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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 138)

Kurds Reported to Be Pulling Out of Syria ‘Safe Zone’ as Fighting Eases

ISTANBUL — Kurdish forces began pulling out of a 20-mile buffer zone in northern Syria as fighting eased on Friday, Turkish and American officials said, signaling that a cease-fire announced a day before by Vice President Mike Pence between Turkish and Kurdish forces was going into force.

Early Friday, the Kurdish leadership in northern Syria accused the Turkish military and its proxies of violating the terms of the truce, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey denied that any fighting was continuing.

Mr. Erdogan said his military commander had reported everything was going as planned. The onus, he added, remained with the United States to ensure the Kurdish militias withdrew within the agreed five-day period.

“If the United States can keep its promise, in 120 hours the issue of the safe zone will be resolved,” he told Western reporters at a news briefing in Istanbul. “If not the operation will continue where we left off.”

Gunfire and artillery could be heard in the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain, the scene of the heaviest fighting for the last few days, by journalists just across the border in Turkey Friday morning and afternoon. But the town stood silent by Friday evening.

Mr. Erdogan hailed the withdrawal as a victory over a “terrorist organization,” and said that Turkey would establish 12 observation points in 20-mile deep buffer zone along a 400 kilometer stretch of the border east of the Euphrates River.

American troops would remain in southeastern Syria and would maintain control of the airspace of the entire northeastern zone, said Ibrahim Kalin, national security adviser to Mr. Erdogan.

Mr. Trump posted on Twitter Friday evening that Mr. Erdogan had told him in a phone call that “there was minor sniper and mortar fire that was quickly eliminated.”

“He very much wants the cease-fire, or pause, to work. Likewise, the Kurds want it,’’ Mr. Trump wrote. “Too bad there wasn’t this thinking years ago.”

“There is good will on both sides & a really good chance for success. The U.S. has secured the Oil, & the ISIS Fighters are double secured by Kurds & Turkey.”

He added, “I have just been notified that some European Nations are now willing, for the first time, to take the ISIS Fighters that came from their nations. This is good news, but should have been done after WE captured them. Anyway, big progress being made!!!!”

Responding to the claims that Turkey had violated the truce, Mr. Erdogan told a reporter after leaving Friday prayers at a mosque in Istanbul: “I do not know where you get your information from. Conflict is out of the question.”

In a speech later on Friday, Mr. Erdogan said Turkish forces had stopped fighting and would begin again only if Kurdish troops had not retreated by Tuesday night from Kurdish-run areas in northern Syria that have been occupied by Turkish forces in the past week.

Military positions in northern Syria as of Oct. 18

Turkish Army and Syrian opposition Syrian Army deployed Closing U.S. military bases and outposts Russian bases

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-900 Kurds Reported to Be Pulling Out of Syria ‘Safe Zone’ as Fighting Eases United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syria Ras al-Ain (Syria) Pence, Mike Kurds Defense and Military Forces

Fighting continues between

Turkish-backed militias

and Kurdish-led forces.

Turkish proxies

are in the western

countryside.

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al-Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-600 Kurds Reported to Be Pulling Out of Syria ‘Safe Zone’ as Fighting Eases United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syria Ras al-Ain (Syria) Pence, Mike Kurds Defense and Military Forces

Fighting continues between

Turkish-backed militias

and Kurdish-led forces.

Turkish proxies

are in the western

countryside.

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al-Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-335 Kurds Reported to Be Pulling Out of Syria ‘Safe Zone’ as Fighting Eases United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syria Ras al-Ain (Syria) Pence, Mike Kurds Defense and Military Forces

Fighting continues between

Turkish-backed militias

and Kurdish-led forces.

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al-Ain

KURDISH

Control

Gov’t

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer

zone

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Sources: Control areas as of Oct. 16 via Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit; Military positions for Russia are from the Institute for the Study of War. | By Allison McCann, Sarah Almukhtar, Anjali Singhvi and Jin Wu

On Thursday, Mr. Trump described the deal during a speech in Dallas as “an incredible outcome,” and wrote on Twitter that it was “great for everyone!”

But the lapse in the cease-fire represents a further failure for Mr. Trump, who had pressed Mr. Erdogan not to invade Syria in the first place, in a private letter sent to the Turkish president on the day the invasion began.

“Don’t be a tough guy,” Mr. Trump wrote, in a letter characterized by informal language rarely seen in diplomatic communications.

Mr. Erdogan responded publicly to the letter for the first time on Friday, saying that his country “cannot forget” the harshly worded letter since it was “not in harmony with political and diplomatic niceties.”

“We do not consider it as a current issue and a priority,” Mr. Erdogan added, however. “We also want it to be known that, when the time comes, the necessary response will be taken.’’

Responding to the delayed cease-fire, a White House spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, told Fox News that such conflicts “take time” to wind down and that the agreement remained a success.

Gunfire continued to be heard in Ras al-Ain midafternoon by members of a civilian convoy attempting to reach the city, according to Robin Fleming, an American researcher traveling with the convoy.

Watching the town from a nearby hilltop shortly before 1 p.m., Ms. Fleming said she could see smoke rising from the town and hear gunshots, but no artillery.

The convoy ultimately turned back before reaching the town because of fears of attack by Turkish-led Arab militias.

Turkish-led forces also prevented a convoy of international aid workers from gaining access to Ras al-Ain to treat people wounded in the fighting, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an independent war monitor based in Britain.

Ras al-Ain has been the site of the fiercest clashes since Turkish troops invaded Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria early last week.

On Friday, Kurdish health officials said they were investigating whether six civilians in the town had been hit by chemical weapons during Turkish airstrikes. Photographs shared by the Kurdish Red Crescent, a medical charity working in the area, showed at least two children with burns on their faces.

Mr. Erdogan denied the claim and said the Turkish Army had no chemical weapons in its inventory. He accused the Kurdish militia, the Y.P.G., of sowing disinformation also about civilian casualties and accusation of war crimes committed by Turkish-backed Syrian forces.

But Amnesty International, a global rights watchdog, accused the Turkish military and Arab militias fighting under its command of carrying out “serious violations and war crimes, including summary killings and unlawful attacks that have killed and injured civilians.”

In a statement, Amnesty’s secretary general, Kumi Naidoo, added: “Turkish military forces and their allies have displayed an utterly callous disregard for civilian lives, launching unlawful deadly attacks in residential areas that have killed and injured civilians.”

At least 218 civilians in northern Syria have died since the invasion began, according to the Kurdish authorities. A further 20 have been killed in Turkey by Kurdish mortar attacks, Mr. Erdogan said.

Turkey wants to force out the Syrian Kurdish militia that has used the chaos of the conflict to establish an autonomous region across roughly a quarter of Syrian territory. The militia is an offshoot of a guerrilla group that has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey. The Turks view the group as a terrorist organization.

Since 2014, the group had operated under the protection of the United States military, which partnered with the Kurdish fighters to help sweep the Islamic State from the region and, in the process, allowed the Kurdish militia to control most of the land lining the Turkish-Syrian border.

