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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 130)

Donald Trump Jr. Tells Senate Panel He Hasn’t Lied

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump Jr. told Senate investigators on Wednesday that he did not inform his father at the time about a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton and that he was not kept abreast of negotiations over a proposed real estate project in Moscow, a person familiar with his testimony said.

The younger Mr. Trump, in roughly three hours of closed-door questioning in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that he had nothing to correct from past statements that he had given that panel and other congressional bodies — despite claims by former Trump aides to the contrary.

Questioning appeared to focus on two of the most scrutinized issues of the 2016 presidential campaign: a meeting in Trump Tower in Manhattan between top Trump campaign officials and a Russian emissary, and the extensive efforts of the Trump Organization to secure a major development in Moscow even as Donald J. Trump was running for president.

“I don’t think I changed anything of what I said because there was nothing to change,” Donald Trump Jr. told reporters as he emerged from the session.

In the hearing room, where senators have been studying the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia’s election influence efforts, the younger Mr. Trump tried to undermine the two witnesses who had questioned his account, according to the person familiar with his remarks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private session. He said that those witnesses — Michael D. Cohen, his father’s former personal lawyer, and Rick Gates, a deputy campaign chairman — had both been indicted by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Details of the testimony were first reported by CNN.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_156346707_4b9ff1d1-a758-4511-97d7-3f2232820ebd-articleLarge Donald Trump Jr. Tells Senate Panel He Hasn’t Lied United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Jr Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2016 Mueller, Robert S III Moscow (Russia) impeachment Espionage and Intelligence Services Clinton, Hillary Rodham

Representative Adam B. Schiff, left, and Representative Jim Himes on Wednesday. “Of all the questions that Mueller helped resolve, he left many critical questions unanswered,” Mr. Schiff said.CreditManuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

Mr. Cohen told lawmakers in a public hearing this year that he believed that he had seen the younger Mr. Trump quietly alert his father to the meeting with the Russian lawyer, Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, in 2016 — an action that would have undercut the president’s claims to ignorance of the meeting. Mr. Cohen told investigators that he personally briefed members of the Trump family on the Moscow project “approximately 10” times during the campaign. And Mr. Gates told Mr. Mueller’s investigators that he remembered a campaign meeting in which the younger Mr. Trump mentioned the offer of Russian assistance against Mrs. Clinton.

On the other side of the Capitol, the Democrat-led House Intelligence Committee was trying to get its investigation off the ground, as members grappled with what actions — including possible impeachment — ought to follow the release of the special counsel’s report.

Democrats used their first hearing on the Russian interference detailed in Mr. Mueller’s 448-page report to publicize details of what the special counsel called Russia’s “multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election.”

Mr. Mueller concluded there was not enough evidence to charge anyone on the Trump campaign with conspiring with the Russians, but his investigation suggested that Mr. Trump was elected with the assistance of a foreign power and noted more than 100 meetings between his advisers and Russians.

“Of all the questions that Mueller helped resolve, he left many critical questions unanswered,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the committee’s chairman.

Mr. Schiff said that the committee, which oversees American intelligence agencies, had not been briefed on the status of a counterintelligence inquiry into whether Russia has compromised Mr. Trump or his associates, despite repeated requests. Mr. Schiff said later he was “running out of patience” and could soon issue a subpoena to force law enforcement officials to brief lawmakers.

Committee Republicans, dismissing Mr. Mueller’s report as a “shoddy political hit piece,” said the Russian threat had little to do with Mr. Trump and charged anew that biased officials within the F.B.I., State Department and other government agencies had conspired with Democrats to tarnish Mr. Trump’s candidacy and presidency.

Democrats used their first hearing on the Russian interference detailed in the special counsel’s report to publicize details of what Mr. Mueller called Russia’s “multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election.”CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“The entire scheme has now imploded and the collusion accusation has been exposed as a hoax,” said Representative Devin Nunes of California, the panel’s top Republican.

The contrast highlighted the Democrats’ dilemma as they searched for ways to engage the public with Mr. Mueller’s findings. The House Judiciary Committee held a similar hearing on Monday that focused on Mr. Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation but lacked testimony from anyone involved in the case.

With the White House blocking key witnesses and government officials who may have aided Mr. Mueller’s investigators, Democrats were left to question three former government officials who could only speculate on the investigation.

“Understand that I have no access to supporting information or investigative detail other than what is provided in the special counsel’s report,” said Stephanie Douglas, a former high-level national security official at the F.B.I.

Ms. Douglas and Robert Anderson, a former F.B.I. official with experience in spying cases, said the report had clearly found troubling and potentially compromising behavior by the younger Mr. Trump; Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman; Michael T. Flynn, a former national security adviser; and others.

“If you are a foreign power and you have a campaign or individuals who are willing to entertain receiving information that you are collecting for their benefit,” Ms. Douglas said, “I think that is a tacit approval of that action.”

Mr. Anderson said Mr. Mueller’s report showed “absolute classic tradecraft of Russia and Russian intelligence services.”

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Trump Isn’t Alone. These Millennials on the Left Want Low Interest Rates, Too.

As President Trump rails against the Federal Reserve and urges it to lower interest rates, a similar push is coming from a group founded this year by three left-leaning millennials — albeit for very different reasons.

Mr. Trump regularly points out that inflation is low and says that the Fed should slash rates, which would weaken the dollar and help with his continuing trade wars. The new group, Employ America, wants central bankers to place a higher priority on fostering job growth and sees looser monetary policy as a way to protect workers as the economy shows early signs of slowing. It is using research, and Twitter, to make its case.

The campaign may seem oddly timed: Unemployment in the United States is at a nearly 50-year low, and there are more job openings than applicants. The Fed’s key benchmark interest is also low, relative to past business cycles.

But Employ America is embracing an unusual moment in the politics of central banking. Democrats have long favored lowering interest rates to fuel stronger growth even if doing so risked raising prices, while Republicans have traditionally criticized such moves as potentially inflationary.

Now that a Republican president is in the White House and price gains have proven surprisingly subdued, members of both parties have coalesced around a preference for low borrowing costs.

The Fed itself is engaged in a yearlong review of its monetary policy practices and communications, creating an opportunity to question what the central bank’s goal of maximum sustainable employment means in the modern era, and, potentially, a chance to push monetary policymakers toward a more expansive definition.

“It’s a good time to broaden the conversation,” said Alexander Berger of the Open Philanthropy Project, who helped to approve a short-term, $300,000 grant for Employ America that could be increased and extended if the group gains traction. The philanthropy project relies on funding from Dustin Moskovitz, a founder of Facebook, and his wife, Cari Tuna.

Sam Bell, Employ America’s founder, is an unlikely monetary-policy crusader. He has a degree in philosophy and political science from Swarthmore College, but no formal training in economics. He spent his early career focused on genocide intervention, but became interested in the job market following the financial crisis. His nights and weekends soon dedicated economic textbook-reading time.

