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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 153)

Bolton Objected to Ukraine Pressure Campaign, Calling Giuliani ‘a Hand Grenade’

WASHINGTON — The effort to pressure Ukraine for political help provoked a heated confrontation inside the White House last summer that so alarmed John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, that he told an aide to alert White House lawyers, House investigators were told on Monday.

Mr. Bolton got into a sharp exchange on July 10 with Gordon D. Sondland, the Trump donor turned ambassador to the European Union, who was working with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, to press Ukraine to investigate Democrats, according to testimony provided to the investigators.

Westlake Legal Group impeachment-investigation-tracker-promo-1570214529724-articleLarge-v3 Bolton Objected to Ukraine Pressure Campaign, Calling Giuliani ‘a Hand Grenade’ Zelensky, Volodymyr Yovanovitch, Marie L United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Pompeo, Mike National Security Council Hill, Fiona (1965- ) Giuliani, Rudolph W Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates

Subpoenas and Requests for Evidence in the Trump Impeachment Inquiry

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

Mr. Bolton instructed Fiona Hill, the senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs, to notify the chief lawyer for the National Security Council that Mr. Giuliani was working with Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, on a rogue operation with legal implications, Ms. Hill told the investigators, according to two people familiar with her closed-door testimony.

“I am not part of whatever drug deal Rudy and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Mr. Bolton, a Yale-trained lawyer, told Ms. Hill to tell White House lawyers, according to the testimony.

It was not the first time Mr. Bolton expressed grave concerns to Ms. Hill about Mr. Giuliani. “Giuliani’s a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up,” Ms. Hill quoted Mr. Bolton saying during an earlier conversation.

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

Violent Video Was Product of Right-Wing Provocateurs and Trump Allies

Westlake Legal Group 14dc-video1-sub-facebookJumbo Violent Video Was Product of Right-Wing Provocateurs and Trump Allies United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump National Doral Miami (Doral, Fla) News and News Media impeachment Florida

WASHINGTON — The creator of a gruesome video that showed a fake President Trump killing journalists and political opponents and that was played at a meeting of a pro-Trump group over the weekend is part of a loose network of right-wing provocateurs with a direct line to the White House.

The unidentified creator of the video operates under the name “The GeekzTeam” and has proclaimed on Twitter to be a “red blooded American with ZERO tolerance for the liberal agenda.” Like many in the online group, the person specializes in creating pro-Trump internet content, often by remixing the president’s image into clips from popular movies and television shows.

Another of the provocateurs, Logan Cook, who often has posted the videos on MemeWorld, his website, participated in a social media summit at the White House in July and took his children to meet the president in the Oval Office, accompanied by Dan Scavino, the White House social media director.

The connections underscore how the president’s escalating war on what he calls the “fake news” media has elevated people from the far-right fringe into allies who defend him with extreme language and images.

The president did not mention the video on Monday in the blizzard of Tweets he sent out wishing a former press secretary good luck on “Dancing with the Stars,” defending his recent decisions on Syria and attacking Democrats for their impeachment inquiry. But Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Trump condemned the video.

It was shown at a meeting of American Priority, a pro-Trump organization, celebrating “free speech, free association and American culture” at Trump National Doral Miami, which he owns.

Many who attended — including Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, the former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son — said they did not condone the violence portrayed and were not aware that the video had played on a loop in a conference room next to the resort’s Donald J. Trump Ballroom. Two small television screens were set up in the conference room, and the video was projected against a wall, according to one person who attended and shared a photo.

The online community that makes and shares grisly videos like this one aims to use what are known as “spicy memes” to fire up the president’s base, stir outrage among his opponents and provoke coverage by the mainstream media, which often helps amplify the messages.

Some of these meme-makers earn money by soliciting donations or running ads on YouTube. (Data from SocialBlade, a website that tracks social media statistics, estimates that TheGeekzTeam has earned less than $2,000 from his or her channel over the past year.) Others do it purely for the notoriety — or, best of all, an approving retweet from the president.

TheGeekzTeam has been a prolific meme-maker for several years, posting videos with titles like “Captain MAGA” and “Trump: The Punisher” to YouTube and to r/the_donald, a large pro-Trump forum on Reddit. The video shown at the American Priority meeting was first posted on YouTube in July 2018.

Earlier this year, the account began contributing to MemeWorld, a centralized meme repository organized by Mr. Cook, who goes by the name “Carpe Donktum” online.

Mr. Cook’s website acts as a clearinghouse for offensive memes and videos, allowing users to post homemade videos that often depict Mr. Trump as a crusader or superhero who uses violence to suppress news outlets, individual journalists and political opponents.