But after Mr. Trump abruptly ordered the withdrawal of United States troops from the border this month, ending their protection of the Kurdish fighters, Turkish forces invaded with the aim of establishing a Turkish-friendly zone, roughly 20 miles deep, along the border.

By Friday, the Turkish troops had captured around 850 square miles of Syrian territory, Mr. Erdogan said in his speech.

The deal announced on Thursday by Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo effectively gave American assent to Turkish territorial ambitions in part of the area, handing Turkey a huge diplomatic victory and completing the sudden reversal of a central plank of American policy in the Middle East.

It was sealed without the involvement of the Syrian or Russian governments, to whom the Kurdish authorities turned for protection after the American evacuation and the onslaught of Turkish-led forces.

On Friday, Mr. Erdogan said he would discuss the future of the rest of northeastern Syria with Vladimir V. Putin of Russia at a meeting in Sochi on Tuesday.

“Our aim is to reach a reconciliation with Russia about those matters that are reasonable and acceptable to everyone,” Mr. Erdogan said.

Hwaida Saad contributed reporting from Beirut, Lebanon and Lara Jakes from Jerusalem.

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

In ‘Cave-In,’ Trump Cease-Fire Cements Turkey’s Gains in Syria

WASHINGTON — The cease-fire agreement reached with Turkey by Vice President Mike Pence amounts to a near-total victory for Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who gains territory, pays little in penalties and appears to have outmaneuvered President Trump.

The best that can be said for the agreement is that it may stop the killing in the Kurdish enclave in northern Syria. But the cost for Kurds, longtime American allies in the fight against the Islamic State, is severe: Even Pentagon officials were mystified about where tens of thousands of displaced Kurds would go, as they moved south from the Turkey-Syria border as required by the deal — if they agree to go at all.

And the cost to American influence, while hard to quantify, could be frightfully high.

Video

Westlake Legal Group Syria-refugee-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 In ‘Cave-In,’ Trump Cease-Fire Cements Turkey’s Gains in Syria United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Syria State Department Putin, Vladimir V Pompeo, Mike Assad, Bashar al- ANKARA, Turkey

Since Turkish forces attacked Kurdish-controlled territory in northeast Syria, almost two thousand refugees have fled the country. We spoke with some of them in Bardarash refugee camp, across the border in Iraq.CreditCreditYousur Al-Hlou/The New York Times

In the 11 days between Mr. Trump’s fateful phone call with Mr. Erdogan and the trip to Ankara by Mr. Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday, the United States has ceded ground in Syria — including American bases — to the Russian-backed Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad. And it has shaken the faith of American allies that, in a time of stress, Washington will have their back.

“This just looks like a complete cave-in by the United States to everything the Turks demanded,” said Eric S. Edelman, a former ambassador to Turkey and a senior Defense Department official in the George W. Bush administration. “I don’t see what the Turks gave up.”

In fact, if the sanctions imposed against Turkey by the Trump administration are lifted, as Mr. Pence said they now would be, the Turkish leader would pay a far lower price than Russia did for its annexation of Crimea in 2014. The sanctions imposed on Moscow then are still in place.

But there are other winners in addition to Mr. Erdogan, who has routed the Kurdish groups he views as terrorists who were living in an American protectorate.

Chief among them is President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who gains vast influence in a strategic corner of the Middle East where, until 2015, he had almost none. Now, he is a player, and already is filling the territorial and political vacuum that Mr. Trump left after he agreed to get out of the way of the Turkish invasion of Syria, which a small contingent of American Special Operations forces were there to prevent by their very presence.

Iran was also a winner. It has long used Syria as a route to send missiles to Hezbollah and flex its muscles across the region. That, in many ways, is the most perplexing part of the president’s decision to withdraw, because it runs so counter to his “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran’s clerical leaders and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

And Mr. Assad, who was barely clinging to power after the Arab Spring in 2011, and whose military facilities Mr. Trump bombed in the opening months of his presidency in 2017, has a new lease on life. The Americans are gone from the one corner of his country they once occupied.

Mr. Trump has a different view — no surprise, given the bipartisan critique of his failure to stop Mr. Erdogan during their phone conversation, or threaten sanctions before the invasion, rather than after the facts had changed on the ground.

“I’m happy to report tremendous success with respect to Turkey,” Mr. Trump told reporters after his vice president and secretary of state announced the deal. “This is an amazing outcome. This is an outcome, regardless of how the press would like to damp it down, this was something they were trying to get for 10 years.”

Mr. Trump’s joy may reflect a very different worldview than that of his military, his diplomats or the Republican leaders who say he has damaged America’s reputation and influence. While his party, and Democrats, accused him of betraying allies and aiding Russia, Mr. Trump insisted he was simply making good on a campaign promise to bring troops home from “endless wars.”

On Wednesday, as Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo were flying to Ankara, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was challenging the president on whether there was any strategic logic to his withdrawal from Syria — especially if it resulted in freeing detained ISIS fighters who might now attack in the region or on the United States.

On Thursday, recounting her heated discussion with the president at the White House the previous day, she said she asked him how his strategy fit with his announcement last Friday that nearly 3,000 more troops were being deployed to Saudi Arabia. The president responded that the Saudis were paying the cost of that deployment — suggesting that Mr. Trump was happy to commit troops to the highest bidder among American allies, rather than make an independent judgment about their strategic importance.

Republicans also challenged the agreement reached in Ankara.

“The announcement today is being portrayed as a victory. It is far from a victory,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said on the Senate floor Thursday. “Given the initial details of the cease-fire agreement, the administration must also explain what America’s future role will be in the region, what happens now to the Kurds and why Turkey will face no apparent consequences.”

And Mr. Romney noted, “The cease-fire does not change the fact that America has abandoned an ally.”

At the Pentagon on Thursday afternoon, senior officials scrambled to understand how they were supposed to carry out the agreement Mr. Pence and Mr. Erdogan had negotiated.

Several civilian and military officials complained that the broadly worded deal left large policy and logistical gaps to fill, with many questions about how to carry out commitments by the two sides that appeared to contradict the fast-moving situation on the ground.

With the withdrawal of about 1,000 Americans already underway, the officials asked, how would those departing forces conduct counterterrorism operations with the Turkish military, as Mr. Pence insisted they would? Would the Syrian Kurds fully comply with a pullback agreement they had little say in drafting, and in which they were the clear losers?

Their questions did not stop there. How large and how deep is the buffer area inside Syria that was supposed to give Turkey a safe zone between its border and the Kurdish fighters? The original safe zone that the United States and Turkey envisioned was 75 miles long and roughly 20 miles deep. But it was upended by Mr. Trump’s acquiescence to the invasion, and now Turkish forces have pushed beyond that.

And what about Mr. Assad’s forces and their Russian allies — to whom the abandoned Syrian Kurds reached out to after the American abandoned them?

