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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 137)

Murray Energy Is 8th Coal Company in a Year to Seek Bankruptcy

Westlake Legal Group 29coal2-facebookJumbo Murray Energy Is 8th Coal Company in a Year to Seek Bankruptcy Trump, Donald J Murray, Robert E Murray Energy Corp Mines and Mining Layoffs and Job Reductions Energy and Power Coal Bankruptcies

Murray Energy, once a symbol of American mining prowess, has become the eighth coal company in a year to file for bankruptcy protection. The move on Tuesday is the latest sign that market forces are throttling the Trump administration’s bid to save the industry.

The collapse of the Ohio-based company had long been expected as coal-fired power plants close across the country.

Its chief executive, Robert E. Murray, has been an outspoken supporter and adviser of President Trump. He had lobbied extensively for Washington to support coal-fired power plants.

Mr. Murray gave up his position as chief executive and was replaced on Tuesday by Robert Moore, the former chief financial officer. Mr. Murray, who will remain chairman, expressed optimism that the company would survive with a lighter debt load.

“Although a bankruptcy filing is not an easy decision, it became necessary to access liquidity,” he said in a statement, “and best position Murray Energy and its affiliates for the future of our employees and customers and our long-term success.”

Murray, the nation’s largest privately-held coal company, has nearly 7,000 employees and operates 17 mines in six states across Appalachia and the South as well as two mines in Colombia. It produces more than 70 million tons of coal annually.

But with utilities quickly switching to cheap natural gas and renewable sources like wind and solar power, Murray and other coal companies have been shutting down mines and laying off workers. Murray’s bankruptcy follows those of industry stalwarts like Cloud Peak Energy, Cambrian Coal and Blackjewel.

Murray was most closely identified with Trump administration promises to reverse the industry’s fortunes.

Mr. Murray contributed $300,000 to Mr. Trump’s inauguration. Shortly after, he wrote Mr. Trump a confidential memo with his wish list for the industry, including shaving regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and ozone and mine safety, along with cutting the staff at the Environmental Protection Agency by at least 50 percent. Several of the suggestions were adopted.

In July, Mr. Murray hosted a fund-raiser for Mr. Trump attended by the Republican governors of Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.

With Mr. Murray applauding his efforts, President Trump installed former coal lobbyists in regulatory positions and slashed environmental rules. But utilities continued to shut down coal plants that could not compete with a glut of natural gas produced in the nation’s shale fields. More recently, the improved economics of wind and solar energy production hastened coal’s decline.

Once the source of over 40 percent of the country’s power, coal produced 28 percent in 2018. That share has declined to just 25 percent this year and the Energy Department projects that it will drop to 22 percent next year.

The only bright spot for Murray and other coal companies in recent years has been growing demand from Europe, Latin America and Asia, but exports have dropped by nearly 30 percent in the third quarter compared with last year. All told, domestic coal production is expected to decline by 10 percent this year from 2018 and by an additional 11 percent in 2020, the Energy Department said recently.

Environmentalists cheered the bankruptcy.

“Bob Murray and his company are the latest examples of how market forces have sealed the fate of coal and there’s nothing the president can do about it,” said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group.

Murray entered into a restructuring agreement with some of its lenders and said it had received $350 million in loans to keep operating its mines.

Many coal companies have gone through bankruptcy in recent years only to re-emerge smaller, with reduced debts and eroded pension and health care benefits. Murray had been the last coal company contributing to the pension fund of the United Mine Workers of America.

In a statement, the United Mine Workers president, Cecil E. Roberts, warned that Murray “will seek to be relieved of its obligations to retirees, their dependents and widows,“ adding, “We have seen this sad act too many times before.’’

He promised to fight for the interests of workers in bankruptcy court.

While coal is in sharp decline in the United States, it remains a major power source in developing countries like India and China.

For coal to grow again in the United States and other industrialized countries, energy experts and even some coal executives say a concerted effort will be needed to develop technologies to capture carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. So far, the Trump administration has stopped short of pushing such an initiative.

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

The Latest on the Trump Impeachment Inquiry: White House Official Testifies

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group 29dc-impeachbriefing-sub-articleLarge The Latest on the Trump Impeachment Inquiry: White House Official Testifies Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, arriving Tuesday on Capitol Hill.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, arrived Tuesday morning at the Capitol to testify to impeachment investigators about how he twice reported his concerns to a White House lawyer about how President Trump and his inner circle treated Ukraine.

He appeared in his midnight blue dress uniform, a bevy of medals pinned to his chest, for the closed-door session, where the colonel planned to deliver the latest in a series of damning accounts about the president’s dealings with Ukraine. His opening statement details his concerns about Mr. Trump’s request, during a July 25 telephone call, that Ukraine’s president launch investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his family.

Even as Colonel Vindman arrived, Mr. Trump lashed out at the decorated Army combat veteran without naming him, accusing him on Twitter of being a longtime political opponent.

Mr. Trump has sought to undermine the credibility of impeachment witnesses by suggesting they are part of a deep state political conspiracy staging a coup, or have a political agenda against him. In his opening statement, Colonel Vindman described himself as just the opposite, saying he was a “patriot” who is determined to “advance and defend our country irrespective of party or politics.”

