web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 149)

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.”

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

Mulvaney: Trump Held Back Ukraine Aid Pending Investigation of Democrats

Westlake Legal Group 17dc-impeachbriefing-mulvaney-facebookJumbo-v2 Mulvaney: 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.

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

Trump Will Host Next G7 Summit at His Doral Resort

WASHINGTON — President Trump has decided to host the Group of 7 meeting next June at Trump National Doral, his luxury resort near Miami, the White House announced Thursday, a decision that prompted immediate questions about whether it was a conflict of interest for him to choose one of his own properties for a diplomatic event.

In discussing the choice, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s acting chief of staff, said Mr. Trump had considered the possibility of “political criticism” for picking the resort. But the president chose it anyway because administration officials had considered hotels throughout the country, and concluded that it was “by far and away, far and away, the best physical facility for this meeting,” Mr. Mulvaney said.

“‘It’s almost like they built this facility to host this type of event,’” Mr. Mulvaney told reporters, quoting what he said an unnamed official told him during the planning process. And he dismissed any suggestion that the president would profit from the choice.

Mr. Mulvaney said the hotel would put on the summit “at cost,” dismissing questions about whether Mr. Trump would profit from the choice. “The president has made it clear since he’s been here that he hasn’t profited since he’s been here,” he said.

But Representative Jerrold Nadler, the New York Democrat who leads the House Judiciary Committee, said that in hosting a summit for hundreds of world leaders and their staffs, the White House had potentially violated the emoluments clauses of the Constitution, which prohibit gifts or payments from foreign government sources.

“The administration’s announcement that President Trump’s Doral Miami resort will be the site of the next G7 summit is among the most brazen examples yet of the president’s corruption,” Mr. Nadler said. “He is exploiting his office and making official U.S. government decisions for his personal financial gain. The emoluments clauses of the Constitution exist to prevent exactly this kind of corruption.”

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

The Trump National Doral resort near Miami has struggled financially since the Trump family bought it out of bankruptcy in 2012.CreditMichele Eve Sandberg/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Holding the event at the Doral would effectively be forcing foreign government officials to pay the Trump family to stay at his resort, said Deepak Gupta, a constitutional lawyer who is already involved in two lawsuits claiming that Mr. Trump is violating the Constitution by accepting foreign government payments at his hotels.

“This is indefensible,” Mr. Gupta said. “It is as blatant as of mixing of private interests and official action that we have seen from this president.”

Mr. Mulvaney’s announcement was hardly a surprise; the president had not made it a secret that he wanted to hold the summit at his hotel. At the Group of 7 summit this year, held in Biarritz in the south of France in August, Mr. Trump suggested the resort would be a “great place” to hold next year’s meeting.

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

In the past Mr. Trump has been an aggressive promoter of the hotel. When the PGA Tour announced in 2016, while Mr. Trump was running for president, that it was moving its annual golf tournament — which had brought international attention to the resort for over five decades — to Mexico City, he reacted angrily.

“They’re moving it to Mexico City which, by the way, I hope they have kidnapping insurance,” Mr. Trump said at the time, in an interview on Fox.

But the resort has struggled financially since the Trump family bought it out of bankruptcy in 2012, reportedly paying $150 million for the property. More than $100 million in loans to help finance the project came from Deutsche Bank.

Financial documents obtained by The New York Times as part of tax appeals filed by the Trump Organization showed that the property lost $2.4 million in 2014. The Trump Organization has not disclosed profits in the past several years.

Still, the resort as of last year was the single biggest moneymaking asset, among the hotels, golf courses, office buildings and other properties owned by the Trump family. It generated $75.96 million in income in 2018, up from $74.76 million in 2017. But both of those figures are overall revenue, not profits.

Since he was elected, Mr. Trump has made a habit of visiting his own resorts and hotels, with a total of 308 days since 2017 spent at one of his properties, or about a third of his days in office.

His most frequently visited spot is his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, followed by Trump National Golf Clubs in New Jersey and Virginia. Another frequent venue has been the Trump International Hotel in Washington, which has become a magnet for Republican political events and other conferences hosted by Trump supporters.

Overall, Mr. Trump has made visits to at least 13 of his family’s revenue-generating properties since he was sworn in, including golf courses in Ireland and Scotland, according to a tally by The Times.

Previous use of Mr. Trump’s properties by the president and other federal government employees has drawn controversy, including the decision by the Air Force to send dozens of flight crews making stopovers at an airport in Scotland to the Trump Turnberry resort, where the Pentagon alone has spent $184,000 in the past two years.

The Group of 7 meeting will be held in the middle of June, the off-season for South Florida when the weather is hot and humid, and hosting a summit at the Doral will be complicated, local officials said, given the proximity of the resort to major area roads, including two right next to the resort that may need to be closed to ensure security.

“It is the middle of the metro area of Dade County,” said Rey Valdes, a Doral Police Department spokesman. “This will require a logistical feat. But with careful planning, I am confident we will be able to pull it off.”

Juan Carlos Bermudez, the mayor of Doral, did not have advance notification from the White House that the city had been picked for the Group of 7 summit. Mr. Bermudez said Thursday that he would leave questions surrounding potential conflicts of interest for the “Democrats and Republicans and pundits” to discuss.

“We are honored that it is being held here,” Mr. Bermudez said. “And the world will be able to see what Doral and South Florida are about.”

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

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

Here’s what you need to know:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video

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

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

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

Trump Will Host 2020 G7 Summit at His Doral Resort

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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

The Trump Impeachment Inquiry: Latest News

Here’s what you need to know:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video

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

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

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