As Mr. Bell watched a slow jobs recovery unfold, he became convinced that the Fed was placing too much weight on guarding against inflation, and too little on fostering a strong and rapid labor market recovery.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_155737824_a4ebfdf4-8c91-4005-9be2-0ec931e2ce57-articleLarge Trump Isn’t Alone. These Millennials on the Left Want Low Interest Rates, Too. Williams, John C United States Politics and Government United States Economy United States Unemployment Tuna, Cari Trump, Donald J Republican Party Recession and Depression Philanthropy Moskovitz, Dustin Moore, Stephen (1960- ) Labor and Jobs Interest Rates Inflation (Economics) House of Representatives Hiring and Promotion Gold Standard (Monetary) Federal Reserve System Federal Reserve Bank of New York Employ America Clarida, Richard H (1957- ) Brainard, Lael

A vintage Federal Reserve money bag, a gift from Mr. Bell’s wife, is pinned on the bulletin board in the family’s house. Mr. Bell and his Employ America want the Fed to focus less on inflation and more on expanding the labor market.CreditTing Shen for The New York Times

Employ America wants to change that. Mr. Bell, together with his colleagues Skanda Amarnath and Kim Stiens, hopes to convince the Fed to tweak its policy-setting approach, in part by channeling a conversation that is already happening on social media into targeted research and advocacy.

“There’s a wonky tribe on Twitter that we’re trying to be a home for, to some extent,” Mr. Bell, 35, said. “I want to harness some of that conversation.”

The Fed’s job is to sustain the highest level of employment that is consistent with low and stable inflation. Policymakers have operated for decades under the assumption that very low unemployment eventually leads to higher prices, but that relationship is either muted or broken. Unemployment is at 3.6 percent, but inflation has been stubbornly low and wages are growing only moderately.

After years of saying employment was at, near or even past its sustainable level — and lifting rates nine times to avert a spike in prices that never arrived — officials are now less sure.

“There is no destination point for full employment, there’s no one number that you could pick and say: we’re there,” Lael Brainard, a member of the Fed’s Board of Governors, said in a recent television interview.

John C. Williams, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, has said that if the economy could achieve a 3.5 percent unemployment rate with stable inflation, that would be “terrific” news.

The shift in mind-set has created an opening for Employ America. In addition to publishing articles and policy papers directed at Fed officials and their congressional overseers, the group wants to prevent inflation-focused policymakers from landing Fed leadership jobs.

Mr. Bell, who calls himself Employ America’s “chief tweeting officer,” recently helped to derail Stephen Moore’s chances of joining the Fed’s Board of Governors. When news broke that Mr. Trump was considering nominating Mr. Moore, a campaign adviser and early advocate for higher interest rates after the recession, Mr. Bell dug up and tweeted out the conservative commentator’s quotes on everything from monetary policy to his opinions about certain Midwest cities.

Mr. Moore’s past comments about women, which Mr. Bell mostly steered clear of, ultimately cost him support in the Senate. But key lawmakers said it was a drip of information about his past positions that ruined his chances. Mr. Bell uncovered many of those, listening to hours of Mr. Moore’s past television and radio interviews and then using Twitter to highlight the conservative commentator’s support for the gold standard and his characterization of Cincinnati and Cleveland as “armpits of America.”

“The soundtrack to our children’ short lives has been `Wheels on the Bus’ and Stephen Moore interviews,” said Kate Kelly, Mr. Bell’s wife. “I say that with an eye-roll mixed with admiration.”

For all of Mr. Bell’s efforts, Mr. Moore said he had never heard of him or Employ America. He also said Mr. Bell was incorrect to think that he would have been an inflation-focused Fed governor.

Mr. Bel, an unlikely monetary-policy crusader, was inspired to create Employ America after watching the slow job recovery after the financial crisis.CreditTing Shen for The New York Times

“I’ve been saying for six months that the Fed is too tight,” he said, meaning he thinks the central bank should start to cut interest rates.

Employ America won’t oppose every pick Mr. Trump makes for the Fed: Mr. Bell often praises Richard H. Clarida, the Fed’s vice chair, who was nominated by Mr. Trump. Nor is the group anti-Fed. Mr. Amarnath worked at the New York branch after college and has either participated in or coached Fed Challenge, in which team members role-play real life policymakers, since he was 15. He is something of an organizational enthusiast.

But Mr. Amarnath, 27, left his job as a hedge fund economist to help start the group because he thinks the Fed could use a push toward deeper self-reflection. Policymakers started saying the economy was near full employment in 2016, for instance, but businesses have continued to hire steadily since then.

“There are always priors to challenge,” said Mr. Amarnath, a Columbia graduate who studied economics. “These are costly errors. You say, ‘We’re at maximum employment,’ and then eight million jobs show up.”

He recently published an article on Medium suggesting that the Fed should set policy with an eye toward overall labor income, rather than inflation, when the economy is shaky. Such an approach would result in lower policy rates for longer and, in theory, faster labor market healing. More recently, he has published a “quick and dirty case” for a .50 percentage point rate cut at the Fed’s June meeting, which would be a more aggressive and earlier move than most economists and investors expect.

Ms. Stiens, 33, manages Employ America’s operations and will help with hiring if the organization’s funding is extended.

If it is a little brazen for three people with a trial grant to try to influence a 105-year-old central bank that employs hundreds of Ph.D. economists, at least there is some precedent. Fed Up, started in 2014 and also funded by Open Philanthropy, brought protesters in green shirts emblazoned with the words “What Recovery?” to high-profile events like the Fed’s annual meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo., to pressure policymakers to maintain low rates.

At a time when groups on the right were calling loudly for rate increases, the Fed Up organizers landed meetings with Fed officials and drew media attention. Mr. Bell consulted with Fed Up and admired the group’s work, but wanted to create a wonkier complement to its grass-roots outreach.

The climate in Washington is friendlier to Employ America’s message, but political winds and Fed leadership can change. Beyond making a case for lower rates now, Mr. Bell and his colleagues want to make sure that policymakers’ comfort with low unemployment lasts into the next recession and expansion.

Now is the time to wage that campaign, as the Fed holds conferences, including a recent one in Chicago, to consider possible changes to its policy-setting framework. The review is expected to wrap up later this year, and Fed officials will make their conclusions public in early 2020.

“The Fed is showing itself to be much more open to reconsidering its policy regime,” said Peter Conti-Brown, a Fed historian at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “Employ America is likely to have, potentially, a big effect.”

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Trump Asserts Executive Privilege on Census Documents Ahead of House Committee Contempt Vote

WASHINGTON — President Trump invoked executive privilege to block access by Congress to documents about how a citizenship question was added to the 2020 census ahead of a House committee vote to recommend that two cabinet secretaries be held in contempt of Congress over the matter.

In a letter to the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the Justice Department said that Mr. Trump had decided to invoke his secrecy powers to provide a lawful basis to defy the panel’s subpoena for the census-related materials.

In response, Mr. Cummings put off until later on Wednesday a vote whether to recommend that the House hold Attorney General William P. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross Jr. in contempt. Mr. Cummings called the move “another example of the administration’s blanket defiance of Congress’ constitutionally mandated responsibilities,” adding that it raised a question: “What is being hidden?”

In its letter, the Justice Department maintained that it already had turned over many materials in response to the subpoena, but that it had to keep certain information confidential to protect the candor of internal and attorney-client deliberations.