On Monday, Mr. Cook’s site posted a statement disavowing political violence while defending TheGeekzTeam, saying that the video showing Mr. Trump shooting, stabbing and punching his foes was “clearly satirical.”

Mr. Cook’s own videos, as well as his one-stop shop of a website, have become a go-to resource for Mr. Scavino, who often shares items with Mr. Trump. In April, Mr. Cook landed in the center of a controversy over a doctored version of a video in which former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. addressed his interactions with women.

In the doctored video, a cartoon version of Mr. Biden appears to be nuzzling the back of his own head. Mr. Trump shared the video with his 60 million followers on Twitter at the time.

“Trolls in the White House,” Mr. Cook wrote in a photo on his Instagram account on July 11, describing his family greeting Mr. Trump in the Oval Office.

At the White House social media meeting, which honored pro-Trump meme-makers and other members of the far-right ecosystem, Mr. Trump praised a room full of content creators as people who had worked with Mr. Scavino on ideas that ultimately saved him money on advertising.

“He’ll come up with ideas, and you’ll come up with ideas,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Scavino and the attendees. “And he’ll run into my office. He said, ‘You got to see this.’”

Mr. Trump added, “Some of you are extraordinary. I can’t say everybody, but some of you are extraordinary. The crap you think of is unbelievable.”

A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment about why Mr. Cook was invited to the White House social media meeting in the first place.

Tracing the origins of the video shown over the weekend illustrates the often-complicated origins of “spicy memes.” The video was taken from the 2014 movie “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” and showed the actor Colin Firth in a church massacre scene. In the movie, the people killed are members of a fundamentalist church.

In an earlier online iteration the target was one news organization: CNN. Mr. Trump’s head was superimposed on Mr. Firth’s body, but all the people punched, shot and stabbed had CNN logos covering their faces.

“You are fake news,” Mr. Trump said as he pointed a gun at a woman with the logo for a face.

The creator of that original video, Andres Hughes, said online that he made it and submitted it to a meme contest run by the right-wing website Infowars three years ago, hoping to win a $20,000 prize.

But in July 2018, the doctored film clip was further altered to include new targets. News organizations like PBS, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post were added to the mix.

Mr. Trump was also depicted killing and maiming political enemies like Representative Maxine Waters of California; Senator John McCain of Arizona, who died last year; Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont; former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton; as well as Hillary Clinton and others.

The video, which had fewer than 1,000 views on YouTube as of Sunday night, had clocked nearly 200,000 by midday Monday but was removed from the site a few hours later because of a copyright complaint. On Sunday, TheGeekzTeam appeared to celebrate the video’s success, posting a new one on Twitter that showed CNN’s logo exploding after coming into contact with the phrase “Trump memes.”

An email to an address listed on the creator’s YouTube channel was not immediately returned. American Priority denounced the video shown at its event as not “approved, seen or sanctioned” by the organizers and condemned violence of any kind. But the group’s founder, Alex Phillips, has his own longstanding relationship with Mr. Cook, and has supported his work online.

In a video posted to Facebook in June, Mr. Phillips and Mr. Cook played down the idea that such content can foment hate and violence. “Hate speech is a made-up word,” Mr. Cook says in the video. “You can’t cause violence with words.”

Mr. Phillips said he agreed. “The truth hurts sometimes,” he responds. “Deal with it.”

Annie Karnie and Katie Rogers reported from Washington, and Kevin Roose from San Francisco. Jeremy Peters and Kitty Bennett contributed reporting from Washington.

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

Violent Video Was Product of Right-Wing Provocateurs and Trump Allies

Westlake Legal Group 14dc-video1-sub-facebookJumbo Violent Video Was Product of Right-Wing Provocateurs and Trump Allies United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump National Doral Miami (Doral, Fla) News and News Media impeachment Florida

WASHINGTON — The creator of a gruesome video that showed a fake President Trump killing journalists and political opponents and that was played at a meeting of a pro-Trump group over the weekend is part of a loose network of right-wing provocateurs with a direct line to the White House.

The unidentified creator of the video operates under the name “The GeekzTeam” and has proclaimed on Twitter to be a “red blooded American with ZERO tolerance for the liberal agenda.” Like many in the online group, the person specializes in creating pro-Trump internet content, often by remixing the president’s image into clips from popular movies and television shows.

Another of the provocateurs, Logan Cook, who often has posted the videos on MemeWorld, his website, participated in a social media summit at the White House in July and took his children to meet the president in the Oval Office, accompanied by Dan Scavino, the White House social media director.

The connections underscore how the president’s escalating war on what he calls the “fake news” media has elevated people from the far-right fringe into allies who defend him with extreme language and images.

