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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 129)

Army Officer Who Heard Trump’s Ukraine Call Reported Concerns

Westlake Legal Group 28dc-testimony1-facebookJumbo Army Officer Who Heard Trump’s Ukraine Call Reported Concerns Zelensky, Volodymyr United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) impeachment House of Representatives Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — A White House national security official who is a decorated Iraq war veteran plans to tell House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he heard President Trump appeal to Ukraine’s president to investigate one of his leading political rivals, a request the aide considered so damaging to American interests that he reported it to a superior.

Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman of the Army, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, twice registered internal objections about how Mr. Trump and his inner circle were treating Ukraine, out of what he called a “sense of duty,” he plans to tell the inquiry, according to a draft of his opening statement obtained by The New York Times.

He will be the first White House official to testify who listened in on the July 25 telephone call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry, in which Mr. Trump asked Mr. Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,” Colonel Vindman said in his statement. “I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained.”

Burisma Holdings is an energy company on whose board Mr. Biden’s son served while his father was vice president.

“This would all undermine U.S. national security,” Colonel Vindman added, referring to Mr. Trump’s comments in the call.

The colonel, a Ukrainian-American immigrant who received a Purple Heart after being wounded in Iraq by a roadside bomb and whose statement is full of references to duty and patriotism, could be a more difficult witness to dismiss than his civilian counterparts.

“I am a patriot,” Colonel Vindman plans to tell the investigators, “and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend our country irrespective of party or politics.”

He was to be interviewed privately on Tuesday by the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform Committees, in defiance of a White House edict not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.

The colonel, who is represented by Michael Volkov, a former federal prosecutor, declined to comment for this article.

In his testimony, Colonel Vindman plans to say that he is not the whistle-blower who initially reported Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine. But he will provide an account that corroborates and fleshes out crucial elements in that complaint, which prompted Democrats to open their impeachment investigation.

“I did convey certain concerns internally to national security officials in accordance with my decades of experience and training, sense of duty, and obligation to operate within the chain of command,” he plans to say.

He will testify that he watched with alarm as “outside influencers” began pushing a “false narrative” about Ukraine that was counter to the consensus view of American national security officials, and harmful to United States interests. According to documents reviewed by The Times on the eve of his congressional testimony, Colonel Vindman was concerned as he discovered that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, was leading an effort to prod Kiev to investigate Mr. Biden’s son, and to discredit efforts to investigate Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his business dealings in Ukraine.

His account strongly suggests that he may have been among the aides the whistle-blower referred to in his complaint when he wrote that White House officials had recounted the conversation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky to him, and “were deeply disturbed by what had transpired in the phone call.”

Colonel Vindman did not interact directly with the president, but was present for a series of conversations that shed light on his pressure campaign on Ukraine.

He will also testify that he confronted Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, the day the envoy spoke in a White House meeting with Ukrainian officials about “Ukraine delivering specific investigations in order to secure the meeting with the president.”

Even as he expressed alarm about the pressure campaign, the colonel and other officials worked to keep the United States relationship with Ukraine on track. At the direction of his superiors at the National Security Council, including John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, Colonel Vindman drafted a memorandum in mid-August that sought to restart security aid that was being withheld from Ukraine, but Mr. Trump refused to sign it, according to documents reviewed by the Times. And he drafted a letter in May congratulating Mr. Zelensky on his inauguration, but Mr. Trump did not sign that either, according to the documents.

Colonel Vindman was concerned after he learned that the White House budget office had taken the unusual step of withholding the $391 million package of security assistance for Ukraine that had been approved by Congress. At least one previous witness has testified that Mr. Trump directed that the aid be frozen until he could secure a commitment from Mr. Zelensky to announce an investigation of the Bidens.

While Colonel Vindman’s concerns were shared by a number of other officials, some of whom have already testified, he was in a unique position. Because he emigrated from Ukraine along with his family when he was a child and is fluent in Ukrainian and Russian, Ukrainian officials sought advice from him about how to deal with Mr. Giuliani, though they typically communicated in English.

On two occasions, the colonel brought his concerns to John A. Eisenberg, the top lawyer at the National Security Council. The first came on July 10. That day, senior American officials met with senior Ukrainian officials at the White House, in a stormy meeting in which Mr. Bolton is said to have had a tense exchange with Mr. Sondland after the ambassador raised the matter of investigations he wanted Ukraine to undertake. That meeting has been described in previous testimony in the impeachment inquiry.

At a debriefing later that day attended by the colonel, Mr. Sondland again urged Ukrainian officials to help with investigations into Mr. Trump’s political rivals.

“Ambassador Sondland emphasized the importance that Ukraine deliver the investigations into the 2016 election, the Bidens and Burisma,” Colonel Vindman said in his draft statement.

“I stated to Ambassador Sondland that his statements were inappropriate” and that the “request to investigate Biden and his son had nothing to do with national security, and that such investigations were not something the N.S.C. was going to get involved in or push,” he added.

The colonel’s account echoed the testimony of Fiona Hill, one of his superiors, who has previously testified behind closed doors that she and Mr. Bolton were angered by efforts to politicize the interactions with Ukraine.

The colonel said that after his confrontation with Mr. Sondland, “Dr. Hill then entered the room and asserted to Ambassador Sondland that his statements were inappropriate.”

Ms. Hill, the former senior director for European and Russian affairs, also reported the incident to Mr. Eisenberg.

The colonel went to Mr. Eisenberg a couple of weeks later, after the president’s call with Mr. Zelensky. This time, the colonel was accompanied by his identical twin brother, Yevgeny, who is a lawyer on the National Security Council.

The picture painted by Colonel Vindman’s testimony has been echoed by several other senior officials, including William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, who testified last week that multiple senior administration officials had told him that the president blocked security aid to Ukraine and would not meet with Mr. Zelensky until he publicly pledged to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals.

While the White House has urged witnesses subpoenaed by Congress not to participate in the impeachment inquiry, failing to comply with a congressional subpoena would be a risky career move for an active-duty military officer.

As tensions grew over Ukraine policy, the White House appears to have frozen out Colonel Vindman. Since early August, he has been excluded from a number of relevant meetings and events, including a diplomatic trip to three countries under his purview: Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus.

Colonel Vindman said he had reported concerns up his chain of command because he believed he was obligated to do so.

“On many occasions I have been told I should express my views and share my concerns with my chain of command and proper authorities,” he said. “I believe that any good military officer should and would do the same, thus providing his or her best advice to leadership.”

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Army Officer on White House Staff Reported Concerns on Trump’s Ukraine Dealings

Westlake Legal Group 28dc-testimony1-facebookJumbo Army Officer on White House Staff Reported Concerns on Trump’s Ukraine Dealings Zelensky, Volodymyr United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) impeachment House of Representatives Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — A White House national security official who is a decorated Iraq war veteran plans to tell House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he heard President Trump appeal to Ukraine’s president to investigate one of his leading political rivals, a request the aide considered so damaging to American interests that he reported it to a superior.

Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman of the Army, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, twice registered internal objections about how Mr. Trump and his inner circle were treating Ukraine, out of what he called a “sense of duty,” he plans to tell the inquiry, according to a draft of his opening statement obtained by The New York Times.

He will be the first White House official to testify who listened in on the July 25 telephone call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry, in which Mr. Trump asked Mr. Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,” Colonel Vindman said in his statement. “I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained.”

Burisma Holdings is an energy company on whose board Mr. Biden’s son served while his father was vice president.

“This would all undermine U.S. national security,” Colonel Vindman added, referring to Mr. Trump’s comments in the call.

The colonel, a Ukrainian-American immigrant who received a Purple Heart after being wounded in Iraq by a roadside bomb and whose statement is full of references to duty and patriotism, could be a more difficult witness to dismiss than his civilian counterparts.

“I am a patriot,” Colonel Vindman plans to tell the investigators, “and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend our country irrespective of party or politics.”