It also remains unknown whether Turkey will be required to withdraw all or some of its forces sent across a sovereign border into Syria. (One official said a reason Turkey agreed to the deal on Thursday is because the Kurds have put up more resistance, and Turkish forces could not advance south any farther as a result.)

Several Pentagon and State Department officials and military officers who have worked on Syria policy or deployed to the country’s northwest expressed shock, outrage and disbelief at the administration’s second major capitulation to Mr. Erdogan in less than two weeks.

These officials said Mr. Erdogan was the big winner, and appeared to have gotten everything he wanted.

Military officials said they were stunned that the agreement essentially allowed Turkey to annex a portion of Syria, displace tens of thousands of Kurdish residents and wipe away years of counterterrorism gains against the Islamic State.

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

In ‘Cave-In,’ Trump Cease-Fire Cements Turkey’s Gains in Syria

WASHINGTON — The cease-fire agreement reached with Turkey by Vice President Mike Pence amounts to a near-total victory for Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who gains territory, pays little in penalties and appears to have outmaneuvered President Trump.

The best that can be said for the agreement is that it may stop the killing in the Kurdish enclave in northern Syria. But the cost for Kurds, longtime American allies in the fight against the Islamic State, is severe: Even Pentagon officials were mystified about where tens of thousands of displaced Kurds would go, as they moved south from the Turkey-Syria border as required by the deal — if they agree to go at all.

And the cost to American influence, while hard to quantify, could be frightfully high.

Video

Westlake Legal Group Syria-refugee-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 In ‘Cave-In,’ Trump Cease-Fire Cements Turkey’s Gains in Syria United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Syria State Department Putin, Vladimir V Pompeo, Mike Assad, Bashar al- ANKARA, Turkey

Since Turkish forces attacked Kurdish-controlled territory in northeast Syria, almost two thousand refugees have fled the country. We spoke with some of them in Bardarash refugee camp, across the border in Iraq.CreditCreditYousur Al-Hlou/The New York Times

In the 11 days between Mr. Trump’s fateful phone call with Mr. Erdogan and the trip to Ankara by Mr. Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday, the United States has ceded ground in Syria — including American bases — to the Russian-backed Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad. And it has shaken the faith of American allies that, in a time of stress, Washington will have their back.

“This just looks like a complete cave-in by the United States to everything the Turks demanded,” said Eric S. Edelman, a former ambassador to Turkey and a senior Defense Department official in the George W. Bush administration. “I don’t see what the Turks gave up.”

In fact, if the sanctions imposed against Turkey by the Trump administration are lifted, as Mr. Pence said they now would be, the Turkish leader would pay a far lower price than Russia did for its annexation of Crimea in 2014. The sanctions imposed on Moscow then are still in place.

But there are other winners in addition to Mr. Erdogan, who has routed the Kurdish groups he views as terrorists who were living in an American protectorate.

Chief among them is President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who gains vast influence in a strategic corner of the Middle East where, until 2015, he had almost none. Now, he is a player, and already is filling the territorial and political vacuum that Mr. Trump left after he agreed to get out of the way of the Turkish invasion of Syria, which a small contingent of American Special Operations forces were there to prevent by their very presence.

Iran was also a winner. It has long used Syria as a route to send missiles to Hezbollah and flex its muscles across the region. That, in many ways, is the most perplexing part of the president’s decision to withdraw, because it runs so counter to his “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran’s clerical leaders and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

And Mr. Assad, who was barely clinging to power after the Arab Spring in 2011, and whose military facilities Mr. Trump bombed in the opening months of his presidency in 2017, has a new lease on life. The Americans are gone from the one corner of his country they once occupied.

Mr. Trump has a different view — no surprise, given the bipartisan critique of his failure to stop Mr. Erdogan during their phone conversation, or threaten sanctions before the invasion, rather than after the facts had changed on the ground.

“I’m happy to report tremendous success with respect to Turkey,” Mr. Trump told reporters after his vice president and secretary of state announced the deal. “This is an amazing outcome. This is an outcome, regardless of how the press would like to damp it down, this was something they were trying to get for 10 years.”

Mr. Trump’s joy may reflect a very different worldview than that of his military, his diplomats or the Republican leaders who say he has damaged America’s reputation and influence. While his party, and Democrats, accused him of betraying allies and aiding Russia, Mr. Trump insisted he was simply making good on a campaign promise to bring troops home from “endless wars.”

On Wednesday, as Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo were flying to Ankara, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was challenging the president on whether there was any strategic logic to his withdrawal from Syria — especially if it resulted in freeing detained ISIS fighters who might now attack in the region or on the United States.

On Thursday, recounting her heated discussion with the president at the White House the previous day, she said she asked him how his strategy fit with his announcement last Friday that nearly 3,000 more troops were being deployed to Saudi Arabia. The president responded that the Saudis were paying the cost of that deployment — suggesting that Mr. Trump was happy to commit troops to the highest bidder among American allies, rather than make an independent judgment about their strategic importance.

Republicans also challenged the agreement reached in Ankara.

“The announcement today is being portrayed as a victory. It is far from a victory,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said on the Senate floor Thursday. “Given the initial details of the cease-fire agreement, the administration must also explain what America’s future role will be in the region, what happens now to the Kurds and why Turkey will face no apparent consequences.”

And Mr. Romney noted, “The cease-fire does not change the fact that America has abandoned an ally.”

At the Pentagon on Thursday afternoon, senior officials scrambled to understand how they were supposed to carry out the agreement Mr. Pence and Mr. Erdogan had negotiated.

Several civilian and military officials complained that the broadly worded deal left large policy and logistical gaps to fill, with many questions about how to carry out commitments by the two sides that appeared to contradict the fast-moving situation on the ground.

With the withdrawal of about 1,000 Americans already underway, the officials asked, how would those departing forces conduct counterterrorism operations with the Turkish military, as Mr. Pence insisted they would? Would the Syrian Kurds fully comply with a pullback agreement they had little say in drafting, and in which they were the clear losers?

Their questions did not stop there. How large and how deep is the buffer area inside Syria that was supposed to give Turkey a safe zone between its border and the Kurdish fighters? The original safe zone that the United States and Turkey envisioned was 75 miles long and roughly 20 miles deep. But it was upended by Mr. Trump’s acquiescence to the invasion, and now Turkish forces have pushed beyond that.

And what about Mr. Assad’s forces and their Russian allies — to whom the abandoned Syrian Kurds reached out to after the American abandoned them?

It also remains unknown whether Turkey will be required to withdraw all or some of its forces sent across a sovereign border into Syria. (One official said a reason Turkey agreed to the deal on Thursday is because the Kurds have put up more resistance, and Turkish forces could not advance south any farther as a result.)

Several Pentagon and State Department officials and military officers who have worked on Syria policy or deployed to the country’s northwest expressed shock, outrage and disbelief at the administration’s second major capitulation to Mr. Erdogan in less than two weeks.

These officials said Mr. Erdogan was the big winner, and appeared to have gotten everything he wanted.

