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

Ex-Envoy to Tell Impeachment Inquiry He Was Unaware of Trump Ukraine Pressure

Westlake Legal Group 18DC-IMPEACH-facebookJumbo Ex-Envoy to Tell Impeachment Inquiry He Was Unaware of Trump Ukraine Pressure Zelensky, Volodymyr Volker, Kurt D Vindman, Alexander S United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Senate Johnson, Ron (1955- ) impeachment Foreign Aid

WASHINGTON — Kurt D. Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, plans to tell lawmakers on Tuesday that he was out of the loop at key moments during President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine to turn up damaging information about Democrats, according to an account of his prepared testimony.

As the House Intelligence Committee opens its second week of public impeachment hearings, Mr. Volker will say that he did not realize that others working for Mr. Trump were tying American security aid to a commitment to investigate Democrats. His testimony, summarized by a person informed about it who insisted on anonymity to describe it in advance, will seek to reconcile his previous closed-door description of events with conflicting versions offered subsequently by other witnesses.

Mr. Volker will be one of four witnesses appearing before the committee on Tuesday as it ramps up its investigation into the president’s effort to extract domestic political help from a foreign power while holding up $391 million in American security aid. The committee, which already had eight witnesses set for this week, added a ninth on Monday by calling David Holmes, a senior American Embassy official in Ukraine who overheard a conversation in which Mr. Trump asked about whether Ukraine was going to agree to carry out the investigations he wanted.

With political passions rising over the impeachment drive, Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, defended the inquiry on Monday, arguing that lawmakers have no choice but to examine what she called clear evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Trump.

“The facts are uncontested: that the president abused his power for his own personal, political benefit, at the expense of our national security interests,” Ms. Pelosi wrote in a letter to Democratic colleagues.

Mr. Trump, who remained out of public sight on Monday for the third straight day, wrote on Twitter that he would “strongly consider” testifying in the impeachment inquiry, after Ms. Pelosi raised the idea during a weekend television interview.

While Gerald R. Ford testified in 1974 about his decision to pardon Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton responded in writing to questions from the House when it investigated him for perjury and obstruction of justice in 1998, no president has testified in person in his own defense in an impeachment hearing. Mr. Trump, who enjoys flashes of showmanship, appeared intrigued by the possibility.

“Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!” Mr. Trump wrote.

That does not mean he will actually agree to do so, however. During the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into ties between Russia and Mr. Trump’s campaign, the president repeatedly suggested he might testify in person, but ultimately refused to do so and instead submitted written answers drafted with the help of his lawyers.

On Monday, the top lawyer for House Democrats said in a legal filing that impeachment investigators are exploring whether Mr. Trump lied in those written answers to Mr. Mueller.

The addition of Mr. Holmes to the witness list follows a closed-door deposition he gave Friday describing a telephone conversation he listened to in July. While sitting on the outdoor patio of a restaurant in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital also known as Kiev, Mr. Holmes said he heard the president ask Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, if President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine would move forward with the investigations Mr. Trump sought. The ambassador, fresh off meetings with top Ukrainian officials, told Mr. Trump that he would.

Mr. Holmes will sit at the witness table beside Fiona Hill, the former senior director for Russia and Europe at the National Security Council, when the committee convenes its final hearing of a jam-packed week on Thursday.

Republicans previewed an early rebuttal on Monday in the form of a meandering but at times caustic 11-page letter from Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin. On the eve of testimony by Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a national security aide, Mr. Johnson suggested the colonel perhaps participated “in the ongoing effort to sabotage” the president’s policies “and if possible, remove him from office.”

“I believe that a significant number of bureaucrats and staff members within the executive branch have never accepted President Trump as legitimate and resent his unorthodox style,” Mr. Johnson wrote, later adding, “It is entirely possible Vindman fits this profile.”

The letter comes after the top Republicans on the House Oversight and Intelligence Committees requested Mr. Johnson provide them with “any firsthand information you have about President Trump’s actions toward Ukraine.” The Wisconsin Republican traveled to Ukraine as part of a delegation attending Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration this year and joined phone calls between Mr. Trump and Mr. Sondland, who is to testify publicly on Wednesday.

The senator has said that after Mr. Sondland told him the security aid was linked to investigations, he confronted Mr. Trump in a phone call in late August. The president, Mr. Johnson said, flatly denied it so vigorously that he uttered a number of curse words and insisted that he “barely knew” Mr. Sondland.

“I have accurately characterized his reaction as adamant, vehement and angry — there was more than one expletive that I have deleted,” Mr. Johnson wrote.

Republicans have argued that the fact that the security aid was ultimately delivered to Ukraine in September without any announcement of investigations proves that the two issues were not linked. But Ms. Pelosi noted in her letter that the money “was only released after the whistle-blower exposed the truth of the president’s extortion and bribery,” referring to an unidentified C.I.A. officer who reported the matter to authorities.

The hearings on Tuesday will start with a morning panel featuring Mr. Vindman and Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, who were both disturbed when Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Zelensky during a July 25 phone call to “do us a favor” and investigate Democrats including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

But the afternoon panel will give Republicans their first chance to question witnesses they believe will undercut the allegations. Mr. Volker has previously said he knew of no quid pro quo between the security aid and the investigations. Tim Morrison, a former senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council, has said he found nothing inherently problematic about the July 25 call, although he testified that he was concerned that it might leak out and cause political problems.

Still, both have also provided testimony harmful to the president. Mr. Volker has said he warned Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer leading the effort to obtain help from Ukraine, that there was nothing to the issues he wanted investigated. And Mr. Morrison has said Mr. Sondland told the Ukrainians that the release of the aid was probably tied to the investigations, forcing Mr. Sondland to revise his testimony and confirm that.

Mr. Volker will modify his account as well, addressing disparities between his testimony and that of other witnesses. While he has been lumped together with Mr. Sondland and Energy Secretary Rick Perry as “the three amigos” working on behalf of the president, he plans to try to distinguish his role, insisting that he was not part of any inappropriate pressure and that he was unaware of certain events that he has only now learned about through other testimony.