Colonel Vindman is a Ukrainian-American immigrant who received a Purple Heart after being wounded in Iraq by a roadside bomb. He is the first White House official, and the only witness so far who listened in on the July call to testify in the impeachment inquiry.

The colonel was subpoenaed on Tuesday morning, as expected, after the White House directed him not to appear and sought to limit the scope of his testimony, according to an official involved in the inquiry who spoke on condition of anonymity without authorization to discuss it.

Westlake Legal Group vindman-statement-impeachment-1572300930303-articleLarge The Latest on the Trump Impeachment Inquiry: White House Official Testifies Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

Read Alexander Vindman’s Opening Statement on Trump and Ukraine

He twice reported concerns about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, according to a draft statement.

A leading House Republican drew the line on Tuesday at personal attacks on Colonel Vindman, sharply distancing herself from a flood of criticism of the decorated Army officer from conservative commentators who have publicly questioned his patriotism.

“We’re talking about decorated veterans who’ve served this nation, who’ve put their lives on the line, and it’s shameful to question their patriotism, their love of this nation, and we shouldn’t be involved in that process,” Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking Republican, told reporters, unprompted at a morning news conference.

Within hours after Colonel Vindman’s damaging account of Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine became public on Tuesday night, the president’s allies in the conservative news media began disparaging him, with some suggesting that he was a spy loyal to his native Ukraine, not the United States.

The Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham said during her broadcast on Monday night that Colonel Vindman was working inside the White House, “apparently against the president’s interest,” noting that he spoke Ukrainian. John Yoo, who worked in the White House Counsel’s Office under George W. Bush, agreed with Ms. Ingraham that the situation was “astounding,” adding, “some people might call that espionage.”

Brian Kilmeade, who hosts Fox & Friends, a favorite show of Mr. Trump, said of Colonel Vindman: “We also know he was born in the Soviet Union, emigrated with his family. Young. He tends to feel simpatico with the Ukraine.”

Sean P. Duffy, a former Republican representative from Wisconsin and pro-Trump commentator, also questioned Colonel Vindman’s loyalties, saying Tuesday during an appearance on CNN: “It seems very clear that he is incredibly concerned about Ukrainian defense — I don’t know that he’s concerned about American policy.”

“We all have an affinity to our homeland where we came from,” Mr. Duffy added.

Later Tuesday morning on Twitter, Mr. Duffy appeared to walk back his remarks, praising Colonel Vindman’s service.

“Lt. Col. Vindman is an American war hero,” he wrote, adding, “My point is that Mr. Vindman is an unelected advisor, he gives ADVICE. President Trump sets the policy.”

While Ms. Cheney rejected those suggestions, she continued to rail against the impeachment inquiry that has called Colonel Vindman to testify, saying it was illegitimate and unfair.

“The process is broken,” she said on Tuesday. “It’s tainted.”

Even as they prepare to move their case into public view, Democrats at the helm of the impeachment inquiry continued on Tuesday to add names to the queue of administration officials they are calling for private depositions.

The most high-profile among them was Robert Blair, a top national security adviser to Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Mr. Blair listened in on the July phone call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on Mr. Mulvaney’s behalf, but did not raise concerns about what he heard at the time. Mr. Blair is also likely to have information about deliberations within the White House over the decision to suspend $391 million in security aid allocated for Ukraine.

Democrats have also requested testimony from Brian McCormack, the chief of staff to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and Wells Griffith, an energy adviser at the White House, according to an official familiar with the matter. Mr. Perry played a significant role in the administration’s outreach to Ukraine. At least one impeachment witnesses has identified Mr. McCormack as having been intimately involved in many of the events under scrutiny.

It is not yet clear if any of the officials plan to comply with the requests, which were first reported by The Washington Post.
Nicholas Fandos

At their weekly caucus meeting on Tuesday, House Democrats heard a largely upbeat message regarding the shifting political field in the wake of the impeachment inquiry, along with a warning that voters will be watching to see that the inquiry is handled fairly.

Citing three different pollsters, officials with House Democrats’ campaign arm reported that recent polling shows a steady generic ballot for Democrats, with the party holding a 3-point lead in the most competitive House districts and an 8-point lead across all districts, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the discussion.

Democratic campaign officials also cited new focus-group research that showed that voters want to see the impeachment inquiry conducted as a fact-finding investigation — not a process designed to arrive at a foregone conclusion. 

But the pollsters stressed that health care, the kitchen-table issue that catapulted many of the current Democratic freshmen to victory in 2018, remains voters’ top priority, and encouraged lawmakers to capitalize on that through a proposed bill to lower the cost of prescription drugs. That bill has been largely sidelined since the inquiry began.
Catie Edmondson

House Democrats announced plans on Monday to hold a floor vote on the impeachment inquiry on Thursday in an effort to publicly establish rules for the examination and due process for the president.

Mr. Trump and his supporters have dismissed the inquiry as a political witch hunt, and the White House has ordered key witnesses not to cooperate. Impeachment investigators said they would not wait for courts to rule on witness appearances. Moving forward with a vote will lead to the public phase of the inquiry, including televised congressional hearings.

The House Intelligence Committee chairman who is leading the inquiry, Representative Adam B. Schiff, said if the White House continues to prevent witnesses from testifying, it would strengthen the case against the president and be considered obstruction of Congress.

