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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 151)

Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote

WASHINGTON — President Trump seemed to wash his hands of the conflict between Turkey and America’s Kurdish allies in Syria on Wednesday, generating withering criticism from Republican allies, who rebuked him in a House vote. The day ended with a heated confrontation between Mr. Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump told reporters that the Turkish assault on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria that began after he pulled out American troops “has nothing to do with us.” He declared that the Kurds who battled the Islamic State alongside United States forces for years were “not angels,” but instead essentially self-interested mercenaries who fought because they were paid to.

The president’s comments triggered a strong rebuttal from fellow Republicans who accused him of abandoning friends of the United States and jeopardizing America’s leadership in the region. Mr. Trump then engaged in a sharp exchange at the White House with Democratic congressional leaders, who walked out of a meeting, complaining that he had been more offensive to them than any president in modern times.

During the meeting, according to Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Trump berated her as “a third-grade politician” and suggesting that she would be happy if communists gained influence in the Middle East. Ms. Pelosi told reporters on the White House driveway afterward that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”

Mr. Trump also dismissed his own former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who resigned last year when the president first tried to withdraw troops from Syria. When Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, began to cite Mr. Mattis, a retired Marine general, the president interjected, calling him “the world’s most overrated general,” according to a Democrat briefed on the meeting.

“You know why?” Mr. Trump said. “He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162822540_19578b24-5e6b-48ea-9341-e331f3a2bb59-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Representative Steny H. Hoyer, left and Senator Chuck Schumer at the White House on Wednesday. Ms. Pelosi told reporters that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The confrontation with the Democrats followed a series of public appearances where the president attempted to justify his decision to withdraw a small number of American troops from the border who had been serving as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkey from attacking Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The decision to pull out the troops was seen as an implicit green light to Turkey, which then launched a powerful offensive against the Kurds.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office alongside the visiting president of Italy, Mr. Trump said that the American soldiers he had ordered to pull back were no longer in harm’s way and that “they shouldn’t be as two countries fight over land.”

“That has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said, all but dismissing the Kurdish fighters. “The Kurds know how to fight, and, as I said, they’re not angels, they’re not angels,” he said.

But the president denied that he gave a green light to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey during a phone call last week, citing a letter that he wrote a few days afterward.

“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Mr. Trump said in the letter, which was dated Oct. 9 and obtained by Fox News on Wednesday and confirmed by a White House official. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.”

The president’s comments in the Oval Office and again during a later news conference in the East Room came as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, the president’s new national security adviser, were preparing to fly to Turkey in a bid to persuade Mr. Erdogan to pull back his offensive.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

Republicans and Democrats alike have denounced the president for abandoning the Kurds, who now are fighting Turkish forces in a chaotic battlefield that also has put at risk American troops pulling back from the Syrian border with Turkey. Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the small American force from the border, where they had served as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkish aggression, has been widely criticized as a signal permitting Turkey to launch its offensive.

Mr. Trump insisted his handling of the matter had been “strategically brilliant” and minimized concerns for the Kurds, implying that they allied with the United States only out of their own self-interest. “We paid a lot of money for them to fight with us,” he said. Echoing Mr. Erdogan’s talking points, Mr. Trump compared one faction of the Kurds to the Islamic State and he asserted that Kurds intentionally freed some Islamic State prisoners to create a backlash for him. “Probably the Kurds let go to make a little bit stronger political impact,” he said.

Turkey has been upset about the Kurdish presence across the border in Syria for years because the American-backed militia has ties to a Kurdish guerrilla group known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., that has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. Both Turkey and the United States consider it to be a terrorist organization. Turkey fears the Kurdish-controlled part of northern Syria could be used as a base of operations against its territory.

Mr. Trump dismissed concerns that his decision to pull back had opened the way for Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State to move into the abandoned territory and reassert their influence in the area. “I wish them all a lot of luck,” Mr. Trump said of the Russians and Syrians. Warning of a repeat of the disastrous decade-long Soviet war in Afghanistan, he added, “If Russia wants to get involved in Syria, that’s really up to them.”

Critics in both parties condemned the president’s approach. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, opened his weekly news conference by expressing his “gratitude to the Kurds,” adding, “I’m sorry that we are where we are.”

Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said that by sending Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo to Turkey, Mr. Trump was trying to fix a problem of his own creation, but too late.

“It’s very hard to understand why it is the vice president and secretary of state and others are going to talk with Erdogan and Turkey,” Mr. Romney told reporters. “It’s like the farmer who lost all his horses and goes to now shut the barn door.”

Mr. Trump got into an extended back and forth with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who has been one of the president’s closest allies but emerged as one of the sharpest opponent of his Syria decision After Mr. Trump said the Turkish-Kurdish conflict was of no interest to the United States, Mr. Graham took to Twitter to castigate the president.

“I hope President Trump is right in his belief that Turkeys invasion of Syria is of no concern to us, abandoning the Kurds won’t come back to haunt us, ISIS won’t reemerge, and Iran will not fill the vacuum created by this decision,” Mr. Graham wrote.

“However,” he added, “I firmly believe that if President Trump continues to make such statements this will be a disaster worse than President Obama’s decision to leave Iraq.”

Mr. Trump pushed back on Mr. Graham during his second meeting with reporters, saying that the South Carolina senator should be focusing on investigating the president’s Democratic opponents, including former President Barack Obama. “The people of South Carolina don’t want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, or with Syria,” Mr. Trump said. “Let them fight their own wars.”

Mr. Graham then rebutted Mr. Trump again. “With all due respect for the president, I think I’m elected to have a say about our national security that in my view,” he told reporters who relayed Mr. Trump’s remarks. “I will not ever be quiet about matters of national security.”

“And here’s what I would tell the president,” he added. “You’re doing this against sound military advice. Forget about me. Listen to your own. You’re not.”

The president’s isolation on the issue was on display in the East Room when his guest, President Sergio Mattarella of Italy, was far more critical of Turkey’s incursion than Mr. Trump was. While the president said it had nothing to do with the United States, Mr. Mattarella emphasized that “Italy, aligned with the E.U.’s position, condemns the Turkish operations.”

Even as the president washed his hands of the conflict, his vice president and secretary of state prepared to head to the region to try to stop them from fighting their own wars. Mr. Pompeo said the main goal of meeting with Mr. Erdogan was to secure a cease-fire between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

Amid reports that Turkish forces were moving near the Syrian town of Kobani, which has a large Kurdish population, Mr. Pompeo said he was given a commitment by the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that troops would not enter the town.

“We need them to stand down, we need a cease-fire, at which point we can begin to put this all back together again,” Mr. Pompeo said on Fox Business Network.

Military positions in northern Syria as of Oct. 16

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

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-900 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

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 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

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 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military 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: Times reporting; 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

“Our goal isn’t to break the relationship,” Mr. Pompeo said. “It is to deny Turkey the capacity to continue to engage in this behavior. The president said this was a bad deal, it was a bad thing; we’re working to stop it.”

Mr. Pence, who has been spending most of his time on domestic travel promoting policies like the revised trade agreement with Mexico and Canada in states being targeted by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, had scratched all foreign trips from his schedule through the end of the year. The trip to Turkey was unplanned, added at the last minute.

Mr. Pence also has a tense relationship with Mr. Erdogan. He was one of the administration’s leading advocates for the freedom of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who had been detained in Turkey for two years but was freed last fall.

“The president is seeking a cease-fire because he feels that from a humanitarian perspective, this is not good,” said Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff.

Mr. Short said that Mr. Pence had no personal relationship with Mr. Erdogan to lean on, although they had met when Mr. Erdogan visited Washington. Mr. Pence’s trip to Ankara to meet with Mr. Erdogan, he said, was “one in which the imprimatur of the vice president is important.”

Former officials described the trip as all risk for Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo and all reward for Mr. Trump. The vice president and secretary of state are now in an awkward position of being sent to stop an invasion after Mr. Trump described it as “not our problem,” while the president looks like he sent a delegation to conduct talks but will ultimately do whatever he wants.

Robert Ford, who was the last American ambassador to serve in Syria before the civil war forced the closing of the United States Embassy in 2012, said it would be counterproductive to punish Turkey to the point of driving it “further into the arms of Russia.”

He also said the United States should not be beholden to long-term interests of Kurdish fighters to carve out a state in eastern Syria, and that the Trump administration “is right to stop the mission creep in U.S. strategy in Syria.”