In his testimony on Tuesday, according to the person informed about it, Mr. Volker plans to say that he never knew that Mr. Sondland told the Ukrainians that the aid and investigations were linked and that he did not know that Mr. Zelensky was being pressed to appear on CNN and announce that he would open the investigations Mr. Trump sought.

He also will seek to explain why his description of a key July 10 meeting in the White House with Ukrainian officials differed from those provided by several others. According to other witnesses, John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, abruptly ended the meeting when Mr. Sondland raised the investigations. Mr. Sondland then took the Ukrainians downstairs to the White House Ward Room, where he also discussed investigations.

Ms. Hill testified that she challenged Mr. Sondland about that in the Ward Room and later reported the conversation back to Mr. Bolton, who instructed her to tell a White House lawyer and make clear that he wanted nothing to do with the “drug deal” Mr. Sondland was devising.

Mr. Volker, who offered a blander description of the meeting in his original testimony, plans to say on Tuesday that he does not challenge any of the new testimony but did not remember hearing the comments. He plans to say that he may have been talking with Mr. Perry at the time and simply missed the exchanges.

He also will address his past statement that he was not aware of any effort to urge Ukraine to investigate Mr. Biden specifically, even though others have testified that Mr. Volker was part of conversations involving Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company that had been investigated for corruption and that put Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son, on its board.

Mr. Volker plans to tell lawmakers that while others interpreted any mention of Burisma to be synonymous with the Bidens, he did not make that assumption, perhaps because he was more steeped in Ukraine and the company’s role there, not focused on domestic American politics.

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

Impeachment Inquiry Calls Aide Who Overheard Trump Asking for Ukraine Investigations

Westlake Legal Group 18DC-IMPEACH-facebookJumbo Impeachment Inquiry Calls Aide Who Overheard Trump Asking for Ukraine Investigations Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Senate Johnson, Ron (1955- ) impeachment Foreign Aid

WASHINGTON — The House Intelligence Committee on Monday unexpectedly added to its roster of public impeachment witnesses, announcing testimony this week from a United States Embassy official in Kyiv who overheard President Trump ask a top American diplomat in July if Ukraine would move forward with investigations he sought.

The official, David Holmes, testified before investigators privately on Friday. Now, he will sit at the witness table beside Fiona Hill, the former senior director for Russia and Europe at the National Security Council, when the committee convenes its final hearing of a jam-packed week on Thursday.

Behind closed doors, Mr. Holmes described being at a restaurant in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, also known as Kiev, over the summer when Gordon D. Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union, called Mr. Trump on his cellphone. Speaking loudly enough for Mr. Holmes to hear, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Sondland if Ukraine’s president had agreed to conduct an investigation into one of his leading political rivals, Mr. Holmes said. And in colorful terms, the ambassador, fresh off meetings with top Ukrainian officials, told Mr. Trump that he had.

The addition to the week’s already busy public hearing schedule came as Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the impeachment inquiry, arguing that lawmakers have no choice but to dig into what she called clear evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Trump.

“The facts are uncontested: that the president abused his power for his own personal, political benefit, at the expense of our national security interests,” Ms. Pelosi wrote in a letter to Democratic colleagues.

The House Intelligence Committee will now take testimony from nine witnesses this week in the impeachment inquiry, in public hearings intended to prove that Mr. Trump pressured Ukraine to publicly commit to investigations to discredit his political rivals.

House Republicans, who will have their first chance to question witnesses they believe will undercut the allegations, have also requested that a Republican senator who has repeatedly found himself drawn into the impeachment inquiry tell them what he knows about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

The top Republicans on the Oversight and Intelligence Committees wrote to Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, that they were “reluctantly” requesting “any firsthand information you have about President Trump’s actions toward Ukraine,” according to their letter released Monday.

As Mr. Johnson appeared to mull their request, Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter that he would “strongly consider” testifying in the impeachment inquiry, after Ms. Pelosi raised the idea during a weekend television interview.

“Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!” Mr. Trump wrote.

Hours later, in her letter to Democrats, Ms. Pelosi rebutted what has emerged as a leading argument among Republicans against the inquiry: that the upcoming presidential election, not a vote on articles of impeachment, should decide Mr. Trump’s political fate.

“That dangerous position only adds to the urgency of our action because the president is jeopardizing the integrity of the 2020 elections,” Ms. Pelosi said.

House Republicans are hoping Mr. Johnson, a member of the bipartisan Senate Ukraine Caucus, can help shed light on why Mr. Trump withheld a package of nearly $400 million in military assistance for Ukraine. Mr. Johnson traveled to Ukraine as part of a delegation attending President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inauguration this year, and joined phone calls between Mr. Trump and Mr. Sondland, who is a witness in the inquiry.

Typically a staunch defender of the president, Mr. Johnson has said that he confronted Mr. Trump in a phone call in late August about allegations that the president was engaging in a quid pro quo with Ukraine tying the security aid for the country to a public commitment for investigations that Mr. Trump wanted. The president, Mr. Johnson has said, flatly denied it.

But the senator has also revealed information that could be damaging to Mr. Trump: that Mr. Sondland told him that the aid to Ukraine was, in fact, tied to Mr. Trump’s request to have Kyiv investigate Democrats. He told reporters at an event in Wisconsin that he had tried to get permission from Mr. Trump to tell Ukraine’s president that American aid was on its way in the wake of those allegations, but the president refused.

Republicans have argued that the fact that the military funding was ultimately delivered to Ukraine in September, without any announcement of investigations by the country, proves that there was never any effort to tie the two issues together.

But Ms. Pelosi noted in her letter that the money “was only released after the whistle-blower exposed the truth of the president’s extortion and bribery, and the House launched a formal investigation.”

Mr. Johnson was one of several senators in both parties who were deeply concerned about the hold that had been placed on the military aid for Ukraine, which had been allocated by Congress to help the former Soviet republic defend itself from attacks by Russia, and who pressed privately and publicly for it to be released.