The president did not mention the video on Monday in the blizzard of Tweets he sent out wishing a former press secretary good luck on “Dancing with the Stars,” defending his recent decisions on Syria and attacking Democrats for their impeachment inquiry. But Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Trump condemned the video.

It was shown at a meeting of American Priority, a pro-Trump organization, celebrating “free speech, free association and American culture” at Trump National Doral Miami, which he owns.

Many who attended — including Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, the former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son — said they did not condone the violence portrayed and were not aware that the video had played on a loop in a conference room next to the resort’s Donald J. Trump Ballroom. Two small television screens were set up in the conference room, and the video was projected against a wall, according to one person who attended and shared a photo.

The online community that makes and shares grisly videos like this one aims to use what are known as “spicy memes” to fire up the president’s base, stir outrage among his opponents and provoke coverage by the mainstream media, which often helps amplify the messages.

Some of these meme-makers earn money by soliciting donations or running ads on YouTube. (Data from SocialBlade, a website that tracks social media statistics, estimates that TheGeekzTeam has earned less than $2,000 from his or her channel over the past year.) Others do it purely for the notoriety — or, best of all, an approving retweet from the president.

TheGeekzTeam has been a prolific meme-maker for several years, posting videos with titles like “Captain MAGA” and “Trump: The Punisher” to YouTube and to r/the_donald, a large pro-Trump forum on Reddit. The video shown at the American Priority meeting was first posted on YouTube in July 2018.

Earlier this year, the account began contributing to MemeWorld, a centralized meme repository organized by Mr. Cook, who goes by the name “Carpe Donktum” online.

Mr. Cook’s website acts as a clearinghouse for offensive memes and videos, allowing users to post homemade videos that often depict Mr. Trump as a crusader or superhero who uses violence to suppress news outlets, individual journalists and political opponents.

On Monday, Mr. Cook’s site posted a statement disavowing political violence while defending TheGeekzTeam, saying that the video showing Mr. Trump shooting, stabbing and punching his foes was “clearly satirical.”

Mr. Cook’s own videos, as well as his one-stop shop of a website, have become a go-to resource for Mr. Scavino, who often shares items with Mr. Trump. In April, Mr. Cook landed in the center of a controversy over a doctored version of a video in which former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. addressed his interactions with women.

In the doctored video, a cartoon version of Mr. Biden appears to be nuzzling the back of his own head. Mr. Trump shared the video with his 60 million followers on Twitter at the time.

“Trolls in the White House,” Mr. Cook wrote in a photo on his Instagram account on July 11, describing his family greeting Mr. Trump in the Oval Office.

At the White House social media meeting, which honored pro-Trump meme-makers and other members of the far-right ecosystem, Mr. Trump praised a room full of content creators as people who had worked with Mr. Scavino on ideas that ultimately saved him money on advertising.

“He’ll come up with ideas, and you’ll come up with ideas,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Scavino and the attendees. “And he’ll run into my office. He said, ‘You got to see this.’”

Mr. Trump added, “Some of you are extraordinary. I can’t say everybody, but some of you are extraordinary. The crap you think of is unbelievable.”

A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment about why Mr. Cook was invited to the White House social media meeting in the first place.

Tracing the origins of the video shown over the weekend illustrates the often-complicated origins of “spicy memes.” The video was taken from the 2014 movie “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” and showed the actor Colin Firth in a church massacre scene. In the movie, the people killed are members of a fundamentalist church.

In an earlier online iteration the target was one news organization: CNN. Mr. Trump’s head was superimposed on Mr. Firth’s body, but all the people punched, shot and stabbed had CNN logos covering their faces.

“You are fake news,” Mr. Trump said as he pointed a gun at a woman with the logo for a face.

The creator of that original video, Andres Hughes, said online that he made it and submitted it to a meme contest run by the right-wing website Infowars three years ago, hoping to win a $20,000 prize.

But in July 2018, the doctored film clip was further altered to include new targets. News organizations like PBS, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post were added to the mix.

Mr. Trump was also depicted killing and maiming political enemies like Representative Maxine Waters of California; Senator John McCain of Arizona, who died last year; Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont; former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton; as well as Hillary Clinton and others.

The video, which had fewer than 1,000 views on YouTube as of Sunday night, had clocked nearly 200,000 by midday Monday but was removed from the site a few hours later because of a copyright complaint. On Sunday, TheGeekzTeam appeared to celebrate the video’s success, posting a new one on Twitter that showed CNN’s logo exploding after coming into contact with the phrase “Trump memes.”

An email to an address listed on the creator’s YouTube channel was not immediately returned. American Priority denounced the video shown at its event as not “approved, seen or sanctioned” by the organizers and condemned violence of any kind. But the group’s founder, Alex Phillips, has his own longstanding relationship with Mr. Cook, and has supported his work online.