He was to be interviewed privately on Tuesday by the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform Committees, in defiance of a White House edict not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.

The colonel, who is represented by Michael Volkov, a former federal prosecutor, declined to comment for this article.

In his testimony, Colonel Vindman plans to say that he is not the whistle-blower who initially reported Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine. But he will provide an account that corroborates and fleshes out crucial elements in that complaint, which prompted Democrats to open their impeachment investigation.

“I did convey certain concerns internally to national security officials in accordance with my decades of experience and training, sense of duty, and obligation to operate within the chain of command,” he plans to say.

He will testify that he watched with alarm as “outside influencers” began pushing a “false narrative” about Ukraine that was counter to the consensus view of American national security officials, and harmful to United States interests. According to documents reviewed by The Times on the eve of his congressional testimony, Colonel Vindman was concerned as he discovered that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, was leading an effort to prod Kiev to investigate Mr. Biden’s son, and to discredit efforts to investigate Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his business dealings in Ukraine.

His account strongly suggests that he may have been among the aides the whistle-blower referred to in his complaint when he wrote that White House officials had recounted the conversation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky to him, and “were deeply disturbed by what had transpired in the phone call.”

Colonel Vindman did not interact directly with the president, but was present for a series of conversations that shed light on his pressure campaign on Ukraine.

He will also testify that he confronted Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, the day the envoy spoke in a White House meeting with Ukrainian officials about “Ukraine delivering specific investigations in order to secure the meeting with the president.”

Even as he expressed alarm about the pressure campaign, the colonel and other officials worked to keep the United States relationship with Ukraine on track. At the direction of his superiors at the National Security Council, including John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, Colonel Vindman drafted a memorandum in mid-August that sought to restart security aid that was being withheld from Ukraine, but Mr. Trump refused to sign it, according to documents reviewed by the Times. And he drafted a letter in May congratulating Mr. Zelensky on his inauguration, but Mr. Trump did not sign that either, according to the documents.

Colonel Vindman was concerned after he learned that the White House budget office had taken the unusual step of withholding the $391 million package of security assistance for Ukraine that had been approved by Congress. At least one previous witness has testified that Mr. Trump directed that the aid be frozen until he could secure a commitment from Mr. Zelensky to announce an investigation of the Bidens.

While Colonel Vindman’s concerns were shared by a number of other officials, some of whom have already testified, he was in a unique position. Because he emigrated from Ukraine along with his family when he was a child and is fluent in Ukrainian and Russian, Ukrainian officials sought advice from him about how to deal with Mr. Giuliani, though they typically communicated in English.

On two occasions, the colonel brought his concerns to John A. Eisenberg, the top lawyer at the National Security Council. The first came on July 10. That day, senior American officials met with senior Ukrainian officials at the White House, in a stormy meeting in which Mr. Bolton is said to have had a tense exchange with Mr. Sondland after the ambassador raised the matter of investigations he wanted Ukraine to undertake. That meeting has been described in previous testimony in the impeachment inquiry.

At a debriefing later that day attended by the colonel, Mr. Sondland again urged Ukrainian officials to help with investigations into Mr. Trump’s political rivals.

“Ambassador Sondland emphasized the importance that Ukraine deliver the investigations into the 2016 election, the Bidens and Burisma,” Colonel Vindman said in his draft statement.

“I stated to Ambassador Sondland that his statements were inappropriate” and that the “request to investigate Biden and his son had nothing to do with national security, and that such investigations were not something the N.S.C. was going to get involved in or push,” he added.

The colonel’s account echoed the testimony of Fiona Hill, one of his superiors, who has previously testified behind closed doors that she and Mr. Bolton were angered by efforts to politicize the interactions with Ukraine.

The colonel said that after his confrontation with Mr. Sondland, “Dr. Hill then entered the room and asserted to Ambassador Sondland that his statements were inappropriate.”

Ms. Hill, the former senior director for European and Russian affairs, also reported the incident to Mr. Eisenberg.

The colonel went to Mr. Eisenberg a couple of weeks later, after the president’s call with Mr. Zelensky. This time, the colonel was accompanied by his identical twin brother, Yevgeny, who is a lawyer on the National Security Council.

The picture painted by Colonel Vindman’s testimony has been echoed by several other senior officials, including William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, who testified last week that multiple senior administration officials had told him that the president blocked security aid to Ukraine and would not meet with Mr. Zelensky until he publicly pledged to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals.

While the White House has urged witnesses subpoenaed by Congress not to participate in the impeachment inquiry, failing to comply with a congressional subpoena would be a risky career move for an active-duty military officer.

As tensions grew over Ukraine policy, the White House appears to have frozen out Colonel Vindman. Since early August, he has been excluded from a number of relevant meetings and events, including a diplomatic trip to three countries under his purview: Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus.

Colonel Vindman said he had reported concerns up his chain of command because he believed he was obligated to do so.

“On many occasions I have been told I should express my views and share my concerns with my chain of command and proper authorities,” he said. “I believe that any good military officer should and would do the same, thus providing his or her best advice to leadership.”

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

Syria Peace Talks to Open After a Long, Strange Month

Westlake Legal Group 28syria-peace1a-facebookJumbo Syria Peace Talks to Open After a Long, Strange Month United Nations Trump, Donald J Syria Putin, Vladimir V Jeffrey, James F Geneva (Switzerland) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Assad, Bashar al-

GENEVA — The first United Nations mediator who tried to broker peace in Syria declared it “mission impossible” and abandoned the effort. That was seven years and hundreds of thousands of deaths ago.

Now, as Mediator No. 4 prepares to try again, diplomats appear to be setting their sights lower and choosing their language carefully. In recent weeks, they spoke only of “a glimmer of hope” and of “a door opener to a political process.”

And that was before the following happened:

  • And, perhaps most important for the new talks, President Bashar al-Assad suddenly appeared more firmly ensconced in power than he had in years.

Despite the turmoil, for the first time in years, Syrian government and opposition delegates will meet this week to weigh the devastated country’s future.

On Thursday, after months of intensive but low-key diplomacy, the United Nations special envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, plans to bring 150 Syrians to Geneva. There, they will begin work on a constitutional committee intended to shift attention from the battlefield to what happens when, sooner or later, the fighting in their country stops.

Mr. Pedersen’s immediate goals are modest. He does not expect to achieve a peace, he said in an interview, but reforming Syria’s Constitution, could serve as “a door opener to a political process.”

“We all understand that the constitutional committee itself will not bring a solution to the conflict,” he said.

The Geneva talks are meant to be a first step under a United Nations Security Council mandate that calls for a nationwide cease-fire and elections under United Nations supervision.

A senior State Department official said Monday that the United States and other nations had several points of leverage to try to get Mr. Assad to work on a political settlement. The official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity, said that could include keeping reconstruction assistance from Mr. Assad’s government, barring Syria’s re-entry into the Arab League and refusing to restore diplomatic ties with Damascus.

When the new talks were announced at the United Nations General Assembly in September, some in the West still hoped that Mr. al-Assad’s grip on his country might be loosened in any eventual settlement.

“There may be a glimmer of hope that this conflict can be ended the right way,” James F. Jeffrey, the State Department’s special envoy on Syria policy, told reporters.

But just days later, on Oct. 6, Mr. Trump announced the withdrawal, clearing the way for a Turkish military move against the Kurds. That decision in effect redrew the battle lines and strengthened Mr. al-Assad’s negotiating hand. It gave him and Russia, his strongest ally, control over parts of the country the Syrian government had relinquished years ago.

The American military withdrawal paved the way for joint Russian-Turkish security patrols in formerly Kurdish-held territory in northeast Syria, under a deal struck last week between President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

Mr. al-Assad’s government is also now negotiating directly with Kurdish fighters in the northeast, a region Syrian troops had once all but given up.