Mr. Johnson said on “Meet the Press” on Sunday that he would not be called to testify before the House “because certainly Adam Schiff wouldn’t want to be called by the Senate.” But he added, “I’ll supply my telling of events.”

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

In Shift, U.S. Says Israeli Settlements in West Bank Do Not Violate International Law

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration declared on Monday that the United States does not consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law, reversing four decades of American policy and removing what has been an important barrier to annexation of Palestinian territory.

The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the latest political gift from the Trump administration to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has vowed in two elections this year to push for the annexation of the West Bank. His chief opponent, Benny Gantz, has until Wednesday night to gather a majority in Israel’s Parliament or he will relinquish his chance to form a new government, raising the prospect of a third round of elections.

The United States has in the past described the settlements as illegitimate, and Palestinians have demanded the land for a future state, a goal that has been backed by the United Nations, European governments and American allies across the Middle East.

But President Trump has been persistent in changing United States policy on Israel and the Palestinian territories — moves aimed at bolstering political support for Mr. Netanyahu, who has failed to form a government after two rounds of elections with razor-thin outcomes.

Mr. Pompeo said the new decision — reversing a 1978 legal opinion by the State Department — was not inconsistent with international law. As it stands, he said, the earlier settlements ruling “hasn’t advanced the cause of peace.”

“We’ve recognized the reality on the ground,” Mr. Pompeo told reporters at the State Department.

The settlements have been a main sticking point in peace negotiations that have failed to find a solution for generations. The settlements are home to Israelis in territory that Palestinians have fought to control, and their presence makes negotiations for a two-state solution all the more difficult.

Mr. Netanyahu praised the decision and said it reflected “historical truth — that the Jewish people are not foreign colonialists in Judea and Samaria,” a term for the West Bank. He said Israeli courts were better suited to decide the legality of the settlements, “not biased international forums that pay no attention to history or facts.”

Mr. Gantz, a former army chief and centrist candidate who has the support of the Israeli left and some Arab lawmakers, politely welcomed the announcement but said that the fate of West Bank settlements “should be determined by agreements that meet security requirements and that can promote peace.”

Palestinian officials, by now used to unwelcome policy shifts from Mr. Trump, nonetheless summoned new outrage.

“We cannot express horror and shock because this is a pattern, but that doesn’t make it any less horrific,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestine Liberation Organization official. “It sends a clear signal that they have total disregard for international law, for what is right and just, and for the requirements of peace.”

And Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said the Trump administration’s decision was the latest of “unceasing attempts to replace international law with the ‘law of the jungle.’”

In Washington, Mr. Pompeo said the decision would provide greater space for the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate over the status of the settlements. He said that the issue could be largely left to Israeli courts to decide, and that it had no bearing on legal conclusions regarding similar situations elsewhere in the world.

Instead, Mr. Pompeo said, the issue must be solved by the Israelis and the Palestinians. “And arguments about who is right and wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace,” he said.

The new policy was first reported by The Associated Press.

The timing of Mr. Pompeo’s announcement is almost certain to bolster Mr. Netanyahu’s political fortunes should Israel be headed to a third round of elections this year.

If Mr. Gantz fails to form a government by midnight Wednesday, the Israeli Parliament has 21 days to come up with a candidate who can command a majority of 61 of the 120 seats. And if that effort falls short, Israel will call a new election.

Before the first vote, in April, Mr. Trump officially recognized the contested Golan Heights as Israeli territory. It then was widely expected that the Trump administration would soften its stance on the Israeli settlements in the West Bank before the second round of elections, which were held in September.

And earlier, in December 2017, Mr. Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordered the United States Embassy to move there from Tel Aviv, a symbolic decision that outraged Palestinians who also claim territory in the city.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160562358_f4c1174a-9541-4861-a2c5-c7e320f68618-articleLarge In Shift, U.S. Says Israeli Settlements in West Bank Do Not Violate International Law West Bank United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J State Department Palestinians Israeli Settlements Israel

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, at the White House in September.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

A prime mover in the policy change was David Friedman, the United States ambassador to Israel, who has pushed each of the Trump administration’s major policy gifts to Mr. Netanyahu.

Mr. Friedman signaled a shift in United States policy toward settlements in occupied Palestinian territory in June, in an interview with The New York Times. He said that Israel had the right to annex some, but “unlikely all,” of the West Bank.

Oded Revivi, a spokesman for the Yesha Council, an umbrella group of West Bank settlements, said that Mr. Friedman confided to him recently that he had been pressing within the Trump administration for the policy change on the Hansell Memorandum for months.

Mr. Revivi said he believed the timing of the announcement — which Mr. Friedman tipped him to two weeks ago — sought to both help Mr. Netanyahu remain in power and also bolster Mr. Trump among evangelical and Jewish voters in the United States who support the current right-wing government in Israel. He also said it served as a reminder to right-wing Israelis to reap whatever more windfalls the Trump administration might supply.

“It’s an indication to the Israeli public, look where you can go with this president — you’re wasting time,” said Mr. Revivi, the mayor of Efrat, a West Bank settlement near Jerusalem.

He said the policy shift was a move toward endorsing annexation and also served as a clear indication to the Palestinians who have resisted reopening negotiations with the Trump administration. “You’re not willing to hear a compromise; the train has left and you’ll be left with nothing at the end of the day,” he said.

Opponents of annexation, however, warn that it puts Israel’s status as a Jewish democracy at risk in two ways: If the West Bank’s Palestinians are made Israeli citizens, the country’s Arabs could quickly outnumber its Jews. If they are not given full citizenship rights, Israel would become an apartheid state.

“We are strong enough to deter and defeat our enemies,” said Nimrod Novik, a former aide to Shimon Peres and longtime supporter of a two-state solution. He added, referring to Israel’s air-defense system: “What we don’t have is an Iron Dome system to defend us from friends who threaten to end the Zionist vision.”

A secretive Trump administration plan to revive peace negotiations has been delayed repeatedly, but it is widely believed to bolster Mr. Netanyahu and fail to break a stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians. Few details have been released beyond a call for major new economic development in Palestinian areas.