In a video posted to Facebook in June, Mr. Phillips and Mr. Cook played down the idea that such content can foment hate and violence. “Hate speech is a made-up word,” Mr. Cook says in the video. “You can’t cause violence with words.”

Mr. Phillips said he agreed. “The truth hurts sometimes,” he responds. “Deal with it.”

Annie Karnie and Katie Rogers reported from Washington, and Kevin Roose from San Francisco. Jeremy Peters and Kitty Bennett contributed reporting from Washington.

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

Violent Video Was Product of Right-Wing Provocateurs and Trump Allies

Westlake Legal Group 14dc-video1-sub-facebookJumbo Violent Video Was Product of Right-Wing Provocateurs and Trump Allies United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump National Doral Miami (Doral, Fla) News and News Media impeachment Florida

WASHINGTON — The creator of a gruesome video that showed a fake President Trump killing journalists and political opponents and that was played at a meeting of a pro-Trump group over the weekend is part of a loose network of right-wing provocateurs with a direct line to the White House.

The unidentified creator of the video operates under the name “The GeekzTeam” and has proclaimed on Twitter to be a “red blooded American with ZERO tolerance for the liberal agenda.” Like many in the online group, the person specializes in creating pro-Trump internet content, often by remixing the president’s image into clips from popular movies and television shows.

Another of the provocateurs, Logan Cook, who often has posted the videos on MemeWorld, his website, participated in a social media summit at the White House in July and took his children to meet the president in the Oval Office, accompanied by Dan Scavino, the White House social media director.

The connections underscore how the president’s escalating war on what he calls the “fake news” media has elevated people from the far-right fringe into allies who defend him with extreme language and images.

The president did not mention the video on Monday in the blizzard of Tweets he sent out wishing a former press secretary good luck on “Dancing with the Stars,” defending his recent decisions on Syria and attacking Democrats for their impeachment inquiry. But Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Trump condemned the video.

It was shown at a meeting of American Priority, a pro-Trump organization, celebrating “free speech, free association and American culture” at Trump National Doral Miami, which he owns.

Many who attended — including Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, the former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son — said they did not condone the violence portrayed and were not aware that the video had played on a loop in a conference room next to the resort’s Donald J. Trump Ballroom. Two small television screens were set up in the conference room, and the video was projected against a wall, according to one person who attended and shared a photo.

The online community that makes and shares grisly videos like this one aims to use what are known as “spicy memes” to fire up the president’s base, stir outrage among his opponents and provoke coverage by the mainstream media, which often helps amplify the messages.

Some of these meme-makers earn money by soliciting donations or running ads on YouTube. (Data from SocialBlade, a website that tracks social media statistics, estimates that TheGeekzTeam has earned less than $2,000 from his or her channel over the past year.) Others do it purely for the notoriety — or, best of all, an approving retweet from the president.

TheGeekzTeam has been a prolific meme-maker for several years, posting videos with titles like “Captain MAGA” and “Trump: The Punisher” to YouTube and to r/the_donald, a large pro-Trump forum on Reddit. The video shown at the American Priority meeting was first posted on YouTube in July 2018.

Earlier this year, the account began contributing to MemeWorld, a centralized meme repository organized by Mr. Cook, who goes by the name “Carpe Donktum” online.

Mr. Cook’s website acts as a clearinghouse for offensive memes and videos, allowing users to post homemade videos that often depict Mr. Trump as a crusader or superhero who uses violence to suppress news outlets, individual journalists and political opponents.

On Monday, Mr. Cook’s site posted a statement disavowing political violence while defending TheGeekzTeam, saying that the video showing Mr. Trump shooting, stabbing and punching his foes was “clearly satirical.”

Mr. Cook’s own videos, as well as his one-stop shop of a website, have become a go-to resource for Mr. Scavino, who often shares items with Mr. Trump. In April, Mr. Cook landed in the center of a controversy over a doctored version of a video in which former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. addressed his interactions with women.

In the doctored video, a cartoon version of Mr. Biden appears to be nuzzling the back of his own head. Mr. Trump shared the video with his 60 million followers on Twitter at the time.

“Trolls in the White House,” Mr. Cook wrote in a photo on his Instagram account on July 11, describing his family greeting Mr. Trump in the Oval Office.

At the White House social media meeting, which honored pro-Trump meme-makers and other members of the far-right ecosystem, Mr. Trump praised a room full of content creators as people who had worked with Mr. Scavino on ideas that ultimately saved him money on advertising.

“He’ll come up with ideas, and you’ll come up with ideas,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Scavino and the attendees. “And he’ll run into my office. He said, ‘You got to see this.’”