But given Mr. Erdogan’s widely known interests in invading the Kurdish territory, Mr. Ford said the Trump administration mishandled the delicate diplomacy. He noted that the very day that Mr. Erdogan announced the invasion, Mr. Pompeo was in the region — and could have attempted to head off the military campaign hours earlier with a quick visit to Turkey to meet officials there instead of flying back to Washington.

“The Trump administration is correct to limit our commitment in eastern Syria, but it is very clumsy in managing the policy and the rollout,” said Mr. Ford, now a fellow at the Middle East Institute and Yale University. The mission by Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo comes a full week after the invasion began. “At this late stage,” Mr. Ford said, “it is not clear what the administration can hope to salvage.”

Eileen Sullivan, Katie Rogers and Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

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

Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote

WASHINGTON — President Trump seemed to wash his hands of the conflict between Turkey and America’s Kurdish allies in Syria on Wednesday, generating withering criticism from Republican allies, who rebuked him in a House vote. The day ended with a heated confrontation between Mr. Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump told reporters that the Turkish assault on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria that began after he pulled out American troops “has nothing to do with us.” He declared that the Kurds who battled the Islamic State alongside United States forces for years were “not angels,” but instead essentially self-interested mercenaries who fought because they were paid to.

The president’s comments triggered a strong rebuttal from fellow Republicans who accused him of abandoning friends of the United States and jeopardizing America’s leadership in the region. Mr. Trump then engaged in a sharp exchange at the White House with Democratic congressional leaders, who walked out of a meeting, complaining that he had been more offensive to them than any president in modern times.

During the meeting, according to Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Trump berated her as “a third-grade politician” and suggesting that she would be happy if communists gained influence in the Middle East. Ms. Pelosi told reporters on the White House driveway afterward that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”

Mr. Trump also dismissed his own former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who resigned last year when the president first tried to withdraw troops from Syria. When Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, began to cite Mr. Mattis, a retired Marine general, the president interjected, calling him “the world’s most overrated general,” according to a Democrat briefed on the meeting.

“You know why?” Mr. Trump said. “He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162822540_19578b24-5e6b-48ea-9341-e331f3a2bb59-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Representative Steny H. Hoyer, left and Senator Chuck Schumer at the White House on Wednesday. Ms. Pelosi told reporters that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The confrontation with the Democrats followed a series of public appearances where the president attempted to justify his decision to withdraw a small number of American troops from the border who had been serving as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkey from attacking Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The decision to pull out the troops was seen as an implicit green light to Turkey, which then launched a powerful offensive against the Kurds.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office alongside the visiting president of Italy, Mr. Trump said that the American soldiers he had ordered to pull back were no longer in harm’s way and that “they shouldn’t be as two countries fight over land.”

“That has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said, all but dismissing the Kurdish fighters. “The Kurds know how to fight, and, as I said, they’re not angels, they’re not angels,” he said.

But the president denied that he gave a green light to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey during a phone call last week, citing a letter that he wrote a few days afterward.

“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Mr. Trump said in the letter, which was dated Oct. 9 and obtained by Fox News on Wednesday and confirmed by a White House official. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.”

The president’s comments in the Oval Office and again during a later news conference in the East Room came as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, the president’s new national security adviser, were preparing to fly to Turkey in a bid to persuade Mr. Erdogan to pull back his offensive.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

Republicans and Democrats alike have denounced the president for abandoning the Kurds, who now are fighting Turkish forces in a chaotic battlefield that also has put at risk American troops pulling back from the Syrian border with Turkey. Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the small American force from the border, where they had served as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkish aggression, has been widely criticized as a signal permitting Turkey to launch its offensive.

Mr. Trump insisted his handling of the matter had been “strategically brilliant” and minimized concerns for the Kurds, implying that they allied with the United States only out of their own self-interest. “We paid a lot of money for them to fight with us,” he said. Echoing Mr. Erdogan’s talking points, Mr. Trump compared one faction of the Kurds to the Islamic State and he asserted that Kurds intentionally freed some Islamic State prisoners to create a backlash for him. “Probably the Kurds let go to make a little bit stronger political impact,” he said.

Turkey has been upset about the Kurdish presence across the border in Syria for years because the American-backed militia has ties to a Kurdish guerrilla group known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., that has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. Both Turkey and the United States consider it to be a terrorist organization. Turkey fears the Kurdish-controlled part of northern Syria could be used as a base of operations against its territory.

Mr. Trump dismissed concerns that his decision to pull back had opened the way for Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State to move into the abandoned territory and reassert their influence in the area. “I wish them all a lot of luck,” Mr. Trump said of the Russians and Syrians. Warning of a repeat of the disastrous decade-long Soviet war in Afghanistan, he added, “If Russia wants to get involved in Syria, that’s really up to them.”

Critics in both parties condemned the president’s approach. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, opened his weekly news conference by expressing his “gratitude to the Kurds,” adding, “I’m sorry that we are where we are.”

Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said that by sending Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo to Turkey, Mr. Trump was trying to fix a problem of his own creation, but too late.

“It’s very hard to understand why it is the vice president and secretary of state and others are going to talk with Erdogan and Turkey,” Mr. Romney told reporters. “It’s like the farmer who lost all his horses and goes to now shut the barn door.”

Mr. Trump got into an extended back and forth with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who has been one of the president’s closest allies but emerged as one of the sharpest opponent of his Syria decision After Mr. Trump said the Turkish-Kurdish conflict was of no interest to the United States, Mr. Graham took to Twitter to castigate the president.

“I hope President Trump is right in his belief that Turkeys invasion of Syria is of no concern to us, abandoning the Kurds won’t come back to haunt us, ISIS won’t reemerge, and Iran will not fill the vacuum created by this decision,” Mr. Graham wrote.

“However,” he added, “I firmly believe that if President Trump continues to make such statements this will be a disaster worse than President Obama’s decision to leave Iraq.”

Mr. Trump pushed back on Mr. Graham during his second meeting with reporters, saying that the South Carolina senator should be focusing on investigating the president’s Democratic opponents, including former President Barack Obama. “The people of South Carolina don’t want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, or with Syria,” Mr. Trump said. “Let them fight their own wars.”

Mr. Graham then rebutted Mr. Trump again. “With all due respect for the president, I think I’m elected to have a say about our national security that in my view,” he told reporters who relayed Mr. Trump’s remarks. “I will not ever be quiet about matters of national security.”

“And here’s what I would tell the president,” he added. “You’re doing this against sound military advice. Forget about me. Listen to your own. You’re not.”

The president’s isolation on the issue was on display in the East Room when his guest, President Sergio Mattarella of Italy, was far more critical of Turkey’s incursion than Mr. Trump was. While the president said it had nothing to do with the United States, Mr. Mattarella emphasized that “Italy, aligned with the E.U.’s position, condemns the Turkish operations.”

Even as the president washed his hands of the conflict, his vice president and secretary of state prepared to head to the region to try to stop them from fighting their own wars. Mr. Pompeo said the main goal of meeting with Mr. Erdogan was to secure a cease-fire between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

Amid reports that Turkish forces were moving near the Syrian town of Kobani, which has a large Kurdish population, Mr. Pompeo said he was given a commitment by the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that troops would not enter the town.

“We need them to stand down, we need a cease-fire, at which point we can begin to put this all back together again,” Mr. Pompeo said on Fox Business Network.

Military positions in northern Syria as of Oct. 16

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

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-900 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

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 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

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 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military 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: Times reporting; 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

“Our goal isn’t to break the relationship,” Mr. Pompeo said. “It is to deny Turkey the capacity to continue to engage in this behavior. The president said this was a bad deal, it was a bad thing; we’re working to stop it.”

Mr. Pence, who has been spending most of his time on domestic travel promoting policies like the revised trade agreement with Mexico and Canada in states being targeted by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, had scratched all foreign trips from his schedule through the end of the year. The trip to Turkey was unplanned, added at the last minute.

Mr. Pence also has a tense relationship with Mr. Erdogan. He was one of the administration’s leading advocates for the freedom of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who had been detained in Turkey for two years but was freed last fall.

“The president is seeking a cease-fire because he feels that from a humanitarian perspective, this is not good,” said Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff.