The Trump administration’s peace effort is run by Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, to deliver what the president has described as the “ultimate deal.”

Ilan Goldenberg, who worked on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at the State Department during the Obama administration, said Monday’s decision undercut the United States’ ability to credibly mediate the stalled peace process.

“The notion this somehow advances peace, as Secretary Pompeo claims, is laughable,” said Mr. Goldenberg, who is now director of Middle East security at the Center for a New American Security in Washington.

Lara Jakes reported from Washington, and David M. Halbfinger from Jerusalem. Edward Wong contributed reporting from Washington, and Isabel Kershner from New York.

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

Impeachment Inquiry Calls Aide Who Overheard Trump Asking for Ukraine Investigations

Westlake Legal Group 18DC-IMPEACH-facebookJumbo Impeachment Inquiry Calls Aide Who Overheard Trump Asking for Ukraine Investigations Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Senate Johnson, Ron (1955- ) impeachment Foreign Aid

WASHINGTON — The House Intelligence Committee on Monday unexpectedly added to its roster of public impeachment witnesses, announcing testimony this week from a United States Embassy official in Kyiv who overheard President Trump ask a top American diplomat in July if Ukraine would move forward with investigations he sought.

The official, David Holmes, testified before investigators privately on Friday. Now, he will sit at the witness table beside Fiona Hill, the former senior director for Russia and Europe at the National Security Council, when the committee convenes its final hearing of a jam-packed week on Thursday.

Behind closed doors, Mr. Holmes described being at a restaurant in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, also known as Kiev, over the summer when Gordon D. Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union, called Mr. Trump on his cellphone. Speaking loudly enough for Mr. Holmes to hear, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Sondland if Ukraine’s president had agreed to conduct an investigation into one of his leading political rivals, Mr. Holmes said. And in colorful terms, the ambassador, fresh off meetings with top Ukrainian officials, told Mr. Trump that he had.

The addition to the week’s already busy public hearing schedule came as Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the impeachment inquiry, arguing that lawmakers have no choice but to dig into what she called clear evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Trump.

“The facts are uncontested: that the president abused his power for his own personal, political benefit, at the expense of our national security interests,” Ms. Pelosi wrote in a letter to Democratic colleagues.

The House Intelligence Committee will now take testimony from nine witnesses this week in the impeachment inquiry, in public hearings intended to prove that Mr. Trump pressured Ukraine to publicly commit to investigations to discredit his political rivals.

House Republicans, who will have their first chance to question witnesses they believe will undercut the allegations, have also requested that a Republican senator who has repeatedly found himself drawn into the impeachment inquiry tell them what he knows about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

The top Republicans on the Oversight and Intelligence Committees wrote to Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, that they were “reluctantly” requesting “any firsthand information you have about President Trump’s actions toward Ukraine,” according to their letter released Monday.

As Mr. Johnson appeared to mull their request, Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter that he would “strongly consider” testifying in the impeachment inquiry, after Ms. Pelosi raised the idea during a weekend television interview.

“Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!” Mr. Trump wrote.

Hours later, in her letter to Democrats, Ms. Pelosi rebutted what has emerged as a leading argument among Republicans against the inquiry: that the upcoming presidential election, not a vote on articles of impeachment, should decide Mr. Trump’s political fate.

“That dangerous position only adds to the urgency of our action because the president is jeopardizing the integrity of the 2020 elections,” Ms. Pelosi said.

House Republicans are hoping Mr. Johnson, a member of the bipartisan Senate Ukraine Caucus, can help shed light on why Mr. Trump withheld a package of nearly $400 million in military assistance for Ukraine. Mr. Johnson traveled to Ukraine as part of a delegation attending President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inauguration this year, and joined phone calls between Mr. Trump and Mr. Sondland, who is a witness in the inquiry.

Typically a staunch defender of the president, Mr. Johnson has said that he confronted Mr. Trump in a phone call in late August about allegations that the president was engaging in a quid pro quo with Ukraine tying the security aid for the country to a public commitment for investigations that Mr. Trump wanted. The president, Mr. Johnson has said, flatly denied it.

But the senator has also revealed information that could be damaging to Mr. Trump: that Mr. Sondland told him that the aid to Ukraine was, in fact, tied to Mr. Trump’s request to have Kyiv investigate Democrats. He told reporters at an event in Wisconsin that he had tried to get permission from Mr. Trump to tell Ukraine’s president that American aid was on its way in the wake of those allegations, but the president refused.

Republicans have argued that the fact that the military funding was ultimately delivered to Ukraine in September, without any announcement of investigations by the country, proves that there was never any effort to tie the two issues together.

But Ms. Pelosi noted in her letter that the money “was only released after the whistle-blower exposed the truth of the president’s extortion and bribery, and the House launched a formal investigation.”

Mr. Johnson was one of several senators in both parties who were deeply concerned about the hold that had been placed on the military aid for Ukraine, which had been allocated by Congress to help the former Soviet republic defend itself from attacks by Russia, and who pressed privately and publicly for it to be released.

Mr. Johnson said on “Meet the Press” on Sunday that he would not be called to testify before the House “because certainly Adam Schiff wouldn’t want to be called by the Senate.” But he added, “I’ll supply my telling of events.”

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

Impeachment Inquiry Calls Aide Who Overheard Trump Asking for Ukraine Investigations

Westlake Legal Group 18DC-IMPEACH-facebookJumbo Impeachment Inquiry Calls Aide Who Overheard Trump Asking for Ukraine Investigations Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Senate Johnson, Ron (1955- ) impeachment Foreign Aid

WASHINGTON — The House Intelligence Committee on Monday unexpectedly added to its roster of public impeachment witnesses, announcing testimony this week from a United States Embassy official in Kyiv who overheard President Trump ask a top American diplomat in July if Ukraine would move forward with investigations he sought.

The official, David Holmes, testified before investigators privately on Friday. Now, he will sit at the witness table beside Fiona Hill, the former senior director for Russia and Europe at the National Security Council, when the committee convenes its final hearing of a jam-packed week on Thursday.

