web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 126)

Impeachment Inquiry: Mulvaney Undercuts Trump’s Denials of Quid Pro Quo

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group 17dc-impeachbriefing-mulvaney-articleLarge-v2 Impeachment Inquiry: Mulvaney Undercuts Trump’s Denials of Quid Pro Quo Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, spoke to reporters during a press briefing Thursday at the White House.CreditLeigh Vogel for The New York Times

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told reporters that the release of military aid to Ukraine this summer was linked in part to White House demands that Ukraine’s government investigate what he called corruption by Democrats in the 2016 American presidential campaign.

It was the first time a White House official has publicly acknowledged what a parade of current and former administration officials have told impeachment investigators on Capitol Hill.

“The look-back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation,” Mr. Mulvaney told reporters, referring to Mr. Trump. “And that is absolutely appropriate.”

He said that the aid was initially withheld because, “Everybody knows this is a corrupt place,” and the president was demanding Ukraine clean up its own government. But Mr. Trump also told Mr. Mulvaney that he was concerned about what he thought was Ukraine’s role in the 2016 campaign.

“Did he also mention to me in passing the corruption related to the D.N.C. server? Absolutely. No question about that,” he said. “But that’s it, and that’s why we held up the money.”

Mr. Mulvaney was referring to Mr. Trump’s discredited idea that a server with Hillary Clinton’s missing emails was being held by a company based in Ukraine.

Mr. Mulvaney’s comments undercut the president’s repeated denials that there was a quid pro quo linking his demand for an investigation that could politically benefit him to the release of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine, which is battling Russian-backed separatists on its eastern border.

Video

Westlake Legal Group 17dc-pelosi-vid-videoSixteenByNine3000 Impeachment Inquiry: Mulvaney Undercuts Trump’s Denials of Quid Pro Quo Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

Speaker Nancy Pelosi honored Representative Elijah E. Cummings, describing him as a “revered and respected” colleague. Mr. Cummings, one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress, died on Thursday.CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

The passing of Representative Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, cast a pall over the impeachment inquiry. Mr. Cummings’ signature was one of three on the letters seeking witnesses and information, along with the names of Adam B. Schiff, the Intelligence Committee chairman, and Eliot L. Engel, the Foreign Affairs Committee chairman.

Moreover, his commanding voice and moral authority gave the effort a clarity it might not otherwise have achieved.

His death left practical questions for House Democratic leaders that will have to be answered almost immediately. Will proceedings take a break for mourning? Who will take the gavel at the Oversight Committee? Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York is next in seniority, and has been named the acting chairwoman. But she has not played a large public role in the oversight of the Trump White House. After her is Eleanor Holmes Norton, the nonvoting delegate of the District of Columbia.

Not until No. 6 does a prominent public figure in the impeachment inquiry emerge, Representative Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia, chairman of the subcommittee on government operations. Ultimately, it will likely be Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s call.

Moreover, Ms. Pelosi still must decide what will happen to the Oversight Committee’s main threads of investigation, including the push for financial records of President Trump and the Trump Organization. Will such efforts become a facet of impeachment, or will she focus on Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival, more the purview of the Foreign Affairs and Intelligence panels?

For Thursday, mourning was the order of the day. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, wrote, “As a member of the House of Representatives, Elijah was a leader for both parties to emulate, and someone to share a laugh with even amongst the most contentious times. His presence will be deeply missed.”

Republicans called off a vote to censure one of Mr. Cummings’ allies, Mr. Schiff. It would have failed.

In a news conference later in the morning, Ms. Pelosi said of Mr. Cummings, “He lived the American dream and he wanted it for everyone else. He spoke with unsurpassed clarity and moral integrity when he spoke on the floor.”

Read more: Elijah E. Cummings, Powerful Democrat Who Investigated Trump, Dies at 68

Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, will tell House impeachment investigators on Thursday that President Trump essentially delegated American foreign policy on Ukraine to his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Mr. Sondland, a Trump campaign donor who has emerged as a central figure in the Ukraine scandal, will testify that he did not understand until later that Mr. Giuliani’s goal may have been an effort “to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 re-election campaign.”

According to a copy of his opening statement reviewed by The New York Times, Mr. Sondland will say that Mr. Trump refused to take the counsel of his top diplomats, who recommended to him that he meet with the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, without any preconditions. The president said that the diplomats needed to satisfy concerns both he and Mr. Giuliani had related to corruption in Ukraine, Mr. Sondland will say.

“We were also disappointed by the president’s direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani,” Mr. Sondland will say in an 18-page prepared statement. “Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the president’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine.

Read more: Ambassador to E.U. to Testify That Trump Delegated Ukraine Policy to Giuliani

At noon on Thursday, supporters of Mr. Trump gathered outside the Capitol to rally against Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

Some of headliners were to be expected: Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican in the House, Representative John Rutherford, Republican of Florida, and Matt Schlapp, head of the American Conservative Union and one of the president’s most dogged defenders,

Others? Well, they certainly have been in Mr. Trump’s orbit. Highlighted for the rally was Jack Posobiec, one of the most prominent promulgators of “Pizzagate,” which held that Hillary Clinton ran a child trafficking operation out of the back of a Washington pizzeria. He also promoted the conspiracy that a young aide at the Democratic National Committee, was murdered for leaking Mrs. Clinton’s emails. In 2017, he disrupted a production of “Julius Caesar” in Central Park, insisting it was promoting Mr. Trump’s assassination.

  • President Trump repeatedly pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate people and issues of political concern to Mr. Trump, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Here’s a timeline of events since January.

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

Video

Westlake Legal Group vidxx-trump-ukraine-1-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 Impeachment Inquiry: Mulvaney Undercuts Trump’s Denials of Quid Pro Quo Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

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

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

Trump Will Host 2020 G7 Summit at His Doral Resort

Westlake Legal Group merlin_159850590_7a0c2a6a-d1d9-4e3a-b0fc-09d5c62597d2-facebookJumbo Trump Will Host 2020 G7 Summit at His Doral Resort Trump, Donald J Trump National Doral Miami (Doral, Fla) International Relations Group of Seven Ethics and Official Misconduct Conflicts of Interest

WASHINGTON — President Trump will host next year’s Group of 7 meeting next June at Trump Doral, his luxury resort near Miami, the president’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, told reporters on Thursday.

“‘It’s almost like they built this facility to host this type of event,’” Mr. Mulvaney said during a press briefing, quoting what he said an unnamed official had told him before quickly saying that the issue was not a conflict of interest. “The president has made it clear since he’s been here that he hasn’t profited since he’s been here.”

The decision to host the summit at the Trump National Doral Miami Golf Club is almost sure to alarm ethics watchdogs and critics of the administration who would see an immediate conflict of interest. Hosting the Group of 7 meeting of world leaders at a Trump property could provide a windfall for the Trump Organization and raise the resort’s profile around the world.

“Donald Trump’s brand is strong as it is,” Mr. Mulvaney said when asked about possible criticism. “It’s the most recognized name in the English language.”

The president has been publicly laying the groundwork for hosting the meeting. At the Group of 7 summit this year, held in Biarritz in the south of France, Mr. Trump suggested that his luxury golf resort, west of Miami, would be a “great place” to hold next year’s meeting.