The House voted on Tuesday to authorize the Judiciary Committee to file a lawsuit asking a judge to order the executive branch to comply with two subpoenas related to the Mueller investigation, and explicitly empowering committees to file such litigation over other subpoenas without votes of the full House. But to date the House has not voted to hold any Trump official in contempt of Congress.

The fight over the census centers on liberals’ suspicions that asking respondents to say whether they are American citizens could be a deliberate ploy to tilt the every-ten-years reapportionment of House seats, shortchanging areas with higher levels of immigrants.

One version of this idea is that people who lack documentation to lawfully reside in the United States would be afraid to turn in their questionnaires, resulting in a population undercount.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_156345546_d9e41094-1342-4aeb-b40d-278ffeb1b712-articleLarge Trump Asserts Executive Privilege on Census Documents Ahead of House Committee Contempt Vote United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Cummings, Elijah E census

“This begs the question,” Representative Elijah E. Cummings, the chairman of the Oversight Committee, said. “What is being hidden?”CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The Census Bureau has estimated that asking all U.S. residents whether they are citizens may spark a 5.8-percent decline in response rates from noncitizens, which Democrats fear will skew the reapportionment of House seats toward Republicans while depriving states of federal resources. Apportionment of House districts has been based on raw population, not the number of eligible voters.

In sworn testimony before Congress, Mr. Ross said he had decided to add the question “solely” in response to a Justice Department request in December 2017 for data to help it enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Three federal trial judges have ruled that the evidence in the record demonstrates that Mr. Ross was dissembling.

New evidence from the computer files of a deceased Republican strategist suggests that the administration’s actual reason was to collect information that might allow states to draw voting districts counting only eligible voters rather than, as is the current practice, all residents. That would, the strategist wrote, “be advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.”

The Supreme Court is already weighing whether adding the citizenship question to the census was lawful, and may hand down a ruling in the coming weeks. But regardless of the outcome of that case, House Democrats want to learn more about what Trump administration officials were privately saying to each other about their motivation for that move.

A committee vote to recommend holding Mr. Barr and Mr. Ross in contempt for not fully complying with its subpoena over the census matter would be the latest action by the Democratic-led House to intensify pressure on Mr. Trump and his inner circle to furnish critical witnesses, documents and other information that would fuel an array of investigations the House has launched into the president’s conduct and policies.

Wednesday’s actions in the Oversight Committee could mark the second time this year that a committee has recommended members of Mr. Trump’s cabinet be held in contempt of Congress. The Judiciary Committee had sought a contempt resolution against Mr. Barr for his refusal to provide the panel an unredacted version of the Mueller report as well as the evidence that supported the special counsel’s conclusions.

House leaders decided for now against voting to hold Mr. Barr in contempt after the Justice Department began on Monday to share some of the special counsel’s evidence with the committee. For the same reason, it is not yet clear whether the House Judiciary Committee will use its authority to file a lawsuit against him.

In the Oversight Committee’s subpoena fight, members have protested Mr. Barr’s instructions to a subordinate involved in the census to defy a subpoena requiring him to appear for a deposition based on a longstanding House rule that government lawyers are not permitted to accompany a witness in the deposition room.

The Trump administration on Tuesday disclosed a department memo claiming that the House rule is an unconstitutional intrusion on the president’s power to make sure subordinates do not disclose information that might be subject to executive privilege.

Democrats also complain that Mr. Ross has prevented the committee from gaining access to all the information its subpoena covers from his department, which houses the Census Bureau.

Republicans protested the committee action and tried unsuccessfully to block it from going forward, arguing that Democrats had rushed the action in an attempt to influence the Supreme Court before it rules. The Trump administration has called the Oversight investigation an attempt to meddle in the legal fight. Democrats first tried to launch the probe last year, when they were in the minority, but majority Republicans refused to pursue it. In January, when Democrats assumed the majority in the House, Mr. Cummings said he would make the investigation a priority.

Taken together, this week’s action by committees and the full House are part of a strategy by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold off calls to quickly impeach Mr. Trump by demonstrating that there are other ways to hold him and his administration publicly accountable for misconduct.

The House’s vote Tuesday should expedite the process by which other committees embroiled in disputes with the Trump administration can seek to have the courts enforce their oversight powers.

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

Trump Asserts Executive Privilege on 2020 Census Documents

WASHINGTON — President Trump claimed executive privilege to block Congress’ access to documents about how a citizenship question was added to the 2020 census ahead of a House committee vote to recommend two cabinet secretaries be held in contempt of Congress over the matter.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee was expected to vote on Wednesday to recommend that the House hold Attorney General William P. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross Jr. in contempt over their refusal to cooperate with the panel’s investigation into the citizenship question.

The chairman, Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland, postponed the vote until Wednesday afternoon in light of the blanket assertion of executive privilege.

“We must protect the integrity of the census, and we will stand up for Congress’ authority under the Constitution to conduct meaningful oversight,” Mr. Cummings said. Administration officials, he said, “have made clear, very clear that they will not produce key documents that we have identified as priorities.”

He called the move “another example of the administration’s blanket defiance of Congress’ constitutionally mandated responsibilities.”

“This begs the question,” Mr. Cummings added. “What is being hidden?”

[Deceased G.O.P. strategist’s hard drives reveal new details on the census citizenship question.]

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_156345546_d9e41094-1342-4aeb-b40d-278ffeb1b712-articleLarge Trump Asserts Executive Privilege on 2020 Census Documents United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Cummings, Elijah E census

“This begs the question,” Representative Elijah E. Cummings, the chairman of the Oversight Committee, said. “What is being hidden?”CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The vote would be the latest action by the Democratic-led House to intensify pressure on Mr. Trump and his inner circle to furnish critical witnesses, documents and other information that would fuel an array of investigations the House has launched into the president’s conduct and policies. The House voted on Tuesday to authorize the Judiciary Committee to go to court to enforce two subpoenas related to Robert S. Mueller III’s inquiry — threatening to open a new legal front in the Democrats’ investigative efforts.

Wednesday’s actions in the Oversight Committee would mark the second time this year that a committee has recommended members of Mr. Trump’s cabinet be held in contempt of Congress. The Judiciary Committee had sought a contempt resolution against Mr. Barr for his refusal to provide the panel an unredacted version of the Mueller report as well as the evidence that supported the special counsel’s conclusions. The House ultimately decided against a criminal contempt resolution after the Justice Department began on Monday to share some of the special counsel’s evidence with the committee.

In the Oversight Committee’s case, members have protested Mr. Barr’s instructions to a subordinate involved in the census to defy a subpoena requiring him to appear for a deposition. They also say Mr. Ross has blockaded the committee’s requests for information from his department, which houses the Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau has estimated that asking all U.S. residents whether they are citizens may spark a 5.8-percent decline in response rates from noncitizens, which Democrats fear will skew the reapportionment of House seats toward Republicans while depriving states of federal resources. The legality of the Trump administration’s decision to add the citizenship question is the subject of a lawsuit that should be decided by the Supreme Court this month.