Behind closed doors, Mr. Holmes described being at a restaurant in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, also known as Kiev, over the summer when Gordon D. Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union, called Mr. Trump on his cellphone. Speaking loudly enough for Mr. Holmes to hear, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Sondland if Ukraine’s president had agreed to conduct an investigation into one of his leading political rivals, Mr. Holmes said. And in colorful terms, the ambassador, fresh off meetings with top Ukrainian officials, told Mr. Trump that he had.

The addition to the week’s already busy public hearing schedule came as Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the impeachment inquiry, arguing that lawmakers have no choice but to dig into what she called clear evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Trump.

“The facts are uncontested: that the president abused his power for his own personal, political benefit, at the expense of our national security interests,” Ms. Pelosi wrote in a letter to Democratic colleagues.

The House Intelligence Committee will now take testimony from nine witnesses this week in the impeachment inquiry, in public hearings intended to prove that Mr. Trump pressured Ukraine to publicly commit to investigations to discredit his political rivals.

House Republicans, who will have their first chance to question witnesses they believe will undercut the allegations, have also requested that a Republican senator who has repeatedly found himself drawn into the impeachment inquiry tell them what he knows about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

The top Republicans on the Oversight and Intelligence Committees wrote to Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, that they were “reluctantly” requesting “any firsthand information you have about President Trump’s actions toward Ukraine,” according to their letter released Monday.

As Mr. Johnson appeared to mull their request, Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter that he would “strongly consider” testifying in the impeachment inquiry, after Ms. Pelosi raised the idea during a weekend television interview.

“Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!” Mr. Trump wrote.

Hours later, in her letter to Democrats, Ms. Pelosi rebutted what has emerged as a leading argument among Republicans against the inquiry: that the upcoming presidential election, not a vote on articles of impeachment, should decide Mr. Trump’s political fate.

“That dangerous position only adds to the urgency of our action because the president is jeopardizing the integrity of the 2020 elections,” Ms. Pelosi said.

House Republicans are hoping Mr. Johnson, a member of the bipartisan Senate Ukraine Caucus, can help shed light on why Mr. Trump withheld a package of nearly $400 million in military assistance for Ukraine. Mr. Johnson traveled to Ukraine as part of a delegation attending President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inauguration this year, and joined phone calls between Mr. Trump and Mr. Sondland, who is a witness in the inquiry.

Typically a staunch defender of the president, Mr. Johnson has said that he confronted Mr. Trump in a phone call in late August about allegations that the president was engaging in a quid pro quo with Ukraine tying the security aid for the country to a public commitment for investigations that Mr. Trump wanted. The president, Mr. Johnson has said, flatly denied it.

But the senator has also revealed information that could be damaging to Mr. Trump: that Mr. Sondland told him that the aid to Ukraine was, in fact, tied to Mr. Trump’s request to have Kyiv investigate Democrats. He told reporters at an event in Wisconsin that he had tried to get permission from Mr. Trump to tell Ukraine’s president that American aid was on its way in the wake of those allegations, but the president refused.

Republicans have argued that the fact that the military funding was ultimately delivered to Ukraine in September, without any announcement of investigations by the country, proves that there was never any effort to tie the two issues together.

But Ms. Pelosi noted in her letter that the money “was only released after the whistle-blower exposed the truth of the president’s extortion and bribery, and the House launched a formal investigation.”

Mr. Johnson was one of several senators in both parties who were deeply concerned about the hold that had been placed on the military aid for Ukraine, which had been allocated by Congress to help the former Soviet republic defend itself from attacks by Russia, and who pressed privately and publicly for it to be released.

Mr. Johnson said on “Meet the Press” on Sunday that he would not be called to testify before the House “because certainly Adam Schiff wouldn’t want to be called by the Senate.” But he added, “I’ll supply my telling of events.”

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

In Shift, U.S. Says Israeli Settlements in West Bank Do Not Violate International Law

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration declared on Monday that the United States does not consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law, reversing four decades of American policy and removing what has been an important barrier to annexation of Palestinian territory.

The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the latest political gift from the Trump administration to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has vowed in two elections this year to push for the annexation of the West Bank. His chief opponent, Benny Gantz, has until Wednesday night to gather a majority in Israel’s Parliament or he will relinquish his chance to form a new government, raising the prospect of a third round of elections.

The United States has in the past described the settlements as illegitimate, and Palestinians have demanded the land for a future state, a goal that has been backed by the United Nations.

But President Trump has been persistent in changing United States policy on Israel and the Palestinian territories — moves aimed at bolstering political support for Mr. Netanyahu, who has failed to form a government after two rounds of elections with razor-thin outcomes.

Mr. Pompeo said the new decision — as outlined in a 1978 legal opinion by the State Department — was not inconsistent with international law. As it stands, he said, the earlier settlements ruling “hasn’t advanced the cause of peace.”

“We’ve recognized the reality on the ground,” Mr. Pompeo told reporters at the State Department.

The settlements have been a main sticking point in peace negotiations that have failed to find a solution for generations. The settlements are home to Israelis in territory that Palestinians have fought to control, and their presence makes negotiations for a two-state solution all the more difficult.

Mr. Netanyahu praised the decision and said it reflected “historical truth — that the Jewish people are not foreign colonialists in Judea and Samaria,” a term for the West Bank. He said Israeli courts were better suited to decide the legality of the settlements, “not biased international forums that pay no attention to history or facts.”

Mr. Gantz, a former army chief and centrist candidate who has the support of the Israeli left and some Arab lawmakers, politely welcomed the announcement but said that the fate of West Bank settlements “should be determined by agreements that meet security requirements and that can promote peace.”

Palestinian officials, by now used to unwelcome policy shifts from Mr. Trump, nonetheless summoned new outrage.

“We cannot express horror and shock because this is a pattern, but that doesn’t make it any less horrific,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestine Liberation Organization official. “It sends a clear signal that they have total disregard for international law, for what is right and just, and for the requirements of peace.”

And Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said the Trump administration’s decision was the latest of “unceasing attempts to replace international law with the ‘law of the jungle.’”

