumped” on Boeing’s competitors, and ultimately cleared him of the allegations. Once that hurdle was removed, Mr. Trump nominated him to be the next secretary.

Mr. Trump’s decision not to move ahead with Mr. Shanahan is the latest evidence of the difficulty that the president has had in permanently filling the top jobs in his administration.

The president also has an acting chief of staff at the White House and an acting secretary of homeland security.

Mr. Esper, a top lobbyist for Raytheon and an executive at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has a long history of ties to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, where he worked as an adviser to Bill Frist, the former Senate majority leader, and various committees with jurisdiction over foreign policy and national security.

Besides Mr. Esper, who was confirmed as secretary of the Army in November 2017, officials said that Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, and Richard V. Spencer, the secretary of the Navy, are on the short list for defense secretary.

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Trump and Xi Will Meet at G-20 Amid Stalled Trade Talks

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WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Tuesday that he and President Xi Jinping of China had spoken by phone and would have an “extended” meeting at the Group of 20 meeting next week in Osaka, Japan.

His comments were the first confirmation that the two leaders would actually meet after trade talks between the United States and China stalled in May and suggested that the two countries were once again trying to find compromise.

“Had a very good telephone conversation with President Xi of China,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter. “We will be having an extended meeting next week at the G-20 in Japan. Our respective teams will begin talks prior to our meeting.”

Stocks jumped after the president’s tweet, as skittish investors took comfort in the potential for renewed discussions between the world’s two largest economies. The S&P 500 rose more than 1 percent shortly after the start of trading on Wall Street, led by technology and industrial shares, which have been weighed down by the trade war over the last year.

“You look at the rally, the stock market, I think the market says talk is better than no talk,” Larry Kudlow, the president’s top economic adviser, told reporters in the White House driveway Tuesday.

Mr. Kudlow said he did not “want to speculate” on whether China would come back to the table substantively or whether the talks amounted to a reset. But he said the United States would continue to insist that China make structural changes to its economy.

“The two leaders will talk. That’s all I know,” Mr. Kudlow said.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, the president said he had a very good relationship with Mr. Xi and that the countries had “a very good chance” of reaching a deal.

“We’ll see what happens,” Mr. Trump said. “The meeting might very well go well and frankly our teams are starting to deal, as of tomorrow. China wants to make a deal.”

Progress toward a trade agreement between the world’s two largest economies had come to a halt after Mr. Trump accused China of breaking a deal with the United States and China accused the United States of failing to negotiate in good faith.

Trump officials said the Chinese government altered portions of the agreement that would require them to codify the trade deal’s provisions in Chinese law, which the United States saw as evidence that China would not keep its side of the bargain.

That prompted Mr. Trump to escalate his fight with China, raising tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods as punishment and threatening to tax an additional $300 billion worth of goods if Beijing does not agree to America’s trade terms.

On Capitol Hill on Thursday, Robert Lighthizer, the administration’s top trade negotiator, told lawmakers that no decision had been made about the next round of tariffs against China. Mr. Lighthizer defended the president’s tough tactics before Republican and Democratic senators, who raised concerns about the trade war’s effects on American farmers, manufacturers and consumers.

“We had an untenable situation with China, one that should have been addressed frankly a couple of decades ago,” Mr. Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, told the Senate Finance Committee. “We view ourselves as having the most serious problem you can face in the trade space.”

A meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi, along with their deputies, suggests the two countries are again seeking a path forward on a trade agreement that would open Chinese markets, strengthen its protections for intellectual property and result in purchases of American products.

The White House, in a statement, said Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi had discussed the importance of a “fair and reciprocal economic relationship” in their phone call on Tuesday, including “addressing structural barriers to trade with China and achieving meaningful reforms that are enforceable and verifiable.” The two presidents also discussed regional security issues, the statement said.

In an article posted late Tuesday on the website of China Central Television, the state broadcaster, Mr. Xi said he stressed to Mr. Trump “that the two countries should resolve economic and trade issues through dialogue on even ground, and the key is to accommodate each other’s reasonable concerns. We also hope that the U.S. will treat Chinese companies fairly.”

“I agree that the economic and trade teams of the two countries should maintain communication on how to resolve differences,” Mr. Xi said, according to the article.

It is far from guaranteed that a deal will be reached quickly, if at all. The two sides remain far apart on several issues, including how many of Mr. Trump’s tariffs on roughly $250 billion of Chinese products will come off and whether the trade agreement must be codified in Chinese law.

But both leaders are under economic pressure to come to an agreement. American tariffs have taken a toll on the exports that help power the Chinese economy, raising pressure on Chinese leaders to persuade the Trump administration to come to a truce. Mr. Trump also faces pressure from American lawmakers and businesses, including the manufacturers and retailers who import parts and finished products from abroad, and American farmers and other exporters who have been hurt by retaliatory tariffs from China.

On Tuesday, senators in both parties argued that Mr. Trump’s trade war was inflicting real damage on their constituents, and appealed to Mr. Lighthizer to help soften the blow by ensuring that certain products would be exempt from the president’s 25 percent tariffs.

“Having an exclusion process in place that is usable for these manufacturers who are being harmed, and in some cases harmed greatly, needs to be addressed,” said Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Senate Republican. “There are so many of these unintended consequences, I think, of some of the trade policies that are in place right now.”

The United States has exempted certain products from previous rounds of tariffs, but it is unclear whether any exclusions will be granted if the next $300 billion goes into effect. On Monday, dozens of executives from toymakers, clothing companies, port operators and telecom providers came to Washington to testify in the first of seven days of hearings about how the next round would affect them.

Almost all of the company officials testifying said they supported the administration’s attempts to reach a more level playing field with China on trade, and a few argued for more protection for their industry.

Daniel Nation, the director of government relations for Parkdale Mills, testified Monday that textile and apparel products should be included on the administration’s tariff lists, to “help redirect trade in this sector to the Western Hemisphere.”

But most executives at the hearing protested the tariffs. Companies that make lingerie, toys, cribs and other products in China testified that the 25 percent tariffs would raise costs for consumers and disrupt supply chains, and could force them to lay off employees or close.

Hun Quach, the vice president for international trade at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents big retail stores like Walmart and Costco, said she would testify this week against having retailers and consumers bear the brunt of the trade war.

“We support holding our trading partners accountable, but tariffs on clothing, shoes, consumer electronics and toys aren’t the solution to China’s bad practices,” Ms. Quach said.

At the Senate hearing Tuesday, Mr. Lighthizer conceded under questioning that tariffs alone might not necessarily change China’s behavior, but described them as the only tool at the Trump administration’s disposal to pressure the Chinese.

“I don’t know if it will get them to stop cheating,” Mr. Lighthizer said. “If we don’t get an agreement, then we have to do something, and if there’s a better idea than tariffs, I’d like to hear it. I haven’t heard it.”

Pressed on whether Mr. Trump would impose the next round of tariffs, Mr. Lighthizer demurred. “I don’t even know if we’re going to have the tariffs — it’s entirely up to the president,” he said.

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