“It’s got tremendous acreage, many hundreds of acres, so we can handle whatever happens,” Mr. Trump said. “People are really liking it and plus it has buildings that have 50 to 70 units. And so each delegation can have its own building.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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

The Trump Impeachment Inquiry: Latest News

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162859620_e93f60f6-95fd-4ca0-a649-0da6f5f65de3-articleLarge The Trump Impeachment Inquiry: Latest News Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, spoke to reporters during a press briefing Thursday at the White House.CreditLeigh Vogel for The New York Times

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told reporters that the release of military aid to Ukraine this summer was linked in part to White House demands that Ukraine’s government investigate what he called corruption by Democrats in the 2016 American presidential campaign.

It was the first time a White House official has publicly acknowledged what a parade of current and former administration officials have told impeachment investigators on Capitol Hill.

“The look-back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation,” Mr. Mulvaney told reporters, referring to Mr. Trump. “And that is absolutely appropriate.”

He said that the aid was initially withheld because, “Everybody knows this is a corrupt place,” and the president was demanding Ukraine clean up its own government. But Mr. Trump also told Mr. Mulvaney that he was concerned about what he thought was Ukraine’s role in the 2016 campaign.

“Did he also mention to me in passing the corruption related to the D.N.C. server? Absolutely. No question about that,” he said. “But that’s it, and that’s why we held up the money.”

Mr. Mulvaney was referring to Mr. Trump’s discredited idea that a server with Hillary Clinton’s missing emails was being held by a company based in Ukraine.

Mr. Mulvaney’s comments undercut the president’s repeated denials that there was a quid pro quo linking his demand for an investigation that could politically benefit him to the release of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine, which is battling Russian-backed separatists on its eastern border.

Video

Westlake Legal Group 17dc-pelosi-vid-videoSixteenByNine3000 The Trump Impeachment Inquiry: Latest News Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

Speaker Nancy Pelosi honored Representative Elijah E. Cummings, describing him as a “revered and respected” colleague. Mr. Cummings, one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress, died on Thursday.CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

The passing of Representative Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, cast a pall over the impeachment inquiry. Mr. Cummings’ signature was one of three on the letters seeking witnesses and information, along with the names of Adam B. Schiff, the Intelligence Committee chairman, and Eliot L. Engel, the Foreign Affairs Committee chairman.

Moreover, his commanding voice and moral authority gave the effort a clarity it might not otherwise have achieved.

His death left practical questions for House Democratic leaders that will have to be answered almost immediately. Will proceedings take a break for mourning? Who will take the gavel at the Oversight Committee? Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York is next in seniority, and has been named the acting chairwoman. But she has not played a large public role in the oversight of the Trump White House. After her is Eleanor Holmes Norton, the nonvoting delegate of the District of Columbia.

Not until No. 6 does a prominent public figure in the impeachment inquiry emerge, Representative Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia, chairman of the subcommittee on government operations. Ultimately, it will likely be Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s call.

Moreover, Ms. Pelosi still must decide what will happen to the Oversight Committee’s main threads of investigation, including the push for financial records of President Trump and the Trump Organization. Will such efforts become a facet of impeachment, or will she focus on Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival, more the purview of the Foreign Affairs and Intelligence panels?

For Thursday, mourning was the order of the day. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, wrote, “As a member of the House of Representatives, Elijah was a leader for both parties to emulate, and someone to share a laugh with even amongst the most contentious times. His presence will be deeply missed.”

Republicans called off a vote to censure one of Mr. Cummings’ allies, Mr. Schiff. It would have failed.

In a news conference later in the morning, Ms. Pelosi said of Mr. Cummings, “He lived the American dream and he wanted it for everyone else. He spoke with unsurpassed clarity and moral integrity when he spoke on the floor.”

Read more: Elijah E. Cummings, Powerful Democrat Who Investigated Trump, Dies at 68

Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, will tell House impeachment investigators on Thursday that President Trump essentially delegated American foreign policy on Ukraine to his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Mr. Sondland, a Trump campaign donor who has emerged as a central figure in the Ukraine scandal, will testify that he did not understand until later that Mr. Giuliani’s goal may have been an effort “to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 re-election campaign.”

According to a copy of his opening statement reviewed by The New York Times, Mr. Sondland will say that Mr. Trump refused to take the counsel of his top diplomats, who recommended to him that he meet with the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, without any preconditions. The president said that the diplomats needed to satisfy concerns both he and Mr. Giuliani had related corruption in Ukraine, Mr. Sondland will say.

“We were also disappointed by the president’s direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani,” Mr. Sondland will say in an 18-page prepared statement. “Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the president’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine.

Read more: Ambassador to E.U. to Testify That Trump Delegated Ukraine Policy to Giuliani

At noon on Thursday, supporters of Mr. Trump gathered outside the Capitol to rally against Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

Some of headliners were to be expected: Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican in the House, Representative John Rutherford, Republican of Florida, and Matt Schlapp, head of the American Conservative Union and one of the president’s most dogged defenders,

Others? Well, they certainly have been in Mr. Trump’s orbit. Highlighted for the rally was Jack Posobiec, one of the most prominent promulgators of “Pizzagate,” which held that Hillary Clinton ran a child trafficking operation out of the back of a Washington pizzeria. He also promoted the conspiracy that a young aide at the Democratic National Committee, was murdered for leaking Mrs. Clinton’s emails. In 2017, he disrupted a production of “Julius Caesar” in Central Park, insisting it was promoting Mr. Trump’s assassination.

  • President Trump repeatedly pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate people and issues of political concern to Mr. Trump, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Here’s a timeline of events since January.

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

Video

Westlake Legal Group vidxx-trump-ukraine-1-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 The Trump Impeachment Inquiry: Latest News Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

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

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

Gordon Sondland, E.U. Envoy, Testifies That Trump Delegated Ukraine Policy to Giuliani

WASHINGTON — Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, told House impeachment investigators on Thursday that President Trump delegated American foreign policy on Ukraine to his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, a directive that he said he disagreed with but nonetheless followed.

Mr. Sondland, a Trump campaign donor who has emerged as a central figure in the Ukraine scandal, testified under subpoena that he did not understand until later that Mr. Giuliani’s goal may have been an effort “to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 re-election campaign.”

According to a copy of his opening statement to investigators, which was obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Sondland said that Mr. Trump refused to take the counsel of his top diplomats, who recommended to him that he meet with the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, without any preconditions. The president said that the diplomats needed to satisfy concerns that both he and Mr. Giuliani had related to corruption in Ukraine, Mr. Sondland asserted.

“We were also disappointed by the president’s direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani,” Mr. Sondland said. “Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the president’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine.”

His account is at odds with testimony from some foreign policy officials who have portrayed Mr. Sondland who willingly inserted himself into Ukraine policy despite the fact that the country is not technically within the purview of his posting, and was a key player in Mr. Trump’s efforts to win a commitment from the new Ukrainian government to investigate his political rivals.

Some lawmakers who heard it said that Mr. Sondland’s story appeared to be designed to insulate himself from blame. As she emerged from the first two hours of questioning, Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California and a member of the Intelligence Committee, called his remarks “a lot of C.Y.A.”