In Washington, Mr. Pompeo said the decision would provide greater space for the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate over the status of the settlements. He said that the issue could be largely left to Israeli courts to decide, and that it had no bearing on legal conclusions regarding similar situations elsewhere in the world.

Instead, Mr. Pompeo said, the issue must be solved by the Israelis and the Palestinians. “And arguments about who is right and wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace,” he said.

The new policy was first reported by The Associated Press.

The timing of Mr. Pompeo’s announcement is almost certain to bolster Mr. Netanyahu’s political fortunes should Israel be headed to a third round of elections this year.

If Mr. Gantz fails to form a government by midnight Wednesday, the Israeli Parliament has 21 days to come up with a candidate who can command a majority of 61 of the 120 seats. And if that effort falls short, Israel will call a new election.

Before the first vote, in April, Mr. Trump officially recognized the contested Golan Heights as Israeli territory. It then was widely expected that the Trump administration would soften its stance on the Israeli settlements in the West Bank before the second round of elections, which were held in September.

And earlier, in December 2017, Mr. Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordered the United States Embassy to move there from Tel Aviv, a symbolic decision that outraged Palestinians who also claim territory in the city.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160562358_f4c1174a-9541-4861-a2c5-c7e320f68618-articleLarge In Shift, U.S. Says Israeli Settlements in West Bank Do Not Violate International Law West Bank United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J State Department Palestinians Israeli Settlements Israel

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, at the White House in September.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

A prime mover in the policy change was David Friedman, the United States ambassador to Israel, who has pushed each of the Trump administration’s major policy gifts to Mr. Netanyahu.

Mr. Friedman signaled a shift in United States policy toward settlements in occupied Palestinian territory in June, in an interview with The New York Times. He said that Israel had the right to annex some, but “unlikely all,” of the West Bank.

Oded Revivi, a spokesman for the Yesha Council, an umbrella group of West Bank settlements, said that Mr. Friedman confided to him recently that he had been pressing within the Trump administration for the policy change on the Hansell Memorandum for months.

Mr. Revivi said he believed the timing of the announcement — which Mr. Friedman tipped him to two weeks ago — sought to both help Mr. Netanyahu remain in power and also bolster Mr. Trump among evangelical and Jewish voters in the United States who support the current right-wing government in Israel. He also said it served as a reminder to right-wing Israelis to reap whatever more windfalls the Trump administration might supply.

“It’s an indication to the Israeli public, look where you can go with this president — you’re wasting time,” said Mr. Revivi, the mayor of Efrat, a West Bank settlement near Jerusalem.

He said the policy shift was a move toward endorsing annexation and also served as a clear indication to the Palestinians who have resisted reopening negotiations with the Trump administration. “You’re not willing to hear a compromise; the train has left and you’ll be left with nothing at the end of the day,” he said.

Opponents of annexation, however, warn that it puts Israel’s status as a Jewish democracy at risk in two ways: If the West Bank’s Palestinians are made Israeli citizens, the country’s Arabs could quickly outnumber its Jews. If they are not given full citizenship rights, Israel would become an apartheid state.

“We are strong enough to deter and defeat our enemies,” said Nimrod Novik, a former aide to Shimon Peres and longtime supporter of a two-state solution. He added, referring to Israel’s air-defense system: “What we don’t have is an Iron Dome system to defend us from friends who threaten to end the Zionist vision.”

A secretive Trump administration plan to revive peace negotiations has been delayed repeatedly, but it is widely believed to bolster Mr. Netanyahu and fail to break a stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians. Few details have been released beyond a call for major new economic development in Palestinian areas.

The Trump administration’s peace effort is run by Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, to deliver what the president has described as the “ultimate deal.”

Ilan Goldenberg, who worked on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at the State Department during the Obama administration, said Monday’s decision undercut the United States’ ability to credibly mediate the stalled peace process.

“The notion this somehow advances peace as Secretary Pompeo’s claims is laughable,” said Mr. Goldenberg, who is now director of Middle East security at the Center for a New American Security in Washington.

Lara Jakes reported from Washington, and David M. Halbfinger from Jerusalem. Edward Wong contributed reporting from Washington, and Isabel Kershner from New York.

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Israel’s West Bank Settlements Do Not Violate International Law, U.S. Says

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration declared on Monday that the United States does not consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law. The policy shift may doom any peace efforts with Palestinians.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the move on Monday afternoon. The decision was first reported by The Associated Press.

The United States has in the past described the settlements as illegitimate, and Palestinians have demanded the land for a future state, a goal that has been backed by the international community.

But President Trump has been persistent in changing United States policy on Israel and the Palestinian territories — moves aimed at boosting political support for Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister who has failed to form a government after two rounds of elections with razor-close outcomes.

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Impeachment Investigators Exploring Whether Trump Lied to Mueller

Westlake Legal Group 18dc-mueller-facebookJumbo Impeachment Investigators Exploring Whether Trump Lied to Mueller United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Mueller, Robert S III

WASHINGTON — Impeachment investigators are exploring whether President Trump lied in his written answers to Robert S. Mueller III during the Russia investigation, a lawyer for the House told a federal appeals court on Monday, raising the prospect of bringing an additional basis for a Senate trial over whether to remove Mr. Trump.

The statement — during a hearing in a case over the House’s request for secret grand-jury evidence gathered by Mr. Mueller — came shortly after Mr. Trump said on Twitter that he may provide written answers about the Ukraine affair to impeachment investigators.

“Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!” Mr. Trump wrote, after insulting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

During the Mueller investigation, Mr. Trump refused to testify orally about what he knew and did during the 2016 campaign in relation to Russia’s election interference operation, or his later efforts to impede the special counsel’s inquiry. But he did provide lawyerly written answers to some questions, which were appended to the Mueller report.

On Monday, Douglas Letter, the general counsel for the House, told a federal appeals court panel that impeachment investigators have an “immense” need to see the grand jury evidence — redacted portions of the Mueller report, as well as the underlying testimony transcripts they came from — because Mr. Trump may have lied.