Military officials said they were stunned that the agreement essentially allowed Turkey to annex a portion of Syria, displace tens of thousands of Kurdish residents and wipe away years of counterterrorism gains against the Islamic State.

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

On Day 1,001, Trump Made It Clear: Being ‘Presidential’ Is Boring

Westlake Legal Group 18dc-memo1-facebookJumbo On Day 1,001, Trump Made It Clear: Being ‘Presidential’ Is Boring Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Trump National Doral Miami (Doral, Fla) Syria impeachment Group of Seven Conflicts of Interest

DALLAS — At one point during one of his most unpresidential of days, President Trump insisted that he knew how to be presidential.

“It’s much easier being presidential, it’s easy,” he told a stadium full of more than 20,000 boisterous supporters in MAGA hats and T-shirts cheering his every word on Thursday night. “All you have to do is act like a stiff.”

He buttoned his suit coat, pursed his lips, squared his shoulders and dropped his arms rigidly at his sides. “Ladies and gentlemen of Texas,” he then droned in a sleep-inducing staccato monotone the way he imagined most of the other 44 presidents had done. “It is a great honor to be with you this evening.”

The crowd loved it, roaring with laughter. Transforming back into the unpresidential president America has come to know, Mr. Trump added, “And everybody would be out of here so fast! You wouldn’t come in in the first place!” Being presidential, he was saying, is so boring. Who wants that?

After 1,000 days in office, Mr. Trump has redefined what it means to be presidential. On the 1,001st day of his tenure, which was Thursday, all pretense of normalcy went out the window. It was a day when he boasted of saving “millions of lives” by temporarily stopping a Middle East war that he effectively allowed to start in the first place, then compared the combatants to children who had to be allowed to slug each other to get it out of their system.

It was a day when he announced without any evident embarrassment that officials of the federal government that answers to him had scoured the country for a site for next year’s Group of 7 summit meeting and determined that the perfect location, the very best site in all the United States, just happened to be a property he owned in Florida.

It was a day when he sent out his top aide, an adviser who has served as “acting” White House chief of staff for nearly 10 months without ever being granted the respect of earning the title outright, to try to quell the whole impeachment furor, only to have him essentially admit the quid pro quo that the president had so adamantly denied.

It was a day that ended with a rally where one of the warm-up acts, the Texas lieutenant governor, declared that liberals “are not our opponents, they are our enemy,” and the president called the speaker of the House “crazy,” a rival candidate “very dumb,” a House committee chairman a “fraud” and the governor of another state a “crackpot.”

After 1,000 days of the Trump Show, the capacity for surprise has long since diminished and comments or actions that would have sparked days of front-page coverage and howls from Capitol Hill now barely register. The shocker that consumed Twitter three hours ago is so quickly overwhelmed by the next one that it seems impossible to digest any single moment to assess its meaning or consequences.

“Unconventional” was the word the president himself used repeatedly on Thursday.

He used it specifically to describe his let-them-go-to-war policy with respect to two American allies, Turkey and the Kurds, followed by a cease-fire days later. All part of the plan, he assured Americans. Just a little “tough love” to get the two sides to resolve their differences.

Never mind that their differences are nowhere near solved, even as bodies are strewn in northern Syria, Kurds are forced out of their homes and Russia, Iran, Bashar al-Assad and even the Islamic State are celebrating.

“We were a little bit unconventional,” Mr. Trump explained, offering his foreign policy doctrine in a setting that was itself a little bit unconventional, a Louis Vuitton workshop near Keene, Texas, where they make Parisian bags while cattle graze outside. The president had stopped by in between a Fort Worth fund-raiser and his Dallas rally to cut the ribbon on the new factory as a favor to Bernard Arnault, the luxury industry giant, bringing French sensibility to the Lone Star State.

“Louis Vuitton — a name I know very well,” Mr. Trump said to laughter, even as he mispronounced the name he knows well. “It cost me a lot of money over the years.”

Fortunately for him, his Trump National Doral near Miami will soon have plenty of new business as the leaders of not just France but also Germany, Britain, Canada, Italy and Japan — and maybe Russia — will descend on the club next spring along with thousands of officials, diplomats, journalists and others who attend each year’s G7 summit meeting.

Mr. Trump left it to his staff to announce the selection, as if it were somehow an independent decision, and they insisted that he actually would not make money because he would provide the property “at cost.” The notion that it might make the United States look like all those countries it used to lecture about self-dealing was of no concern. The president knew it would be controversial, his top aide said, and boldly went ahead anyway regardless of the anticipated blowback, as if it were an act of political courage.

By now, the notions of what is presidential and what is unconventional have taken on new meaning, long since divorced from anything that came before. On the 1,001st day of the Trump presidency, he charged forward, writing new rules for himself and the country.

If to the outside world it looked like his presidency was unraveling and the president himself melting down, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week, to Mr. Trump, it was just another day in the never-ending battle with convention.

The chief narrator of the battle, of course, remains its chief protagonist. At the American Airlines Center on Thursday night, Mr. Trump once again relived election night 2016, probably the high point of his political life, casting it as a moment of miracles for himself and the nation, before the scandals and the special prosecutor and the impeachment inquiry.

He replayed the primary fight with Senator Ted Cruz, who was standing off to the side of the stadium, recalling their debates for the Republican nomination. “You can’t beat Ted Cruz if you don’t interrupt him,” Mr. Trump offered by way of a political lesson.

He replayed the general election fight with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, still one of his favorite punching bags. “Remember the emails?” he called out to the crowd. Yes, they remembered.

And then, as he often does, he recreated election night itself as it played out on television nearly three years ago. “Donald Trump has won the state of Utah,” Donald Trump boomed in his best news anchor voice. Then he went on in his own voice: “And we won Florida! And we won South Carolina! And we won Georgia! And we won North Carolina! And we won Pennsylvania!”

For an hour and twenty-seven minutes, he went on with all the winning — winning against Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton and China and the “fake news” and the “radical left,” offering his greatest hits spliced with enough untrue whoppers to keep fact checkers busy for days. He soaked in the applause, in no hurry to head back to Washington where investigators and enemies awaited.

He has been doing this now for 1,001 days. Whether it will last another thousand days or nearly another thousand beyond that remains unclear. But his presidency, so unpresidential and unconventional, is definitively his. “I’ve been a politician for three years,” he exclaimed. “I can’t believe that.”

On that, at least, he was not alone.

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

15 Times Trump and His Allies Claimed ‘No Quid Pro Quo’

Westlake Legal Group 17dc-quidproquo-facebookJumbo-v2 15 Times Trump and His Allies Claimed ‘No Quid Pro Quo’ United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2020 Mulvaney, Mick

WASHINGTON — It was not the message that the White House and its supporters have been trying to hammer home in recent weeks as the impeachment investigation has intensified on Capitol Hill: Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, said Thursday that President Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine in part to pressure Kiev to pursue a politically motivated investigation into the 2016 election.