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

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

Video

Westlake Legal Group vidxx-trump-ukraine-1-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 The Latest on the Trump Impeachment Inquiry: White House Official Testifies Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

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

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Who Is Alexander Vindman? A Ukrainian Refugee Turned White House Official Testifies in the Impeachment Inquiry

WASHINGTON — Alexander S. Vindman and his twin brother, Yevgeny, were 3 years old when they fled Ukraine with their father and grandmother, Jewish refugees with only their suitcases and $750, hoping for a better life in the United States.

In the 40 years since, he has become a scholar, diplomat, decorated lieutenant colonel in the United States Army and Harvard-educated Ukraine expert on the White House National Security Council.

On Tuesday, his past and his present converged, when he became the first sitting White House official to testify in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s dealings with the country of his birth.

The testimony of Colonel Vindman, 44, is one of the more riveting turns in an inquiry that has been full of them. He is told impeachment investigators in an opening statement that he “did not think it was proper” for Mr. Trump to push Ukraine’s leader to dig up dirt on his political rivals during a July phone call, and felt duty-bound to report the conversation to a White House lawyer, fearing that it jeopardized the country’s national security.

But more than that, Colonel Vindman’s testimony offered a compelling immigrants’ tale and a glimpse into the story of twin brothers who have lived a singular American experience. From their days as little boys in matching short pants and blue caps, toddling around the Brighton Beach neighborhood of Brooklyn — known as Little Odessa for its population of refugees from the former Soviet Union — and into adulthood, they have followed strikingly similar paths.

Like Alexander Vindman, Yevgeny is a lieutenant colonel in the Army. He also serves on Mr. Trump’s National Security Council, as a lawyer handling ethics issues.

When Alexander Vindman decided to alert a White House lawyer to his concerns about Mr. Trump’s July telephone call with the Ukrainian president, he turned to his twin, bringing him along as he reported the conversation to John A. Eisenberg, the top National Security Council lawyer.

The twins both married and they have offices across from one another in the West Wing of the White House, according to Carol Kitman, a photographer who met the family when they were boys, chronicled their growing up and remains a close family friend.

“They say nothing,” Ms. Kitman said, when asked if the two had revealed their views about Mr. Trump. “They’re very smart and they’re very discreet.”

Along with their older brother, Leonid, the twins left Kiev with their father, Semyon, shortly after their mother died there. Their maternal grandmother came along to help care for them. The family sold its possessions to survive in Europe while waiting for visas to the United States.

“I think their father felt they would do better in the United States as Jews,” said Ms. Kitman, who recalls spotting the grandmother and the two boys, then known as Sanya and Genya, under the elevated train in Brooklyn. She spoke to the grandmother in Yiddish, she said, and returned the following day, aiming to do a book about their lives.

“Upon arriving in New York City in 1979, my father worked multiple jobs to support us, all the while learning English at night,” Colonel Vindman told House lawmakers on Tuesday. “He stressed to us the importance of fully integrating into our adopted country. For many years, life was quite difficult. In spite of our challenging beginnings, my family worked to build its own American dream.”

Ms. Kitman’s website tells the story in pictures.

“Genya is always the smiling twin. Sanya is serious,” she wrote in the caption accompanying the image of them in their blue ball caps and short pants in 1980, the year after they arrived. A 1985 photograph of them with their grandmother on a boardwalk appeared in a documentary by the filmmaker Ken Burns, she wrote.

When they were 13, Ms. Kitman captured the Vindman twins in matching red shirts. When Colonel Vindman married, she photographed him and his bride under a tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl, that served as a huppah, or wedding canopy.

The twins’ father, Semyon Vindman, went on to become an engineer, Ms. Kitman said, and the twins’ older brother entered the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in college. She said the younger boys looked up to Leonid and decided to pursue their own military paths.

In 1998, Alexander Vindman graduated from the State University of New York at Binghamton. He received his military commission from Cornell University, completed basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., in 1999, and deployed to South Korea, where he led infantry and anti-armor platoons, the following year.

In his testimony, the colonel mentioned his “multiple overseas tours,” including in South Korea and Germany, and a 2003 combat deployment to Iraq that left him wounded by a roadside bomb, for which he was awarded a Purple Heart.

Since 2008, he has been an Army foreign area officer — an expert in political-military operations — specializing in Eurasia. Colonel Vindman has a master’s degree from Harvard in Russian, Eastern Europe and Central Asian Studies. He has served in the United States’ embassies in Kiev, Ukraine, and in Moscow, and was the officer specializing in Russia for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before joining the National Security Council in 2018.

By this spring, he said in his opening statement, he became troubled by what he described as efforts by “outside influencers” to create “a false narrative” about Ukraine. Documents reviewed by The New York Times suggest the reference is to Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and implicate Ukraine, rather than Russia, in interfering with the 2016 elections.

Westlake Legal Group vindman-statement-impeachment-1572300930303-articleLarge Who Is Alexander Vindman? A Ukrainian Refugee Turned White House Official Testifies in the Impeachment Inquiry Vindman, Alexander S United States Defense and Military Forces Ukrainian-Americans Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Refugees and Displaced Persons impeachment Immigration and Emigration Brighton Beach (Brooklyn, NY)

Read Alexander Vindman’s Statement on Trump and Ukraine

He twice reported concerns about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, according to a draft statement.