Mr. Trump added, “Some of you are extraordinary. I can’t say everybody, but some of you are extraordinary. The crap you think of is unbelievable.”

A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment about why Mr. Cook was invited to the White House social media meeting in the first place.

Tracing the origins of the video shown over the weekend illustrates the often-complicated origins of “spicy memes.” The video was taken from the 2014 movie “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” and showed the actor Colin Firth in a church massacre scene. In the movie, the people killed are members of a fundamentalist church.

In an earlier online iteration the target was one news organization: CNN. Mr. Trump’s head was superimposed on Mr. Firth’s body, but all the people punched, shot and stabbed had CNN logos covering their faces.

“You are fake news,” Mr. Trump said as he pointed a gun at a woman with the logo for a face.

The creator of that original video, Andres Hughes, said online that he made it and submitted it to a meme contest run by the right-wing website Infowars three years ago, hoping to win a $20,000 prize.

But in July 2018, the doctored film clip was further altered to include new targets. News organizations like PBS, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post were added to the mix.

Mr. Trump was also depicted killing and maiming political enemies like Representative Maxine Waters of California; Senator John McCain of Arizona, who died last year; Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont; former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton; as well as Hillary Clinton and others.

The video, which had fewer than 1,000 views on YouTube as of Sunday night, had clocked nearly 200,000 by midday Monday but was removed from the site a few hours later because of a copyright complaint. On Sunday, TheGeekzTeam appeared to celebrate the video’s success, posting a new one on Twitter that showed CNN’s logo exploding after coming into contact with the phrase “Trump memes.”

An email to an address listed on the creator’s YouTube channel was not immediately returned. American Priority denounced the video shown at its event as not “approved, seen or sanctioned” by the organizers and condemned violence of any kind. But the group’s founder, Alex Phillips, has his own longstanding relationship with Mr. Cook, and has supported his work online.

In a video posted to Facebook in June, Mr. Phillips and Mr. Cook played down the idea that such content can foment hate and violence. “Hate speech is a made-up word,” Mr. Cook says in the video. “You can’t cause violence with words.”

Mr. Phillips said he agreed. “The truth hurts sometimes,” he responds. “Deal with it.”

Annie Karnie and Katie Rogers reported from Washington, and Kevin Roose from San Francisco. Jeremy Peters and Kitty Bennett contributed reporting from Washington.

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

Assad Forces Surge Forward in Syria as U.S. Pulls Back

Westlake Legal Group 14syria-briefing-facebookJumbo-v2 Assad Forces Surge Forward in Syria as U.S. Pulls Back United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Politics and Government Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) International Relations Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Assad, Bashar al-

DOHUK, Iraq — Syrian government forces streamed into the country’s northeast on Monday, seizing towns where they had not stepped foot in years and filling a vacuum opened up by President Trump’s decision to abandon the United States’ Syrian Kurdish allies.

Less than a week after Turkey launched an incursion into northern Syria with Mr. Trump’s assent, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, considered a war criminal by the United States, has benefited handsomely, striking a deal with the United States’ former allies to take the northern border and rapidly gaining territory without a fight.

In addition to Mr. al-Assad, Mr. Trump’s decision to pull United States forces out of the way has also quickly redounded to the gain of Russia and Iran, as well as the Islamic State, as the American retreat reconfigures battle lines and alliances in the eight-year war.

“For the Syrian regime and Russia, the Americans are leaving, so that is a big achievement,” said Hassan Hassan, a Syria analyst at the Center for Global Policy. “In just one day, gone. They don’t have to worry about what this presence means for the future.”

The greatest risk to American troops as they pull back comes from the Turkish-backed militia, the Free Syrian Army, which has spearheaded the Turkish offensive in many places, supported by Turkish Army artillery and mortar fire, and Turkish airstrikes.

American officials say these Turkish-backed militia are less disciplined than regular Turkish soldiers and, deliberately or inadvertently, have fired on retreating American troops.

In a sign of the concern over the safety of the remaining American troops in Syria, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke on Monday with his Russian counterpart about the deteriorating security in the country’s northeast.

Faced with a fast-unraveling situation, Mr. Trump’s policy toward the region continued to fishtail. Having essentially greenlighted the Turkish incursion a week ago, then threatening ruin to the Turkish economy, on Monday Mr. Trump announced that he would impose sanctions on Turkey, raising tariffs on steel and suspending negotiations on a $100 billion trade deal with Ankara.

Mr. Trump’s decision has turned a relatively stable corner of Syria into its most dynamic battleground. As Turkey and Syrian fighters it supports push in from the north to root out the Kurdish-led militia that was allied with the United States, Mr. al-Assad’s forces have moved in from the south, gobbling up territory.