His comments — even after he issued a statement walking back his remarks — undercut weeks of denials from Mr. Trump, his aides, Republican lawmakers and the conservative news media that the president was seeking a quid pro quo in his dealings with the new Ukrainian president. Some of their statements were focused on a July 25 phone call between Mr. Trump and the president of Ukraine in which Mr. Trump repeatedly brought up his desire for investigations into political rivals. Others touched specifically on Mr. Trump’s decision in July to hold up the $391 million package of security aid to Ukraine, a development that government officials there said they only learned about at the end of August.

OCT. 16, 2019

“Now, all of a sudden, quid pro quo doesn’t matter because now they see, in the call, there was no quid pro quo.”
— In remarks at the White House

The New York Times also found several other instances of Mr. Trump proclaiming “no quid pro quo” on Twitter, in remarks to reporters, in news conferences and at political rallies.


oct. 3, 2019

“Contrast that with the president’s — the transcript of the president’s phone call with President Zelensky where there was no quid pro quo. There was no pressure.”
In remarks to reporters


Oct. 3, 2019

“What we do know is there was definitely no quid pro quo. I mean, it came out over and over.”
In remarks to reporters


Oct. 13, 2019

“In the Oval Office, when the president was asked about this in front of the vice premier, the president made very clear, they can do what they want. So, again, people who are trying to imply that the president is asking for things or quid pro quos, I think this is ridiculous.”
In an interview on ABC


Oct. 4, 2019

“And it’s not a difference of opinion. Any rational person looking at it, any reasonable person, can only conclude that there was no quid pro quo. There was no threat of any kind.”
— on Fox News


Sept. 28, 2019

“And as the president said, this was a perfect call. The Ukrainian president said on live TV the other day, up at the United Nations General Assembly, that he felt no pressure. And, in fact, if you read what’s there, you see what’s not there — no quid pro quo.”

In an interview on Fox News


Sept. 26, 2019

“There was no quid pro quo. There was no issue about finally getting the military assistance. And he thanked us. The Ukrainian president thanked us for our support on his anticorruption campaign.”
In an interview on Fox News


Oct. 14, 2019

“And I think a lot of these members in swing districts are hearing that, hey, you ran saying you were going to work with people to get things done and all you’re focused on is impeaching the president over a lie about quid pro quo that never even happened. What are you people doing up there?”

In an interview on Fox Business Network


Oct. 14, 2019

“President Zelensky had no idea that there was a hold on aid during the July 25th call. The readouts of the July 25th call on both the Ukraine side and the U.S. side mention nothing about a hold on aid or a quid pro quo. July 26th, the day after that phone call, Ambassador Volker met with President Zelensky. During that meeting, there was no reference to a hold on aid or a quid pro quo.”
In remarks to reporters


Oct. 13, 2019

“There was no quid pro quo in the — in the phone conversation. So, no doubt that the haters are going to hate.”
In an interview on CNN


Oct. 13, 2019

“I think that was good because a lot what the Democrats had been raising, alleging an illegal quid pro quo was not, in fact, backed up by the transcript.”
In an interview with CBS


Oct. 8, 2019

“If they would release the transcript from Ambassador Volker’s testimony and interview last week, you would see that Ambassador Volker backs up exactly what you just said. There was no quid pro quo.”
— During an interview on Fox News


Oct. 6, 2019

“Every Democratic member of the House needs to be on record: Do you agree with Nancy Pelosi that the transcript is enough to impeach President Trump? Remember when Pelosi said that the transcript would show a quid pro quo? It doesn’t.”
In an interview on Fox Business Network


Oct. 8, 2019

“But more so, what is so disgusting is the fact that the Democrats continue to try to build up this narrative on, well, there was a quid pro quo when the call — when the call happened. They just jumped the gun without facts, without being credible.”
— In an interview on Fox Business Network


Oct. 2, 2019

“Well, right. But this doesn’t have anything to do with the 2020 election and the president was very clear about that and that wasn’t in the call. What else wasn’t in the call was the quid pro quo.”
In an interview on Fox News

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Read Mulvaney’s Conflicting Statements on Quid Pro Quo

Westlake Legal Group 17dc-mulvaneytranscript-facebookJumbo Read Mulvaney’s Conflicting Statements on Quid Pro Quo United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Mulvaney, Mick

Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s acting chief of staff, answered questions on Thursday about Mr. Trump’s interactions with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine that are at the center of an impeachment inquiry. Mr. Mulvaney said the United States withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate what the president has long insisted was Kiev’s assistance to Democrats during the 2016 election. Mr. Mulvaney’s remarks, which he later said were misconstrued, undercut Mr. Trump’s own insistence that there was no quid pro quo with Mr. Zelensky.

Around 1 p.m. Eastern time

QUESTION: So the demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he ordered to withhold funding to Ukraine?

MULVANEY: The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation, and that is absolutely appropriate.

QUESTION: Withholding the funding?

MULVANEY: Yeah, which ultimately then flowed. By the way, there was a report that we were worried that the money wouldn’t — if we didn’t pay out the money it would be illegal, okay? It would be unlawful.

____________

QUESTION: But to be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo. It is, funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened as well.

MULVANEY: We do — we do that all the time with foreign policy. We were holding up money at the same time for, what was it, the Northern Triangle countries. We were holding up aid at the Northern Triangle countries so that they — so that they would change their policies on immigration.

____________

MULVANEY: And I have news for everybody. Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy.

____________

QUESTION: But — wait. No, no. On the call, the president did ask about investigating the Bidens. Are you saying that the money that was held up, that that had nothing to do with the Bidens? And you’re —

MULVANEY: Yeah. No, the money held up had absolutely nothing to do with Biden. There’s no — and that was the point I made to you.

QUESTION: — And you’re drawing the distinction? You’re saying that it would be wrong to hold up money for the Bidens —

MULVANEY: — There were three — three factors. Again — I was involved with the — the process by which the money was held up temporarily, okay? Three issues for that: the corruption in the country, whether or not other countries were participating in the support of the Ukraine, and whether or not they were cooperating in an ongoing investigation with our Department of Justice. That’s completely legitimate.

____________

QUESTION: You just said you were involved in the process in which — you know, the money being held up temporarily. You named three issues for that —

MULVANEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: — The corruption in the country, whether or not the country would look — they were assisting with an ongoing investigation of corruption. How is that not an establishment of an exchange, of a quid pro quo? You just seem to continue to be establishing this —

MULVANEY: Those are the terms that you used. I mean, go look at what Gordon Sondland said today in his — in his testimony. It was that — I think in his opening statement he said something along the lines of they were trying to get the — the deliverable. And the deliverable was a statement by the Ukraine about how they were going to deal with corruption, okay? Go read his testimony if you haven’t already. And what he says is, and he’s right, that’s absolutely ordinary course of business. This is — this is what you do when you have someone come to the White House, when you either arrange a visit for the president, you have a phone call with the president, a lot of times we use that as the opportunity to get them to make a statement of their policy or to announce something that they’re going to do. It’s one of the reasons we can’t, you know, you can sort of announce that at — he — on the phone call or at the meeting. This is the ordinary course of foreign policy.