Mr. Sondland arrived on Capitol Hill on Thursday morning to take his turn in the secure rooms of the House Intelligence Committee, as the latest top foreign policy official to appear before impeachment investigators who are digging into a whistle-blower complaint about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. His testimony, which the Trump administration initially sought to block, is a matter of intense interest for the investigators as they try to fill out a picture of what transpired this summer as Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani ratcheted up the pressure on the Ukrainians to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

Even as Mr. Sondland was answering questions, lawmakers and their aides were preparing for a crush of additional closed-door witness depositions in the coming days that will reach further into the diplomatic corps and the White House. They have sessions scheduled with two Pentagon officials, Laura Cooper and Kathryn Wheelbarger, and two top White House budget officials, Russell Vought and Michael Duffey, who could help address lingering questions about whether Mr. Trump’s decision this summer to freeze $391 million in security aid for Ukraine was tied to the pressure campaign.

Questions about the aid will also likely be put to William B. Taylor Jr., a career diplomat in Ukraine who raised concerns with Mr. Sondland about the aid freeze, and two National Security Council officials, Alexander Vindman and Timothy Morrison. And investigators also plan to interview Philip Reeker, a top European affairs official at the State Department and Suriya Jayant, a foreign service officer in Kiev.

Testimony from career diplomats and a former top White House foreign policy adviser in recent days have suggested that Mr. Sondland, a wealthy hotelier from Oregon who had no political experience, was at the heart of the effort to go around normal diplomatic channels to pressure the Ukrainians.

But his prepared remarks offer a more complicated account, casting him as a well-meaning and at times unwitting player who was trying to conduct American foreign policy with Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump standing in the way. He noted several times that he had “the blessing” of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Mr. Sondland said that Mr. Trump put him and top diplomats and administration officials dealing with Ukraine in an impossible position, as they tried to conduct diplomacy with an important European ally.

A person familiar with the ongoing deposition, who was not authorized to discuss it publicly, said that Mr. Sondland had not tried to shield his conversations with Mr. Trump from investigators, and was so far answering questions from Democratic and Republican staff.

“Please know that I would not have recommended that Mr. Giuliani or any private citizen be involved in these foreign policy matters,” he said. “However, given the president’s explicit direction, as well as the importance we attached to arranging a White House meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelensky, we agreed to do as President Trump directed.”

Mr. Sondland testified that he; Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy to Ukraine, and Rick Perry, the energy secretary, began coordinating with Mr. Giuliani, who insisted the Ukrainians put out a statement committing to a series of investigations. The ambassador said that he failed to appreciate how Burisma, a company that Mr. Giuliani wanted the Ukrainians to look into, was directly tied to Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son.

Westlake Legal Group impeachment-investigation-tracker-promo-1570214529724-articleLarge-v3 Gordon Sondland, E.U. Envoy, Testifies That Trump Delegated Ukraine Policy to Giuliani United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Presidential Election of 2020 Perry, Rick impeachment Giuliani, Rudolph W European Union Burisma Holdings Ltd Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

Subpoenas and Requests for Evidence in the Trump Impeachment Inquiry

The status of the documents and witness testimony being collected by congressional investigators.

“Although Mr. Giuliani did mention the name ‘Burisma’ in August 2019, I understood that Burisma was one of many examples of Ukrainian companies run by oligarchs and lacking the type of corporate governance structures found in Western companies,” Mr. Sondland said. “I did not know until more recent press reports that Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma.”

Hunter Biden’s involvement with Burisma had been widely reported beginning in the spring.

Still, Mr. Sondland’s prepared testimony leaves unaddressed obvious questions that investigators are sure to press him to answer. It offers no real explanation of why Mr. Giuliani was involved in Ukraine policy in the first place or if Mr. Sondland took any steps to find out why.

Nor do the prepared remarks explain whether Mr. Sondland questioned why Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump repeatedly singled out two topics for investigation that would have benefited the president politically.

“I did not understand, until much later, that Mr. Giuliani’s agenda might have also included an effort to prompt the Ukrainians to investigate Vice President Biden or his son or to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 re-election campaign,” he told investigators.

Mr. Sondland sought to distance himself from other aspects of the unfolding scandal, as well. He said that Marie L. Yovanovitch, whom Mr. Trump abruptly removed as ambassador to Ukraine in May amid a smear campaign against her by the president’s allies, was an “an excellent diplomat” whose departure he “regretted.”

“I was never a part of any campaign to disparage or dislodge her,” he said.

Likewise, Mr. Sondland said that it was only because he deeply respected William B. Taylor Jr., a career diplomat who replaced Ms. Yovanovitch in Ukraine, that he tried to assuage his concerns that nothing untoward was being done with respect to the frozen security aid.

In previously released text messages between Mr. Sondland, Mr. Volker and Mr. Taylor, Mr. Taylor was deeply uneasy about what he saw as an effort by Trump aides to use the package of security assistance as leverage over Ukraine for political favors, calling the notion “crazy.”

After calling Mr. Trump directly, Mr. Sondland replied to Mr. Taylor that “The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind” and directed Mr. Taylor to stop texting and call him with any additional concerns.

Mr. Sondland insisted that he was never involved in any potential discussions with the White House about withholding the security aid in exchange for a pledge to investigate. He said that Mr. Trump was in a bad mood when he called him to ask about it, and told Mr. Sondland that he wanted “nothing” from the Ukrainians.

And he told the committees that he did not know the substance of a July 25 phone call in which Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Zelensky to investigate Mr. Biden and matters related to the 2016 campaign until a reconstructed account of the call was released publicly in September. He said that he spoke with Mr. Trump a day after the call, before Mr. Sondland was to meet with Ukrainian leaders in Kiev, but that the conversation was not “substantive.”

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

Ambassador to E.U. to Testify That Trump Delegated Ukraine Policy to Giuliani

WASHINGTON — Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, will tell House impeachment investigators on Thursday that President Trump essentially delegated American foreign policy on Ukraine to his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, a directive that he will say he disagreed with but nonetheless followed.

Mr. Sondland, a Trump campaign donor who has emerged as a central figure in the Ukraine scandal, will testify that he did not understand until later that Mr. Giuliani’s goal may have been an effort “to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 re-election campaign.”

According to a copy of his opening statement obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Sondland will say that Mr. Trump refused to take the counsel of his top diplomats, who recommended to him that he meet with the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, without any preconditions. The president said that the diplomats needed to satisfy concerns both he and Mr. Giuliani had related corruption in Ukraine, Mr. Sondland will say.

“We were also disappointed by the president’s direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani,” Mr. Sondland will say, according to the 18-page prepared statement. “Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the president’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine.”

His account is at odds with testimony from some foreign policy officials who have portrayed Mr. Sondland as a willing participant who inserted himself into Ukraine policy and was a central player in Mr. Trump’s efforts to win a commitment from the new Ukrainian government to investigate his political rivals.

Mr. Sondland arrived on Capitol Hill on Thursday morning to take his turn in the secure rooms of the House Intelligence Committee, as the latest top foreign policy official to appear before impeachment investigators who are digging into a whistle-blower complaint about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. His testimony, which the Trump administration initially sought to block, is a matter of intense interest for the investigators as they try to fill out a picture of what transpired this summer as Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani ratcheted up the pressure on the Ukrainians to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

Testimony from career diplomats and a former top White House foreign policy adviser in recent days have suggested that Mr. Sondland, a wealthy hotelier from Oregon who had no political experience, was at the heart of the effort to go around normal diplomatic channels to pressure the Ukrainians.