Russian airstrikes on the few remaining rebel enclaves in Syria’s Idlib and Hama Provinces on Thursday raised concerns that Mr. Erdogan may have agreed to a bargain that will also gird Mr. al-Assad’s grasp in the northwest. Mr. Erdogan had previously provided backing to some of the rebels who have fought Mr. al-Assad in that region for more than eight years.

“At some point, one has to come to terms with the fact that the international effort of 2011 to change the regime, to change the political nature of the country, has failed,” said Robert Malley, who oversaw Middle East policy at the White House during the Obama administration and is now president of the nonprofit International Crisis Group in Washington.

“There has to be a reassessment of what is realistic to do in Syria,” he said, “given the balance of power on the ground.”

It has been seven years since the first United Nations mediator, Kofi Annan, gave up on peace talks. Now it is Mr. Pedersen’s turn. For the first time in years, he said, the United Nations, Damascus and the Syrian opposition have agreed on an approach.

The constitutional committee negotiated by the United Nations includes three delegations: one from the Syrian government, one from the opposition and one drawn from civil society and different ethnic and religious groups.

The uncertainty surrounding the process is such that the United Nations has not given a detailed timeline for the talks, and the Syrian delegates have no idea how long they will be staying in this lakeside city.

Mr. Pedersen said he expects the 150 committee members to spend several days laying out their visions and aims for the Constitution, and then hand the work over to a smaller body of 45 people. To build confidence in the process, he has pushed all the parties to release detainees, but the results have been meager: freedom for 109 people. The biggest release, in February, involved 42 people, with the government setting free 20 detainees, 11 of them women and two of them children presumed to have been born in captivity.

“I had hoped for more,” Mr. Pedersen said. “I want much bigger releases in future, particularly women and children.”

To take the political process forward, he said, “we need a nationwide cease-fire and this is the opportunity to work seriously on that.”

Opposition delegates are not holding their breath. “There is no indication showing the regime is inclined to détente,” said Basma Kodmani, a member of the Syrian opposition’s negotiating team. “There’s no sign of good will.”

Delegates have also found themselves pilloried in social media as unrepresentative or unqualified, and the meetings condemned as a futile endeavor that merely buys time for Mr. al-Assad’s government.

“The difference this time,” Ms. Kodmani said, “is that Russia absolutely wants to get something moving. The incentive is to get money flowing.”

Without a political process that gives some legitimacy to postwar government, Western governments say they will withhold reconstruction aid and investment that Damascus needs to achieve stability.

The talks beginning in Geneva underscore how far the political needle has shifted in Mr. al-Assad’s favor as his once failing army, steeled by Russian and Iranian support, has expanded its control on the ground.

Some senior European officials have suggested that Mr. al-Assad not be allowed to remain in power, given chemical weapons attacks and other atrocities his forces have committed against civilians.

But forcing Mr. al-Assad to step down, as the Obama administration once demanded and even Mr. Trump suggested a few months after taking office in 2017, is not the aim of the negotiations, and it is no longer the American policy objective — even if some members of Congress still nurse the hope.

“I have about as much use for Assad as I’ve got for Erdogan,” Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, told Mr. Jeffrey at a congressional hearing last week. “Is it still our government’s position that we don’t talk to Assad, and that Assad can be part of no negotiations?”

Mr. Jeffrey affirmed that the United States does not engage directly with Mr. al-Assad or his government. But, he said, the Trump administration has made clear that it is not seeking “to overthrow Assad.”

Days later, in Geneva, he was even more explicit.

Mr. al-Assad’s administration, Mr. Jeffrey said, “is “the legal government — even if you think it is a horrific, terrible and laden-with-war-crimes government.”

Nick Cumming-Bruce reported from Geneva, and Lara Jakes from Washington. Catie Edmonson contributed reporting from Washington.

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

Shifting Course, Democrats Plan First Floor Vote on Impeachment Inquiry

Westlake Legal Group 28dc-impeach-facebookJumbo-v2 Shifting Course, Democrats Plan First Floor Vote on Impeachment Inquiry Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B Kupperman, Charles M House of Representatives Bolton, John R

Breaking News Update: The House plans to take its first formal vote Thursday on the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, Democratic leaders said Monday, ushering in a new phase as they prepare to go public with their investigation into his dealings with Ukraine.

Democrats described the vote, in which they plan to “affirm” the inquiry, as a necessary next step to be able to push it forward, rather than a response to sustained criticism from Republicans and the White House, who have accused them of throwing out past impeachment precedents and denying the president due process rights.

But it will be the first time that the full House has gone on record with regard to an inquiry that has been underway since late September. And it comes after Democrats have insisted for weeks that they did not need a formal vote of the full House to authorize the proceedings.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the vote in a letter to colleagues Monday afternoon.

“This resolution establishes the procedure for hearings that are open to the American people, authorizes the disclosure of deposition transcripts, outlines procedures to transfer evidence to the Judiciary Committee as it considers potential articles of impeachment, and sets forth due process rights for the president and his counsel,” Ms. Pelosi said in a statement.

Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the House Rules Committee, said he would introduce the resolution, which has not yet been finalized, on Tuesday. His panel plans to consider it on Wednesday, followed by a vote of the full House on Thursday.

“We are taking this step to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas or continue obstructing the House of Representatives,” Ms. Pelosi wrote.

Read an earlier version of the story below.

WASHINGTON — House Democrats will forgo using the federal courts to try to compel testimony from recalcitrant witnesses in their impeachment inquiry, a top Democratic chairman said Monday, warning that lawmakers would instead use the lack of cooperation to bolster their case that President Trump has abused his office and obstructed Congress’s investigation.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, confirmed the shift in strategy after Charles M. Kupperman, the former deputy national security adviser and one of Mr. Trump’s “closest confidential” advisers, defied a House subpoena for testimony that had been scheduled for Monday morning.

The White House on Friday said that Mr. Kupperman was absolutely immune from testifying and directed him not to appear in defiance of a subpoena. That prompted the former official to file a lawsuit against Mr. Trump and congressional Democrats asking a federal judge whether he could testify, raising the prospect of a drawn-out legal battle over weighty questions about the separation of powers that could effectively stall the impeachment inquiry for months.

“We are not willing to let the White House engage us in a lengthy game of rope-a-dope in the courts, so we press ahead,” Mr. Schiff told reporters outside his secure hearing rooms.

In earlier oversight disputes, House Democrats have turned to the courts with some frequency, but those lawsuits have already eaten up valuable months of time without signs of resolution any time soon. Mr. Schiff indicated Democrats now did not have the luxury of waiting, given the gravity of the allegations that Mr. Trump abused his power to enlist help from Ukraine in smearing his political opponents.

“If this witness had something to say that would be helpful to the White House, they would want him to come and testify,” Mr. Schiff said. “They plainly don’t.”

Mr. Schiff acknowledged that the White House would most likely try to invoke similar privilege to try to block other high-level witnesses, including John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser said to be alarmed by Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Doing so would only fuel another article of impeachment charging Mr. Trump with obstructing Congress’s fact-finding, he said.

The remarks came as impeachment investigators braced for a busy week, which will include testimony from another five or more witnesses.

Around the time Mr. Schiff was speaking, the Justice Department announced that it would appeal a Federal District Court ruling handed down on Friday that said the House’s effort was a legally legitimate impeachment inquiry, and ordered the executive branch to provide secret grand-jury evidence to the House Judiciary Committee collected by the former special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who investigated Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections.

The Trump legal team has argued that the impeachment inquiry is illegitimate because the full House has not voted to formally authorize one. The ruling by Chief Judge Beryl Howell undercut a key argument the White House has invoked to justify its orders to executive branch officials to defy congressional subpoenas about the Ukraine affair.

Judge Howell had ordered the department to turn over the grand-jury evidence by Wednesday. In notifying the court that it would appeal the order to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the administration asked Judge Howell to suspend that deadline while the higher court weighs the issues.