In May, a month after Volodymyr Zelensky was elected president of Ukraine in a landslide victory, Mr. Trump asked the colonel to join Energy Secretary Rick Perry to travel to Ukraine to attend the new president’s inauguration.

By July, Colonel Vindman had grown deeply concerned that administration officials were pressuring Mr. Zelensky to investigate Mr. Biden. That concern only intensified, he told investigators, when he listened in to the now-famous July 25 phone conversation between Mr. Zelensky and Mr. Trump.

“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen,” his testimony said, “and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine.”

His heritage gave Colonel Vindman, who is fluent in both Ukrainian and Russian, unique insight into Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign; on numerous occasions, Ukrainian officials sought him out for advice about how to deal with Mr. Giuliani.

Colonel Vindman’s testimony was sprinkled with references to duty, honor and patriotism — but also his life as an immigrant and a refugee.

“I sit here, as a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, an immigrant,” he said, adding, “I have a deep appreciation for American values and ideals and the power of freedom. I am a patriot, and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend our country, irrespective of party or politics.”

Ms. Kitman, the photographer, said that was what she would expect from both the Vindman twins.

“When you talk about what good immigrants do,” she said, “look at what these immigrants are doing for this country.”

Danny Hakim and Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting.

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

Who Is Alexander Vindman? A Ukrainian Refugee Who Will Testify in Impeachment Inquiry

Westlake Legal Group 28dc-vindman-facebookJumbo Who Is Alexander Vindman? A Ukrainian Refugee Who Will Testify in Impeachment Inquiry Vindman, Alexander S United States Defense and Military Forces Ukrainian-Americans Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Refugees and Displaced Persons impeachment Immigration and Emigration Brighton Beach (Brooklyn, NY)

WASHINGTON — Alexander S. Vindman and his twin brother, Yevgeny, were 3 years old when they fled Ukraine with their father and grandmother, Jewish refugees with only their suitcases and $750, hoping for a better life in the United States.

In the 40 years since, he has become a scholar, diplomat, decorated lieutenant colonel in the United States Army and Harvard-educated Ukraine expert on the White House National Security Council.

On Tuesday, his past and his present will converge, when he becomes the first sitting White House official to testify in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s dealings with the country of his birth.

The testimony of Colonel Vindman, 44, will mark one of the more riveting turns in an inquiry that has been full of them. He is planning to tell impeachment investigators that he “did not think it was proper” for Mr. Trump to push Ukraine’s leader to dig up dirt on his political rivals during a July phone call, and felt duty-bound to report the conversation to a White House lawyer, fearing that it jeopardized the country’s national security.

But more than that, Colonel Vindman’s testimony will offer a compelling immigrants’ tale and a glimpse into the story of twin brothers who have lived a singular American experience. From their days as little boys in matching short pants and blue caps, toddling around the Brighton Beach neighborhood of Brooklyn — known as Little Odessa for its population of refugees from the former Soviet Union — and into adulthood, they have followed strikingly similar paths.

Like Alexander Vindman, Yevgeny is a lieutenant colonel in the Army. He also serves on Mr. Trump’s National Security Council, as a lawyer handling ethics issues.

When Alexander Vindman decided to alert a White House lawyer to his concerns about Mr. Trump’s July telephone call with the Ukrainian president, he turned to his twin, bringing him along as he reported the conversation to John A. Eisenberg, the top National Security Council lawyer.

The twins both married, and they have offices across from one another in the West Wing of the White House, according to Carol Kitman, a photographer who met the family when they were boys, chronicled their growing up and remains a close family friend.

“They say nothing,” Ms. Kitman said, when asked if the two had revealed their views about Mr. Trump. “They’re very smart and they’re very discreet.”

Along with their older brother, Leonid, the twins left Kiev with their father shortly after their mother died there. Their maternal grandmother came along to help care for them. The family sold its possessions to survive in Europe while waiting for visas to the United States.

“I think their father felt they would do better in the United States as Jews,” said Ms. Kitman, who recalls spotting the grandmother and the two boys, then known as Sanya and Genya, under the elevated train in Brooklyn. She spoke to the grandmother in Yiddish, she said, and returned the following day, aiming to do a book about their lives.

“Upon arriving in New York City in 1979, my father worked multiple jobs to support us, all the while learning English at night,” Colonel Vindman plans to tell House lawmakers on Tuesday. “He stressed to us the importance of fully integrating into our adopted country. For many years, life was quite difficult. In spite of our challenging beginnings, my family worked to build its own American dream.”

Ms. Kitman’s website tells the story in pictures.

“Genya is always the smiling twin. Sanya is serious,” she wrote in the caption accompanying the image of them in their blue ball caps and short pants in 1980, the year after they arrived. A 1985 photograph of them with their grandmother on a boardwalk appeared in a documentary by the filmmaker Ken Burns, she wrote.

When they were 13, Ms. Kitman captured the Vindman twins in matching red shirts. When Colonel Vindman married, she photographed him and his bride under a tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl, that served as a huppah, or wedding canopy.