Republicans protested the committee action and tried unsuccessfully to block it from going forward, arguing that Democrats had rushed the action in an attempt to influence the Supreme Court before it rules. The Trump administration has called the Oversight investigation an attempt to meddle in the legal fight. Democrats first tried to launch the probe last year, when they were in the minority, but majority Republicans refused to pursue it. In January, when Democrats assumed the majority in the House, Mr. Cummings said he would make the investigation a priority.

Taken together, this week’s action by committees and the full House are part of a strategy by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold off calls to quickly impeach Mr. Trump by demonstrating that there are other ways to hold him and his administration publicly accountable for misconduct.

The House’s vote Tuesday should expedite the process by which other committees embroiled in disputes with the Trump administration can seek to have the courts enforce their oversight powers.

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As Trade War With U.S. Grinds On, Chinese Tourists Stay Away

A new battlefront has opened in the trade war between the United States and China: the $1.6 trillion American travel industry.

A Los Angeles hotel long popular with Chinese travelers saw a 23 percent decline in visits last year and another 10 percent so far this year. In New York City, spending by Chinese tourists, who spend nearly twice as much as other foreign visitors, fell 12 percent in the first quarter. And in San Francisco, busloads of Chinese tourists were once a mainstay of one fine jewelry business; over the last few years, the buses stopped coming.

Figures from the Commerce Department’s National Travel and Tourism Office show a sharp decline in the number of tourists from China last year.

Industry professionals worry that the drop-off is picking up speed this year, affecting not just airlines, hotels and restaurants, but also retailers and attractions like amusement parks and casinos.

Tori Barnes, executive vice president for public affairs and policy at the U.S. Travel Association, a trade group, said the Chinese were especially valuable because they were spending an average of $6,700 during their stays — 50 percent more than other international visitors.

“International travelers actually help reduce the trade deficit,” Ms. Barnes said. “There isn’t as much thought given to the services industry being an export,” but, she added, it is a significant one.

According to data from the National Travel and Tourism Office, 2.9 million Chinese travelers visited the United States in 2018, down from 3.2 million in 2017.

This year’s rate is probably even lower, said Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics, a consulting company. “It’s not getting better in 2019,” he said. “The risk is that it gets worse.

Mr. Sacks added: “If you look at the previous decade, Chinese travel increased at an annual average growth rate of 23 percent. Then it stops on a dime and begins to retrench in 2018.”

He pointed to what he described as “case study of this happening in the past, where China has essentially weaponized tourism.” In 2017, Chinese travel to South Korea fell by nearly 50 percent, he said, after South Korea deployed a missile defense system that China said could be used to spy on its territory.

That example was cited in a Bank of America Merrill Lynch report last week in estimating a “worst-case scenario” of as much as a 50 percent decline in Chinese travel to the United States. Its analysts said that could mean a $18 billion hit to the American travel industry.

The decline in Chinese tourism may be tied, in part, to a slowdown in the Chinese economy, which has left consumers with less money for discretionary spending. But travel industry professionals, international trade experts and economists say the bigger factor is the trade war and the inflammatory rhetoric associated with it. They say Beijing may see its sizable population of global travelers as a cudgel in its battle with the United States.

“That is a real threat to the U.S., if the Chinese run out of options,” said Jan Freitag, senior vice president at travel research and data firm STR. “China has only so many things they can put a tariff on. The one thing where they have leverage is tourism outbound.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_155993478_c02d6c8f-f0e6-472f-b4d6-88a2a3bb41df-articleLarge As Trade War With U.S. Grinds On, Chinese Tourists Stay Away United States Travel Assn Trump, Donald J Travel and Vacations Politics and Government NYC&CO International Trade and World Market Hotels and Travel Lodgings Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc Amusement and Theme Parks

Chinese visitors at Facebook’s headquarters in 2016. This month, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued an advisory about travel to the United States.CreditLaura Morton for The New York Times

Jacob Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said Beijing’s tight grip on domestic media also gave it a pronounced advantage. “You have a political climate in China where the government-led press has clearly been hammering this issue,” he said.

Michael O. Moore, professor of economics and international affairs at George Washington University, agreed. “That is potentially an enormous advantage in a conflict if you can control the message, without question,” he said. “There’s an increasingly patriotic spin to everything and the U.S. is portrayed in a negative light, and that can play a role in people’s decisions.”

On June 4, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued an advisory about travel to the United States, saying its citizens have been interrogated, interviewed and subjected to other forms of what it called harassment by American law enforcement agencies. A day earlier, its Ministry of Education warned students bound for the United States that they risked visa delays or other potential disruptions, after the State Department began requiring most visa applicants to provide the agency with detailed information about their past five years of social media use.

“Announcements such as this can have a chilling effect,” Roger Dow, the president and chief executive of the U.S. Travel Association, said after the Chinese actions. “We continue to urge both governments not to politicize travel.”

Big gateway cities in the United States benefited the most from the rise in Chinese tourism and are on the front lines of the fall. “For right now we’re holding to our 2018 numbers, but we are starting to see some indicators that are starting to show some softening in the first quarter,” said Christopher Heywood, executive vice president of global communications for NYC & Company, the city’s tourism marketing organization.

The trade war and visa issues “are concerning to us,” he said. “All of the hurdles could translate into unintended consequences.”

Mr. Heywood said Chinese tourists in New York City spend roughly $3,000 per person in the five boroughs, nearly twice what other foreign visitors spend.

Hotels are also caught in the crossfire. Mark D. Davis, president and chief executive of Sun Hill Properties, which owns the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City, a popular destination for Chinese tourists, said that business had been improving through 2017 but fell last year and was weakening further so far this year.

“The general messaging from the U.S. has been a little unfriendly at times,” Mr. Davis said. “The posturing, I think, has people worried.”

Even businesses that are more peripheral to tourism have seen sales to Chinese visitors dwindle. After the recession left the American dollar battered and the country a relative bargain for overseas tourists, the United States was an attractive destination for the Chinese.

“It sort of started in 2009 for us. We started to do some Chinese tourism business and it really just started to take off,” said Lane Schiffman, co-owner of Shreve & Company, a fine jewelry retailer with stores in San Francisco and Palo Alto, Calif. “They were this incredible wave.”

As recently as a few years ago, charter buses booked by Chinese tour groups regularly delivered 20 to 30 passengers to his San Francisco shop, Mr. Schiffman said. But the buses have vanished.

“The wave crested,” he said. “It’s just not a big part of our business now. We’re not seeing them on the street like we used to.”

Mr. Schiffman said his stores were thriving thanks to the booming Bay Area and Silicon Valley economy, but he estimated that his overall international tourist business fell to 10 percent from 30 percent over the past few years.

“It seemed like maybe the Chinese government put pressure on people not to buy so much outside of China,” Mr. Schiffman said. “It’s kind of like they turned the faucet off.”

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Trump and Biden Get Personal in Iowa Skirmish

DAVENPORT, Iowa — President Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. repeatedly ripped into each other on Tuesday as unfit to lead the country as they both traveled to the battleground state of Iowa, giving voters a preview of what a general election matchup between the two men might look like.

In the most ferocious day of attacks in the six-month-old presidential campaign, Mr. Trump resorted to taunts and name-calling over several hours, saying Mr. Biden was “a loser,” “a sleepy guy” and “the weakest mentally,” and claiming that “people don’t respect him.” Mr. Biden took a different tack, laying out ways Mr. Trump was “an existential threat” to the country, its international standing and its values.