On Monday, without a fight, government forces seized a number of towns that had recently been held by the United States’ allies, including Tel Tamer, home to an Assyrian Christian community; Tabqa, which has a large hydroelectric dam on the Euphrates River; and Ein Issa, where the United States kept a contingent of forces, until recently.

Fighting continued in towns near the Turkish border to the north, pitting a number of forces against each other and terrifying civilians.

Kurdish militiamen battled Turkish troops around Ras al Ain and Tal Abyad, Syrian border towns the Turks claim to have taken. And both Turkey and the Syrian government were sending troops toward Manbij, raising the specter of new fighting there.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has said the incursion is necessary for his country’s security and that Turkey seeks to establish a 20-mile-deep “safe zone” for hundreds of miles inside Syria’s border.

The invasion has provoked widespread international condemnation and on Monday, the foreign ministers of all 28 European Union member states agreed to stop selling arms to Turkey, an unprecedented step toward a fellow NATO member.

But Mr. Erdogan appeared unfazed, vowing that Turkey would press on in a speech in Azerbaijan.

“We are determined to take our operation to the end,” he said. “We will finish what we started. A hoisted flag does not come down.”

Much of the territory contested in the current fighting was wrested from the jihadists of the Islamic State by an international coalition led by the United States in partnership with a Kurdish-led militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or S.D.F. As the jihadists were rolled back, the S.D.F. seized its territory, which it sought to govern under protection from the United States.

But that partnership angered Turkey, which considers the Kurdish fighters terrorists for their links to a Kurdish guerrilla organization that has been fighting the Turkish state for decades.

It was Mr. Trump’s decision to pull American troops out of northern Syria that gave Turkey the opening to strike, setting off the current violence.

No longer protected by the United States, the Kurds struck a deal with the Syrian government, an American enemy, to bring its forces north to protect the area.

A Kurdish official, Aldar Xelil, said in a statement Monday that the agreement would put Syrian government forces on two strips along the border, but not in a section where Kurdish fighters are currently battling the Turks. The government forces would defend the border against the Turks, he said, while the Kurdish-led administration would continue to oversee governance and internal security in the region.

But much about the agreement remained unclear, and the Syrian state news media made no mention of it in its coverage of Syrian troops seizing towns and being welcomed by locals chanting in support of Mr. al-Assad.

About 1,000 United States troops serve on a number of bases throughout northeastern Syria, but President Trump’s orders will remove the troops over the next few weeks, sending them, at least initially, to Iraq. From there, they could be repositioned to other neighboring countries such as Jordan or Lebanon, or head back to the United States, military officials said.

For now, the Pentagon plans to leave 150 Special Operations forces at a base called al-Tanf, in southern Syria.

Trump administration officials had long argued that the troops were needed to check the influence of Iran, Russia and Mr. al-Assad; prevent the resurgence of the Islamic State; and give the United States leverage in eventual peace talks aimed at ending Syria’s war.

The administration has not explained how it plans to pursue these goals without troops or local allies in Syria.

Mr. Hassan, the Syria analyst, said it had become clear that Turkey and Mr. al-Assad had the most to gain from the American withdrawal and the reshuffling of Syria’s northeast.

Despite the international condemnation, Turkey had managed to quash the dream of Kurdish-led self-rule that had been growing for years in less than a week.

“This is the end or the beginning of the end of the Kurdish project in Syria,” Mr. Hassan said.

Mr. al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers had also won big because the United States had expended tremendous resources to defeat the Islamic State, and now Mr. al-Assad is poised to regain the territory.

“It is not just that you left, but that you did all this fighting on his behalf for the last five years,” Mr. Hassan said.

The biggest losers were the Kurds, who lost their foreign backers and saw their political dreams collapse, and the region’s civilians, who were now subject to yet another era of violence and uncertainty.

The new fighting in the north has displaced more than 160,000 people, according to the United Nations, limited access for aid organizations, and scattered families looking for safe places to wait out the violence.

Syrian refugees living in Turkey said they had lost contact with relatives in the border region as families had fled south into the desert hoping to avoid airstrikes and shelling by camping out in the open far from any cellphone coverage.

A Syrian house painter in the Turkish town of Suruc near the Syrian border said three of his wife’s cousins and another couple had disappeared and were thought to have been kidnapped on the road between Manbij and Raqqa.

“No one knows what is happening,” said the painter, Ali, who gave only his first name for fear of reprisals against relatives in Syria.

The loss of American support has terrified the region’s Kurds, many of whom distrust Mr. al-Assad but fear Turkey more.