Mr. Short said that Mr. Pence had no personal relationship with Mr. Erdogan to lean on, although they had met when Mr. Erdogan visited Washington. Mr. Pence’s trip to Ankara to meet with Mr. Erdogan, he said, was “one in which the imprimatur of the vice president is important.”

Former officials described the trip as all risk for Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo and all reward for Mr. Trump. The vice president and secretary of state are now in an awkward position of being sent to stop an invasion after Mr. Trump described it as “not our problem,” while the president looks like he sent a delegation to conduct talks but will ultimately do whatever he wants.

Robert Ford, who was the last American ambassador to serve in Syria before the civil war forced the closing of the United States Embassy in 2012, said it would be counterproductive to punish Turkey to the point of driving it “further into the arms of Russia.”

He also said the United States should not be beholden to long-term interests of Kurdish fighters to carve out a state in eastern Syria, and that the Trump administration “is right to stop the mission creep in U.S. strategy in Syria.”

But given Mr. Erdogan’s widely known interests in invading the Kurdish territory, Mr. Ford said the Trump administration mishandled the delicate diplomacy. He noted that the very day that Mr. Erdogan announced the invasion, Mr. Pompeo was in the region — and could have attempted to head off the military campaign hours earlier with a quick visit to Turkey to meet officials there instead of flying back to Washington.

“The Trump administration is correct to limit our commitment in eastern Syria, but it is very clumsy in managing the policy and the rollout,” said Mr. Ford, now a fellow at the Middle East Institute and Yale University. The mission by Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo comes a full week after the invasion began. “At this late stage,” Mr. Ford said, “it is not clear what the administration can hope to salvage.”

Eileen Sullivan, Katie Rogers and Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

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

Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote

WASHINGTON — President Trump seemed to wash his hands of the conflict between Turkey and America’s Kurdish allies in Syria on Wednesday, generating withering criticism from Republican allies, who rebuked him in a House vote. The day ended with a heated confrontation between Mr. Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump told reporters that the Turkish assault on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria that began after he pulled out American troops “has nothing to do with us.” He declared that the Kurds who battled the Islamic State alongside United States forces for years were “not angels,” but instead essentially self-interested mercenaries who fought because they were paid to.

The president’s comments triggered a strong rebuttal from fellow Republicans who accused him of abandoning friends of the United States and jeopardizing America’s leadership in the region. Mr. Trump then engaged in a sharp exchange at the White House with Democratic congressional leaders, who walked out of a meeting, complaining that he had been more offensive to them than any president in modern times.

During the meeting, according to Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Trump berated her as “a third-grade politician” and suggesting that she would be happy if communists gained influence in the Middle East. Ms. Pelosi told reporters on the White House driveway afterward that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”

Mr. Trump also dismissed his own former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who resigned last year when the president first tried to withdraw troops from Syria. When Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, began to cite Mr. Mattis, a retired Marine general, the president interjected, calling him “the world’s most overrated general,” according to a Democrat briefed on the meeting.

“You know why?” Mr. Trump said. “He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162822540_19578b24-5e6b-48ea-9341-e331f3a2bb59-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Representative Steny H. Hoyer, left and Senator Chuck Schumer at the White House on Wednesday. Ms. Pelosi told reporters that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The confrontation with the Democrats followed a series of public appearances where the president attempted to justify his decision to withdraw a small number of American troops from the border who had been serving as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkey from attacking Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The decision to pull out the troops was seen as an implicit green light to Turkey, which then launched a powerful offensive against the Kurds.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office alongside the visiting president of Italy, Mr. Trump said that the American soldiers he had ordered to pull back were no longer in harm’s way and that “they shouldn’t be as two countries fight over land.”

“That has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said, all but dismissing the Kurdish fighters. “The Kurds know how to fight, and, as I said, they’re not angels, they’re not angels,” he said.

But the president denied that he gave a green light to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey during a phone call last week, citing a letter that he wrote a few days afterward.

“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Mr. Trump said in the letter, which was dated Oct. 9 and obtained by Fox News on Wednesday and confirmed by a White House official. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.”

The president’s comments in the Oval Office and again during a later news conference in the East Room came as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, the president’s new national security adviser, were preparing to fly to Turkey in a bid to persuade Mr. Erdogan to pull back his offensive.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

Republicans and Democrats alike have denounced the president for abandoning the Kurds, who now are fighting Turkish forces in a chaotic battlefield that also has put at risk American troops pulling back from the Syrian border with Turkey. Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the small American force from the border, where they had served as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkish aggression, has been widely criticized as a signal permitting Turkey to launch its offensive.

Mr. Trump insisted his handling of the matter had been “strategically brilliant” and minimized concerns for the Kurds, implying that they allied with the United States only out of their own self-interest. “We paid a lot of money for them to fight with us,” he said. Echoing Mr. Erdogan’s talking points, Mr. Trump compared one faction of the Kurds to the Islamic State and he asserted that Kurds intentionally freed some Islamic State prisoners to create a backlash for him. “Probably the Kurds let go to make a little bit stronger political impact,” he said.

Turkey has been upset about the Kurdish presence across the border in Syria for years because the American-backed militia has ties to a Kurdish guerrilla group known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., that has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. Both Turkey and the United States consider it to be a terrorist organization. Turkey fears the Kurdish-controlled part of northern Syria could be used as a base of operations against its territory.

Mr. Trump dismissed concerns that his decision to pull back had opened the way for Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State to move into the abandoned territory and reassert their influence in the area. “I wish them all a lot of luck,” Mr. Trump said of the Russians and Syrians. Warning of a repeat of the disastrous decade-long Soviet war in Afghanistan, he added, “If Russia wants to get involved in Syria, that’s really up to them.”

Critics in both parties condemned the president’s approach. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, opened his weekly news conference by expressing his “gratitude to the Kurds,” adding, “I’m sorry that we are where we are.”

Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said that by sending Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo to Turkey, Mr. Trump was trying to fix a problem of his own creation, but too late.

“It’s very hard to understand why it is the vice president and secretary of state and others are going to talk with Erdogan and Turkey,” Mr. Romney told reporters. “It’s like the farmer who lost all his horses and goes to now shut the barn door.”

Mr. Trump got into an extended back and forth with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who has been one of the president’s closest allies but emerged as one of the sharpest opponent of his Syria decision After Mr. Trump said the Turkish-Kurdish conflict was of no interest to the United States, Mr. Graham took to Twitter to castigate the president.

“I hope President Trump is right in his belief that Turkeys invasion of Syria is of no concern to us, abandoning the Kurds won’t come back to haunt us, ISIS won’t reemerge, and Iran will not fill the vacuum created by this decision,” Mr. Graham wrote.

“However,” he added, “I firmly believe that if President Trump continues to make such statements this will be a disaster worse than President Obama’s decision to leave Iraq.”

Mr. Trump pushed back on Mr. Graham during his second meeting with reporters, saying that the South Carolina senator should be focusing on investigating the president’s Democratic opponents, including former President Barack Obama. “The people of South Carolina don’t want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, or with Syria,” Mr. Trump said. “Let them fight their own wars.”

Mr. Graham then rebutted Mr. Trump again. “With all due respect for the president, I think I’m elected to have a say about our national security that in my view,” he told reporters who relayed Mr. Trump’s remarks. “I will not ever be quiet about matters of national security.”

“And here’s what I would tell the president,” he added. “You’re doing this against sound military advice. Forget about me. Listen to your own. You’re not.”

The president’s isolation on the issue was on display in the East Room when his guest, President Sergio Mattarella of Italy, was far more critical of Turkey’s incursion than Mr. Trump was. While the president said it had nothing to do with the United States, Mr. Mattarella emphasized that “Italy, aligned with the E.U.’s position, condemns the Turkish operations.”

Even as the president washed his hands of the conflict, his vice president and secretary of state prepared to head to the region to try to stop them from fighting their own wars. Mr. Pompeo said the main goal of meeting with Mr. Erdogan was to secure a cease-fire between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

Amid reports that Turkish forces were moving near the Syrian town of Kobani, which has a large Kurdish population, Mr. Pompeo said he was given a commitment by the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that troops would not enter the town.

“We need them to stand down, we need a cease-fire, at which point we can begin to put this all back together again,” Mr. Pompeo said on Fox Business Network.

Military positions in northern Syria as of Oct. 16

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

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-900 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

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 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

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 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military 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: Times reporting; 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

“Our goal isn’t to break the relationship,” Mr. Pompeo said. “It is to deny Turkey the capacity to continue to engage in this behavior. The president said this was a bad deal, it was a bad thing; we’re working to stop it.”