5:52 p.m. Eastern time

“Once again, the media has decided to misconstrue my comments to advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump. Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election. The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server.

“The only reasons we were holding the money was because of concern about lack of support from other nations and concerns over corruption. Multiple times during the more than 30-minute briefing where I took over 25 questions, I referred to President Trump’s interest in rooting out corruption in Ukraine, and ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly and appropriately.

“There was never any connection between the funds and the Ukrainians doing anything with the server — this was made explicitly obvious by the fact that the aid money was delivered without any action on the part of the Ukrainians regarding the server.

“There never was any condition on the flow of the aid related to the matter of the D.N.C. server.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

It emerged as Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told reporters that the Trump administration withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate whether Kiev helped the Democrats during the 2016 election, an unsubstantiated theory that the president has long espoused. But hours later, Mr. Mulvaney denied what he had said earlier, charging that the news media had misreported his account despite the fact that his words were captured on camera.

“Let me be clear,” Mr. Mulvaney said in his statement backing away from remarks he had made at a news conference. “There was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election,” he said.

Mr. Mulvaney also said there had been nothing wrong with Mr. Trump relying on Mr. Giuliani to conduct foreign policy.

“That’s the president’s call,” he said. “You may not like the fact that Giuliani was involved. That’s great, that’s fine. It’s not illegal, it’s not impeachable.”

Yet Mr. Mulvaney’s public admission, however muddled, and Mr. Sondland’s private testimony confirmed central elements of the saga at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, which is focused on a shadow diplomatic campaign, carried out by Mr. Giuliani at Mr. Trump’s direction, to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Democrats.

Some lawmakers who heard it said Mr. Sondland’s story appeared meant to insulate him from blame. As she emerged from the first two hours of questioning, Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California and a member of the Intelligence Committee, called his remarks “a lot of C.Y.A.” Others said he repeatedly said he could not remember details of relevant events.

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

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

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

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

But he presented a more complicated account, describing himself as a well-meaning and at times unwitting player who was trying to conduct American foreign policy with Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump standing in the way. He noted several times that he had “the blessing” of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. And he said if White House officials considered his actions inappropriate, as a former top National Security Council testified earlier this week that she did, they never raised the topic with him.

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

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

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

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

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

Subpoenas and Requests for Evidence in the Trump Impeachment Inquiry

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

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

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

Mr. Sondland said he had ultimately learned that Mr. Giuliani had singled out two topics for investigation by the Ukrainians that could benefit the president politically.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Thursday, Mr. Mulvaney at first confirmed, but later flatly denied, that the aid was held back until Ukraine agreed to investigations Mr. Trump wanted.

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

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Mulvaney Says, Then Denies, That Trump Held Back Ukraine Aid as Quid Pro Quo

Westlake Legal Group 17dc-impeachbriefing-mulvaney-facebookJumbo-v2 Mulvaney Says, Then Denies, That Trump Held Back Ukraine Aid as Quid Pro Quo United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2016 Mulvaney, Mick impeachment

WASHINGTON — Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, said Thursday that the Trump administration withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate what the president has long insisted was Kiev’s assistance to Democrats during the 2016 election.

The declaration by Mr. Mulvaney — which he then took back later in the day — undercut Mr. Trump’s repeated denials of a quid pro quo that linked American military aid for Ukraine to investigations that could help him politically.

Mr. Trump had pushed Ukraine to open an investigation into an unsubstantiated theory that Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for hacking Democratic Party emails in 2016 — a theory that would show that Mr. Trump was elected president without Russian help.

A former White House homeland security adviser had told Mr. Trump that the theory had been “completely debunked.” But Mr. Trump demanded that Ukraine take a look, Mr. Mulvaney said.

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

Mr. Mulvaney’s acknowledgment of a tie between military aid and a political investigation came as House Democrats were summoning a stream of witnesses to the Capitol to investigate whether Mr. Trump had pressured Ukraine for his personal political benefit in 2020. Mr. Mulvaney effectively threw the Republican defense of the president into disarray.

Democrats called Mr. Mulvaney’s comments a potential turning point in their impeachment inquiry. “We have a confession,” said Representative Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California.

By day’s end, Mr. Mulvaney had issued a statement flatly denying what he had earlier said at a briefing for reporters in the White House.

“Once again, the media has decided to misconstrue my comments to advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump,” he wrote. “Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election. The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server.”

But in his earlier remarks to reporters, Mr. Mulvaney pointed to “three issues” that explained why officials withheld the aid: corruption in Ukraine, frustration that European governments were not providing more money to Ukraine and the president’s demand that Kiev officials investigate the issue of the Democratic National Committee server.

“Did he also mention to me in passing the corruption related to the D.N.C. server?” Mr. Mulvaney said, referring to Mr. Trump. “Absolutely. No question about that.” He added, “That’s why we held up the money.”

Democrats ridiculed the reversal.

“Mick Mulvaney was either lying then, or he’s lying now,” said Representative Ted Lieu, a California Democrat involved in the inquiry. “I think he’s lying now.”

At the White House, staff members recognized that Mr. Mulvaney had created an entirely new controversy with his remarks. Jay Sekulow, one of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers, said Thursday, “The president’s legal counsel was not involved in acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s press briefing.”

Mr. Mulvaney’s performance headlined another extraordinary day in Mr. Trump’s presidency. Mr. Mulvaney made his remarks after he stepped before the cameras to announce that the leaders of the Group of 7 nations would meet in June at Mr. Trump’s golf resort in South Florida, even as he acknowledged the choice could be seen as self-enrichment. In Texas, Mr. Trump hailed a Middle East cease-fire that would cement Turkey’s goal of pushing Kurds from Northern Syria as “a great day for civilization.”

And on Capitol Hill, Gordon D. Sondland, the president’s ambassador to the European Union and a wealthy donor to Mr. Trump’s campaign, was implicating the president in the Ukraine scandal by telling lawmakers that Mr. Trump had delegated Ukraine policy to his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Mr. Sondland testified behind closed doors for more than six hours, the latest in a series of current and former diplomats and White House aides who have provided detailed accounts of actions by Mr. Giuliani and others related to Ukraine.

Democratic lawmakers are certain to seize on Mr. Mulvaney’s comments as crucial support of the testimony coming from other witnesses, who have accused the administration of improperly pressuring Ukraine and of sidelining veteran diplomats in favor of Mr. Trump’s political loyalists.

But Mr. Mulvaney was defiant and unapologetic at the suggestion that there was anything wrong with the president’s relying on political loyalists to conduct foreign policy.

“I have news for everybody: Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy,” he said, adding, “Elections have consequences.”

In wide-ranging remarks, Mr. Mulvaney told reporters at the White House that the $391 million in military aid was initially withheld from Ukraine because the president was displeased that European countries were not as generous with their assistance. He also wanted more attention paid to Ukraine’s persistent political corruption.