Mr. Kupperman’s lawyer cited questions about the legal legitimacy of the inquiry in a lawsuit he filed on Friday after receiving the House subpoena and a White House directive for him to violate it. The suit, which was highly unusual, asked a federal judge to determine which order Mr. Kupperman should comply with. It is unclear whether a judge will consider the case.

If it did, though, legal experts say the case would present a series of thorny questions for the courts about the extent of the president’s powers to shield information from Congress, especially in the context of impeachment. Reaching a final answer could take months or longer to sort out and possibly make it to the Supreme Court — a fact that has most likely shaped Democrats’ reasoning on how to proceed.

“The claim to absolute immunity is weak, and there are historical examples of close presidential advisers testifying in the context of impeachment investigations, but there’s no way to be confident about whether courts will require disclosure of particular presidential communications with national security aides and foreign officials,” said Martin S. Lederman, a Georgetown University law professor who served in the Office of Legal Counsel during the Obama administration.

House Republicans railed against Democrats on Monday morning, saying that they found Mr. Kupperman’s stance to be a reasonable one in the face of what they said was a sham investigation in search of a crime that did not occur.

“He’s waiting on the court to rule,” said Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the Oversight Committee, adding his own view that the inquiry was a “charade.”

Mr. Schiff, who has significantly scaled back his public remarks in recent weeks, used his comments on Monday to hit back hard at House Republicans, whom he accused of “endorsing the White House obstruction.” He argued they should at least stand up for the legislative branch’s authority to compel evidence from the executive branch, saying that there would be future presidents they may want to investigate.

“What I find harder to understand is why the Republican members of this body in this House don’t want these witnesses to come forward,” Mr. Schiff said. “Where is their duty to this institution? Where is their duty to the Constitution? Where is there respect for the rule of law?”

Charlie Savage contributed reporting.

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Democrats to Skip Court Fights Over Impeachment Witnesses

Westlake Legal Group 28dc-impeach-facebookJumbo-v2 Democrats to Skip Court Fights Over Impeachment Witnesses Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B Kupperman, Charles M House of Representatives Bolton, John R

WASHINGTON — House Democrats will forgo using the federal courts to try to compel testimony from recalcitrant witnesses in their impeachment inquiry, a top Democratic chairman said Monday, warning that lawmakers would instead use the lack of cooperation to bolster their case that President Trump has abused his office and obstructed Congress’s investigation.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, confirmed the shift in strategy after Charles M. Kupperman, the former deputy national security adviser and one of Mr. Trump’s “closest confidential” advisers, defied a House subpoena for testimony that had been scheduled for Monday morning.

The White House on Friday said that Mr. Kupperman was absolutely immune from testifying and directed him not to appear in defiance of a subpoena. That prompted the former official to file a lawsuit against Mr. Trump and congressional Democrats asking a federal judge whether he could testify, raising the prospect of a drawn-out legal battle over weighty questions about the separation of powers that could effectively stall the impeachment inquiry for months.

“We are not willing to let the White House engage us in a lengthy game of rope-a-dope in the courts, so we press ahead,” Mr. Schiff told reporters outside his secure hearing rooms.

In earlier oversight disputes, House Democrats have turned to the courts with some frequency, but those lawsuits have already eaten up valuable months of time without signs of resolution any time soon. Mr. Schiff indicated Democrats now did not have the luxury of waiting, given the gravity of the allegations that Mr. Trump abused his power to enlist a help from Ukraine in smearing his political opponents.

“If this witness had something to say that would be helpful to the White House, they would want him to come and testify, Mr. Schiff said. “They plainly don’t.”

Mr. Schiff acknowledged that the White House would likely try to invoke similar privilege to try to block other high-level witnesses, including John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser said to be alarmed by Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Doing so would only fuel another article of impeachment charging Mr. Trump with obstructing Congress’s fact-finding, he said.

The remarks came as impeachment investigators braced for a busy week, which will include testimony from another five or more witnesses.

Around the time Mr. Schiff was speaking, the Justice Department announced that it would appeal a Federal District Court ruling handed down on Friday that said the House’s effort was a legally legitimate impeachment inquiry, and ordered the executive branch to provide secret grand-jury evidence to the House Judiciary Committee collected by the former special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who investigated Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections.

The Trump legal team has argued that the impeachment inquiry is illegitimate because the full House has not voted to formally authorize one. The ruling by Chief Judge Beryl Howell undercut a key argument the White House has invoked to justify its orders to executive branch officials to defy congressional subpoenas about the Ukraine affair.

Judge Howell had ordered the department to turn over the grand-jury evidence by Wednesday. In notifying the court that it would appeal the order to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the administration asked Judge Howell to suspend that deadline while the higher court weighs the issues.

Mr. Kupperman’s lawyer cited questions about the legal legitimacy of the inquiry in a lawsuit he filed on Friday after receiving the House subpoena and a White House directive for him to violate it. The suit, which was highly unusual, asked a federal judge to determine which order Mr. Kupperman should comply with. It is unclear whether a judge will consider the case.

If it did, though, legal experts say the case would present a series of thorny questions for the courts about the extent of the president’s powers to shield information from Congress, especially in the context of impeachment. Reaching a final answer could take months or longer to sort out and possibly make it to the Supreme Court — a fact that has likely shaped Democrats’ reasoning on how to proceed.

“The claim to absolute immunity is weak, and there are historical examples of close presidential advisers testifying in the context of impeachment investigations, but there’s no way to be confident about whether courts will require disclosure of particular presidential communications with national security aides and foreign officials,” said Martin S. Lederman, a Georgetown University law professor who served in the Office of Legal Counsel during the Obama administration.

House Republicans railed against Democrats on Monday morning, saying that they found Mr. Kupperman’s stance to be a reasonable one in the face of what they said was a sham investigation in search of a crime that did not occur.

“He’s waiting on the court to rule,” said Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the Oversight Committee, adding his own view that the inquiry was a “charade.”

Mr. Schiff, who has significantly scaled back his public remarks in recent weeks, used his comments on Monday to hit back hard at House Republicans, whom he accused of “endorsing the White House obstruction.” He argued they should at least stand up for the legislative branch’s authority to compel evidence from the executive branch, saying that there would be future presidents they may want to investigate.

“What I find harder to understand is why the Republican members of this body in this House don’t want these witnesses to come forward,” Mr. Schiff said. “Where is their duty to this institution? Where is their duty to the Constitution? Where is there respect for the rule of law?”

Charlie Savage contributed reporting.

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How a Month of Impeachment Ads Foreshadow the 2020 Ad Wars

Westlake Legal Group 00impeachads-facebookJumbo How a Month of Impeachment Ads Foreshadow the 2020 Ad Wars Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Social Media Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising Political Action Committees Penzeys Spices Online Advertising impeachment Facebook Inc Democratic Party Delgado, Antonio club for growth Campaign Finance

Two minutes after Speaker Nancy Pelosi had announced an official impeachment inquiry, the Trump campaign placed a new ad on Facebook, dropping $12,000 on an “Impeachment Poll” for its supporters.

Days later, the Trump campaign poured $8 million into a national television and digital ad campaign, releasing a television ad spinning the impeachment inquiry on unfounded conspiracy theories about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden. (CNN refused to air the ad, citing inaccuracies.)

All told, more than $13.6 million has been invested in trying to change public opinion on impeachment since the inquiry was announced, according to an analysis by Advertising Analytics, an ad monitoring company. In those four weeks of a rapidly escalating ad war, the messaging that will likely dominate the early stages of the election is coming into focus.

“If anyone is a history buff — and the Spanish Civil War was the precursor to World War II, when all the tactics got tested — then this is the Spanish Civil War for the upcoming presidential election ad wars,” said Ken Goldstein, a professor of politics at the University of San Francisco.

For President Trump and his Republican allies, any effort that counters the president, including impeachment, is painted as evidence of a vast, far-left conspiracy. In ads from the campaign and from the Republican National Committee, the alleged far-left assault is illustrated largely through repetitive mentions and images of Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, two freshman Democrats known for their outspoken progressive values and criticism of Mr. Trump, but not as leaders of the impeachment inquiry.