Mr. Pence, who has been spending most of his time on domestic travel promoting policies like the revised trade agreement with Mexico and Canada in states being targeted by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, had scratched all foreign trips from his schedule through the end of the year. The trip to Turkey was unplanned, added at the last minute.

Mr. Pence also has a tense relationship with Mr. Erdogan. He was one of the administration’s leading advocates for the freedom of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who had been detained in Turkey for two years but was freed last fall.

“The president is seeking a cease-fire because he feels that from a humanitarian perspective, this is not good,” said Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff.

Mr. Short said that Mr. Pence had no personal relationship with Mr. Erdogan to lean on, although they had met when Mr. Erdogan visited Washington. Mr. Pence’s trip to Ankara to meet with Mr. Erdogan, he said, was “one in which the imprimatur of the vice president is important.”

Former officials described the trip as all risk for Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo and all reward for Mr. Trump. The vice president and secretary of state are now in an awkward position of being sent to stop an invasion after Mr. Trump described it as “not our problem,” while the president looks like he sent a delegation to conduct talks but will ultimately do whatever he wants.

Robert Ford, who was the last American ambassador to serve in Syria before the civil war forced the closing of the United States Embassy in 2012, said it would be counterproductive to punish Turkey to the point of driving it “further into the arms of Russia.”

He also said the United States should not be beholden to long-term interests of Kurdish fighters to carve out a state in eastern Syria, and that the Trump administration “is right to stop the mission creep in U.S. strategy in Syria.”

But given Mr. Erdogan’s widely known interests in invading the Kurdish territory, Mr. Ford said the Trump administration mishandled the delicate diplomacy. He noted that the very day that Mr. Erdogan announced the invasion, Mr. Pompeo was in the region — and could have attempted to head off the military campaign hours earlier with a quick visit to Turkey to meet officials there instead of flying back to Washington.

“The Trump administration is correct to limit our commitment in eastern Syria, but it is very clumsy in managing the policy and the rollout,” said Mr. Ford, now a fellow at the Middle East Institute and Yale University. The mission by Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo comes a full week after the invasion began. “At this late stage,” Mr. Ford said, “it is not clear what the administration can hope to salvage.”

Eileen Sullivan, Katie Rogers and Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

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

Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote

WASHINGTON — President Trump seemed to wash his hands of the conflict between Turkey and America’s Kurdish allies in Syria on Wednesday, generating withering criticism from Republican allies, who rebuked him in a House vote. The day ended with a heated confrontation between Mr. Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump told reporters that the Turkish assault on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria that began after he pulled out American troops “has nothing to do with us.” He declared that the Kurds who battled the Islamic State alongside United States forces for years were “not angels,” but instead essentially self-interested mercenaries who fought because they were paid to.

The president’s comments triggered a strong rebuttal from fellow Republicans who accused him of abandoning friends of the United States and jeopardizing America’s leadership in the region. Mr. Trump then engaged in a sharp exchange at the White House with Democratic congressional leaders, who walked out of a meeting, complaining that he had been more offensive to them than any president in modern times.

During the meeting, according to Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Trump berated her as “a third-grade politician” and suggesting that she would be happy if communists gained influence in the Middle East. Ms. Pelosi told reporters on the White House driveway afterward that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”

Mr. Trump also dismissed his own former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who resigned last year when the president first tried to withdraw troops from Syria. When Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, began to cite Mr. Mattis, a retired Marine general, the president interjected, calling him “the world’s most overrated general,” according to a Democrat briefed on the meeting.

“You know why?” Mr. Trump said. “He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162822540_19578b24-5e6b-48ea-9341-e331f3a2bb59-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Representative Steny H. Hoyer, left and Senator Chuck Schumer at the White House on Wednesday. Ms. Pelosi told reporters that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The confrontation with the Democrats followed a series of public appearances where the president attempted to justify his decision to withdraw a small number of American troops from the border who had been serving as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkey from attacking Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The decision to pull out the troops was seen as an implicit green light to Turkey, which then launched a powerful offensive against the Kurds.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office alongside the visiting president of Italy, Mr. Trump said that the American soldiers he had ordered to pull back were no longer in harm’s way and that “they shouldn’t be as two countries fight over land.”

“That has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said, all but dismissing the Kurdish fighters. “The Kurds know how to fight, and, as I said, they’re not angels, they’re not angels,” he said.

But the president denied that he gave a green light to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey during a phone call last week, citing a letter that he wrote a few days afterward.

“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Mr. Trump said in the letter, which was dated Oct. 9 and obtained by Fox News on Wednesday and confirmed by a White House official. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.”

The president’s comments in the Oval Office and again during a later news conference in the East Room came as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, the president’s new national security adviser, were preparing to fly to Turkey in a bid to persuade Mr. Erdogan to pull back his offensive.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

Republicans and Democrats alike have denounced the president for abandoning the Kurds, who now are fighting Turkish forces in a chaotic battlefield that also has put at risk American troops pulling back from the Syrian border with Turkey. Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the small American force from the border, where they had served as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkish aggression, has been widely criticized as a signal permitting Turkey to launch its offensive.

Mr. Trump insisted his handling of the matter had been “strategically brilliant” and minimized concerns for the Kurds, implying that they allied with the United States only out of their own self-interest. “We paid a lot of money for them to fight with us,” he said. Echoing Mr. Erdogan’s talking points, Mr. Trump compared one faction of the Kurds to the Islamic State and he asserted that Kurds intentionally freed some Islamic State prisoners to create a backlash for him. “Probably the Kurds let go to make a little bit stronger political impact,” he said.

Turkey has been upset about the Kurdish presence across the border in Syria for years because the American-backed militia has ties to a Kurdish guerrilla group known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., that has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. Both Turkey and the United States consider it to be a terrorist organization. Turkey fears the Kurdish-controlled part of northern Syria could be used as a base of operations against its territory.

Mr. Trump dismissed concerns that his decision to pull back had opened the way for Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State to move into the abandoned territory and reassert their influence in the area. “I wish them all a lot of luck,” Mr. Trump said of the Russians and Syrians. Warning of a repeat of the disastrous decade-long Soviet war in Afghanistan, he added, “If Russia wants to get involved in Syria, that’s really up to them.”

Critics in both parties condemned the president’s approach. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, opened his weekly news conference by expressing his “gratitude to the Kurds,” adding, “I’m sorry that we are where we are.”

Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said that by sending Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo to Turkey, Mr. Trump was trying to fix a problem of his own creation, but too late.

“It’s very hard to understand why it is the vice president and secretary of state and others are going to talk with Erdogan and Turkey,” Mr. Romney told reporters. “It’s like the farmer who lost all his horses and goes to now shut the barn door.”

Mr. Trump got into an extended back and forth with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who has been one of the president’s closest allies but emerged as one of the sharpest opponent of his Syria decision After Mr. Trump said the Turkish-Kurdish conflict was of no interest to the United States, Mr. Graham took to Twitter to castigate the president.

“I hope President Trump is right in his belief that Turkeys invasion of Syria is of no concern to us, abandoning the Kurds won’t come back to haunt us, ISIS won’t reemerge, and Iran will not fill the vacuum created by this decision,” Mr. Graham wrote.

“However,” he added, “I firmly believe that if President Trump continues to make such statements this will be a disaster worse than President Obama’s decision to leave Iraq.”

Mr. Trump pushed back on Mr. Graham during his second meeting with reporters, saying that the South Carolina senator should be focusing on investigating the president’s Democratic opponents, including former President Barack Obama. “The people of South Carolina don’t want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, or with Syria,” Mr. Trump said. “Let them fight their own wars.”

Mr. Graham then rebutted Mr. Trump again. “With all due respect for the president, I think I’m elected to have a say about our national security that in my view,” he told reporters who relayed Mr. Trump’s remarks. “I will not ever be quiet about matters of national security.”

“And here’s what I would tell the president,” he added. “You’re doing this against sound military advice. Forget about me. Listen to your own. You’re not.”

The president’s isolation on the issue was on display in the East Room when his guest, President Sergio Mattarella of Italy, was far more critical of Turkey’s incursion than Mr. Trump was. While the president said it had nothing to do with the United States, Mr. Mattarella emphasized that “Italy, aligned with the E.U.’s position, condemns the Turkish operations.”