Mr. Biden, who leads in early polls for the Democratic presidential nomination, also brought up subjects he had previously avoided with reporters, such as Mr. Trump siding with the North Korean state media’s insults on Mr. Biden’s I.Q.

”He embraces dictators like Kim Jong-un, who’s a damn murderer and a thug?” Mr. Biden said at his second event of the day, in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. “The one thing they agree on: Joe Biden, he shouldn’t be president.”

The hostile exchanges, which went back and forth across multiple Iowa campaign stops, were the clearest evidence yet that the two men see political advantages in waging a battle against one another at this early stage of the race.

Mr. Biden has largely ignored his 22 Democratic rivals while building his campaign around the urgent need to oust Mr. Trump. Rather than get drawn into squabbles with more liberal candidates or lesser-known ones, he is trying to present himself as presidential material and the most electable Democrat against Mr. Trump — particularly in swing states like Iowa, where the president trounced Hillary Clinton in 2016 after Barack Obama carried the state in 2008 and 2012.

Mr. Trump, mindful of polling that shows him trailing Mr. Biden in several key states, has targeted him with ridicule lately, far more than he has the other Democratic candidates. While the 2020 general election campaign is still a year away, Mr. Trump is repurposing some of his most effective ad hominem attacks from the last election.

In his remarks at an ethanol plant in Council Bluffs, for instance, Mr. Trump claimed that Mr. Biden’s only message was to criticize him, and then brought up his oft-repeated insult for his 2016 opponent, Mrs. Clinton.

“That reminds me of Crooked Hillary,” Mr. Trump said, earning chuckles from the audience. “She did the same thing. And then when it came time to vote, they all said, ‘You know, she doesn’t like Trump very much, but what does she stand for?’ Same thing is happening with Sleepy Joe.”

While they have attacked each other from a distance, their appearances in the same state on Tuesday seemed primed to intensify the hostility. Mr. Biden wasted no time trying to frame the debate, releasing excerpts at 6 a.m. Tuesday from the remarks he had prepared to deliver at a speech in Davenport in the evening.

Throughout the day, Mr. Biden laced into Mr. Trump over a range of policy issues, such as pursuing an “erratic war on trade” and his approach to tariff negotiations, as farmers — including in this heavily agricultural state — have struggled.

Video

Westlake Legal Group 11bidentrump-videoSixteenByNine3000 Trump and Biden Get Personal in Iowa Skirmish Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Iowa Biden, Joseph R Jr

Prior to leaving for Iowa, President Trump told reporters that he would prefer to run against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2020.CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

But the sharpest part of Mr. Biden’s remarks in Davenport was his argument that, while the nation “can overcome four years of this presidency,” Mr. Trump would pose an existential threat to “the character of this nation” if he were re-elected and served another term.

He portrayed Mr. Trump’s words and actions as antithetical to the nation’s “core values — what we stand for, who we are, what we believe in,” citing the president’s child separation policy at the southern border and referencing his remark that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Va.

Mr. Biden also argued that Mr. Trump was a threat to “our standing in the world,” noting that the president has attacked NATO while embracing President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and saying he had shown poor character by using “crude language” and “embarrassing behavior that is burrowing deep into our culture.” And he said Mr. Trump was undermining American democracy by criticizing law enforcement agencies, defying the authority of Congress and using phrases like “enemy of the people” to describe a free press.

“In 2020, we not only have to repudiate Donald Trump’s policies and values — we have to clearly and fully reject, for our own safety’s sake, his view of the presidency,” Mr. Biden said. “Quote: ‘I have complete power.’ No you don’t, Donald Trump.”

“‘Only I can fix it.’ Fix yourself first,” Mr. Biden said as the crowd enthusiastically drowned him out.

The early excerpts from Mr. Biden’s remarks received prominent attention in the news media on Tuesday morning. Mr. Trump, as he departed the Oval Office, told reporters that he thought Mr. Biden was “a loser” and questioned his mental fitness.

“I’d rather run against, I think, Biden than anybody,” he said. “I think he’s the weakest mentally, and I like running against people that are weak mentally. I think Joe is the weakest up here. The other ones have much more energy.”

After arriving in Council Bluffs, Mr. Trump hinted that he was waiting until his kickoff rally on June 18 in Orlando for his official “political season” to begin. But he couldn’t help but take glancing blows at Mr. Biden in between touting the low unemployment rate and the boom in blue-collar jobs. “He was someplace in Iowa today and he said my name so many times that people couldn’t stand it anymore,” Mr. Trump said. “‘No, don’t keep saying it.’ Sleepy guy.”

Later, Mr. Trump noted that America “would never be treated with respect” under Mr. Biden’s leadership, “because people don’t respect him.”

The attacks by Mr. Trump were, in one way, a boost for Mr. Biden after days of Democratic criticism over his shifting stances on federal funding for abortion. On Tuesday, there was wall-to-wall cable news coverage of the Trump-Biden feud, not of abortion.

Mr. Biden, responding to reporters’ questions in Iowa after Mr. Trump’s attacks, laughed off the president’s remarks about his stamina and mental fitness, and repeated his past statements that voters have a right to question all of the candidates’ ages.

“Look at him and look at me and answer the question,” Mr. Biden said, when one reporter raised those comments. “It’s self-evident, you know it’s a ridiculous assertion on his part.”

Video

Westlake Legal Group 25bidenrunsHFO1-videoSixteenByNine3000 Trump and Biden Get Personal in Iowa Skirmish Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Iowa Biden, Joseph R Jr

Joseph R. Biden Jr. was a two-term vice president and spent 36 years as a senator. But his front-runner status in the Democratic primary will be tested by the party’s desire for generational change.CreditCreditMaddie McGarvey for The New York Times

Pressed specifically on Mr. Trump’s remark that Mr. Biden is “weak mentally,” the former vice president laughed.

“I’m not going to stoop down to where he is,” he said.

Mr. Biden’s face-off against Mr. Trump on Tuesday could have downsides, some Democratic strategists cautioned.

“The Biden campaign clearly seems to relish sparring with Trump. In their minds, they believe it elevates him above the rest of the Democratic field,” said Brian Fallon, who served as press secretary for Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 campaign. “The potential downside is that, as Trump road tests different attacks on Biden, it may help the Democratic primary electorate better visualize potential vulnerabilities that Biden would have in a general election.”

Mr. Fallon said that if any of those attacks — from his supposed lack of energy to his support for the 1994 crime bill — changed voter perceptions, “that could erode the aura of electability that is right now Biden’s strongest asset.”

On Tuesday night, Mr. Trump skipped over Mr. Biden and focused on painting top Democrats as socialists. In a red-meat speech to a red-cap-wearing crowd of 700 Iowa Republicans in West Des Moines, Mr. Trump argued, without evidence, that the United States could tumble into a state of decline like Venezuela under the wrong leadership. He notably name-checked Senator Bernie Sanders, who is set to give a speech on democratic socialism on Wednesday.