The twins’ father, Semyon Vindman, went on to become an engineer, Ms. Kitman said, and the twins’ older brother entered the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in college. She said the younger boys looked up to Leonid and decided to pursue their own military paths.

In 1998, Alexander Vindman graduated from the State University of New York at Binghamton. He received his military commission from Cornell University, completed basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., in 1999, and deployed to South Korea, where he led infantry and anti-armor platoons, the following year.

In his testimony, the colonel plans to mention his “multiple overseas tours,” including in South Korea and Germany, and a 2003 combat deployment to Iraq that left him wounded by a roadside bomb, for which he was awarded a Purple Heart.

Since 2008, he has been an Army foreign area officer — an expert in political-military operations — specializing in Eurasia. Colonel Vindman has a master’s degree from Harvard in Russian, Eastern Europe and Central Asian Studies. He has served in the United States’ embassies in Kiev, Ukraine, and in Moscow, and was the officer specializing in Russia for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before joining the National Security Council in 2018.

By this spring, he said in his prepared opening statement, he became troubled by what he described as efforts by “outside influencers” to create “a false narrative” about Ukraine. Documents reviewed by The New York Times suggest the reference is to Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and implicate Ukraine, rather than Russia, in interfering with the 2016 elections.

In May, a month after Volodymyr Zelensky was elected president of Ukraine in a landslide victory, Mr. Trump asked the colonel to join Energy Secretary Rick Perry to travel to Ukraine to attend the new president’s inauguration.

By July, Colonel Vindman had grown deeply concerned that administration officials were pressuring Mr. Zelensky to investigate Mr. Biden. That concern only intensified, he said in his opening statement, when he listened in to the now-famous July 25 phone conversation between Mr. Zelensky and Mr. Trump.

“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen,” his testimony said, “and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine.”

His heritage gave Colonel Vindman, who is fluent in both Ukrainian and Russian, unique insight into Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign; on numerous occasions, Ukrainian officials sought him out for advice about how to deal with Mr. Giuliani.

Colonel Vindman’s testimony is sprinkled with references to duty, honor and patriotism — but also his life as an immigrant and a refugee.

“I sit here, as a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, an immigrant,” he plans to tell investigators, adding, “I have a deep appreciation for American values and ideals and the power of freedom. I am a patriot, and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend our country, irrespective of party or politics.”

Ms. Kitman, the photographer, said that is what she would expect from both the Vindman twins.

“When you talk about what good immigrants do,” she said, “look at what these immigrants are doing for this country.”

Danny Hakim contributed reporting.

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

Why the Economy Might Not Sway 2020 Voters

Westlake Legal Group 29survey1-facebookJumbo Why the Economy Might Not Sway 2020 Voters United States Economy Trump, Donald J Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion International Trade and World Market Democratic Party Consumer Confidence (Economic Indicator)

Americans’ views of the economy have become so hardened along partisan lines that the economy may matter less in next year’s presidential election than in the past.

Both major political parties have emphasized the economy in the early stages of the campaign. Republicans hope that a rock-bottom unemployment rate and rising wages will cause voters to stick with President Trump despite the various scandals enveloping his administration. Democrats believe high levels of income inequality and fears of a looming recession will make voters willing to consider a new direction.

Surveys suggest that those arguments are resonating — but only with voters already inclined to agree with them. Republicans consistently say the economy is doing well and give Mr. Trump strong marks for his stewardship. Democrats are much more pessimistic, and, to the extent they do believe the economy is strong, doubt that Mr. Trump deserves much credit.

And notably, neither group’s views have shifted much in response to changing economic conditions. Earlier this month, for example, 71 percent of Republicans said they expected business conditions to be “very” or “somewhat” good over the next year, compared with just 15 percent of Democrats who said so, according to a survey conducted for The New York Times by the online research platform SurveyMonkey. Those numbers are virtually unchanged from two years ago, before trade tensions and other factors began to drag down the manufacturing sector and weaken the broader economy.

Economic conditions have historically been among the best predictors of presidential elections, and models based on those patterns suggest that Mr. Trump would be favored to win re-election if the economy remains more or less on its current path through Election Day.

But it is unclear whether historical lessons hold in an era of heightened partisanship.

“The predictive power of the economy is weakening as polarization increases,” said Amber Wichowsky, a political scientist at Marquette University who has studied how economic issues affect voters’ political views. “Partisans have a strong desire to interpret the economy in a way that benefits their ‘team.’”

Franklin Fullerton works in sales for a conveyor-belt manufacturer outside Charlotte, N.C. David Kugler is a materials manager for a packaging manufacturer near Allentown, Pa. The two men, both participants in the Times survey, are close in age — 61 and 58 — and say they are financially stable. But they have very different political views, and very different views of the economy.

Mr. Fullerton, who usually votes for Democrats, said business had slowed since last year. His company imports many of its parts, he said, and it has had to raise prices to cover the cost of tariffs, in some cases by as much as 15 percent. He said that he did not yet see evidence of a recession, but that he was watching warily.

“I would think twice about doing any major home renovation or anything, probably,” he said. “It enters your mind, whereas last year it wouldn’t really have entered your mind.”