Even as the president washed his hands of the conflict, his vice president and secretary of state prepared to head to the region to try to stop them from fighting their own wars. Mr. Pompeo said the main goal of meeting with Mr. Erdogan was to secure a cease-fire between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

Amid reports that Turkish forces were moving near the Syrian town of Kobani, which has a large Kurdish population, Mr. Pompeo said he was given a commitment by the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that troops would not enter the town.

“We need them to stand down, we need a cease-fire, at which point we can begin to put this all back together again,” Mr. Pompeo said on Fox Business Network.

Military positions in northern Syria as of Oct. 16

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

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-900 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

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 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

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 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military 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

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Other

opposition

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Sources: Times reporting; 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

“Our goal isn’t to break the relationship,” Mr. Pompeo said. “It is to deny Turkey the capacity to continue to engage in this behavior. The president said this was a bad deal, it was a bad thing; we’re working to stop it.”

Mr. Pence, who has been spending most of his time on domestic travel promoting policies like the revised trade agreement with Mexico and Canada in states being targeted by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, had scratched all foreign trips from his schedule through the end of the year. The trip to Turkey was unplanned, added at the last minute.

Mr. Pence also has a tense relationship with Mr. Erdogan. He was one of the administration’s leading advocates for the freedom of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who had been detained in Turkey for two years but was freed last fall.

“The president is seeking a cease-fire because he feels that from a humanitarian perspective, this is not good,” said Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff.

Mr. Short said that Mr. Pence had no personal relationship with Mr. Erdogan to lean on, although they had met when Mr. Erdogan visited Washington. Mr. Pence’s trip to Ankara to meet with Mr. Erdogan, he said, was “one in which the imprimatur of the vice president is important.”

Former officials described the trip as all risk for Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo and all reward for Mr. Trump. The vice president and secretary of state are now in an awkward position of being sent to stop an invasion after Mr. Trump described it as “not our problem,” while the president looks like he sent a delegation to conduct talks but will ultimately do whatever he wants.

Robert Ford, who was the last American ambassador to serve in Syria before the civil war forced the closing of the United States Embassy in 2012, said it would be counterproductive to punish Turkey to the point of driving it “further into the arms of Russia.”

He also said the United States should not be beholden to long-term interests of Kurdish fighters to carve out a state in eastern Syria, and that the Trump administration “is right to stop the mission creep in U.S. strategy in Syria.”

But given Mr. Erdogan’s widely known interests in invading the Kurdish territory, Mr. Ford said the Trump administration mishandled the delicate diplomacy. He noted that the very day that Mr. Erdogan announced the invasion, Mr. Pompeo was in the region — and could have attempted to head off the military campaign hours earlier with a quick visit to Turkey to meet officials there instead of flying back to Washington.

“The Trump administration is correct to limit our commitment in eastern Syria, but it is very clumsy in managing the policy and the rollout,” said Mr. Ford, now a fellow at the Middle East Institute and Yale University. The mission by Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo comes a full week after the invasion began. “At this late stage,” Mr. Ford said, “it is not clear what the administration can hope to salvage.”

Eileen Sullivan, Katie Rogers and Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

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

Bipartisan House Majority Condemns Trump for Syria Withdrawal

WASHINGTON — The House on Wednesday dealt a stinging bipartisan rebuke to President Trump for his decision to withdraw American forces just inside Syria’s border, registering overwhelming opposition in Congress to a move that has thrown the region into bloody chaos and unraveled Middle East policy.

In a rare break with a president they are normally unwilling to criticize, two-thirds of House Republicans, including all of the party’s elected leaders, joined Democrats in approving a resolution that opposed Mr. Trump’s acquiescence to the Turkish assault against the Kurds, who have been crucial American allies in the fight against the Islamic State. The measure passed, 354 to 60, in the most significant bipartisan repudiation of Mr. Trump since he took office.

It enraged the president, who lashed out at Democratic congressional leaders at the White House shortly afterward at a meeting called to discuss the incursion, which devolved into a bitter confrontation in which he hurled insults at Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she pointedly mentioned the devastating vote tally.

“He was shaken up by it,” Ms. Pelosi said of the resounding support, including by Republicans, for the resolution.

The vote unfolded only hours before Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were to travel to Ankara, Turkey, to call for a cease-fire in a battle the president appears to have greenlit.

“At President Trump’s hands, American leadership has been laid low, and American foreign policy has become nothing more than a tool to advance his own interests,” said Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, who introduced the measure. “Today we make clear that the Congress is a coequal branch of government and we want nothing to do with this disastrous policy.”

The measure, which was largely symbolic, upbraided the withdrawal as “beneficial to adversaries of the United States government” including Russia, Syria and Iran, and called on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to immediately end unilateral military action in northern Syria. A companion measure in the Senate, sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Todd Young, Republican of Indiana, was introduced on Tuesday.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Bipartisan House Majority Condemns Trump for Syria Withdrawal Van Hollen, Christopher Jr United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Terrorism Syria Paul, Rand Kurds Graham, Lindsey Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Cheney, Liz

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

Even as Mr. Trump defended his decision to pull American troops out of northern Syria, telling reporters at the White House that the battle there had “nothing to do with us,” Republicans and Democrats lined up on the House floor to denounce his action.

“Because of this decision and inaction that led up to this decision, we have let our friends down, we have hurt our national security and we have ceded leadership in the region to Russia and Iran,” said Representative Will Hurd, Republican of Texas and a former C.I.A. officer who is retiring. “I hope we can change our course, but I fear it may be too late.”

The resolution drew support from 129 Republicans including all three of the party’s House leaders, while 60 opposed it and three — Representatives Chip Roy of Texas, Jody B. Hice of Georgia and Bob Gibbs of Ohio — voted present. Representative Justin Amash, independent of Michigan, also voted present.

The resolution was not the first bipartisan rebuke by Congress of Mr. Trump’s mercurial approach to foreign policy. The president’s allies on Capitol Hill have shown they are most comfortable criticizing him on matters of international affairs, and have previously joined Democrats to denounce his administration’s unflagging support of Saudi Arabia after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist. And they declared their disapproval this year of attempts to withdraw American forces from Syria in a bipartisan effort led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader.

But Mr. Trump’s decision last week to essentially clear the way for a Turkish military operation against America’s Kurdish allies in northern Syria has provoked the strongest response yet from Republicans, including many of the president’s most reliable allies.

Mr. McConnell opened his weekly news conference on Wednesday by expressing his “gratitude to the Kurds,” and added, “I’m sorry that we are where we are.”

After Mr. Trump said Wednesday that Turkey’s invasion into Syria had nothing to do with us” and that the Kurds “are no angels,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, called it “an astonishing statement which I completely and totally reject.”

Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican, wrote on Twitter that it is “Impossible to understand why @realDonaldTrump is leaving America’s allies to be slaughtered and enabling the return of ISIS.”

Hawkish lawmakers like Ms. Cheney and Mr. Graham, as well as Democratic leaders in the House, are preparing additional legislative action to punish the Turks’ incursion. Mr. Graham introduced a sanctions package with Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, last week, that would impose harsher sanctions on Turkey than the White House has enacted, including the prohibition of American military assistance and the freezing of the American assets of Mr. Erdogan and other Turkish leaders.

Westlake Legal Group syria-turkey-promo-1571094797315-articleLarge-v3 Bipartisan House Majority Condemns Trump for Syria Withdrawal Van Hollen, Christopher Jr United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Terrorism Syria Paul, Rand Kurds Graham, Lindsey Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Cheney, Liz

4 Big Questions About Syria’s Future

The surprise American withdrawal from parts of northern Syria reshuffled old alliances and touched off a new stage of the eight-year war.

A small handful of libertarian-minded Republicans on Capitol Hill, including Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, have defended Mr. Trump’s decision as being consistent with the president’s campaign promise to end America’s intractable military conflicts.

“If we can save one American soldier from losing their life or limbs in another senseless middle eastern war, it is worthwhile,” Mr. Paul wrote on Twitter. “@realDonaldTrump knows this.”

It is unclear exactly how far congressional Republicans will go in their objections to Mr. Trump’s latest decision. Some of the president’s defenders who immediately vented their ire at the Syria withdrawal, including Mr. Graham, have since cooled their tone.

Mr. Graham, for example, released a long statement on Monday after meeting with Mr. Trump at the White House and joining a call with Mr. Erdogan.