But his prepared remarks offer a more complicated account, casting him as a well-meaning and at times unwitting player who was trying to conduct American foreign policy with Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump standing in the way.

Mr. Sondland will say that Mr. Trump put him and top diplomats and administration officials dealing with Ukraine in an impossible position, as they tried to conduct diplomacy with an important European ally.

“Please know that I would not have recommended that Mr. Giuliani or any private citizen be involved in these foreign policy matters,” he planned to say. “However, given the president’s explicit direction, as well as the importance we attached to arranging a White House meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelensky, we agreed to do as President Trump directed.”

Mr. Sondland will say that he; Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy to Ukraine, and Rick Perry, the energy secretary, began coordinating with Mr. Giuliani, who insisted the Ukrainians put out a statement committing to a series of investigations. The ambassador will say that he failed to appreciate how Burisma, a company that Mr. Giuliani wanted the Ukrainians to look into, was directly tied to Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son.

Westlake Legal Group impeachment-investigation-tracker-promo-1570214529724-articleLarge-v3 Ambassador to E.U. to Testify That Trump Delegated Ukraine Policy to Giuliani United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Presidential Election of 2020 Perry, Rick impeachment Giuliani, Rudolph W European Union Burisma Holdings Ltd Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

Subpoenas and Requests for Evidence in the Trump Impeachment Inquiry

The status of the documents and witness testimony being collected by congressional investigators.

“Although Mr. Giuliani did mention the name ‘Burisma’ in August 2019, I understood that Burisma was one of many examples of Ukrainian companies run by oligarchs and lacking the type of corporate governance structures found in Western companies,” Mr. Sondland will say. “I did not know until more recent press reports that Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma.”

Hunter Biden’s involvement with Burisma had been widely reported beginning in the spring.

Still, Mr. Sondland’s prepared testimony leaves unaddressed obvious questions that investigators are sure to press him to answer. It offers no real explanation of why Mr. Giuliani was involved in Ukraine policy in the first place or if Mr. Sondland took any steps to find out why.

Nor do the prepared remarks explain whether Mr. Sondland questioned why Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump repeatedly singled out two topics for investigation that would have benefited the president politically.

“I did not understand, until much later, that Mr. Giuliani’s agenda might have also included an effort to prompt the Ukrainians to investigate Vice President Biden or his son or to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 re-election campaign,” he will say.

Mr. Sondland will seek to distance himself from other aspects of the unfolding scandal, as well. He will say that Marie L. Yovanovitch, whom Mr. Trump abruptly removed as ambassador to Ukraine in May amid a smear campaign against her by the president’s allies, was an “an excellent diplomat” whose departure he “regretted.”

“I was never a part of any campaign to disparage or dislodge her,” he planned to say.

Likewise, Mr. Sondland planned to say that it was only because he deeply respected William B. Taylor Jr., a career diplomat who replaced Ms. Yovanovitch in Ukraine, that he tried to assuage his concerns that nothing untoward was being done with respect to the frozen security aid.

In previously released text messages between Mr. Sondland, Mr. Volker and Mr. Taylor, Mr. Taylor was deeply uneasy about what he saw as an effort by Trump aides to use a $391 million package of security assistance as leverage over Ukraine for political favors, calling the notion “crazy.”

After calling Mr. Trump directly, Mr. Sondland replied to Mr. Taylor that “The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind” and directed Mr. Taylor to stop texting and call him with any additional concerns.

Mr. Sondland plans to testify that he was never involved in any potential discussions with the White House about withholding the security aid in exchange for a pledge to investigate. He will say that Mr. Trump was in a bad mood when he called him to ask about it, and told Mr. Sondland that he wanted “nothing” from the Ukrainians.

And he intends to testify that he did not know the substance of a July 25 phone call in which Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Zelensky to investigate Mr. Biden and matters related to the 2016 campaign until a reconstructed account of the call was released publicly in September. He will say that he spoke with Mr. Trump a day after the call, before Mr. Sondland was to meet with Ukrainian leaders in Kiev, but that the conversation was not “substantive.”

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

A Scotch Maker’s Challenge: First Brexit. Now Tariffs.

Westlake Legal Group 17whiskytariffs-1-facebookJumbo A Scotch Maker’s Challenge: First Brexit. Now Tariffs. World Trade Organization Trump, Donald J Scotch (Whiskey) Great Britain Withdrawal from EU (Brexit) GLASGOW, Scotland European Union Europe Customs (Tariff) Boeing Company

ISLAY, Scotland — Britain’s departure from the European Union has turned distiller Anthony Wills’s workdays into a marathon of logistics.

For months, he communicated with importers to ensure that his single malt, whisky distilled from barley harvested from his farm on the windswept isle of Islay, could be shipped to the Continent and the United States in time for the holidays.

Then, with the Oct. 31 deadline for Brexit fast approaching, the Trump administration imposed 25 percent tariffs on a menu of goods including French wine, Italian cheese and — in a move that could drive a Scotsman to drink — single malt whisky.

“It’s a blow,” said Mr. Wills, the owner of Kilchoman Distillery, who has built a formidable boutique business in the western Scotland countryside. “It doesn’t matter how you try and alleviate the issue, it’s still a big blow.”

The United States was allowed to apply the tariffs, expected to go into force on Friday, after a World Trade Organization ruling settled a yearslong dispute over subsidies for the aviation company Airbus. They create a double whammy for Scotland.

Whisky underpins the economy of Islay (pronounced EYE-la) and much of Scotland. Kilchoman and eight rival Scotch whisky distilleries have flourished here in the past decade. Tourists from the United States, Europe and Japan come to wonder at Islay’s coastal beauty, take pictures of hillsides filled with sheep and hairy Highland cattle that look as if they’ve had vigorous blow dries, and soak up the pricey local spirits.

Annual exports of Scotch whisky are worth 4.7 billion pounds, or about $5.9 billion, accounting for 70 percent of Scotland’s food and drink exports and 21 percent of Britain’s.

More than £1 billion worth of the strong stuff goes to the United States. Almost £1.4 billion is sold in the European Union.

As enthusiasm for single malt has grown, whisky tourism has rocketed. About two million visitors toured this year, double the number about a decade ago, according to the Scotch Whisky Association, a trade group. Most hail from Germany and the United States, and distillers like Mr. Wills have readily wrung profit from their thirst. Connoisseurs can be seen sipping whisky on tours of Kilchoman, the huge gleaming copper stills in action nearby.

And there is some romance to finding the right tipple. Tourists drive past peat bogs and deep blue lochs on their way to the distilleries. Water from the lochs is rendered into a fine fiery spirit. The peat and salty air flavor what they drink. Even a deep breath near a distillery offers a back-of-the-throat alcoholic tinge.

Mr. Wills has spent nearly half his career distilling this experience into something that newcomers can quaff. His single malt has become a popular export, and he can’t believe the predicament his distillery faces. He frets aloud about the cost of absorbing the 25 percent tariffs. He exports 80 percent of all that he makes, and sells about 40,000 bottles a year in the United States. Sales in America have helped spur growth for the past nine years.