Giving up the dream of self-rule would still be “a million times better than having our cities taken over by the terrorist mercenaries and criminal Turks,” said Arin Sheikhmous, a Kurdish activist in the border town of Qamishli.

But as Mr. al-Assad’s forces advanced, others feared the horrors often associated with the Syrian state: conscription into the Syrian military or random arrests that have made untold numbers of people vanish into Syria’s prisons.

It remains unclear what will become of the more than 10,000 former Islamic State fighters held in Kurdish-run prisons, as well as the tens of thousands of women and children from the Islamic State now detained in squalid camps.

Some worried that the new deal between the Kurds and the government could see prisoners handed over to Mr. al-Assad.

Hamida Mustafa, a Syrian activist in southern Turkey, said he worried about his brother, who had been detained two years ago by the Kurdish-led militia.

He had heard on the first night of the Turkish incursion that the common criminals had been released while political prisoners had been moved to another prison in the city of Hasakah. He had not been able to locate his brother, but worried that he would end up being passed to the Syrian government and never seen again.

“We are fearful now,” he said. “They did that before.”

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

Former Trump Aide Fiona Hill Speaks to Impeachment Investigators on Ukraine

WASHINGTON — Fiona Hill, President Trump’s former top Russia and Europe adviser, met with House impeachment investigators on Monday prepared to testify that she and other officials objected strenuously to the removal of the ambassador to Ukraine, only to be disregarded.

Ms. Hill, who stepped down from the White House’s National Security Council staff over the summer, viewed the recall of Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch from Kiev as an egregious abuse of the system by allies of Mr. Trump who were seeking to push aside a perceived obstacle, according to a person familiar with Ms. Hill’s account. Ms. Yovanovitch told the investigators in closed-door testimony last week that the president had personally pushed for her ouster for months, based on “false claims.”

The removal of Ms. Yovanovitch has emerged as a key episode in the narrative under examination by the House as part of its impeachment inquiry against Mr. Trump. A career diplomat, Ms. Yovanovitch was targeted by Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and other allies who were seeking to press Ukraine to investigate Mr. Trump’s Democratic rivals.

Ms. Hill’s interview kicked off what promises to be another active week of investigation by the House, where Democrats opened a formal impeachment inquiry late last month based on an intelligence officer’s whistle-blower complaint that alleged that Mr. Trump had abused his power to try to enlist Ukraine to interfere on his behalf in the 2020 election.

The recall of the ambassador was a case study in how Mr. Giuliani and his allies pursued their goals by sidelining or circumventing the government officials, like Ms. Yovanovitch and Ms. Hill, who were formally overseeing policy toward Ukraine. Ms. Hill was kept out of the loop by Mr. Giuliani and the president’s allies as they negotiated separately with Ukrainian officials, including on issues clearly in her area of responsibility.

Ms. Hill was the first person who worked in the White House to be deposed by House investigators and appeared despite the administration’s declaration last week that it would refuse to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry or allow its staff to do so. The White House did not attempt to stop Ms. Hill from testifying, according to the person familiar with her account, but White House lawyers exchanged letters with Ms. Hill’s lawyer about precedents regarding the confidentiality of presidential communications.

[Rudy Giuliani was a zero-tolerance mayor who cleaned up New York as he inflamed racial tensions. He was hailed as “America’s Mayor” after 9/11. Now, he’s at the center of the Trump impeachment inquiry. Watch “The Weekly,” our new TV show.]

The House Intelligence Committee issued a last-minute subpoena Monday morning to compel Ms. Hill to speak with the investigators, according to an official involved in the investigation. The arrangement was similar to one used last week to secure Ms. Yovanovitch’s cooperation, allowing both witnesses to more easily justify ignoring the White House’s clear opposition to cooperation with the House inquiry.

Ms. Hill, who was described as sensitive to the concerns of executive confidentiality, may limit her answers regarding direct interactions with the president. But her testimony has been highly anticipated, in part because she has a long history as a skeptic of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia who nonetheless worked for two years for Mr. Trump as he made friendship with the Russian leader a high priority.

Ms. Hill brought no opening statement to Monday’s session, unlike Ms. Yovanovitch and Kurt D. Volker, the former special envoy for Ukraine, when they were interviewed by House investigators. The interview was taking place behind closed doors, but parts or all of it may be made public later. Unlike Mr. Volker, she had no documents, emails or text messages to turn over because she left them behind when she stepped down.