“More than 100 Democrats have signed up for the Bernie Sanders government takeover of health care,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Sanders’s “Medicare for all” plan. “We have 180 million Americans having great private health care. That would all be taken away. Democrats also support the $100 trillion Green New Deal, how about that beauty.” Making an oblique reference to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mr. Trump said the bill was “made up by a young woman, who is, well, let’s see how she works out.”

Public and private polls that show Mr. Trump trailing Mr. Biden in critical states have contributed to his preoccupation with Mr. Biden, whom the president has told aides to describe as old and feeble (Mr. Biden is 76; Mr. Trump will turn 73 this week).

Up to this point, Mr. Biden has largely resisted responding to Mr. Trump’s individual broadsides, insisting repeatedly that he wants to avoid a “mud-wrestling match” with the president and often ignoring shouted questions from reporters about Mr. Trump’s remarks.

But that hardly means Mr. Biden avoids discussing Mr. Trump. He is centering his campaign squarely on defeating the president, calling him an “aberration.” It is a point of emphasis sharply at odds with several of his Democratic opponents, who believe Trumpism has redefined the Republican Party and say the country needs bigger, structural change that goes beyond defeating one man.

At every turn, Mr. Biden is seeking to keep the focus on a possible general election matchup between himself and Mr. Trump. He has recently visited Pennsylvania and Ohio, important general election swing states, arguing that he is able to connect in the industrial Midwest and torching Mr. Trump’s leadership approach.

While many of the voters who filed into his Ottumwa event shared Mr. Biden’s near-single-minded focus on Mr. Trump, praising Mr. Biden as someone who could appeal to moderates and independents, Cheri Scherr, 63, said she had hoped to hear “more about his ideas.”

“I wish he would talk less about Trump,” said Ms. Scherr, of Pella, Iowa. “We’re Democrats, we know why we don’t like Trump.”

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Trump Brags About Mexico Deal, but Reveals No Details

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-immig-facebookJumbo Trump Brags About Mexico Deal, but Reveals No Details Trump, Donald J Immigration and Emigration Ebrard, Marcelo

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday waved a piece of paper that he said was part of a “very long and very good” secret agreement with Mexico, refusing to describe it but vowing that it will go into effect whenever he wants it to.

The president’s dramatic flourish, delivered as he left the White House for a trip to Iowa, came a day after Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign minister, publicly denied that his country had reached an undisclosed immigration agreement with the United States.

Also Tuesday, Mr. Ebrard again said that there was no additional deal beyond what both governments had announced on Friday. “We don’t have anything to hide,” he said.

Reading from a letter that he had sent to the Mexican Senate, Mr. Ebrard gave a detailed account of the negotiations between the Mexican and United States governments, emphasizing how American officials had repeatedly insisted that Mexico sign an agreement that would require migrants traveling through Mexico to seek asylum there rather than in the United States — an agreement known as “safe third country.”

Instead, Mexico negotiated a 45-day window to show that its own measures to stem the flow of migrants would work. If they do not, Mr. Ebrard said, then the two sides agreed to an additional 45-day period to discuss a bilateral or regional agreement to return migrants.

The letter to the Mexican Senate suggested that the Mexicans had agreed that should the current measures fail to reduce migration, they would enter into negotiations about alternative solutions that would, at a minimum, require Mexico to assume more of the burden of asylum seekers heading toward the United States.

“Instead of accepting a safe third country agreement as the United States proposed, or the beginning of a trade war,” Mr. Ebrard’s letter said, “we managed to get a period of 45 days to demonstrate the efficiency of the measures that will be adopted and prepare ourselves as best we can for the negotiation that could follow in the next 45 days.”

Mr. Ebrard had given a similar explanation of the agreement on Monday, but said on Tuesday that he was taking the unusual step of making his letter public to be as transparent as possible.

For the second day in a row, Mr. Trump ignored Mr. Ebrard’s denial, insisting that his threat to impose tariffs on Mexican goods had forced Mexico to submit to an undisclosed agreement to combat what he views as an invasion from Central American migrants.

Asked by reporters to reveal what the agreement requires Mexico to do, Mr. Trump refused to do so, adding that “the reason is Mexico wants to handle that.”

A close-up photograph taken by a Washington Post reporter of the paper that Mr. Trump waved shows what appears to be a one-page letter signed on June 7 by two people whose names are unclear.

The final paragraph of the letter seems to refer to the agreement announced on Friday, called a “joint declaration,” and describes what will happen if the United States is not satisfied that the flow of migration to the southwestern border has slowed sufficiently.

“If the United States determines at its discretion and after consultation with Mexico, after 45 calendar days from the date of the issuance of the Joint Declaration, that the measures adopted by the Government of Mexico pursuant to the Joint Declaration have not sufficiently achieved results in addressing the flow of migrants to the southern border of the United States, the Government of Mexico will take all necessary steps under domestic law to bring the agreement into force with a view to ensuring that the agreement will enter into force within 45 days,” the letter says.

The president offered a series of confusing and contradictory statements, saying repeatedly that Mexico would have to submit the agreement to “their congress” while simultaneously saying that he has the power to impose it unilaterally if he wants to.

“If they bring the numbers way down, we won’t have to, but this is my option,” Mr. Trump said. “It goes into effect when I want it to, but I have a lot of respect for the president of Mexico. I have a lot of respect for the people we dealt with, so I don’t want to do that, and they have to go back to congress to get that approved.”

Moments later, he said that “it will go into effect when Mexico tells me it’s O.K. to release it.”

Mr. Trump and his aides have repeatedly referred to a “secret agreement” since Sunday morning when he first said on Twitter that a yet-to-be-revealed deal was reached with Mexico and would be “announced at the appropriate time.”

Since then, aides have refused to elaborate, saying that it was up to the president to decide whether to say more about it.

Because of Mr. Trump’s mention of approval by Mexico’s congress, Mexican officials and others have said they believe the president is referring to discussions about changes to the region’s asylum rules, which Mexico has said it would consider if the flow of migrants to the United States is not reduced over the next several months.

But Mr. Ebrard insisted on Monday that such a deal has not been reached with the United States, saying only that the two sides have agreed to potentially revisit the issue in the future.

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House Approves Court Action to Enforce Democrats’ Subpoenas

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-contempt-facebookJumbo House Approves Court Action to Enforce Democrats’ Subpoenas United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Suits and Litigation (Civil) Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Presidents and Presidency (US) Justice Department impeachment House of Representatives Barr, William P

WASHINGTON — The House voted on Tuesday to authorize the Judiciary Committee to go to court to enforce two subpoenas related to Robert S. Mueller III’s inquiry — threatening to open a new legal front in the Democrats’ efforts to investigate President Trump and his administration.

The resolution, which passed along party lines, 229 to 191, grants the Judiciary Committee the power to petition a federal judge to force Attorney General William P. Barr and the former White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II to comply with congressional subpoenas that they have either completely or partly defied.

But it also empowers other House committees to move more quickly to court in future disputes — authorities that could quickly be put to the test. The House Oversight and Reform Committee, for instance, is expected to vote Wednesday to recommend separate contempt of Congress citations against Mr. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross over that panel’s investigation into the administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

“We’re here in a fight for the soul of our democracy, and we will use every single tool that is available to us to hold this administration accountable for its actions and make sure the government is working effectively and efficiently for all the people,” Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland and the oversight panel’s chairman, told reporters after the vote.