Mr. Mulvaney denied that the aid for Ukraine was also contingent on its government’s opening an investigation into either former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading Democratic candidate for president, or his younger son, Hunter Biden. Asked whether he did anything to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, Mr. Mulvaney said no.

But the president did pressure Ukraine to re-examine discredited theories that Ukraine, not Russia, had worked to sway the 2016 campaign. Mr. Mulvaney’s mention of a “D.N.C. server” was a reference to an unfounded conspiracy theory promoted by Mr. Trump that Ukraine was somehow involved in Russia’s 2016 theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Mr. Mulvaney tied the server to the Justice Department’s review of the origins of the Russia investigation, led by the United States attorney in Connecticut, John H. Durham, and closely overseen by Attorney General William P. Barr.

“That’s an ongoing investigation,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “So you’re saying the president of the United States, the chief law enforcement person, cannot ask somebody to cooperate with an ongoing public investigation into wrongdoing? That’s just bizarre to me that you would think that you can’t do that.”

But while the Justice Department said last month that Mr. Durham was examining any role that Ukraine might have played in the early stages of the Russia investigation, a department official declined on Thursday to comment on whether he was examining the server conspiracy theory.

Russian military officers hacked Democratic servers to steal thousands of emails in 2016, the intelligence community and the special counsel found, and no one has uncovered evidence of Ukrainian involvement.

Justice Department officials were confused and angry when they heard that Mr. Mulvaney said the White House had frozen aid to Ukraine in exchange for help with the Durham investigation, according to a person familiar with their discussions.

“If the White House was withholding aid in regards to the cooperation of any investigation at the Department of Justice, that is news to us,” a senior Justice Department official said. Mr. Durham was seen leaving the Justice Department around midday Thursday.

Mr. Mulvaney said the president had done nothing improper and had stayed within normal diplomatic channels. He blasted the current and former administration officials who have testified in the impeachment inquiry, describing them as personally opposed to the changes in foreign policy that Mr. Trump had put in place.

“What you’re seeing now, I believe, is a group of mostly career bureaucrats who are saying, ‘You know what, I don’t like President Trump’s politics, so I’m going to participate in this witch hunt that they are undertaking on the hill.’”

Mr. Mulvaney said holding up Ukraine’s aid was a normal part of foreign policy, and he compared it to the foreign aid to Central America that the administration froze until Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras agreed to adopt the immigration policies pressed by Mr. Trump.

Asked whether he had admitted to a quid pro quo, Mr. Mulvaney said, “We do that all the time with foreign policy.”

His answer ignored the distinction — raised by many of the president’s critics — between holding up foreign aid to further American interests and holding up foreign aid to further Mr. Trump’s personal interests.

Senior White House aides like Mr. Mulvaney are often largely immune from congressional subpoenas to discuss their private conversations with the president, but talking about them publicly in such an extended way could undermine that legal protection.

Democrats had already been interested in Mr. Mulvaney’s role in the Ukraine matter after several impeachment witnesses described him as a central player in the effort to hold up the aid in the days before Mr. Trump pressed Ukraine’s president to investigate Mr. Biden.

They also have said they want to know whether Mr. Mulvaney helped prevent a White House meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky until the Ukrainian government agreed to investigate the president’s rivals, including the D.N.C. and the Bidens.

Fiona Hill, the president’s former senior director for European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council, testified that Mr. Mulvaney was part of a trio of Trump loyalists who conducted a rogue foreign policy operation in Ukraine.

Ms. Hill told lawmakers that John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, instructed her in early July to advise the National Security Council’s chief lawyer about the effort by Mr. Mulvaney, Mr. Sondland and Mr. Giuliani.

“I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Mr. Bolton told Ms. Hill to tell White House lawyers, according to two people at Ms. Hill’s deposition, which took place on Monday.

In his remarks on Thursday, Mr. Mulvaney said there was nothing wrong with Mr. Trump’s relying on Mr. Giuliani or others outside of the diplomatic corps to conduct foreign policy.

“That’s the president’s call,” he said. “You may not like the fact that Giuliani was involved. That’s great, that’s fine. It’s not illegal, it’s not impeachable.” He added, “The president gets to set foreign policy, and he gets to choose who to do so.”

Democrats are also eager to know about a May 23 meeting during which career diplomats with responsibility for Ukraine were sidelined in favor of Mr. Sondland, Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy for Ukraine; and Rick Perry, the energy secretary, one witness testified.

George P. Kent, the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, testified Tuesday that Mr. Mulvaney called the White House meeting, according to Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Democrat of Virginia, who was in the room for Mr. Kent’s testimony.

Katie Benner and Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York.

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Mulvaney Says Trump Held Back Ukraine Aid Pending Investigation of Democrats

Westlake Legal Group 17dc-impeachbriefing-mulvaney-facebookJumbo-v2 Mulvaney Says Trump Held Back Ukraine Aid Pending Investigation of Democrats United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2016 Mulvaney, Mick impeachment

WASHINGTON — Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, said Thursday that the Trump administration withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate what the president has long insisted was Kiev’s assistance to Democrats during the 2016 election.

The declaration by Mr. Mulvaney undercut Mr. Trump’s repeated denials of a quid pro quo that linked security aid for Ukraine’s battle against Russian-backed separatists to Mr. Trump’s unsubstantiated theory that a server with missing Democratic emails was being held by a company based in Ukraine.

A former White House homeland security adviser had told Mr. Trump repeatedly that the theory had been “completely debunked.” But Mr. Trump demanded Ukraine take a look, Mr. Mulvaney said.

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

He said that administration officials initially withheld the aid because “everybody knows this is a corrupt place,” and the president was demanding Ukraine clean up its own government. But, Mr. Mulvaney added, “Did he also mention to me in passing the corruption related to the D.N.C. server? Absolutely. No question about that.”

“But that’s it,” he concluded, “and that’s why we held up the money.”

With his defense of the president, Mr. Mulvaney, one of Mr. Trump’s most loyal lieutenants, effectively confirmed the main premise of the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, which is focused on a shadow diplomatic campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Democrats.

“The only thing I’ll say at this point is that Mr. Mulvaney’s acknowledgment certainly indicates that things have gone from very, very bad to much, much worse,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who is leading the impeachment inquiry.

Jay Sekulow, one of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers, said Thursday that “the president’s legal counsel was not involved in acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s press briefing.”

Mr. Mulvaney made his remarks on the same day that Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union and a wealthy donor to Mr. Trump’s campaign, implicated the president by telling lawmakers that Mr. Trump had delegated Ukraine policy to his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Mr. Sondland testified behind closed doors for more than six hours at the Capitol, the latest in a series of current and former diplomats and White House aides who have provided detailed accounts of actions by Mr. Giuliani and others related to Ukraine.

Democratic lawmakers are certain to seize on Mr. Mulvaney’s comments as crucial support of the testimony coming from other witnesses, who have accused the administration of improperly pressuring Ukraine and of sidelining veteran diplomats in favor of Mr. Trump’s political loyalists.