Mr. Kugler’s company has also been affected by tariffs. But he said that business over all remained strong, and that the local economy had improved since Mr. Trump took office. And Mr. Kugler, a conservative Republican, said Mr. Trump’s trade policies were worth any short-term cost.

“It’s hard sometimes, but for the long haul I think it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “What China’s doing to us is just outright criminal.”

Mr. Kugler said the economy was the most important issue to him, and said he would consider rethinking his support for Mr. Trump if conditions soured — he just doesn’t expect that to happen. Mr. Fullerton, too, said he tried to evaluate evidence objectively, though he acknowledged that his political views probably affected his interpretation.

“I’m sure I’m human, and I probably don’t always see both sides of everything,” Mr. Fullerton said. “I think I’m guilty of it. But I try to be aware of it.”

The partisan divide in consumer confidence is a relatively new phenomenon. In the early 1980s, Democrats and Republicans largely saw eye to eye on the state of the economy, according to the University of Michigan’s long-running survey of consumer sentiment. By the 2000s, a gap had emerged, with partisans tending to view the economy more positively when their preferred party was in power. The gulf has only widened since.

“They’re seeing everything through the partisan lens right now,” said Laura Wronski, a research scientist for SurveyMonkey. She noted that the partisanship dwarfed even factors likely to have a bigger impact on people’s financial well-being, like education, income and employment status.

Partisanship hasn’t completely drowned out economic reality. Measures of consumer confidence have ebbed a bit over the past year, as tariffs and other factors have led to slower growth. And confidence dipped more substantially in January, when the partial government shutdown temporarily idled hundreds of thousands of federal workers, and again when recession fears dominated headlines in late summer. In both cases, however, confidence quickly rebounded.

Economists and political scientists say an outright recession would almost certainly erode consumers’ confidence, regardless of their political views. But the current economy leaves enough room for interpretation. Republicans can point to the low unemployment rate and strong stock market. Democrats can point to slower hiring and a weakening manufacturing sector.

“You could see how different people who aren’t experts could look at the economy and reach different conclusions based on their partisanship,” said Peter K. Enns, who leads the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at Cornell University.

One group of voters is less likely to view the economy through a partisan lens: independents. Only about 15 percent of registered voters report being independents without a preference for either party, but they could prove decisive in next year’s election. Their assessment of the economy hasn’t moved much during Mr. Trump’s term, either, but their views have generally been closer to those of Democrats than of Republicans.

“Independents seem to register the onset of a recession more quickly,” he said. “If independents are leaning closer to Democrats on the pessimism side, that bodes poorly for Trump.”

Scott Baughan, an independent voter and self-described moderate in Detroit, said he had mixed feelings about Mr. Trump’s economic stewardship. He said the 2017 tax law had helped the economy, but he criticized it for not doing more to help the middle class. He said Mr. Trump was right to get tough on China, but said he didn’t think the tariffs had been executed effectively.

“It’s not exactly what I’d call a coherent strategy,” he said.

Mr. Baughan, a 27-year-old medical student, didn’t vote for either major-party candidate in 2016 and hasn’t decided how he will vote in 2020. The economy will be one factor in his decision, he said, but right now it isn’t pushing him strongly in either direction. He dismissed the claims of Trump supporters who say the economy is the best it’s ever been, and those of critics who have been predicting a recession for months. He compared Democrats and Republicans to two people each looking through one lens of a pair of 3-D glasses.

“Each side is seeing half the picture and completely unaware that the other half exists,” he said.

About the survey: The data in this article came from an online survey of 2,701 adults conducted by the polling firm SurveyMonkey from Oct. 7 to Oct. 13. The company selected respondents at random from the nearly three million people who take surveys on its platform each day. Responses were weighted to match the demographic profile of the population of the United States. The survey has a modeled error estimate (similar to a margin of error in a standard telephone poll) of plus or minus three percentage points, so differences of less than that amount are statistically insignificant.

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Who Is Alexander Vindman? A Ukrainian Refugee Who Rose to the White House

Westlake Legal Group 28dc-vindman-facebookJumbo Who Is Alexander Vindman? A Ukrainian Refugee Who Rose to the White House Vindman, Alexander S United States Defense and Military Forces Ukrainian-Americans Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Refugees and Displaced Persons impeachment Immigration and Emigration Brighton Beach (Brooklyn, NY)

WASHINGTON — Alexander S. Vindman and his twin brother, Yevgeny, were 3 years old when they fled Ukraine with their father and grandmother, Jewish refugees arriving in New York with only their suitcases and $750.

In the 40 years since, he has become a scholar, diplomat, decorated lieutenant colonel in the United States Army and Harvard-educated Ukraine expert on the White House National Security Council.

On Tuesday, his past and his present will converge, when he becomes the first sitting White House official to testify in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s dealings with the country of his birth.

The testimony of Colonel Vindman, 44, will mark one of the more riveting turns in an inquiry that has been full of them. He is planning to tell impeachment investigators that he “did not think it was proper” for Mr. Trump to push Ukraine’s leader to dig up dirt on his political rivals during a July phone call, and felt duty-bound to report the conversation to a White House lawyer, fearing that it jeopardized the country’s national security.