“The president’s team has a plan and I intend to support them as strongly as possible, and to give them reasonable time and space to achieve our mutual goals,” Mr. Graham said.

Representative Michael Waltz, Republican of Florida, who had sharply criticized the withdrawal, emerged from a meeting with the White House on Tuesday sounding reassured.

“It was useful to see a lot of the promises that Erdogan made the president and to understand how forcefully the president, Secretary Esper, told the Turks across the board not to do this,” Mr. Waltz said in a brief interview, referring to Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper. Mr. Waltz added that the White House was “livid” with Mr. Erdogan.

Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo are to meet on Thursday with the Turkish president to relay Mr. Trump’s demand that Mr. Erdogan negotiate a cease-fire, and to reiterate the president’s threat to impose economic sanctions if he does not.

Mr. Trump is also set to meet with Mr. Erdogan in November at the White House. But lawmakers on Wednesday called for the president to cancel the talks.

“Erdogan’s attack on our Kurdish partners has served to liberate ISIS prisoners, bolster the Assad regime, and strengthen Russia,” said Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee. “His invitation to the White House should be revoked.”

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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Ex-Aide Saw Gordon Sondland as a Potential National Security Risk

Westlake Legal Group 16dc-sondland1-facebookJumbo Ex-Aide Saw Gordon Sondland as a Potential National Security Risk United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Pompeo, Mike Mulvaney, Mick Fiona Hill Espionage and Intelligence Services Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Bolton, John R

WASHINGTON — A former top White House foreign policy adviser told House impeachment investigators this week that she viewed Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, as a potential national security risk because he was so unprepared for his job, according to two people familiar with her private testimony.

The adviser, Fiona Hill, did not accuse Mr. Sondland of acting maliciously or intentionally putting the country at risk. But she described Mr. Sondland, a hotelier and Trump donor-turned-ambassador, as metaphorically driving in an unfamiliar place with no guardrails and no GPS, according to the people, who were not authorized to publicly discuss a deposition that took place behind closed doors.

Ms. Hill, the former senior director for European and Russian affairs at the White House, also said that she raised her concerns with intelligence officials inside the White House, one of the people said.

Mr. Sondland’s lawyer declined to comment.

In her testimony, Ms. Hill described her fears that Mr. Sondland represented a counterintelligence risk because his actions made him vulnerable to foreign governments who could exploit his inexperience. She said Mr. Sondland extensively used a personal cellphone for official diplomatic business and repeatedly told foreign officials they were welcome to come to the White House whenever they liked.

Ms. Hill said that his invitations, which were highly unusual and not communicated to others at the White House, prompted one instance in which Romanian officials arrived at the White House without appointments, citing Mr. Sondland.

Ms. Hill also testified that Mr. Sondland held himself out to foreign officials as someone who could deliver meetings at the White House while also providing the cellphone numbers of American officials to foreigners, the people said. Those actions created additional counterintelligence risks, she said.

Mr. Sondland is scheduled to meet privately with impeachment investigators himself on Thursday, despite directions from the State Department and the White House that he and other witnesses should not cooperate with an investigation because the president and his senior advisers view it as illegitimate. Mr. Sondland’s lawyer has indicated that his client will testify.

Other aspects of Ms. Hill’s explosive testimony that have been previously reported as well as details offered by other officials who have spoken to investigators put Mr. Sondland at the center of a parallel foreign policy toward Ukraine. Sidelining career experts and the former American ambassador to Kiev, Mr. Sondland, other political appointees close to the president and Mr. Trump’s private lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani sought to pressure Ukraine’s new government to open investigations into Democrats that would benefit the president politically.

Ms. Hill said that she and her boss, John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, were so concerned by what they saw that Ms. Hill alerted White House lawyers. She told the committees that Mr. Bolton wanted to make clear that he was not part of whatever “drug deal” that Mr. Sondland and Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, were crafting on Ukraine, and that on another occasion Mr. Bolton compared Mr. Giuliani to “a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.”

Ms. Hill testified that she and Mr. Bolton were moved to act after Mr. Sondland revealed during a July 10 meeting that there was an agreement with Mr. Mulvaney that Mr. Trump would meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine if his government opened the investigations the White House sought. Mr. Sondland also mentioned Burisma, the Ukrainian energy firm that had appointed Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., to its board.

A White House meeting would be a sought-after prize for Mr. Zelensky, conferring legitimacy on his new government and demonstrating American support as Ukraine battles Russian-backed separatists in its east.

Ms. Hill left the White House in July, before Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky that prompted the whistle-blower complaint that set off the Ukraine scandal.

Earlier this month, Kurt D. Volker, the former special envoy for Ukraine, produced to investigators text messages with Mr. Sondland and other American and Ukrainian officials that showed Mr. Sondland was deeply enmeshed in efforts to secure investigations from the Ukrainians that could help the president politically.

Michael S. Schmidt contributed reporting.

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Turkey-Kurd Conflict ‘Has Nothing to Do With Us,’ Trump Says

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WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday distanced the United States from the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds in Syria, saying that the conflict “has nothing to do with us.”

Mr. Trump, speaking to reporters alongside the Italian president, said the American soldiers he had ordered to pull back, and who had been fighting with Kurdish forces in northern Syria near the Turkish border, were not in harm’s way. He added that “they shouldn’t be as two countries fight over land.”

“That has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said.

“And the Kurds are much safer right now,” Mr. Trump added. Mr. Trump again defended his decision to withdraw American troops from the area. He said, “The Kurds know how to fight, and, as I said, they’re not angels.”

Even members of Mr. Trump’s own party have criticized the president’s actions to abandon the Kurds, who now are fighting Turkish forces in a chaotic battlefield that also has put at risk American troops pulling back from the Syrian border with Turkey.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Senior State Dept. Ukraine Expert Says White House Sidelined Him

Westlake Legal Group 15dc-impeach01-facebookJumbo Senior State Dept. Ukraine Expert Says White House Sidelined Him United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Kent, George P Giuliani, Rudolph W

WASHINGTON — A senior State Department official in charge of Ukraine policy told impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he was all but cut out of decisions regarding the country after a May meeting organized by Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, describing his sidelining by President Trump’s inner circle as “wrong,” according to a lawmaker who heard the testimony.

The revelation from George P. Kent, the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, emerged as he submitted to hours of closed-door testimony to the House committees investigating how President Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

Despite an edict by the White House not to cooperate with what it has called an illegitimate inquiry, Mr. Kent was one of a procession of top officials who have made the trip to the secure rooms of the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, unspooling a remarkably consistent tale. They have detailed how Mr. Trump sought to manipulate American policy in Ukraine to meet his goals, circumventing career diplomats and policy experts and inserting his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani into the process, raising alarms in the West Wing and throughout the government.

“Here is a senior State Department official responsible for six countries, one of which is Ukraine, who found himself outside of a parallel process that he felt was undermining 28 years of U.S. policy and promoting the rule of law in Ukraine,” Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Democrat of Virginia, said of Mr. Kent, after departing from the room where he was being deposed.

“And that was wrong,” Mr. Connolly said. “He used that word, ‘wrong.’”

After the May 23 meeting called by Mr. Mulvaney, Mr. Kent told investigators, he and others whose portfolios included Ukraine were edged out by Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union; Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy for Ukraine; and Rick Perry, the energy secretary, who “declared themselves the three people now responsible for Ukraine policy,” Mr. Connolly said.

The meeting occurred on the same day that Mr. Sondland, Mr. Volker and Mr. Perry urged Mr. Trump in an Oval Office briefing to support and arrange a White House meeting for the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, from whose inauguration they had just returned. It was unclear if the meeting described by Mr. Kent was the same one or another session.

Mr. Trump replied skeptically, telling the group that Ukrainian politicians are “all corrupt.” In the weeks after that, Mr. Sondland and Mr. Volker began working with Mr. Giuliani to urge Mr. Zelensky to commit to the investigations sought by Mr. Trump.

Mr. Kent said he was told at another point to “lay low” on Ukraine matters.

The accounts are trickling out even as the White House seeks to block even more information from surfacing in the impeachment inquiry. Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday defied a request by investigators for documents related to the inquiry, and the Defense Department, the Office of Management and Budget and Mr. Giuliani all gave notice that they would defy subpoenas to turn over material. All of them cited the lack of a House vote authorizing the impeachment inquiry as grounds for stonewalling.