Despite earlier threats and a recommendation from the Judiciary Committee, Democrats stopped short of formally holding either Mr. Barr or Mr. McGahn in contempt of Congress for now, forgoing an accusation of a crime in favor of what they hope is continued leverage to force cooperation. The decision appears to be based, at least in part, on new signs of compromise from the Justice Department, which on Monday agreed after weeks of hostilities to begin sharing key evidence collected in Mr. Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation.

[Read the House’s resolution.]

The committee had demanded that Mr. Barr and the Justice Department hand over the full text of the special counsel’s report and the evidence underlying it, and that Mr. McGahn testify in public and produce evidence that he had given Mr. Mueller.

Neither the Justice Department nor lawyers for Mr. McGahn immediately commented on the vote.

The House Democratic leaders called the vote a vital step in their methodical march to expose Mr. Trump’s behavior and pressure the Trump administration to cooperate with congressional oversight requests. They also clearly saw it as a means of holding off calls within their ranks to quickly move to impeach the president, arguing that it showed there are other ways of using their power to hold him accountable.

“The responsibility the speaker and I have is to try to move ahead in a measured, focused, effective way to garner the information that the American people need to make determinations, and for us to make determinations, and I think we’re doing that,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the House majority leader.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, addressing lawmakers on the House floor shortly before the vote, framed the court authorizations as a step toward upholding the principle that Congress was “constitutionally obligated and legally entitled to access and review materials from the executive branch.”

If they follow through in filing the suits, Democrats will be effectively calling on a third branch of government, the federal judiciary, to settle a dispute between the legislative and executive branches over Congress’s right to conduct investigations and the extent of the president’s authority to shield evidence from lawmakers. The answer could have significant implications not just for Mr. Trump, but for oversight of the executive branch for decades to come.

But there is no guarantee the courts will give them a useful outcome — at least not quickly. Past cases have stretched on for months or even years, a fact that could become problematic for Ms. Pelosi and her team as they seek to keep calls for impeachment at bay.

It was not immediately clear how quickly Democrats would file a suit against Mr. McGahn, a key figure in Mr. Mueller’s report, or if they would seek court enforcement against Mr. Barr at all. The Judiciary Committee chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, told reporters on Tuesday that the House would not dawdle but that timing would depend on the House general counsel who represents lawmakers in court. The counsel, Doug Letter, will address Democrats on Wednesday morning in a closed meeting.

“We’re not going to go to court with the attorney general so long as in good faith they do what they have agreed to do,” Mr. Nadler said after the vote.

Tuesday’s resolution also gives Mr. Nadler the authority to petition a federal judge for access to secretive grand jury material amassed in the course of Mr. Mueller’s investigation. Such information rarely becomes public, but Mr. Nadler has made the case that his committee needs access to it to determine whether impeachment is warranted. His efforts to persuade the Justice Department to join him in making the request were rebuffed.

The dispute in the Oversight Committee could soon put to a test yet another provision of Tuesday’s resolution, allowing committees to go straight to court to enforce subpoenas without a full House vote as long as they have the blessing of leadership.

Wednesday’s contempt vote stems from an investigation into why the Trump administration is trying to add a question about citizenship to the census — which Democrats fear would suppress population counts in liberal-leaning areas ahead of reapportioning congressional seats.

This spring, Mr. Barr instructed a subordinate involved in the census question to defy a subpoena requiring him to appear for a deposition. He cited a House rule preventing a Justice Department lawyer from accompanying the witness.

In a letter on Tuesday to Mr. Cummings, the Trump administration said Mr. Trump would most likely invoke executive privilege if the panel did not back down. It appended a newly disclosed memo by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel fleshing out the argument that the subpoena for testimony was invalid because it encroached on Mr. Trump’s executive powers.

Despite Democratic calls for them to put their loyalty to the House over party, Republicans unanimously opposed Tuesday’s authorization of legal action. They said Democrats bent on impeachment were neglecting more pressing policy issues, like the migrants who are overwhelming government resources at the southwestern border.

“They are so tangled up in their efforts to impeach the president, in the investigations, in the battles going on within their own caucus, that they seem incapable of actually doing anything the American people elected us to come here and do,” said Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 House Republican.

They also questioned the wisdom of their decision to bypass formal contempt votes to go directly to court. In past cases — including in 2012, when the Republican-controlled House held Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt — the full House had voted in favor of that censure before going to court to seek subpoena enforcement there.

“This is novel, untested and risky,” said Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. “I’ll give it to you,” he continued, “this majority is audacious.”

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House Approves Court Action to Enforce Subpoenas of Barr and McGahn

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-contempt-facebookJumbo House Approves Court Action to Enforce Subpoenas of Barr and McGahn United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Suits and Litigation (Civil) Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Presidents and Presidency (US) Justice Department impeachment House of Representatives Barr, William P

WASHINGTON — The Democrat-led House voted on Tuesday to authorize the Judiciary Committee to go to court to enforce two subpoenas related to Robert S. Mueller III’s investigative findings and to empower other panels to move more quickly to court in future disputes.

The resolution, which passed along party lines, 229 to 191, grants the Judiciary Committee the power to petition a federal judge to force Attorney General William P. Barr and the former White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II to comply with congressional subpoenas that they have either completely or partly defied.

But it stops short of holding either witness in contempt of Congress, as lawmakers had initially threatened to do, forgoing for now a formal accusation of a crime. The decision appears to be based, at least in part, on new signs of cooperation from the Justice Department, which on Monday agreed to begin sharing key evidence collected in Mr. Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation.

[Read the House’s resolution.]

The committee had demanded that Mr. Barr and the Justice Department hand over the full text of the special counsel’s report and the evidence underlying it, and that Mr. McGahn testify in public and produce evidence that he had given Mr. Mueller.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi framed the vote as a step to uphold the principle that Congress is “constitutionally obligated and legally entitled to access and review materials from the executive branch.”

House Democratic leaders called the vote a vital step in their methodical march to expose Mr. Trump’s behavior and pressure the Trump administration to cooperate with congressional oversight requests. They also clearly saw it as a means of holding off calls within their ranks to quickly move to impeach the president, arguing that it showed there are other ways of using their power to hold him accountable.

If they follow through in filing the suits, Democrats will be effectively calling on a third branch of government, the federal judiciary, to settle a dispute between the legislative and executive branches over Congress’s right to conduct investigations and the extent of the president’s authority to shield evidence from lawmakers. The answer could have significant implications not just for President Trump, but for oversight of the executive branch for decades to come.

But there is no guarantee the courts will give them a useful outcome — at least not quickly. Past cases have stretched on for months or even years.

It was not immediately clear how quickly Democrats would file a suit against Mr. McGahn, a key figure in Mr. Mueller’s report, or if they would seek court enforcement against Mr. Barr at all. The Judiciary Committee chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, told reporters on Tuesday that the House would not dawdle but that timing would depend on the House general counsel who represents lawmakers in court.