Additionally, Republicans are presenting the inquiry as a diversion: Support of the inquiry, the ads state, means breaking the 2018 midterm election promises of focusing on key issues like improving health care and lowering drug prices.

Democrats, at first largely loath to talk much about the impeachment inquiry for fear of appearing to politicize the issue, have quickly been put on the defensive. But in $1.5 million in ads from House Majority Forward, a Democratic-aligned super PAC, launched in defense of the freshman Democrats targeted by Republicans, there is nary a mention of impeachment. Instead, they are positive ads focused largely on local accomplishments.

“Forget the noise,” one ad from House Majority Forward said in favor of Haley Stevens, a freshman Democrat in Michigan, noting she was “focused on Michigan and getting the job done.”

The biggest advertiser surrounding impeachment, unsurprisingly, is the Trump campaign. With a $150 million-plus war chest, the president’s re-election campaign has dominated paid messaging on all platforms, most visibly on Facebook, raising concerns among Democratic operatives about its control over the digital conversation.

Indeed, Mr. Trump is vastly outspending Democrats on Facebook. He tripled his overall weekly buy of Facebook ads as soon as the impeachment inquiry was announced, and has spent $1.25 million on impeachment ads over the four weeks following the announcement of the inquiry, dwarfing even Tom Steyer, the billionaire candidate flooding airwaves and websites to raise his profile.

But Mr. Trump’s targeting in impeachment ads on Facebook reflects a similar strategy seen in his social media presence: Rather than focusing on persuading independents or voters in states crucial to his re-election, he has instead targeted areas where he has broad support, with advertising designed to fire up his base.

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More than 50 percent of his Facebook impeachment advertising is in states not competitive in 2020, according to an analysis of Facebook ads by Bully Pulpit Interactive, a Democratic consultancy group. Just 9 percent of his ads are in the critical swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Ten percent went to Texas alone.

“Impeachment is just the latest tool that Trump’s using to enrage and activate the voters already in his corner,” said Daniel Scarvalone, a senior director at Bully Pulpit.

Notably, the Trump campaign put barely any resources online behind attacks on Mr. Biden, with roughly $78,000 in Facebook ads invoking some mention of Mr. Biden and his son’s business dealings in Ukraine, according to Bully Pulpit.

“You used to have to make an ad and air it on TV to get the media to fall for it,” said Mr. Goldstein. “Now you spend a couple thousand bucks on Facebook and have a press conference.”

The focus on Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Ms. Omar is evident in nearly every ad aligned with the president. In four ads from the Club for Growth, a conservative anti-tax group, that similarly target freshman Democratic representatives, members of the so-called Squad — which includes Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, Ms. Omar, and Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib — are front and center. Perhaps unsurprisingly, strategists say it is because criticizing and using images of the Squad also appeals to the Republican targets for impeachment ads.

“They consistently test well in both focus groups and polling,” said Tom Schultz, vice president of campaigns for the Club for Growth, referring to the four congresswomen.

Though the impeachment inquiry is centered on Mr. Trump, part of the Republican Party’s strategy has been to target a core of freshman Democrats in swing districts and erode enthusiasm for impeachment in those areas, pitching support of the inquiry as ignoring progress on other issues. From Oct. 2-9, the R.N.C. spent $1.3 million on versions of these ads targeting 14 different Democratic house freshmen.

“Instead of fixing health care and lowering drug prices,” an ad from the Republican National Committee blares, the House freshman Democrats all vote “with the radicals for endless investigations of President Trump.”

The Republican effort forced House Majority Forward on the air, launching positive spots for 11 of the targeted House Democrats that focus on how they have worked to lower drug prices through Ms. Pelosi’s newly passed bill and other health care efforts.

“That’s why he’s doing the hard work others won’t,” one ad says in support of Representative Antonio Delgado, a freshman Democrat from a district in New York that Mr. Trump won in 2016. The ad goes on to say Mr. Delgado “took on the big drug companies to bring down the cost of prescription drugs.”

Though the Democratic presidential candidates have all tried to avoid focusing on impeachment, for fear of appearing to politicize it, many of the leading campaigns have still used impeachment in advertisements on Facebook to either drum up support or work toward donor acquisition.

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi is right: In America, nobody is above the law,” wrote the campaign of Senator Kamala Harris, which spent $36,000 on Facebook impeachment ads, according to Bully Pulpit. “Sign our card to thank Speaker Pelosi for taking up the cause of impeachment.”

“It’s time for Congress to step up and begin impeachment proceedings,” the campaign of Senator Elizabeth Warren posted in an ad. “Add your name if you agree with Elizabeth.” The Warren campaign spent about $70,000 on Facebook ads targeting impeachment, according to Bully Pulpit.

These ads, known in political operative speak as acquisition ads, are designed to help candidates gather data on potential supporters or donors and continue to target messages toward them.

But as a sign of just how vast the impeachment ad wars have become, one of the top spenders on Facebook wasn’t even a political entity. Instead, it was a spice company based in Wisconsin, Penzeys Spices, that dropped nearly $100,000 in just a week on ads calling for Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

“The political landscape of America is in for the type of sudden shift we haven’t seen in close to 50 years,” the company’s owner, Bill Penzey, wrote in a lengthy Facebook post on Wednesday, outlining the next phase of its impeachment advertising plan. “You might want to buckle up.”

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Chinese Investment Pits Wall Street Against Washington

Westlake Legal Group 00DC-CHINAMONEY-facebookJumbo Chinese Investment Pits Wall Street Against Washington ZTE Corp United States Economy Trump, Donald J Stocks and Bonds Shaheen, Jeanne Securities and Exchange Commission Securities and Commodities Violations Rubio, Marco Romney, Mitt Pensions and Retirement Plans New York State Common Retirement Fund MSCI Inc Morgan Stanley Law and Legislation International Trade and World Market Human Rights and Human Rights Violations Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co Ltd Government Employees Gillibrand, Kirsten E Gazprom China Mobile Ltd China Communications Construction Co China California Public Employees Retirement System BlackRock Inc

WASHINGTON — The rivalry between the United States and China has spread to a fight over financial ties between the countries, pitting Washington security hawks against Wall Street investors.

Members of Congress and the Trump administration are warning that Chinese companies are raising money from American investors and stock exchanges for purposes that run counter to American interests. To help curb the flow of dollars into China, they have turned their sights on an unlikely target: their own retirement fund.

The Thrift Savings Plan is the retirement savings vehicle for federal government employees, including lawmakers, White House officials and members of the military. Beginning next year, the fund is scheduled to switch to a different mix of investments that would increase its exposure to China and other emerging markets. Lawmakers and some in the Trump administration are trying to stop that move, saying the change would pump federal workers’ savings into companies that could undermine American national security or have been sanctioned by the United States.

Last Tuesday, a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to the plan’s governing board urging it to reverse its decision.

“For China, this is the greatest free lunch program for capital they’ve ever known, because they’re able to penetrate the investment portfolios of scores of millions of Americans in basically one shot,” said Roger Robinson, the president of the consulting firm RWR Advisory Group, which has distributed research on the subject to lawmakers and members of the Trump administration.

The push to forestall more investment in China is part of a broader effort by some officials in Washington to separate ties between the world’s two largest economies. It is also another indication that President Trump’s conflict with China will persist, even if the United States signs a limited trade deal with Beijing later this year.

Some China critics are pressing Mr. Trump to go beyond the tariffs he has already imposed and erect larger barriers between the two countries, including restrictions on the flow of technology and investment.

In recent months, officials have been making more frequent calls to re-examine China’s presence in the stock portfolios of American investors. Administration officials, including members of the National Security Council, have begun pressing the Securities and Exchange Commission to increase scrutiny of Chinese firms, which have long skirted the auditing and disclosure requirements of American stock exchanges, putting investors at risk. Chinese law restricts the company documentation that auditors can transfer out of the country, limiting their visibility to American regulators.