In a sternly worded response to an unusual request for documents, Matthew E. Morgan, the counsel to the vice president, accused the committees of requesting material that is “clearly not vice-presidential records” and blasted the investigation enterprise as a “self-proclaimed ‘impeachment inquiry’” that was ultimately illegitimate.

But House Democratic leaders, who spent much of Tuesday privately polling their rank-and-file members about whether to hold such a vote — a move that could carry political risks and which they have resisted — said they were not planning one.

“There is no requirement that we have a vote,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “We’re not here to call bluffs. We’re here to find the truth.”

Mr. Kent spent more than seven hours sequestered with investigators, discussing concerns he long ago raised with State Department colleagues about the pressure being directed at Ukraine by Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani to open investigations into the president’s political rivals.

Witness interviews and public records have now confirmed key elements of an anonymous C.I.A. whistle-blower complaint that accused Mr. Trump of abusing his power to gain an advantage in the 2020 presidential election, though critical questions remain unanswered.

“Every witness we have heard thus far has corroborated the basic narrative,” said Representative Tom Malinowski, Democrat of New Jersey and a former State Department official involved in the House investigation. “At first gradually and then completely, official policy was replaced by a shadow policy run by Giuliani that had as its objective not our national interest but the president’s political interest.”

Republicans, who have pounded Democrats for not holding a vote to authorize an inquiry, kept up the pressure on Tuesday, accusing them of ignoring obvious precedent set in the two modern presidential impeachment investigations to deny Mr. Trump and his party a fair process.

Across the Capitol, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said Democrats had thrown “fairness and precedent to the wind.” And at the White House, Mr. Trump picked up a similar line of argument, accusing Democrats of “allowing no transparency at the Witch Hunt hearings.”

Republican lawmakers who participated in Mr. Kent’s questioning blasted Mr. Connolly for talking publicly about his testimony. Representative Lee Zeldin of New York claimed Mr. Connolly had only been in the questioning for “about a second, maybe it was two seconds. And he walks about, he starts telling the public what substantively happened behind closed doors.” He added: “This entire process is such a clown show.”

Mr. Connolly said he attended the questioning for more than an hour and a half.

Democrats defended their investigation, and said it was bearing fruit.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said the inquiry was being conducted behind closed doors to preserve its independence, and insisted that Republicans on the committee had been given an equal opportunity to ask questions.

Mr. Schiff said that the committees had made “dramatic progress” in understanding the July phone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky that prompted the whistle-blower complaint. And the witnesses, Mr. Schiff said, had made clear that there was a paper record that had not been provided to Congress, despite numerous subpoenas.

“The case of obstruction of Congress continues to build,” he said.

New requests for depositions continued to stack up. The committees wrote on Friday to two top officials at the White House budget office, requesting they appear next week to discuss the suspension of security aid to Ukraine, according to one of the officials. They targeted Russ Vought, the office’s acting director, and Michael Duffey, a senior Trump appointee there who was said to have helped approve orders freezing the funds. The letters to the men said merely that investigators believed they had “information relevant to these matters.”

The picture that has emerged from the private testimony that has been offered so far has been striking. First, Marie L. Yovanovitch, whom Mr. Trump abruptly removed this spring as United States ambassador to Ukraine, on Friday offered a blistering assessment of the Trump administration’s foreign policy. The president’s allies had shoved aside career diplomats, including her, in service of “false claims” by outsiders working for their own personal and political objectives, she charged.

Then on Monday, Fiona Hill, a former top White House adviser for Europe and Russia, said that she and John R. Bolton, the president’s then national security adviser, objected strenuously to what they viewed as the hijacking of relations with Ukraine by unofficial channels. In her testimony, Ms. Hill quoted Mr. Bolton as warning he would not be part of any “drug deal” between other Trump appointees and Ukraine, and calling Mr. Giuliani a “hand grenade.”

The extent of Mr. Kent’s testimony was not immediately clear, but as far back as March, people familiar with his warnings said, Mr. Kent pointed to Mr. Giuliani’s role in what he called a “disinformation” campaign intended to use a Ukrainian prosecutor to smear Mr. Trump’s adversaries. Those included former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Ms. Yovanovitch and Ukrainians who disseminated damaging information during the 2016 campaign about Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

In his voluntary appearance, Mr. Volker played down the idea that he and other presidential appointees had taken part in anything inappropriate, but he turned over a tranche of text messages with Ukrainian and American officials that showed at least some members of the diplomatic core were deeply alarmed by what they believed was happening.

Mr. Sondland, the Trump campaign donor turned ambassador who appears to be at the center of the pressure campaign, will meet investigators on Thursday.

Mr. Kent’s appearance fit an emerging pattern in which administration witnesses are instructed not to comply with the impeachment inquiry in line with a White House declaration last week that there would be a “full halt” to any cooperation, but who ultimately agree to do so. According to officials familiar with the investigation, the State Department directed Mr. Kent not to appear and sought to limit his testimony. The House Intelligence Committee then issued a last-minute subpoena ordering him to appear, and he complied.

The process was the same for Ms. Yovanovitch and Ms. Hill.

Mr. Kent’s warnings about the disinformation effort are reflected in internal State Department emails provided by the agency’s inspector general to Congress this month and obtained by The New York Times. In one, he assailed a “fake news smear” being pushed against Ms. Yovanovitch by conservative news media personalities allied with Mr. Trump. In another, he criticized the Ukrainian prosecutor who was pushing the claims about Ms. Yovanovitch and called them “complete poppycock.”

A career diplomat, Mr. Kent has served since last fall as the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. He has deep experience in Kiev, and with Ukrainian corruption specifically, having served as an anticorruption coordinator in the State Department’s European Bureau in 2014 and 2015, and then as deputy chief of mission in the United States Embassy in Kiev from 2015 until 2018.

In his earlier roles, Mr. Kent had aggressively pushed Ukrainian prosecutors to pursue investigations into Mykola Zlochevsky, an oligarch who owned a gas company that started paying Hunter Biden, the presidential candidate’s younger son, as a board member in 2014. He was pressed at length on his views of the case on Tuesday, a personal familiar with his testimony said.

When a British case against Mr. Zlochevsky for money laundering was dismissed in January 2015 for lack of evidence, Mr. Kent and others in the State Department blamed Ukrainian prosecutors. The Ukrainian prosecutors had refused to provide evidence to British prosecutors, Mr. Kent told associates, because they and other officials were being paid off by Mr. Zlochevsky or his allies.

Tensions boiled over at a previously unreported meeting in early February 2015 in Kiev, in which Mr. Kent scolded a deputy prosecutor in the office of Vitaly Yarema, who was the general prosecutor of Ukraine — the nation’s top law enforcement post, similar to that of the attorney general of the United States.

According to a Ukrainian and an American with knowledge of the meeting, Mr. Kent demanded of the deputy prosecutor, “Who took the bribe and how much was it?”

The Ukrainian deputy replied — perhaps jokingly — that a $7 million bribe had been paid just before Mr. Yarema took office.

The F.B.I. looked into the bribe allegation, according to people familiar with it, but — as is common in the world of Ukrainian corruption investigations — the inquiry stalled amid contradictory and evolving stories.

In the days after the heated meeting with Mr. Kent, Mr. Yarema was fired and eventually replaced by another prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, whom American officials came to view as similarly problematic.

In 2016, the elder Mr. Biden successfully pushed for Mr. Shokin’s ouster because the Obama administration and other Western governments and international institutions contended he was turning a blind eye to corruption in his own office and among the country’s elite, including Mr. Zlochevsky.

It was Mr. Biden’s role in the dismissal of Mr. Shokin that Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani have subsequently held up as evidence that the former vice president intervened in Ukrainian affairs to help his son. There is no evidence of that.

Emily Cochrane and Sheryl Gay Stolberg contributed reporting.

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Biden Defends Son Hunter at Debate, Saying Focus Should Be on Trump

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[Watch the debate and follow our live analysis here.]

Joseph R. Biden Jr. pushed back against President Trump’s attack on his son’s business dealings, saying that the attention should instead be on Mr. Trump’s actions of inviting a foreign power into the election and not on the controversy sparked by unfounded conspiracies about the overseas business dealings of his son Hunter.