But more than that, Colonel Vindman’s testimony will offer a compelling immigrants’ tale and a glimpse into the story of twin brothers who have lived a singular American experience. From their days as little boys in matching short pants and blue caps, toddling around the Brighton Beach neighborhood of Brooklyn — known as Little Odessa for its population of refugees from the former Soviet Union — and into adulthood, they have followed strikingly similar paths.

Like Alexander Vindman, Yevgeny is a lieutenant colonel in the Army. He also serves on Mr. Trump’s National Security Council, as a lawyer handling ethics issues.

When Alexander Vindman decided to alert a White House lawyer to his concerns about Mr. Trump’s July telephone call with the Ukrainian president, he turned to his twin, bringing him along as he reported the conversation to John A. Eisenberg, the top National Security Council lawyer.

The twins both married, and they have offices across from one another in the West Wing of the White House, according to Carol Kitman, a photographer who met the family when they were boys, chronicled their growing up and remains a close family friend.

“They say nothing,” Ms. Kitman said, when asked if the two had revealed their views about Mr. Trump. “They’re very smart and they’re very discreet.”

Along with their older brother, Leonid, the twins left Kiev with their father shortly after their mother died there. Their maternal grandmother came along to help care for them. The family sold its possessions to survive in Europe while waiting for visas to the United States.

“I think their father felt they would do better in the United States as Jews,” said Ms. Kitman, who recalls spotting the grandmother and the two boys, then known as Sanya and Genya, under the elevated train in Brooklyn. She spoke to the grandmother in Yiddish, she said, and returned the following day, aiming to do a book about their lives.

“Upon arriving in New York City in 1979, my father worked multiple jobs to support us, all the while learning English at night,” Colonel Vindman plans to tell House lawmakers on Tuesday. “He stressed to us the importance of fully integrating into our adopted country. For many years, life was quite difficult. In spite of our challenging beginnings, my family worked to build its own American dream.”

Ms. Kitman’s website tells the story in pictures.

“Genya is always the smiling twin. Sanya is serious,” she wrote in the caption accompanying one image of them in their blue ball caps and short pants in 1980, the year after they arrived. A 1985 photograph of them with their grandmother on a boardwalk appeared in a documentary by the filmmaker Ken Burns, she wrote.

When they were 13, Ms. Kitman captured the Vindman twins in matching red shirts. When Colonel Vindman married, she photographed him and his bride under a tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl, that served as a huppah, or wedding canopy.

The twins’ father went on to become an engineer, Ms. Kitman said, and the twins’ older brother entered the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in college. She said the younger boys looked up to Leonid and decided to pursue their own military paths.

In 1998, Alexander Vindman graduated from the State University of New York at Binghamton. He received his military commission from Cornell University, completed basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., in 1999, and deployed to South Korea, where he led infantry and anti-armor platoons, the following year.

In his testimony, the colonel plans to mention his “multiple overseas tours,” including in South Korea and Germany, and a 2003 combat deployment to Iraq that left him wounded by a roadside bomb, for which he was awarded a Purple Heart.

Since 2008, he has been an Army foreign area officer — an expert in political-military operations — specializing in Eurasia. Colonel Vindman has a master’s degree from Harvard in Russian, Eastern Europe and Central Asian Studies. He has served in the United States’ embassies in Kiev, Ukraine, and in Moscow, and was the officer specializing in Russia for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before joining the National Security Council in 2018.

By this spring, he said in his prepared opening statement, he became troubled by what he described as efforts by “outside influencers” to create “a false narrative” about Ukraine. Documents reviewed by The New York Times suggest the reference is to Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and implicate Ukraine, rather than Russia, in interfering with the 2016 elections.

In May, a month after Volodymyr Zelensky was elected president of Ukraine in a landslide victory, Mr. Trump asked the colonel to join Energy Secretary Rick Perry to travel to Ukraine to attend the new president’s inauguration.

By July, Colonel Vindman had grown deeply concerned that administration officials were pressuring Mr. Zelensky to investigate Mr. Biden. That concern only intensified, he said in his opening statement, when he listened in to the now-famous July 25 phone conversation between Mr. Zelensky and Mr. Trump.

“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen,” his testimony said, “and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine.”

His heritage gave Colonel Vindman, who is fluent in both Ukrainian and Russian, unique insight into Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign; on numerous occasions, Ukrainian officials sought him out for advice about how to deal with Mr. Giuliani.

Colonel Vindman’s testimony is sprinkled with references to duty, honor and patriotism — but also his life as an immigrant and a refugee.

“I sit here, as a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, an immigrant,” he plans to tell investigators, adding, “I have a deep appreciation for American values and ideals and the power of freedom. I am a patriot, and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend our country, irrespective of party or politics.”

Ms. Kitman, the photographer, said that is what she would expect from both the Vindman twins.

“When you talk about what good immigrants do,” she said, “look at what these immigrants are doing for this country.”

Danny Hakim contributed reporting.

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Democrats Move Toward Bringing Impeachment Inquiry Public

Westlake Legal Group 28dc-impeach-facebookJumbo-v2 Democrats Move Toward Bringing Impeachment Inquiry Public 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 moved quickly on Monday to bring their impeachment case against President Trump into the open, saying they would forgo court battles with recalcitrant witnesses and would vote this week on procedures to govern nationally televised hearings.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman leading the inquiry, began the day by telling reporters that Democrats would not wait to fight the Trump administration in court as it moves to block key witness testimony. Instead, he warned that White House directives not to cooperate — like one that stopped Mr. Trump’s former deputy national security adviser from appearing Monday morning — would simply bolster their case that the president had abused his office and obstructed Congress’s investigation.