“Was the president not truthful in his responses to the Mueller investigation?” Mr. Letter said, adding: “I believe the special counsel said the president had been untruthful in some of his answers.”

He was referring to Mr. Mueller’s congressional testimony in July. Near the end of the hearing, a lawmaker brought up Mr. Trump’s written responses and asked whether “his answers showed that he wasn’t always being truthful.” Rather than demurring as he had to similar questions, Mr. Mueller instead appeared to confirm her assessment, responding, “I would say generally.”

Both the lawmaker in July and Mr. Letter on Monday appeared to be referring in particular to the question of whether Mr. Trump lied about his campaign’s advance knowledge of and contacts with WikiLeaks about its possession of hacked Democratic emails and plans to publish them.

Mr. Trump wrote that he was “not aware during the campaign of any communications” between “any one I understood to be a representative of WikiLeaks” and people associated with his campaign, including his political adviser Roger J. Stone Jr., who was convicted at trial last week for lying to congressional investigators about his efforts to reach out to WikiLeaks and his discussions with the campaign.

“I do not recall discussing WikiLeaks with him,” Mr. Trump also wrote of Mr. Stone, “nor do I recall being aware of Mr. Stone having discussed WikiLeaks with individuals associated with my campaign.”

But the publicly available portions of the Mueller report suggest that evidence exists to the contrary. Several Trump aides, including Michael D. Cohen and Rick Gates, testified that they heard Mr. Trump discussing coming WikiLeaks releases over the phone. And in October 2016 Stephen K. Bannon, the campaign chairman, wrote in an email that Mr. Stone had told the campaign “about potential future releases of damaging material” by WikiLeaks shortly before it began publishing more hacked emails.

Mr. Letter brought up redactions in the report associated with Mr. Stone and a redacted reference to something that Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, had said to a grand jury.

“Manafort said that shortly after WikiLeaks’ July 22, 2016, released of hacked documents, he spoke to Trump [redacted]; Manafort recalled that Trump responded that Manafort should [redacted] keep Trump updated,” the Mueller report said, citing grand-jury material as the reason for the redactions.

Mr. Letter told the court, “The Manafort situation shows so clearly that there is evidence, very sadly, that the president might have provided untruthful answers,” he said, adding that this might be part of impeachment.

Attorney General William P. Barr permitted the House Judiciary Committee to see most of the Mueller report, including portions that are redacted from the public version because they pertained to ongoing cases, but has refused to let them see material that is subject to secrecy rules because it was presented to a grand jury.

In July, the House petitioned the chief judge of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia for an order that would permit it to gain access to that material too. Its court filings in that matter were the first time that it formally pronounced itself engaged in an impeachment inquiry; there is precedent, including in the Nixon Watergate scandal, permitting the House to get grand jury information for impeachment proceedings.

The judge in October ruled that the House Judiciary Committee should be permitted to see the grand-jury material in the report and its underlying basis. The Justice Department appealed that ruling. The hearing on Monday centered on whether the appeals court should temporarily stay the district judge’s ruling while it considers that appeal.

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House Republicans Want Ukraine Information From a Republican Senator

Westlake Legal Group 18DC-IMPEACH-facebookJumbo House Republicans Want Ukraine Information From a Republican Senator Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Senate Johnson, Ron (1955- ) impeachment Foreign Aid

WASHINGTON — House Republicans requested on Monday that a Republican senator who has repeatedly found himself drawn into the impeachment inquiry tell them what he knows about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

The top Republicans on the Oversight and Intelligence Committees wrote to Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, that they were “reluctantly” requesting “any firsthand information you have about President Trump’s actions toward Ukraine,” according to their letter released Monday.

Also on Monday, Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter that he would “strongly consider” testifying in the impeachment inquiry, after Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised the idea during a weekend television interview.

“Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!” Mr. Trump wrote.

Mr. Johnson, a member of the bipartisan Senate Ukraine Caucus, traveled to Ukraine as part of a delegation attending President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inauguration in 2019, and joined phone calls between Mr. Trump and the American ambassador to the European Union and a witness in the inquiry, Gordon D. Sondland.

Typically a staunch defender of the president, Mr. Johnson has said that he confronted Mr. Trump in a phone call in late August about allegations that the president was engaging in a quid pro quo with Ukraine tying a nearly $400 million package of security assistance for the country to a public commitment for investigations that Mr. Trump wanted. The president, Mr. Johnson has said, flatly denied it.

But the senator has also revealed information that could be damaging to Mr. Trump: that Mr. Sondland told him that the aid to Ukraine was, in fact, tied to Mr. Trump’s request to have Kiev investigate Democrats. He told reporters at an event in Wisconsin that he had tried to get permission from Mr. Trump to tell Ukraine’s president that American aid was on its way in the wake of those allegations, but the president refused.

Mr. Johnson was one of several senators in both parties who were deeply concerned about the hold that had been placed on the military aid for Ukraine, which had been allocated by Congress to help the former Soviet republic defend itself from attacks by Russia, and who pressed privately and publicly for it to be released.

Mr. Johnson said on “Meet The Press” on Sunday that he would not be called to testify before the House, “because certainly Adam Schiff wouldn’t want to be called by the Senate.” But he added: “I’ll supply my telling of events.”

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Trump Retreats From Flavor Ban for E-Cigarettes

WASHINGTON — It was a swift and bold reaction to a growing public health crisis affecting teenagers. Seated in the Oval Office in September, President Trump said he was moving to ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes as vaping among young people continued to rise.

“We can’t have our kids be so affected,” Mr. Trump said. The first lady, Melania Trump, who rarely involves herself publicly with policy announcements in the White House, was there, too. “She’s got a son,” Mr. Trump noted, referring to their teenager, Barron. “She feels very strongly about it.”

But two months later, under pressure from his political advisers and lobbyists to factor in the potential pushback from his supporters, Mr. Trump has resisted moving forward with any action on vaping, while saying he still wants to study the issue.

Even a watered-down ban on flavored e-cigarettes that exempted menthol, which was widely expected, appears to have been set aside, for now.