But the former vice president at first did not address part of a question at the Democratic presidential debate from Anderson Cooper, who asked whether it was appropriate for his son to have business dealings in Ukraine while Mr. Biden was vice president. Mr. Biden instead pivoted to Mr. Trump, and invoked the founding fathers.

“My son did nothing wrong,” Mr. Biden said. “I did nothing wrong.”

He continued:

“Look, the fact that George Washington on the first time he spoke after being elected, that we had to worry about is foreign interference in our elections, it was the greatest threat to America. This president on three occasions, three occasions, has invited foreign governments and heads of government to get engaged in trying to alter our elections. The fact is that it is outrageous. Rudy Giuliani, the president and his thugs have already proven that they, in fact, are flat lying. What we have to do now is focus on Donald Trump. He doesn’t want me to be the candidate. He is going after me because he knows if I get the nomination, I will beat him like a drum.”

When pressed by Mr. Cooper in a follow-up question on whether his son should have had foreign business dealings during the Obama administration, Mr. Biden again said they had done nothing wrong.

“I did my job,” he said. “I never discussed a single thing with my son about anything having to do with Ukraine. No one has indicated I have. We’ve always kept everything separate, even when my son was the attorney general of the state of Delaware. We never discussed anything. There would be no potential conflict.”

Over the past week, the Biden campaign and allies have taken numerous steps to mitigate any distraction posed by the younger Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine and China. On Sunday, Hunter Biden announced through his lawyer that he intended to step down from the board of a Chinese company, BHR, by the end of the month. His lawyer also said that should the elder Mr. Biden be elected president, Hunter Biden would “agree not to serve on boards of, or work on behalf of, foreign-owned companies.”

In an interview with ABC News on Tuesday morning, Hunter Biden denied any wrongdoing, saying his only mistake was creating a situation for President Trump and his allies to attempt to exploit.

“I gave a hook to some very unethical people to act in illegal ways to try to do some harm to my father,” he said in the interview. “That’s where I made the mistake. So I take full responsibility for that. Did I do anything improper? No, not in any way. Not in any way whatsoever.”

The elder Mr. Biden, in a brief news conference on Sunday after his son’s announcement that he would step down from the BHR board, echoed those sentiments, contending repeatedly that “no one has asserted my son did a single thing wrong” and accusing the president of sowing misinformation.

“No one,” he said, “has asserted that I have done anything wrong except the lying president. That’s the only thing. That’s the focus.”

The former vice president added that he learned of his son’s decision through the public announcement and that he never consulted with his son. He said his son’s choice “represents the kind of man of integrity he is.”

For weeks, Mr. Trump and his allies have attacked Hunter Biden’s business entanglements in Ukraine and China while his father was vice president, with unfounded and baseless accusations that the elder Mr. Biden used his office to help his son. There is no evidence to support their claims.

Mr. Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, have asked Ukraine’s government to investigate the Bidens, including in a conversation between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. The effort helped to trigger an impeachment inquiry in the House.

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U.S. Indicts Turkish Bank on Charges of Evading Iran Sanctions

Westlake Legal Group 15dc-turkeybank-facebookJumbo-v2 U.S. Indicts Turkish Bank on Charges of Evading Iran Sanctions United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Turkey Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Money Laundering Lobbying and Lobbyists Justice Department Iran Halkbank Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Embargoes and Sanctions

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department on Tuesday sharply escalated economic pressure on Turkey by filing fraud and money-laundering charges against the country’s second-largest state-owned bank, accusing it of helping Iran evade United States sanctions.

The charges against the institution, Halkbank, came as the administration sought ways to project that it was taking a tough line with Turkey after President Trump effectively signaled this month that the United States would not stand in the way of Turkey’s desire to send forces into northern Syria.

Mr. Trump’s willingness to allow the military action has thrown the region into chaos and ignited an intense bipartisan backlash against him at home. As the criticism has mounted, the White House has emphasized the steps it is taking to restrain Turkey’s offensive, including a round of sanctions announced on Monday.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey had repeatedly raised the Halkbank case with Mr. Trump over the past year, urging the United States not to take further action, saying that to do so would unfairly expose Turkey to severe financial risks. One of the bank’s top executives was convicted on related charges last year, and the Justice Department has been reviewing since then whether to pursue the case further as Turkish officials and lawyers pressed the government not to indict the bank.

The charges appeared to catch at least some advisers to Turkey’s government off guard. They were filed by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, which has been investigating the bank’s role in what has been called the largest Iran sanctions violation in United States history, as billions of dollars’ worth of gold and cash were illegally transferred to Iran in exchange for oil and gas.

Justice Department officials said high-ranking government officials in Turkey “participated in and protected this scheme,” with some receiving bribes worth tens of millions of dollars and helping to hide the conspiracy from the scrutiny of regulators in the United States.

“This is one of the most serious Iran sanctions violations we have seen, and no business should profit from evading our laws or risking our national security,” said John C. Demers, the assistant attorney general for national security.

Lawyers and lobbyists representing the bank, including Brian D. Ballard, a friend of Mr. Trump’s and the vice chairman of his inauguration, have been trying for more than a year to persuade the Trump administration not to file charges against the bank, or at least to understand that doing so could threaten the economy of a NATO ally.

Turkish officials had directly made other appeals to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The lobbying campaign led some sanctions experts in Washington to question if the case might have been delayed or dropped.

After Mr. Trump came under intense criticism for choosing to stand aside as Turkey pursued its plan to assert control over a section of northern Syria, he began striking a tougher tone toward Mr. Erdogan, focusing in particular on the threat of harming Turkey’s economy if it put United States military personnel at risk or engaged in atrocities against Kurds in the region.

“I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path,” Mr. Trump said in a statement Monday, shortly before signing an executive order to impose the first set of sanctions.

Representatives for the Turkish government — who in interviews early Tuesday did not give any hint that they knew the criminal charges were imminent — said late in the day that they suspected a link between the new prosecution of the bank and the invasion of Syria.

“The timing is beyond any reasonable coincidence,” said one individual who has been working with the bank, but spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter.

The Justice Department and the White House did not respond to questions about whether the decision was influenced by Turkey’s decision to send troops in Syria.

Mr. Ballard, along with Robert Wexler, a former House Democrat from Florida, and James P. Rubin, a State Department official during the Clinton administration, had each been working at times over the last two years to lobby on the matter, Justice Department filings show. They had reached out in 2018 to the office of Vice President Mike Pence and the State Department, among others.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor and adviser to Mr. Trump, also was involved in the matter in 2016 and 2017, trying to secure the release of one suspect in the case, in a possible prisoner swap with a pastor whom Turkey was holding on espionage charges that the United States claimed were fabricated.

Andrew Hruska, a former federal prosecutor in New York now with the law firm King and Spalding, had also been working on the matter, communicating directly with the Justice and Treasury Departments, on behalf of the bank.

Mr. Erdogan brought the case up with President Trump in November 2018, and his son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, the country’s finance minister, following up a few days later with Mr. Mnuchin, pushing him to closely follow the case.

Lawyers for the bank did not dispute that money was illegally moved through Halkbank to Iran starting around 2012 and continuing through 2016.

But they argued that the moves were largely orchestrated by an Iranian-Turkish gold trader, named Reza Zarrab, who had hired Mr. Giuliani to try to secure his release.

Turkish officials argued that Mr. Zarrab, who then decided to plead guilty to charges and become a witness for the prosecution, had lied to American prosecutors. The Turkish officials said Mr. Zarrab accused the bank and government officials in Turkey of conspiring in the effort as part of an attempt to reduce any time he would spend in prison, after he was arrested by American authorities in 2016.

In January 2018, in part because of Mr. Zarrab’s testimony, a Halkbank executive named Mehmet Hakan Atilla was convicted of violating sanctions as part of the case. At his sentencing in May 2018, a federal judge said that while Mr. Atilla had “unquestionably furthered” the scheme, he was “somewhat of a cog in the wheel” and not “a mastermind.”

These assertions reflected claims made by federal prosecutors that the wrongdoing had reached high into the Turkish government.

But until Tuesday, there had been no public follow-up by the Justice Department, nor any action by the Treasury Department, which separately has the power to impose sanctions on the bank or impose a fine.

The bank was formally charged on Tuesday with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to violate sanctions, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Representatives for the bank said that they feared the charges alone might lead other global banks to limit doing business with Halkbank, and if a multibillion-dollar penalty results, it could threaten the overall viability of the institution.

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