Brexit has been a sort of self-imposed pain in the United Kingdom, he said. The Trump tariffs add salt to the wound. “We’re a growing business, and you need all the support you can get,” he added in exasperation.

Karen Betts, the chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said the Trump administration’s decision to apply tariffs only to single malts was likely to hit smaller producers harder.

“The combination of tariffs in our most valuable market and mitigating the potential impact of Brexit is tough,” she said.

Distillers like Mr. Wills cannot lure their American customers to alternative, blended whiskies because they do not produce them, and single malt has been marketed as distinctive, focused on provenance.

Liam Hughes, chief executive of a small distiller in Glasgow, said his company had just sealed a deal to sell whisky to the United States when the tariffs were announced.

“We were all celebrating, and we wake up the next morning and find a 25 percent tariff overnight has been injected into the equation,” Mr. Hughes said in a telephone interview before flying to Japan to introduce Glasgow Distillery products there.

His distillery spent more than £100,000 and prepared for 18 months to begin exporting to the United States. The company installed two new stills to double production to 1.2 million bottles a year. He hired six more people. The staff has been rushing to prepare molds and design new labels for the larger bottles required in the United States.

Mr. Hughes had been planning to release a special whisky with a barrel maker in Kentucky. “Now the cost of that release will increase by 25 percent, which could be prohibitive,” he said.

He likened the last few days in Scotland to being a small boat in stormy seas “being buffeted left, right and center.” “It obviously makes us extremely nervous,” Mr. Hughes said, being “caught up in a trade dispute that has nothing to do with us.”

Even consumers — or least a few happy tourists taking a dram this week on Islay — found the tariffs a rebuke to global ambitions and business.

“Some of our most important allies in the world” have been “betrayed by this administration because they can’t see the value in free trade and fair trade,” said Jeremy Henderson, 34, from Portland, Ore.

“I would drink Scotch sort of in defiance of that.”

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

Gordon Sondland Elbowed His Way Into Ukraine Policy. It Could Cost Him.

WASHINGTON — To foreign policy experts, it is no mystery why President Trump’s national security adviser tried in May to block Gordon D. Sondland from becoming a player in United States diplomacy with Ukraine.

As the American envoy to the European Union, Mr. Sondland managed a portfolio unrelated to Ukrainian issues. And beyond that, he was so inexperienced as a diplomat — a wealthy Republican donor rewarded with an ambassadorship — that one top White House foreign policy adviser complained he was a national security risk.

But Mr. Sondland wedged his way into Ukraine policymaking anyway, attending the new president’s inauguration in Kiev in May and briefing Mr. Trump afterward, all over the objections of the national security adviser at the time, John R. Bolton. And now Mr. Sondland’s gambit appears to have placed him at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

In testimony scheduled for Thursday, Mr. Sondland was expected to say that during a meeting in May, Mr. Trump gave him and two other officials the impression that they should coordinate on Ukraine issues with his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. That command effectively created a foreign policy back channel that cut the State Department and National Security Council out of deliberations involving a pivotal ally against Russia.

Mr. Sondland was also expected to testify that he realized by midsummer that Mr. Trump had a condition for agreeing to an Oval Office meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky, the new president of Ukraine: an announcement by Ukrainian prosecutors that could benefit Mr. Trump’s political fortunes.

Initially hopeful that Mr. Sondland’s account would help Mr. Trump, congressional Republicans now fear it will add momentum to Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. His decision to testify is itself a sign of fissures in the support for Mr. Trump, evidence that even some defenders have balked at shouldering the legal and reputational costs of thwarting the impeachment inquiry.

Westlake Legal Group volker-ukraine-impeachment-document-promo-1570197638674-articleLarge Gordon Sondland Elbowed His Way Into Ukraine Policy. It Could Cost Him. Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Hill, Fiona (1965- ) European Union Europe Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Bolton, John R

Read the Text Messages Between U.S. and Ukrainian Officials

The messages reveal new details about President Trump’s efforts to use American foreign policy to benefit himself.

In a matter of weeks, Mr. Sondland has evolved from a neophyte diplomat known for his ambition and subservience to the president into a witness, however unwilling, in a proceeding against Mr. Trump.

In the process, Mr. Sondland’s own reputation took a hit. Fiona Hill, the former senior director for European and Russian affairs at the White House, described him to congressional investigators this week as a well-meaning but inexperienced liability.

He used his personal cellphone for official business and assured foreign officials they were welcome at the White House whenever they liked, she testified. On one occasion, she said, Romanian officials showed up at the White House gates with no appointment, citing Mr. Sondland.

As experts see it, his story is an object lesson in the pitfalls of handing influential foreign posts to diplomatic naïfs, while stripping oversight from the career officials at the State Department and the National Security Council.

“I told the Europeans, maybe this is the best you can expect” from the Trump administration, said Daniel Fried, a former longtime diplomat now with the Atlantic Council. No one imagined, he said, that Mr. Sondland would become a pivotal player “in this bottomless pit” of scandal.

Mr. Sondland, 62, tall and bald, is far from a typical diplomat. Foul-mouthed and unafraid to bruise egos, he craves the limelight, not policy papers and the politics of quiet persuasion that are the staples of diplomacy.

He nonetheless fits a certain mold of ambassadors: The founder of a boutique hotel chain, he landed his post after decades of work bankrolling Republican presidential candidates, including John McCain, Mitt Romney and George W. Bush and his brother Jeb Bush. In Bush family circles, he was particularly well liked.

“There aren’t many people who do it as well as he does,” David Nierenberg, an investment manager in Washington State who worked on Mr. Romney’s campaigns, said of Mr. Sondland’s fund-raising prowess. “He knew how to deliver.”

Friends said he loved the trappings of politics: ferrying presidential candidates around the northwest in his Lear jet and hosting their events at his 8,300-square-foot estate in Portland, Ore.

He had hoped to be rewarded, he told Mr. Nierenberg, with an ambassadorship in a German-speaking country. That would bring his life full circle, he explained: His parents fled Nazi Germany as teenagers in 1939.

But he was a latecomer to supporting Mr. Trump, first backing Jeb Bush, then Marco Rubio. During the 2016 campaign, after Mr. Trump disparaged the Muslim parents of an American soldier killed in Iraq, Mr. Sondland and his business partner backed out of a fund-raiser, saying they did not share Mr. Trump’s values.

Those reservations apparently vanished once Mr. Trump was elected. Mr. Sondland donated $1 million to his inaugural committee, joining a crush of once-reluctant donors anxious to make up for their previous lack of support. In spring 2017, he joined the Republican National Committee’s finance committee as a regional vice chairman.

Reince Priebus, Mr. Trump’s first chief of staff, was unwilling to grant Mr. Sondland an administration job. But after Mr. Priebus was fired, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who knew Mr. Sondland from the campaign, put forward his name for ambassador, according to people familiar with the situation. He was appointed in May 2018.

By then, the post had gone unfilled for more than a year. Some European officials suspected it was a deliberate sign of neglect of Western allies that Mr. Trump has accused of unfair trade practices.

European officials were struck Mr. Sondland’s self-confidence, bordering on arrogance. He quickly posted an introductory video on Twitter. Set to snappy string music, it described him as the son of immigrants and showed him brewing espresso, showing off his fine art collection and climbing into a private jet that he pilots.