Policymakers are considering more stringent proposals. In June, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation that would delist foreign firms that do not comply with American financial regulators for a period of three years.

Another area of concern is the decision by companies that compile major stock indexes to include more firms that are listed on Chinese exchanges. While investors can’t put money directly into an index, they can invest in a fund that mirrors an index’s particular basket of securities.

As global stock markets have steadily trended upward in recent years, more investors have turned to passive investing, in which a fund simply mirrors a major index, rather than active investing, in which fund managers try to pick certain stocks to outperform the market.

And as China’s economy has continued to grow, index providers have increased the weighting of Chinese stocks. The move has been a win for Beijing, funneling money into the Chinese market and helping to enhance the international profile of its companies and its currency, the renminbi.

Like many retirement vehicles, the Thrift Savings Plan, which manages $600 billion of savings by millions of federal government employees, offers participants the option of investing in an index fund.

The plan, which is similar to a 401(k), gives federal workers the option to invest in a fund with international exposure. If they do, their savings go to a fund featuring the same securities as a popular index developed by Morgan Stanley.

Currently, the fund mirrors an index with stocks solely from developed countries, called the MSCI Europe, Australasia, Far East Index. But on the advice of an outside consultant, Aon Hewitt, the board decided to shift those investments to better diversify its portfolio and obtain a higher return. In mid-2020, the fund is to begin mirroring Morgan Stanley’s MSCI All Country World ex-U.S.A. Index, which includes shares of more than 2,000 companies from dozens of developed and emerging countries, including China.

Mr. Trump’s advisers have joined Democrats and Republicans in Congress in expressing concerns about the planned change. They say it will funnel the savings of Americans into some companies that have murky financial records, or pursue activities that run counter to America’s national interest.

Senators Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, and Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat from New Hampshire, sent a letter last week to the body that manages the plan, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, urging it to reverse a decision that they said would invest retirement funds in companies “that assist in the Chinese government’s military activities, espionage, and human rights abuses, as well as many other Chinese companies that lack basic financial transparency.”

The letter, which was also signed by Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democratic senator from New York, as well as the Republican senators Mitt Romney of Utah, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Rick Scott of Florida, said, “It is our responsibility to these public servants to ensure that the investment of their retirement savings does not undermine the American interests for which they serve.”

A spokeswoman for Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board said it was reviewing the letter and had invited the consultant, Aon Hewitt, to review its previous recommendations at a meeting on Monday.

One company in the new index that the senators have pointed to is Hikvision, a Chinese manufacturer of video surveillance products that the United States placed on a blacklist earlier this month. The Trump administration says the company has provided surveillance equipment that aided China in a campaign targeting a Muslim minority, including in constructing large internment camps in the autonomous region of Xinjiang.

The MSCI All Country World ex U.S.A. Index also includes AviChina Industry & Technology Company Ltd., a subsidiary of China’s state-owned manufacturer of aircraft and airborne weapons, which manufactured planes and missiles that were the centerpiece of a military parade in Beijing earlier this month. Also included in the index is China Mobile, which is blocked from providing international services in the United States; ZTE, which the United States fined last year for violating sanctions on Iran and North Korea; and China Communications Construction Company, which is reportedly involved in island building in the South China Sea.

The index also includes Russian companies that have been sanctioned over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, cyberespionage and other issues. A December 2018 report by RWR Advisory Group found that five of the 11 Russian constituents of the index had been sanctioned by the Treasury Department, including the Russian gas companies Gazprom and Novatek.

Richard V. Spencer, secretary of the Navy, said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed article last week that the savings of members of the military should not be “unwittingly helping to underwrite the threats China and Russia pose to their lives.” Mr. Spencer said the board must reverse its decision “for the good of the country and those who serve it.”

Business leaders and Wall Street executives have started pushing back, saying efforts to restrict investment constitute government interference and could destabilize financial markets. When policymakers begin to pull the threads of financial connections between the United States and China, it’s not clear how much they will unwind, they say.

“There are certainly reasons why the U.S. should be concerned about various things China is doing and the rivalry it presents,” said Patrick Chovanec, chief strategist at the investment advisory firm Silvercrest Asset Management. “But by the same token, they’re the second-biggest economy in the world. If you push them off a cliff, you better make sure you’re not handcuffed to them.”

Reversing the decision could cost federal employees who are saving for retirement. China is now home to more companies in the global Fortune 500 than the United States. And while China’s growth has slowed sharply in recent years, its economy is still expanding at about 6 percent annually, roughly three times as fast as the United States’.

Fast-growing economies tend to be favorable for stock investing, suggesting that investors could be giving up some gains if they’re blocked from the Chinese markets. In an analysis for the Thrift Retirement Board, Aon Hewitt found that $1 invested in the securities on the new index would have returned $3.28 after 23 years, while $1 invested in the securities of the original index would have returned $3.05.

“At the end of the day, stock investing is about being exposed to growth,” said Lisa Shalett, chief investment officer at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. “That is where the growth is.”

— Alan Rappeport contributed reporting. Matt Phillips contributed from New York.

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Watching the Raid Was Like a Movie, the President Said. Except There Was No Live Audio.

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WASHINGTON — In describing the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Sunday, President Trump used dramatic, even cinematic language to portray the daring American commando raid that brought down the Islamic State leader who, the president said, died “screaming, crying and whimpering.”

Mr. Trump described the video footage he watched from the White House Situation Room as “something really amazing to see.” The experience, the president said, was “as though you were watching a movie.”

What the president saw, according to military and intelligence officials, was overhead surveillance footage on several video screens that, together, provided various angles from above, and in real time.

The videos included heat signatures of those moving around — which analysts labeled friend or foe — at the al-Baghdadi compound near Idlib, Syria.

But those surveillance feeds could not show what was happening in an underground tunnel, much less detect if Mr. al-Baghdadi was whimpering or crying.

For that, Mr. Trump would have had to have gotten a report from the commandos directly, or relayed up through their chain of command to the commander in chief.

At the Pentagon on Sunday, officials steered clear of any description of Mr. al-Baghdadi whimpering or crying, and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, when pressed about the president’s assertion on ABC’s “This Week,” did not repeat the “whimpering” characterization.

“I don’t have those details,” Mr. Esper said. “The president probably had the opportunity to talk to the commanders on the ground.”

A Defense Department official said on Sunday that it was certainly possible for Mr. Trump to have spoken directly with one or more of the commandos after the raid, or with their commanders who had spoken to members of the raiding party.

In addition to the version provided by Mr. Trump in lengthy televised comments, the accounting of what he saw was provided by a number of military, intelligence and administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the raid.

Mr. Trump would not have received any real-time dialogue from the scene, the officials said, because the last thing American military planners want is to invite critique, second-guessing or even new orders from the Situation Room in the middle of an active military raid.

In fact, in recent years American Special Operations forces have moved away from using helmet cameras to pipe back video in real time on every mission because it is often violent and disorienting, and invites instant quarterbacking from back in command centers.

Perhaps because of the importance of this raid, though, the Delta Force operators were wearing body cameras, officials said, but those cameras do not broadcast in real time; instead the video in those cameras is configured to be downloaded and reviewed after the operation is complete.

At the time of Mr. Trump’s remarks, that footage had not been reviewed by senior commanders in the Pentagon or given to the White House. It is not clear whether the dog that followed Mr. al-Baghdadi into the tunnel was wearing a body camera.

Mr. Trump said he did not have to make any decisions in the moments of the raid, while troops were on the ground. (Military officials said they would never have asked him to).

“No,” Mr. Trump said in response to whether he had to make decisions on the fly. “We were getting full reports on literally a minute-by-minute basis. ‘Sir, we just broke in. Sir, the wall is down. Sir, you know, we’ve captured. Sir, two people are coming out right now. Hands up.’ ”

Then, Mr. Trump said, he was given a report: “‘Sir, there’s only one person in the building. We are sure he’s in the tunnel trying to escape.’”