Tuesday’s resolution also gives Mr. Nadler the authority to petition a federal judge for access to secretive grand jury material amassed in the course of Mr. Mueller’s investigation. Such information rarely becomes public, but Mr. Nadler has made the case that his committee needs access to it to determine whether impeachment is warranted. His efforts to persuade the Justice Department to join him in making the request were rebuffed.

Republicans who opposed the authorization said Democrats bent on impeachment were neglecting more pressing policy issues, like the migrants who are overwhelming government resources at the southern border.

“They are so tangled up in their efforts to impeach the president, in the investigations, in the battles going on within their own caucus, that they seem incapable of actually doing anything the American people elected us to come here and do,” Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 House Republican, told reporters on Tuesday at the party’s weekly news conference.

They also questioned the wisdom of their decision to bypass formal contempt votes to go directly to court. In past cases — including in 2012, when the Republican-controlled House held Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt — the full House had voted in favor of that censure before going to court to seek subpoena enforcement there.

“This is novel, untested and risky,” said Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. “I’ll give it to you,” he continued, “this majority is audacious.”

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A ‘Loser.’ An ‘Existential Threat.’ Trump and Biden Trade Barbs as They Travel to Iowa

OTTUMWA, Iowa — President Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. both traveled to the key early voting state of Iowa on Tuesday, trading attacks in sharply personal terms and giving the country a preview of what a general election match-up between the two men might look like.

Mr. Biden, who leads in early polls for the Democratic presidential nomination, described Mr. Trump as “an existential threat” who could fundamentally change the nature of the country and its values, and who is already jeopardizing America’s standing around the world, remarks that came during an afternoon appearance at an events center here.

Mr. Trump, as he departed the Oval Office, told reporters that he thought Mr. Biden was “a loser” and questioned his mental fitness. “I’d rather run against, I think, Biden than anybody,” he said. “I think he’s the weakest mentally, and I like running against people that are weak mentally. I think Joe is the weakest up here. The other ones have much more energy.”

The hostile exchange underscored the extent to which the two men view themselves as political foils in the 2020 White House race. Mr. Biden has largely ignored his Democratic rivals while building his campaign around the urgent need to oust Mr. Trump. The president, mindful of polling that shows him trailing Mr. Biden in several key states, has targeted him in particular with ridicule.

While they have attacked each other from a distance, their appearances in the same state on Tuesday seemed primed to intensify the hostility.

Mr. Biden, who began a three-city swing across the state on Tuesday, wasted no time trying to frame the debate, releasing excerpts at 6 a.m from the remarks he had prepared to deliver at a speech in Davenport in the evening.

The excerpts laced into Mr. Trump over a range of policy issues, such as “pursuing a damaging and erratic trade war” and his approach to tariff negotiations, as farmers — including in this heavily agricultural state — have struggled.

Video

Westlake Legal Group 11bidentrump-videoSixteenByNine3000 A ‘Loser.’ An ‘Existential Threat.’ Trump and Biden Trade Barbs as They Travel to Iowa Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Iowa Biden, Joseph R Jr

Prior to leaving for Iowa, President Trump told reporters that he would prefer to run against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2020.CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Speaking in Ottumwa, Mr. Biden said that Mr. Trump’s visit to Iowa could be a “clarifying event.”

“Iowa farmers have been crushed by his tariff war with China,” he said.

Mr. Trump, who prides himself on counterpunching, was scheduled to tour an ethanol plant in Council Bluffs in the late afternoon, hours after Mr. Biden’s first event in Ottumwa. Later in the evening, Mr. Trump was set to fly Air Force One across the state, appearing in West Des Moines for a state Republican Party fund-raising dinner as Mr. Biden delivers his speech in Davenport.

Public and private polls that show Mr. Trump trailing Mr. Biden in critical states have also made him most preoccupied with Mr. Biden, whom he has told aides to describe as old and feeble (Mr. Biden is 76; Mr. Trump will turn 73 this week).

Mr. Trump was criticized for attacking the former vice president on foreign soil while visiting Tokyo recently. But his trip to Iowa — a state that twice supported former President Barack Obama before flipping decisively for Mr. Trump in 2016 — will provide him with an appropriate stage on which to take on Mr. Biden.

Up to this point, Mr. Biden has largely resisted responding to Mr. Trump’s individual broadsides, insisting repeatedly that he wants to avoid a “mud-wrestling match” with the president and often ignoring shouted questions from reporters about Mr. Trump’s remarks.

But that hardly means Mr. Biden avoids discussing Mr. Trump. He is centering his campaign squarely on defeating the president, calling him an “aberration.” It’s a point of emphasis sharply at odds with several of his Democratic opponents, who believe Trumpism has redefined the Republican Party and say the country needs bigger, structural change that goes beyond defeating one man.

At every turn, Mr. Biden is seeking to keep the focus on a possible general election matchup between himself and Mr. Trump. He has recently visited Pennsylvania and Ohio, important general election swing states, arguing that he is able to connect in the industrial Midwest and torching Mr. Trump’s leadership approach.

While many of the voters who filed into his Ottumwa event shared Mr. Biden’s near-single-minded focus on Mr. Trump, praising Mr. Biden as someone who could appeal to moderates and independents, Cheri Scherr, 63, said she had hoped to hear “more about his ideas.”

Video

Westlake Legal Group 25bidenrunsHFO1-videoSixteenByNine3000 A ‘Loser.’ An ‘Existential Threat.’ Trump and Biden Trade Barbs as They Travel to Iowa Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Iowa Biden, Joseph R Jr

Joseph R. Biden Jr. was a two-term vice president and spent 36 years as a senator. But his front-runner status in the Democratic primary will be tested by the party’s desire for generational change.CreditCreditMaddie McGarvey for The New York Times

“I wish he would talk less about Trump,” said Ms. Scherr of Pella, Iowa. “We’re Democrats, we know why we don’t like Trump.”

Mr. Biden has generally avoided responding to fellow Democrats, even as his opponents ramp up their critiques of him. One exception came Monday, when he implicitly responded to the entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who had criticized him for missing a gathering of Democrats in Iowa over the weekend that drew most of the primary field.

“My granddaughter was graduating,” he said at a fund-raiser. “It was my daughter’s birthday. I would skip inauguration for that.” He is expected to reiterate a version of that message later on Tuesday.

Mr. Biden has also begun to roll out policy platforms, including on climate and education, though he has released fewer than many of his rivals so far. But on the campaign trail he often underscores that the first step to achieving any Democratic priority is beating Mr. Trump.

“If you want to know what the first, most important plank in my climate proposal is, beat Trump,” he said at his campaign’s first large-scale rally, held last month in Philadelphia. “Beat Trump, beat Trump.”

Mr. Biden’s face-off against Mr. Trump on Tuesday could have downsides, some Democratic strategists cautioned.

“The Biden campaign clearly seems to relish sparring with Trump. In their minds, they believe it elevates him above the rest of the Democratic field,” said Brian Fallon, who served as press secretary for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. “The potential downside is that as Trump road tests different attacks on Biden, it may help the Democratic primary electorate better visualize potential vulnerabilites that Biden would have in a general election.”

Mr. Fallon said that if any of those attacks — from his supposed lack of energy to his support for the 1994 crime bill — changed voter perceptions, “that could erode the aura of electability that is right now Biden’s strongest asset.”

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