His message to his European hosts was less friendly. At one dinner party, Mr. Sondland said his job was “to destroy the European Union,’’ one senior European official said.

He repeatedly told European officials that their countries had long taken advantage of the United States through trade, according to one person who heard him complain. And he seemed unaware of protocol, inviting the leaders of European countries to dinner without understanding that they do not typically dine with ambassadors.

A June 28 dinner in Brussels was a case study in his unapologetic style. The German Marshall Fund originally organized it for 18 former and current diplomats and academics to discuss trans-Atlantic relations. Once Mr. Sondland heard about it, two participants said, he insisted on hosting.

As the plates were cleared in a small ornate room in the American Embassy, he delivered what one guest described as “a first-year master’s student’s” account of the Marshall Plan, the United States’ multibillion-dollar effort to rebuild Europe after World War II.

“We paid all this money, but every room I go to in Europe, I get told no,” he told his stunned guests, according to two participants. “Why?”

“It felt like a shakedown,” said one of the guests.

European officials said that Mr. Sondland often bragged about his good relationship with Mr. Trump, and some said it was clear that he was looking for a higher-level administration post.

How he inserted himself into American relations with Ukraine, which is not part of the European Union, is not entirely clear. Ms. Hill has said he told her that Mr. Trump had put him in charge.

In a July interview with a Ukrainian television station, Mr. Sondland presented himself as an authority, dismissing the notion that Ukraine is torn between Europe and Russia. “It’s not a tug of war. They’re Western, and they’re going to stay Western,” he proclaimed.

With Mr. Trump’s blessing, he traveled to Kiev in May for Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration. Others in the delegation included the energy secretary, Rick Perry, and Kurt D. Volker, the American special envoy to Ukraine. They labeled themselves “the three amigos.”

Mr. Sondland’s subsequent White House meetings are a key focus of questioning for congressional investigators.

When he and his colleagues briefed Mr. Trump on May 23, the president complained that the Ukrainians were “all corrupt” and had tried to keep him from winning the White House. He left them with the impression that they were to talk to Mr. Giuliani in dealing with Ukraine.

By mid-July, Mr. Sondland was expected to testify, he had realized that Mr. Zelensky would be granted an Oval Office audience only if Ukraine publicly announced it would investigate Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company that had placed Hunter Biden, the younger son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., on its board. According to a person familiar with his account, Mr. Sondland did not then understand the relationship between Burisma and the Bidens.

In a July 10 White House meeting with Mr. Bolton, Ms. Hill and two top Ukrainian officials, Mr. Sondland cited an agreement with the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, that inviting Mr. Zelensky to the Oval Office depended on Ukraine opening criminal investigations, according to Ms. Hill’s testimony. She told congressional investigators that she subsequently heard Mr. Sondland mention Burisma to the Ukrainians.

Mr. Sondland was expected to testify that he has no firm recollection of that conversation. But the next month, he and Mr. Volker prepared a draft statement for the Ukrainians to issue, announcing an investigation of Burisma and any interference in the 2016 American presidential election. And in a subsequent text message, he wrote: “POTUS really wants the deliverable.”

Mr. Sondland now fears that he will be blamed for the scandal, while more powerful players will be protected, one person close to him said. He has expressed concern that he could end up, the person said, as “collateral damage.”

Reporting was contributed by Nicholas Fandos, Adam Goldman and Kenneth P. Vogel from Washington; Steven Erlanger from Brussels; and Maggie Haberman from New York. Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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

Inside the Derailed White House Meeting

WASHINGTON — You know a White House meeting has gone off the rails when the president of the United States and the speaker of the House cannot agree over the precise insult one called the other.

According to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Trump called her a “third-grade” politician during a combative meeting with congressional leaders of both parties on Wednesday about the worsening situation in northern Syria. The White House and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said Mr. Trump actually called Ms. Pelosi “third-rate.”

At one particularly tense moment, Ms. Pelosi informed the president that “all roads with you lead to Putin,” referring to Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president.

And so, on Day 1,000 of his presidency, that is where things stand between Mr. Trump and Ms. Pelosi, who have a fraught history of derailing meetings shortly after pledging to work together, including one in January, when the president abruptly stood up, said “bye bye,” and stormed out. A meeting in May basically ended before it began.

The roughly 20-minute meeting on Wednesday, the first since Democrats began an impeachment inquiry of Mr. Trump, was a new low, according to the recollections of several Democratic officials who shared details of the meeting. The White House did not dispute their accounts.

Mr. Trump began the proceedings in the Cabinet Room by making it clear that he did not want to be there.

“They said you wanted this meeting,” Mr. Trump told the congressional leaders. “I didn’t want this meeting, but I’m doing it.”

Several lawmakers replied that the White House had reached out to them in efforts to brief them on the administration’s Syria policy.

Mr. Trump then began a speech about a “nasty” letter he had sent to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, which he said was proof that he had not given the Turkish leader a green light to advance Turkish forces into Syria. Mr. Trump then directed Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican minority leader, to pass copies of the letter around the table.

The letter to Mr. Erdogan, which began with the sentence “Let’s work out a good deal!” was dated Oct. 9, or three days after the two leaders discussed the departure of American forces from the area.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Inside the Derailed White House Meeting United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Syria Schumer, Charles E Pelosi, Nancy Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

Read Trump’s Letter to President Erdogan of Turkey

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

A short time later, Ms. Pelosi told the president that the House had passed a bipartisan resolution with overwhelming Republican support that condemned his acquiescence to a Turkish assault against the Kurds, who have been crucial American allies in the fight against ISIS.

Mr. Schumer, for his part, tried to appeal to Mr. Trump as a fellow New Yorker who lived through the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“I told the president, being from New York,” Mr. Schumer said to reporters shortly after the meeting, “we’re particularly aware of the problems that terrorism that an organization like ISIS can create. And the fact that someone no less than General Mattis has said that ISIS has been enhanced, that the danger of ISIS is so much greater, worries all of us.”

At Mr. Schumer’s mention of Gen. Jim Mattis — who quit last year as Mr. Trump’s secretary of defense to protest the president’s decision to pull American troops out of Syria — Mr. Trump began denigrating the retired four-star general’s approach to combating terrorism in the Middle East.

Mr. Mattis was “the world’s most overrated general,” Mr. Trump told the group. “You know why? He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

The conversation, several Democratic officials said, only devolved from there, and reached a fever pitch after Ms. Pelosi told the president that Russia, which has quickly stepped in to fill the void left by American troops in Syria, “has always wanted a foothold in the Middle East.” It was at this point that she told Mr. Trump that all roads with him led to Mr. Putin.

At another point, Mr. Trump told Ms. Pelosi that he cared more about defeating terrorism than she did.

“I hate ISIS more than you do,” the president declared.

“You don’t know that,” the speaker replied.

What happened next is now a matter of ammunition by both the Democrats and the White House.

“You’re just a politician,” Mr. Trump said to Ms. Pelosi.

“Sometimes I wish you were,” Ms. Pelosi shot back.

Mr. Schumer interjected, telling Mr. Trump that name-calling was not necessary.

“Is that a bad name, Chuck?” Mr. Trump asked, then turned to Ms. Pelosi. “You’re not a politician, you’re a third-grade politician.” (Or “third-rate,” depending on which politician was doing the retelling.)