“But it’s a dead-end tunnel,” Mr. Trump said he was told.

In the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader, in 2011, Leon E. Panetta, who then was serving as C.I.A. director, narrated the events unfolding in Abbottabad, Pakistan, to President Barack Obama and his national security advisers in the Situation Room.

Mr. Panetta was on a video screen as he spoke from C.I.A. headquarters, and was the one who informed the president when the Al Qaeda leader, code-named “Geronimo,” was positively identified by Navy SEALs as being in the house — and, later, when he was killed.

“Geronimo EKIA,” Mr. Panetta said, for Enemy Killed in Action.

It was unclear on Sunday whether Mr. al-Baghdadi similarly was given a code name for the Idlib raid.

Helene Cooper and Julian E. Barnes reported from Washington, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Kabul, Afghanistan.

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Moving Closer to Trump, Impeachment Inquiry Faces Critical Test

Westlake Legal Group 27dc-impeach1-facebookJumbo Moving Closer to Trump, Impeachment Inquiry Faces Critical Test United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Suits and Litigation (Civil) impeachment House of Representatives Democratic Party

WASHINGTON — House impeachment investigators are speeding toward new White House barriers meant to block crucial testimony and evidence from the people who are closest to President Trump — obstacles that could soon test the limits of Democrats’ fact finding a month into their inquiry.

What has been a rapidly moving investigation securing damning testimony from witnesses who have defied White House orders may soon become a more arduous effort. Investigators are now trying to secure cooperation from higher-ranking advisers who can offer more direct accounts of Mr. Trump’s actions but are also more easily shielded from Congress.

Democrats are likely to face the first such roadblock on Monday, when one of Mr. Trump’s closest advisers is expected to defy a subpoena as he awaits a federal court to determine whether he can speak with impeachment investigators. But others could soon follow, legal experts and lawmakers say, forcing Democratic leaders toward a consequential choice: Try to force cooperation through the courts or move on to begin making an argument for impeachment in public.

At stake is not just how quickly the investigation concludes, but how much evidence ultimately undergirds the case against Mr. Trump.

Many Democrats involved in the inquiry already believe they have collected enough to impeach him for abusing his power by enlisting a foreign government to smear his political rivals. But to persuade the public — and the necessary number of Republican senators — that the president should be convicted and removed from office, they may need additional proof tying him directly to certain elements of the alleged wrongdoing. They could potentially unearth stronger evidence by turning to the courts, but that could also stall the case for months and risk losing public support, much as some Democrats believe happened in the Russia inquiry.

“As in many investigations, you get to a point where you have to decide how much is enough and whether the incremental value of the additional juice is worth the squeeze,” said Ross H. Garber, a lawyer who is one of the nation’s leading experts on impeachment. “If anything, they may be surprised by how much cooperation they have gotten from witnesses already, notwithstanding the position of the executive branch.”

For now, Democrats have not yet exhausted testimony from officials who appear willing to cooperate and have at least peripheral knowledge of the case. At least two more White House officials are scheduled to testify this week, and are expected to confirm key events. Other officials from the State and Defense Departments involved in Ukraine policy are set to appear, as well.

Democrats believe a reconstructed transcript released by the White House of a July phone call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine also significantly bolsters their case. In the call, Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and unproven theories about Democratic collusion with Ukraine during the 2016 election.

“We have a tremendous table of evidence before us that fills in all of the principal, material questions that were raised by the whistle-blower,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, referring to an anonymous C.I.A. whistle-blower whose complaint about Mr. Trump’s actions toward Ukraine helped prompt the impeachment inquiry.

But the story lawmakers have uncovered so far has also pointed further into Mr. Trump’s inner circle, offering tantalizing leads that Democrats have signaled they intend to at least try to run down.

They have indicated that they want to talk to John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser, who is said to have been deeply alarmed by what he saw transpiring with Ukraine. They may also seek testimony from Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff who helped carry out Mr. Trump’s order to freeze the aid; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who was deeply involved in implementing the president’s agenda. And then there is Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s private lawyer, who appears to have orchestrated the campaign to secure the investigations.

The president has greater powers to shield from Congress his conversations with close aides, as well as greater pull on the loyalties of potential witnesses, who have already begun to indicate they cannot simply defy White House orders like others who have already testified.

One of the first signs Democrats would now face a more difficult trek emerged late on Friday when the president’s former deputy national security adviser, Charles M. Kupperman, took the unusual move of filing the lawsuit, asking a federal judge to rule on whether he should be forced to testify about his conversations with Mr. Trump. Democrats had subpoenaed Mr. Kupperman to appear on Monday but Mr. Trump ordered him not to by invoking a rarely used and untested theory that top presidential aides are absolutely immune from testimony.

Mr. Kupperman worked directly with Mr. Trump on Ukraine policy and served as his acting national security adviser in September, when Mr. Trump decided to release $391 million in aid for Ukraine that he had temporarily frozen. Some impeachment witnesses have said the president had been using the aid as leverage to force the Ukranians to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals.

The suit could have ramifications that go far beyond Mr. Kupperman. The lawyer who filed the suit, Charles Cooper, also represents Mr. Bolton, and Mr. Cooper will almost certainly handle requests for Mr. Bolton’s testimony the same way.

Mr. Trump’s advisers are bullish that claims of absolute immunity and executive privilege can help gum up Democrats’ progress and may force them to leave certain potential witnesses and documentary evidence uncollected in the interest of time.

Indeed, the suit and the potential that the White House could invoke immunity over other top aides raises profound and largely unanswered legal questions about the extent of the president’s ability to shield private communications from Congress, especially in the face of an impeachment inquiry. Even on an expedited schedule, the disputes could take months to sort out and end up before the Supreme Court.

The challenge does not have a neat historical parallel. Unlike in the impeachment proceedings against Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton, the House is not building its case on a federal law enforcement investigation, which obviated the need for the kind of primary fact finding underway right now.

Though they have not entirely ruled out using the courts to knock down claims of immunity they view as spurious, Democrats led by Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, have hinted for weeks now that they do not intend to wait around for decisions. They still, however, want to force each witness to decide how to respond, testing for additional cracks in the president’s stonewall.

On Saturday, Mr. Schiff and two others leading the inquiry wrote to Mr. Kupperman’s lawyer that if Mr. Kupperman fails to show up on Monday as scheduled, he will expose the president to further charges of obstructing Congress — possibly an impeachable offense — and run the risk of being held in contempt of Congress.

The House, they wrote, may well assume “that your client’s testimony would have corroborated other evidence gathered by the committees showing that the president abused the power of his office by attempting to press another nation to assist his own personal political interests, and not the national interest.”

Several current and former diplomats have backed up that account in private testimony in recent days. The most startling came last week from William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, who told investigators that Mr. Trump sought to condition the entire United States relationship with Ukraine, including the aid package and a coveted White House meeting for Mr. Zelensky, on a promise that the country would publicly investigate his rivals.

Mr. Taylor said that when he objected to what he saw as the manipulation of the aid, Mr. Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, Gordon D. Sondland, told him there was no quid pro quo but went on to describe just that.

The testimony privately shook the confidence of many Republican lawmakers, and Democrats claimed it was a smoking gun. But allies of the president quickly pointed to what could be a central topic of debate if the Democrats proceed to impeach: Mr. Taylor’s account was not based on firsthand encounters with the president.

“How would you really know,” asked Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, noting that Mr. Taylor’s information appeared to be second- and thirdhand.