By the afternoon, Speaker Nancy Pelosi added to that sense of momentum. She announced that after weeks of private fact finding, the full House would vote on Thursday to initiate a new, public phase of the inquiry by establishing rules for the public presentation of evidence and outlining due process rights for Mr. Trump. It will be the first time all House lawmakers will be asked to go on record on the investigation since it began in September, something Democrats had so far resisted.

“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 said of the vote in a letter to colleagues. “Nobody is above the law.”

Together, the announcements sent the clearest signals to date that Democrats believe their month-old inquiry into Mr. Trump’s attempts to pressure a foreign nation to investigate his political rivals is on track to collect enough evidence to begin making an effective impeachment case before the nation by Thanksgiving. And they indicated a growing sense of urgency among party leaders who worry that their proceeding could lose momentum and bleed into next year without a vote on articles of impeachment.

In earlier oversight disputes, House Democrats have turned to the courts with some frequency. But those lawsuits have eaten up valuable months without signs of resolution any time soon — time that impeachment investigators do not have.

“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.

Democrats have resisted for weeks the idea of holding a vote on the impeachment inquiry, arguing that doing so was unnecessary to authorize their work, and privately worrying that a floor vote could put politically vulnerable Democrats in a difficult position.

But they have come under intense criticism from Republicans for failing to seek formal authorization for the inquiry, a step that is not required by the Constitution or House rules. In scheduling a vote now, Democrats were effectively challenging Mr. Trump and his congressional allies who have called the inquiry an unfair sham of a process, but avoided any substantive discussion of the president’s conduct.

Still, Republicans signaled that after weeks of calling for a vote on the inquiry, they would oppose the resolution en masse.

“We will not legitimize the Schiff/Pelosi sham impeachment,” Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the minority leader, said in a tweet.

Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said Ms. Pelosi was “finally admitting what the rest of America already knew — that Democrats were conducting an unauthorized impeachment proceeding, refusing to give the president due process, and their secret, shady, closed door depositions are completely and irreversibly illegitimate.”

Democrats said their inquiry has been proper from the start. Ms. Pelosi reiterated what Democrats have argued for weeks and a Federal District Court judge ruled last week: that they did not need a formal vote of the full House to start a legitimate inquiry. (The Justice Department separately announced Monday it would appeal the ruling handed down Friday.)

So far, the work of the impeachment inquiry has mostly been done out of public view, with staff for Democrats and Republicans questioning a growing roster of diplomats and other administration officials in the closed chambers of the House Intelligence Committee. Democrats are pleased with the portrait they have assembled of a president who bypassed the normal channels of diplomacy to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and unproven theories that could exonerate Russia from aiding his campaign in 2016 and implicate Democrats in interfering in the election instead.

That work was briefly interrupted on Monday, when Charles M. Kupperman, the former deputy national security adviser, defied a House subpoena for testimony, drawing Mr. Schiff’s ire. The White House said on Friday that Mr. Kupperman, as one of the president’s “closest confidential” advisers, was 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.

Mr. Schiff conceded that the White House would most likely try to invoke similar privilege to try to block other crucial 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.

“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.”

As many as five more officials are expected to testify in closed session this week, including Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, who is scheduled to appear on Tuesday and plans to detail his concerns about Mr. Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

But if they are going to convince the public — and potentially some Republicans — that Mr. Trump’s behavior warrants making him only the third president in American history to be impeached, they know they will have to secure clear and damning testimony out in the open, before rolling television cameras, where the facts are not filtered through the news media and selectively leaked.

Democrats described the vote as a necessary step to do just that.

“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 her letter.

Though aides for several committees were still drafting the resolution Monday evening, the rough outlines of the next phase of the inquiry began to come into view.

After it wraps up its closed witness depositions in the coming weeks, the House Intelligence Committee will begin to hold public hearings with key witnesses, such as Gordon D. Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union; Fiona Hill, a former top White House adviser; and William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine.

The rules will allow for the committee’s staff aides to question witnesses directly during public hearings, according to an official working on the inquiry who described the measure on condition of anonymity because it had yet to be made public.

When the panel concludes its fact finding, Mr. Schiff will transmit raw evidence and, potentially, a written report on his findings to the House Judiciary Committee, the venue where presidential impeachment articles have traditionally been drafted and debated. In that sense, Mr. Schiff could play a role roughly akin to Ken Starr, the independent counsel who presented the results of his investigation into President Bill Clinton to the committee in 1998 as it weighed impeachment.

The Judiciary Committee would then be responsible for convening hearings to consider additional evidence, draft articles of impeachment and vote on whether to recommend them to the full House. It is at that stage when Democrats appear poised to give Mr. Trump and his legal team a chance to offer input on the case. It was not clear Monday evening how far they would go in granting them the right to call or cross-examine witnesses, as lawyers for Mr. Clinton and President Richard M. Nixon were allowed to do in earlier proceedings.

Charlie Savage contributed reporting.

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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.”

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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.

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