Ms. Pelosi stood up to leave, but then sat back down. At this point Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House majority leader — who later said he was “deeply offended” by the president’s treatment of the speaker — said it was time to go.

“This is not useful,” Mr. Hoyer said as he and Ms. Pelosi made for the door.

“Goodbye,” the president responded. “We’ll see you at the polls.”

In the hours afterward, Democrats and the White House leapt to promote their side of the story and take shots at each other. Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said the president had been completely in control during the meeting with lawmakers.

“The president was measured, factual and decisive, while Speaker Pelosi’s decision to walk out was baffling, but not surprising,” Ms. Grisham said in a statement. “She had no intention of listening or contributing to an important meeting on national security issues. While democratic leadership chose to storm out and get in front of the cameras to whine, everyone else in the meeting chose to stay in the room and work on behalf of this country.’’

By early evening, Mr. Trump had posted on Twitter the official White House photos of the meeting. One showed Ms. Pelosi standing up to speak to him, which Mr. Trump characterized as an “unhinged meltdown.”

Ms. Pelosi used “meltdown” to describe Mr. Trump’s behavior as well.

Another photo of the session showed a close-up of Democratic lawmakers looking pained as the meeting went on.

“Do you think they like me?” Mr. Trump wrote.

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

Inside the White House Meeting ‘Meltdown’

WASHINGTON — You know a White House meeting has gone off the rails when the president of the United States and the speaker of the House cannot agree over the precise insult one called the other.

According to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Trump called her a “third-grade” politician during a combative meeting with congressional leaders of both parties on Wednesday about the worsening situation in northern Syria. The White House and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said Mr. Trump actually called Ms. Pelosi “third-rate.”

At one particularly tense moment, Ms. Pelosi informed the president that “all roads with you lead to Putin,” referring to Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president.

And so, on Day 1,000 of his presidency, that is where things stand between Mr. Trump and Ms. Pelosi, who have a fraught history of derailing meetings shortly after pledging to work together, including one in January, when the president abruptly stood up, said “bye bye,” and stormed out. A meeting in May basically ended before it began.

The roughly 20-minute meeting on Wednesday, the first since Democrats began an impeachment inquiry of Mr. Trump, was a new low, according to the recollections of several Democratic officials who shared details of the meeting. The White House did not dispute their accounts.

Mr. Trump began the proceedings in the Cabinet Room by making it clear that he did not want to be there.

“They said you wanted this meeting,” Mr. Trump told the congressional leaders. “I didn’t want this meeting, but I’m doing it.”

Several lawmakers replied that the White House had reached out to them in efforts to brief them on the administration’s Syria policy.

Mr. Trump then began a speech about a “nasty” letter he had sent to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, which he said was proof that he had not given the Turkish leader a green light to advance Turkish forces into Syria. Mr. Trump then directed Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican minority leader, to pass copies of the letter around the table.

The letter to Mr. Erdogan, which began with the sentence “Let’s work out a good deal!” was dated Oct. 9, or three days after the two leaders discussed the departure of American forces from the area.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Inside the White House Meeting ‘Meltdown’ United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Syria Schumer, Charles E Pelosi, Nancy Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

Read Trump’s Letter to President Erdogan of Turkey

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

A short time later, Ms. Pelosi told the president that the House had passed a bipartisan resolution with overwhelming Republican support that condemned his acquiescence to a Turkish assault against the Kurds, who have been crucial American allies in the fight against ISIS.

Mr. Schumer, for his part, tried to appeal to Mr. Trump as a fellow New Yorker who lived through the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“I told the president, being from New York,” Mr. Schumer said to reporters shortly after the meeting, “we’re particularly aware of the problems that terrorism that an organization like ISIS can create. And the fact that someone no less than General Mattis has said that ISIS has been enhanced, that the danger of ISIS is so much greater, worries all of us.”

At Mr. Schumer’s mention of Gen. Jim Mattis — who quit last year as Mr. Trump’s secretary of defense to protest the president’s decision to pull American troops out of Syria — Mr. Trump began denigrating the retired four-star general’s approach to combating terrorism in the Middle East.

Mr. Mattis was “the world’s most overrated general,” Mr. Trump told the group. “You know why? He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

The conversation, several Democratic officials said, only devolved from there, and reached a fever pitch after Ms. Pelosi told the president that Russia, which has quickly stepped in to fill the void left by American troops in Syria, “has always wanted a foothold in the Middle East.” It was at this point that she told Mr. Trump that all roads with him led to Mr. Putin.

At another point, Mr. Trump told Ms. Pelosi that he cared more about defeating terrorism than she did.

“I hate ISIS more than you do,” the president declared.

“You don’t know that,” the speaker replied.

What happened next is now a matter of ammunition by both the Democrats and the White House.

“You’re just a politician,” Mr. Trump said to Ms. Pelosi.

“Sometimes I wish you were,” Ms. Pelosi shot back.

Mr. Schumer interjected, telling Mr. Trump that name-calling was not necessary.

“Is that a bad name, Chuck?” Mr. Trump asked, then turned to Ms. Pelosi. “You’re not a politician, you’re a third-grade politician.” (Or “third-rate,” depending on which politician was doing the retelling.)

Ms. Pelosi stood up to leave, but then sat back down. At this point Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House majority leader — who later said he was “deeply offended” by the president’s treatment of the speaker — said it was time to go.

“This is not useful,” Mr. Hoyer said as he and Ms. Pelosi made for the door.

“Goodbye,” the president responded. “We’ll see you at the polls.”

In the hours afterward, Democrats and the White House leapt to promote their side of the story and take shots at each other. Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said the president had been completely in control during the meeting with lawmakers.

“The president was measured, factual and decisive, while Speaker Pelosi’s decision to walk out was baffling, but not surprising,” Ms. Grisham said in a statement. “She had no intention of listening or contributing to an important meeting on national security issues. While democratic leadership chose to storm out and get in front of the cameras to whine, everyone else in the meeting chose to stay in the room and work on behalf of this country.’’

By early evening, Mr. Trump had posted on Twitter the official White House photos of the meeting. One showed Ms. Pelosi standing up to speak to him, which Mr. Trump characterized as an “unhinged meltdown.”

Ms. Pelosi used “meltdown” to describe Mr. Trump’s behavior as well.

Another photo of the session showed a close-up of Democratic lawmakers looking pained as the meeting went on.

“Do you think they like me?” Mr. Trump wrote.

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

Trump’s Impeachment Blockade Crumbles as Witnesses Agree to Talk

Westlake Legal Group 16dc-strategy1-facebookJumbo Trump’s Impeachment Blockade Crumbles as Witnesses Agree to Talk Yovanovitch, Marie L Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) impeachment House of Representatives House Committee on Intelligence Hill, Fiona (1965- ) Democratic Party

WASHINGTON — The White House’s trenchant declaration to House impeachment investigators last week was unequivocal: No more witnesses or documents for a “totally compromised kangaroo court.”

But just a week later, it has become clear that President Trump’s attempts to stonewall the Democrat-led inquiry that has imperiled his presidency and ensnared much of his inner circle are crumbling.