Mr. Sondland, a Trump supporter testified a week before, is the closest anyone directly interacting with Mr. Trump has come to implicating him. He told investigators that Mr. Trump had handed over Ukraine policy to Mr. Giuliani to his alarm. On Saturday, Mr. Sondland’s lawyer acknowledged that his client had also testified that he believed Mr. Trump had withheld a White House meeting from the Ukrainians as part of a quid pro quo to secure the politically beneficial investigations, a development first reported by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

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Al-Baghdadi Raid Was a Victory Built on Factors Trump Derides

Westlake Legal Group 27dc-assess-promo-facebookJumbo Al-Baghdadi Raid Was a Victory Built on Factors Trump Derides United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Terrorism Syria National Security Agency Middle East Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Iraq Espionage and Intelligence Services Defense and Military Forces central intelligence agency bin Laden, Osama

WASHINGTON — The death of the Islamic State’s leader in a daring nighttime raid vindicated the value of three traditional American strengths: robust alliances, faith in intelligence agencies and the projection of military power around the world.

But President Trump has regularly derided the first two. And even as he claimed a significant national security victory on Sunday, the outcome of the raid did little to quell doubts about the wisdom of his push to reduce the United States military presence in Syria at a time when terrorist threats continue to develop in the region.

Mr. Trump has long viewed the United States intelligence agencies with suspicion and appears to see its employees as members of the “deep state.” He also has a distinctly skeptical view of alliances — in this case, close cooperation with the Kurds, whom he has effectively abandoned.

“The irony of the successful operation against al-Baghdadi is that it could not have happened without U.S. forces on the ground that have been pulled out, help from Syrian Kurds who have been betrayed, and support of a U.S. intelligence community that has so often been disparaged,” Richard N. Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said on Sunday.

“While the raid was obviously a welcome success, the conditions that made the operation possible may not exist in the future,” he said.

To Mr. Trump, the death of the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was proof of the wisdom of his strategy of defending America at home without committing United States forces to “endless wars” abroad.

To the president and his supporters, the arguments from critics amount to sour grapes, an effort by an impeachment-crazed opposition to play down the success of a focused, successful clandestine operation that echoed the killing of Osama bin Laden.

That, of course, was the 2011 moment that Democrats celebrated as proof that a progressive president with little national security experience could take out the world’s most wanted terrorist. And while it had faded a bit in memory by the time President Barack Obama was up for re-election the following year, it was a talking point for his campaign.

Mr. Trump seemed to be laying the predicate for his own campaign talking points on Sunday, when he recounted telling his own forces that “I want al-Baghdadi,” rather than a string of deceased terrorist leaders who were “names I never heard of.” And clearly he is hoping that the success of the raid has a wider resonance: He sees the al-Baghdadi raid, some former Trump aides said, as a counterweight to the impeachment inquiry, which is based in part on an argument that he has shaped foreign policy for his political benefit.

It is too early to know whether any political boost will be lasting. But navigating the complex morass of the Middle East is no less complex for the death of Mr. al-Baghdadi. It is not clear if the president’s decision to pull back American forces in northern Syria in recent weeks complicated the planning and execution of the mission.

And while the raid achieved its goal, it did little to resolve the question of whether Mr. Trump’s instinct for disengagement will create room for new strains of violent radicalism that he and his successors will be forced to clean up.

For Mr. Trump, the aftermath of the Bin Laden killing eight years ago should also sound a warning.

Even without its leader, Al Qaeda evolved and spread. The Islamic State began its killing spree in the vacuum of the Middle East by early 2014, in both Iraq and Syria. Mr. Trump himself, in the heat of the 2016 campaign, accused Mr. Obama of creating the conditions for a new iteration of Islamic terrorism to prosper.

He was the founder,” Mr. Trump said in August 2016, talking about Mr. Obama and ISIS. “The way he got out of Iraq, that was the founding of ISIS.”

The history of the Middle East is rife with the rise of extremist movements, and there is no reason to believe ISIS will be the last. Long after the cinematic details of the daring raid — from its patient beginnings in Iraq last summer to the tense flight into Syria and the chase down a sealed tunnel where Mr. al-Baghdadi met his end — the enduring question will be whether the Trump administration capitalizes on the moment to address the region’s deep sectarian and political fissures and the underlying causes of terrorism.

Clint Watts of the Foreign Policy Research Institute wrote on Sunday that “al-Baghdadi’s death will dash the dreams of an Islamic State centered in the Levant, but its years of operations recruited, trained and dispatched foreign fighters from dozens of countries that will lead the next generation of jihad to other frontiers.”

He added: “Islamic State-trained foreign fighters will be a future terrorism problem for the decade to come.”

Mr. Obama and his administration grappled with that challenge endlessly, and their memoirs are filled with Situation Room meetings searching for an approach beyond drone strikes. But they never solved the problem.

Mr. Trump’s team, in contrast, rarely discusses it. And that is in part because of the president’s very different philosophy of how to secure the country, one that was on display in his sometimes rambling news conference after the announcement of Mr. al-Baghdadi’s death.

Mr. Trump’s approach to the region has never been consistent, but he has struck consistent themes. The first is that the United States does not need to keep forces in the region to reach out and kill its enemies. The high price of occupation, rebuilding and vacuum-filling, he suggests, can be paid by allies, or by Russians, Turks and even the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.

“That’s why I say they should start doing a lot of the fighting now, and they’ll be able to,” Mr. Trump told reporters on Sunday. “I really believe they’ll be able to.”

All the terrorists need to know, he said, is that the United States will hunt them down, if necessary, even from afar.

But the story of Mr. al-Baghdadi’s demise is more complex. He was living in territory that was essentially ungoverned space, dominated by two different Qaeda groups — Mr. al-Baghdadi’s rivals — and now an emerging territory for ISIS fighters on the run. The Syrians and the Russians control the airspace.

It is exactly the kind of area that American military and intelligence leaders — and the Republican leadership in Congress — have urged Mr. Trump to keep an eye on by keeping a small force in the country.

David H. Petraeus, the former general and C.I.A. director, often says that ungoverned space inevitably becomes extremist space. “Las Vegas rules do not obtain in these locations,” he said this year. “What happens there doesn’t stay there.”

Mr. Trump does not subscribe to that theory. In his view, American surveillance can keep track of the terrorists from above, while the National Security Agency can bore into their networks.

To Mr. Trump, a United States military presence on the ground becomes an excuse for others not to act; it does not bother him, he says, that Russia now occupies an area that was essentially an American protectorate before.

“I’ll tell you who loves us being there: Russia and China,” he said. “Because while they build their military, we’re depleting our military there.”

Mr. Trump acknowledged the help of some of those governments on Sunday, thanking the Russians first for allowing in the American helicopters, saying that the Kurds “gave us some information,” that Turkey was “not a problem.” (He did not give a similar heads-up to the congressional leadership that has been pressing for his impeachment, saying, “Washington is a leaking machine.”) While he declined to say where the operation began and ended, it was from Iraqi territory.

But it is far from clear that, in the absence of American engagement, that access is assured.

The one exception to Mr. Trump’s disengagement philosophy may come over oil.

Mr. Trump said he would not ask American taxpayers to “pay for the next 50 years” of containing mayhem. But in recent days he has indicated he is willing to keep troops around Syria’s oil fields, a consistent exception to the Trump no-troops rule. When the Iraq invasion happened, he noted Sunday, he argued for America to “keep the oil.”

Now he is making a similar case about the oil in Syria. Oil money fueled ISIS, he notes, and more recently it helps feed the Kurds — not mentioning that their access to it is being jeopardized by his sudden decision three weeks ago to abandon the American posts along the Turkey-Syria border.

But in recent days his defense secretary, Mark T. Esper, has indicated Mr. Trump was willing to commit forces to secure the fields, and the president went further on Sunday, saying he intends to “make a deal with an Exxon-Mobil or one of our great companies to go in” and exploit the field properly.

“We should be able to take some also,” he said.

The risk, of course, is that America looks like a force of exploitation, willing to enter hostile foreign lands for two reasons only: killing terrorists and extracting resources. The mission of the American Century — helping other nations to develop their economies and build democratic institutions — is missing from the strategy.

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