“We have a confession,” said Representative Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California.

In wide-ranging remarks, Mr. Mulvaney told reporters at the White House that the $391 million in military aid was initially withheld from Ukraine because the president was displeased that European countries were not as generous with their assistance. He also wanted more attention paid to Ukraine’s persistent political corruption.

Mr. Mulvaney denied that the aid for Ukraine was also contingent on its government opening an investigation into either former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading Democratic candidate for president, or his younger son, Hunter Biden. Asked whether he did anything to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, Mr. Mulvaney said “no.”

But the president did pressure Ukraine to re-examine discredited theories that Ukraine, not Russia, had worked to sway the 2016 campaign. Mr. Mulvaney’s mention of a “D.N.C. server” was a reference to an unfounded conspiracy theory promoted by Mr. Trump that Ukraine was somehow involved in Russia’s 2016 theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Mr. Mulvaney tied the server to the Justice Department’s review of the origins of the Russia investigation, led by the United States attorney in Connecticut, John H. Durham, and closely overseen by Attorney General William P. Barr.

“That’s an ongoing investigation,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “So you’re saying the president of the United States, the chief law enforcement person, cannot ask somebody to cooperate with an ongoing public investigation into wrongdoing? That’s just bizarre to me that you would think that you can’t do that.”

But while the Justice Department said last month that Mr. Durham was examining any role that Ukraine might have played in the early stages of the Russia investigation, a department official declined on Thursday to comment on whether he was examining the server conspiracy theory.

Russian military officers hacked Democratic servers to steal thousands of emails in 2016, the intelligence community and the special counsel found, and no one has uncovered evidence of Ukrainian involvement.

Justice Department officials were confused and angry when they heard that Mr. Mulvaney said the White House froze aid to Ukraine in exchange for help with the Durham investigation, according to a person familiar with their discussions.

“If the White House was withholding aid in regards to the cooperation of any investigation at the Department of Justice, that is news to us,” a senior Justice Department official said. Mr. Durham was seen leaving the Justice Department around midday Thursday.

Mr. Mulvaney said the president had done nothing improper and had stayed in normal diplomatic channels. He blasted the current and former administration officials who have testified in the impeachment inquiry, describing them as personally opposed to the changes in foreign policy that Mr. Trump had put in place.

“What you’re seeing now, I believe, is a group of mostly career bureaucrats who are saying, ‘you know what, I don’t like President Trump’s politics, so I’m going to participate in this witch hunt that they are undertaking on the hill.’”

Mr. Mulvaney said holding up Ukraine’s aid was a normal part of foreign policy, and he compared it to the foreign aid to Central America that the administration froze until Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras agreed to adopt the immigration policies pressed by Mr. Trump.

Asked whether he had admitted to a quid pro quo, Mr. Mulvaney said: “We do that all the time with foreign policy.”

His answer ignored the distinction — raised by many of the president’s critics — between holding up foreign aid to further American interests and holding up foreign aid to further Mr. Trump’s personal interests.

Senior White House aides like Mr. Mulvaney are often largely immune from congressional subpoenas to discuss their private conversations with the president, but talking about them publicly in such an extended way could undermine that legal protection.

Democrats had already been interested in Mr. Mulvaney’s role in the Ukraine matter after several impeachment witnesses described the acting chief of staff as a central player in the effort to hold up the aid in the days before Mr. Trump pressed Ukraine’s president to investigate Mr. Biden.

They also have said they want to know whether Mr. Mulvaney helped prevent a White House meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky until the Ukrainian government agreed to investigate the president’s rivals, including the D.N.C. and the Bidens.

Fiona Hill, the president’s former senior director for European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council, testified that Mr. Mulvaney was part of three of Trump loyalists who conducted a rogue foreign policy operation in Ukraine.

Ms. Hill told lawmakers that John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, instructed her in early July to advise the National Security Council’s chief lawyer about the effort by Mr. Mulvaney, Mr. Sondland and Mr. Giuliani.

“I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Mr. Bolton told Ms. Hill to tell White House lawyers, according to two people at Ms. Hill’s deposition, which took place on Monday.

In his remarks on Thursday, Mr. Mulvaney said there was nothing wrong with Mr. Trump relying on Mr. Giuliani or others outside of the diplomatic corps to conduct foreign policy.

“That’s the president’s call,” he said. “You may not like the fact that Giuliani was involved. That’s great, that’s fine. It’s not illegal, it’s not impeachable.” He added that “The president gets to set foreign policy and he gets to choose who to do so.”

Democrats are also eager to know about a May 23 meeting during which career diplomats with responsibility for Ukraine were sidelined in favor of Mr. Sondland, Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy for Ukraine, and Rick Perry, the energy secretary, one witness testified.

George P. Kent, the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, testified Tuesday that Mr. Mulvaney called the White House meeting, according to Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Democrat of Virginia, who was in the room for Mr. Kent’s testimony.

Katie Benner and Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York.

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Perry Tells Trump He Will Resign as Energy Secretary

Westlake Legal Group 17dc-perry-sub-facebookJumbo Perry Tells Trump He Will Resign as Energy Secretary United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Perry, Rick impeachment Energy Department

Rick Perry, the energy secretary who has drawn scrutiny for his role in the controversy surrounding President Trump’s efforts to push Ukraine officials to investigate the son of a political rival, on Thursday told the president he would resign from the cabinet.

The Perry resignation had been anticipated for several weeks, even before the news emerged of his involvement in efforts to pressure the new president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate a company that had worked with Hunter Biden, the younger son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

In the ensuing weeks, Mr. Perry has been drawn deeper into the questions around the pressure campaign on Mr. Zelensky, which has spurred an impeachment inquiry that threatens to engulf Mr. Trump’s presidency.

Mr. Perry told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published on Wednesday night that he was in contact with Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani about Ukraine-related matters at the direction of Mr. Trump.

It is not known exactly when Mr. Perry will leave his post, but it is expected soon. The New York Times had earlier reported he would leave by year’s end.

Mr. Perry has been instrumental in supporting what President Trump has called a policy of American “energy dominance,” which includes increasing the exports of United States fossil fuels to Ukraine and elsewhere.

As energy secretary, Mr. Perry oversaw a sharp increase in the production of fossil fuels, particularly liquefied natural gas, and promoted it with a patriotic fervor — even dubbing the fossil fuel “freedom gas” and likening its export to Europe to the United States efforts to liberate the continent from during World War II.

“The United States is again delivering a form of freedom to the European continent,” Mr. Perry told reporters in Brussels in May, according to Euractiv.com. “And rather than in the form of young American soldiers,” Mr. Perry said, “it’s in the form of liquefied natural gas.”

Mr. Perry also led a failed effort to engineer a federal bailout for struggling coal and nuclear power plants. Though the plan ultimately ran afoul of White House advisers, Mr. Perry has continued to maintain that the government still has the option of keeping aging plants operating, even as he asserted that incentives might be a better path forward.

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