One by one, a parade of Trump administration career diplomats and senior officials has offered a cascade of revelations. Those accounts have corroborated and expanded upon key aspects of the whistle-blower complaint that spawned the impeachment inquiry into whether the president abused his power to enlist Ukraine to help him in the 2020 presidential election.

The latest disclosures came on Wednesday, when a former top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered an inside account of what he said was a demoralized State Department, where career diplomats were sidelined and others apparently were pressed to use their posts “to advance domestic political objectives.” In six hours of voluntary testimony, the former aide, Michael McKinley, told impeachment investigators that he quit his post as Mr. Pompeo’s senior adviser amid mounting frustrations over the Trump administration’s treatment of diplomats and its failure to support them in the face of the impeachment inquiry, according to a copy of his opening remarks.

On Thursday, Democrats are set to hear from Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, a central figure in the president’s pressure campaign on Ukraine. He is expected to testify that he learned that Mr. Trump did not intend to invite President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to a meeting in the Oval Office until Mr. Zelensky opened an investigation that could benefit Mr. Trump’s political fortunes — bolstering a central allegation in the inquiry that the president steered foreign policy for political gain.

And Democratic lawmakers have directed William B. Taylor Jr., one of the top American diplomats in Ukraine, to appear before their committees next Tuesday, according to an official familiar with the investigation. Text messages produced as part of the inquiry suggest that Mr. Taylor was deeply uneasy about what he saw as an effort by Trump aides to use a $391 million package of security assistance as leverage over Ukraine for political favors, calling the notion “crazy.”

All three are examples of what can happen when Congress secures cooperation from government witnesses in a rapidly moving investigation aimed at the president.

The White House has had more success blocking the release of documents tied to the case. But the president and his lawyers had hoped to use the power of his office to muzzle current and former diplomats and White House aides, arguing in presidential tweets and a lengthy letter to Democratic lawmakers on Oct. 8 that their subpoenas are invalid and unenforceable.

“President Trump cannot permit his administration to participate in this partisan inquiry under these circumstances,” wrote Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel.

And yet the president has been unable to prevent it.

Just since Mr. Trump declared war on the impeachment effort, three current and former senior State Department officials and a former top White House aide have testified for nearly 36 total hours, delivering to lawmakers a consistent narrative of how they were effectively pushed aside by allies of the president operating outside America’s usual foreign policy channels.

“It’s partly because this shadow foreign policy that the president was running was so deeply offensive to people in his own administration who took pride in overseeing a professionally run and arguably exemplary policy in support of Ukraine,” said Representative Tom Malinowski, Democrat of New Jersey and a former State Department official involved in the inquiry. Referring to Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, he added, “And then to see the official policy undermined by this clownishly corrupt effort led by Rudy Giuliani on behalf of the president was just more than many people apparently could bear.”

Republicans who control the Senate view the fast-building case as serious enough to begin preparing for the trial in their chamber that would follow impeachment by the House. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, briefed fellow lawmakers over lunch on Wednesday about how a trial would work, expressing his hope of conducting it speedily and completing it by the end of the year, people familiar with his remarks said.

Facing accusations of secrecy from Republicans, Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, informed colleagues on Wednesday that he planned to open the inquiry to the public soon. He wrote that he planned to release transcripts of all the interviews as the investigation proceeded and pledged to soon hold public hearings “so that the full Congress and the American people can hear their testimony firsthand.”

For Mr. Trump, who is famous for demanding fierce loyalty from those around him, the daily — or even hourly — crush of damaging headlines is an infuriating departure from previous successes in controlling disclosures to Congress from people in his orbit.

During the congressional investigation into Russia’s election meddling, Mr. Trump blocked a deposition of Donald F. McGahn II, his former White House counsel, and dramatically limited testimony from some of his closest aides, including Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director, and Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager.

But this is different. Many administration officials targeted for depositions by Democrats are diplomatic veterans who have expressed anger and frustration about what they described as the hijacking of American foreign policy. They have no particular loyalty to Mr. Trump, nor are they subject to the same presidential powers to block them from testifying.

So they have turned up at the secure suite of the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, disappearing behind doors with a red “RESTRICTED AREA” sign to tell their stories.

Under alternating hourlong question-and-answer sessions by Democratic and Republican staff lawyers, Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, said she had been ousted at Mr. Trump’s direction on the basis of “unfounded and false claims.” Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council aide, said John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, was so alarmed by the activities of Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Sondland and others that he instructed her to alert White House lawyers. She said she reported Mr. Sondland to intelligence officials as a possible national security risk as well.

The decision by Ms. Yovanovitch, Ms. Hill and others to testify is a demonstration of the limits of presidential power and the legal constraints Mr. Trump is under as he and his lawyers try to devise a strategy for keeping him in office.

Although the White House has struggled to keep former officials from agreeing to testify, Mr. Trump has more leverage with current administration employees, who may fear for their jobs if they defy the blockade. But it is not clear what the political repercussions would be if the president retaliated against them in the middle of a political scandal.

Mr. McKinley told investigators on Wednesday that State Department officials were discouraging people from testifying, and were not supporting diplomats who had received subpoenas and requests to appear before the House, according to a person familiar with his testimony.

Mr. Trump’s allies on Capitol Hill expressed frustration this week about the depositions, saying White House lawyers should be present and accusing Democrats of selectively leaking from the testimony. Others were simply baffled by the cooperation of the witnesses.

“I really don’t understand it,” said Representative Chris Stewart, Republican of Utah and a member of the Intelligence Committee. “I can’t wrap my head around why some and why not others.”

Veterans of past legal struggles between the White House and Congress said Mr. Trump was confronting the reality that he had limited ability to force former or even current government employees to ignore a legally binding subpoena. It is even difficult — though not impossible — to shield top White House aides from appearing, they said.

“Particularly if there’s a subpoena, everybody has to appear or risk being held in contempt,” said W. Neil Eggleston, who served as President Barack Obama’s White House counsel. “It is just not easy to simply refuse to appear.”

Mr. Eggleston said that defying a subpoena was sometimes possible for high-profile figures, but was especially difficult for functionaries and other career employees.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have had more success in blocking access to emails, text messages, memos and other documents in the government’s possession.

The administration has rejected Democratic subpoenas or requests for documents at the Office of Management and Budget, the State Department, the Defense Department and the office of Vice President Mike Pence. Mr. Giuliani has also said he will ignore a subpoena for his records, citing the White House’s stance.

Democrats have said the refusal to hand over documents will be considered obstruction of Congress and may be added to the impeachment charges brought against the president.

The White House has also attempted to limit the questions witnesses can answer.

In the case of Ms. Hill, White House lawyers conceded early Monday that they could not stop her from arriving on Capitol Hill for a deposition by the committee later that day, but they demanded that she refrain from speaking about classified material, conversations with the president and other matters.

Even that proved difficult to enforce, as Ms. Hill vividly described a dramatic confrontation inside the White House between Mr. Bolton and Mr. Sondland.

Mr. Schiff, the Intelligence Committee chairman, said Tuesday that the sessions with witnesses have been fruitful despite the efforts to block them.

“It’s a way of trying to chill them from cooperating,” Mr. Schiff said. “It’s not working, but I think that’s the goal.”

“It goes to show the legally insupportable position of the White House,” he added.

Julian E. Barnes, Sharon LaFraniere and Michael S. Schmidt contributed reporting.

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