On a flight on Nov. 4, while traveling to a political rally in Kentucky, Mr. Trump was swayed by the advisers who warned him of political repercussions to any sweeping restrictions. Reviewing talking points on the ban aboard the plane with advisers, Mr. Trump decided to cancel the administration’s rollout of an announcement, which included a news conference that Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary, was planning to hold on the issue the next day. Instead, another meeting was proposed.

The discussion aboard the Nov. 4 flight was first reported by The Washington Post.

White House officials pushing for action were still holding out hope that there would be an announcement of a ban on flavored e-cigarettes, with an exemption for menthol, last week.

The proposed ban had gathered significant support this fall, as the crisis over teenage vaping, with year-over-year increases, coincided with a sprawling outbreak of severe lung injuries. While most of the illnesses, now affecting more than 2,000 people and causing more than 40 deaths, have been attributed to vaping THC products, the e-cigarette industry also became the target of criticism for luring minors into using its products.

A lack of federal action prompted several states to try to institute bans on flavored e-cigarettes, spurring the vaping and tobacco industries to mount legal challenges and lobby lawmakers and the White House against regulatory restrictions that would impede adult e-smokers.

Juul Labs, the largest seller of e-cigarettes in the country and the target of several federal investigations, had taken most of its flavors off the market in anticipation of a national flavor ban. The company had said that its mint-flavored pods made up about 70 percent of its sales; menthol was 10 percent; and two tobacco flavors accounted for 20 percent. But many other look-alikes, in flavors like chai and melon, have sprung up to fill the void left by Juul’s actions.

Mr. Trump has since decided to follow the advice of political advisers to stall on the issue and meet with more groups.

On Nov. 11, Mr. Trump tweeted that he would be “meeting with representatives of the vaping industry, together with medical professionals and individual state representatives, to come up with an acceptable solution to the vaping and E-cigarette dilemma.”

The announcement on Twitter took West Wing advisers by surprise, and one senior official said no meeting had been scheduled. One adviser who spoke to Mr. Trump recently said the president was simply overwhelmed by other issues, including the televised impeachment hearings that began last week, distracting him from deciding what the administration should do about restricting e-cigarette flavors.

But he is concerned about his chances in 2020, and allies working for the vaping industry have told Mr. Trump of battleground state polling of his own voters that showed the issue costing him support.

One such poll was commissioned by John McLaughlin, one of the Trump campaign pollsters, for the Vapor Technology Association. The poll, which surveyed battleground state voters who vape, showed negative results for Mr. Trump if he went ahead with a ban, and was passed around to a number of people in Mr. Trump’s circle, including Brad Parscale, his campaign manager, and senior White House officials.

Tony Abboud, the executive director of the group that commissioned the poll that has helped influence the president, said they were encouraged by “what appears to be a move in the right direction for adult smokers and their families.”

“Bans don’t work,” he said. “They never have.”

Mr. Trump has also been under an intense lobbying campaign over the past seven weeks, waged by tobacco and vaping companies, along with conservative organizations, like Americans for Tax Reform, which are opposed to regulatory limits that would affect retailers, small businesses and adult consumers of e-cigarettes. Some have promoted enforcing sales restrictions to protect minors, or raising the national age to 21 for sales of all tobacco products.

The trajectory of the flavor ban — from a bold pronouncement of swift action to a fizzle after the political realities of taking such an action emerge — is similar to Mr. Trump’s stance on gun legislation. Months after back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso and in Dayton, Ohio, when Mr. Trump said he wanted to pass “very meaningful background checks,” warnings from gun rights advocates and Republican lawmakers about the political fallout that would result from doing that ultimately led to no action on the issue.

Inside the White House, the flavor ban has also become a proxy issue for how his advisers see Mr. Trump’s path to re-election. In one camp are those who believe he should try to win back suburban women, including mothers of teenagers who would presumably worry about their children becoming addicted to nicotine. In the other are those who advise him to assume that voting bloc would not favor him anyway and to focus only on energizing his base.

Mr. Parscale had flagged to Mr. Trump after he first announced his intention to ban most flavored e-cigarettes that it would hurt him with his base. Mr. Parscale and other advisers warned Mr. Trump to slow down, and announce he was going to take time studying the issue, telling him that a ban could depress turnout in critical states.

Those political concerns were not without merit: E-cigarette users have held protests outside the White House and outside Trump rallies that they may have attended under other circumstances. Protesters have also raised concerns about the potential closing of thousands of vape shops, which they said would hurt the economy and cost jobs across the country.

But it is not clear whether pro-vaping activists are one-issue voters.

While some advice to Mr. Trump was grounded in polling, some was based on a gut-level understanding of Trump voters: Taking away the right to smoke or vape would be something akin to taking away firearms.

In the opposing camp is Kellyanne Conway, a top White House adviser and Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, who has been telling colleagues and the president that it is a mistake to assume, as Mr. Parscale and others have done, that suburban moms who care deeply about a public health crisis for teenagers have deserted Mr. Trump for good.

Those advisers, including Mr. Azar, have been pushing the administration to address the issue, as parents and schools as well as public health experts have grown increasingly concerned about the rise in teenage vaping. Mr. Azar had told the president that about more than one-fourth of high school students reported vaping e-cigarettes within the previous 30 days, according to this year’s survey of tobacco use among youths.

Recent Vaping Regulations

Several states have announced e-cigarette bans in response to recent vaping illnesses and deaths. More maps and charts.

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By The New York Times

Last September, Mr. Azar said the proposed ban would include mint and menthol because those two flavors appeared to be popular with teenagers, especially once e-cigarette companies responded to criticism of appealing to young people and began pulling fruit and dessert varieties, like mango, from shelves.

But those who had opposed a flavor ban — especially against menthol — found ammunition in the results of a recently released national survey of high school students, which showed that very few preferred menthol. Most said they chose fruit or mint as their favorite flavors of e-cigarettes.

A spokeswoman for Mrs. Trump, who at first expressed interest in the ban as a mother of a teenage son, did not respond to a request for comment about whether she was still invested in the issue.

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