Westlake Legal Group impeachment-investigation-tracker-promo-1570214529724-articleLarge-v3 Former Trump Aide Fiona Hill Speaks to Impeachment Investigators on Ukraine Zelensky, Volodymyr Yovanovitch, Marie L United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Pompeo, Mike National Security Council Hill, Fiona (1965- ) Giuliani, Rudolph W Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates

Subpoenas and Requests for Evidence in the Trump Impeachment Inquiry

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

Hers was the first of an active week of investigative work on Capitol Hill, where Democrats have scheduled closed-door sessions with a number of officials who could shed light on Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. George P. Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state who deals with the region, is scheduled to testify on Tuesday. Gordon D. Sondland, the Trump donor turned ambassador to the European Union who inserted himself into the Ukraine portfolio, is due to testify on Thursday.

Ms. Hill is a widely respected, British-born former Brookings Institution scholar and intelligence officer. She is the author, with Clifford Gaddy, of “Mr. Putin,” a critical biography of the Russian leader, and she served as senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs on the National Security Council staff from 2017 until last summer.

She turned over her duties to her successor on July 15 and left on July 19, just days before the July 25 telephone call in which Mr. Trump pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate conspiracy theories about Ukrainian help to Democrats in the 2016 election and supposed corruption by former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Ms. Hill was prepared to testify that she opposed the idea of the phone call because she did not understand its purpose. While it was described as a congratulatory call following parliamentary elections in Ukraine, Mr. Trump had already made a congratulatory call to Mr. Zelensky in April following his own election.

Ms. Hill has told associates that while she was the president’s top adviser on Russia and Ukraine, she was cut out of decisions and discussions as Mr. Giuliani and others ran a shadow diplomacy intended to benefit Mr. Trump’s political position.

She was not told that Mr. Trump would use the July 25 call to press for an investigation into Mr. Biden nor did she know about the president’s decision to withhold $391 million in American assistance to Ukraine until shortly before her departure, according to the person informed about her account.

Her testimony would not establish a quid pro quo between the suspended aid and Mr. Trump’s pressure for investigations, the person said. But she would confirm that the administration leveraged a coveted White House invitation for Mr. Zelensky to a commitment to investigate corruption, which was seen as code for investigating Democrats.

Ms. Hill took her objections to the treatment of Ms. Yovanovitch, who was targeted by Mr. Giuliani and conservative media outlets, to John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, as well as others. Mr. Bolton shared her concerns, according to the person, and was upset at Mr. Giuliani’s activities, which she viewed as essentially co-opting American foreign policy toward Ukraine.

Ms. Yovanovitch, a 33-year veteran of the foreign service who served under Republican and Democratic administrations, including three times as an ambassador, told House investigators last week that she was abruptly told to get “on the next plane” home last spring, ending her tour in Ukraine.

While the deputy secretary of state told her she had “done nothing wrong,” her removal, she testified, appeared to be based “on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives,” a reference to Mr. Giuliani and some of his associates.

Two associates of Mr. Giuliani were charged on Thursday with campaign finance violations connected to their efforts to push Ms. Yovanovitch out. They raised money for Pete Sessions, then a Republican member of Congress from Texas, and Mr. Sessions then pressed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to fire Ms. Yovanovitch for privately expressing “disdain” for the Trump administration. Ms. Yovanovitch denied ever expressing that sentiment.

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

Former Trump Aide Fiona Hill Speaks to Impeachment Investigators on Ukraine

WASHINGTON — Fiona Hill, President Trump’s former top Russia and Europe adviser, met with House impeachment investigators on Monday prepared to testify that she and other officials objected strenuously to the removal of the ambassador to Ukraine, only to be disregarded.

Ms. Hill, who stepped down from the White House’s National Security Council staff over the summer, viewed the recall of Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch from Kiev as an egregious abuse of the system by allies of Mr. Trump who were seeking to push aside a perceived obstacle, according to a person familiar with Ms. Hill’s account. Ms. Yovanovitch told the investigators in closed-door testimony last week that the president had personally pushed for her ouster for months, based on “false claims.”

The removal of Ms. Yovanovitch has emerged as a key episode in the narrative under examination by the House as part of its impeachment inquiry against Mr. Trump. A career diplomat, Ms. Yovanovitch was targeted by Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and other allies who were seeking to press Ukraine to investigate Mr. Trump’s Democratic rivals.

Ms. Hill’s interview kicked off what promises to be another active week of investigation by the House, where Democrats opened a formal impeachment inquiry late last month based on an intelligence officer’s whistle-blower complaint that alleged that Mr. Trump had abused his power to try to enlist Ukraine to interfere on his behalf in the 2020 election.

The recall of the ambassador was a case study in how Mr. Giuliani and his allies pursued their goals by sidelining or circumventing the government officials, like Ms. Yovanovitch and Ms. Hill, who were formally overseeing policy toward Ukraine. Ms. Hill was kept out of the loop by Mr. Giuliani and the president’s allies as they negotiated separately with Ukrainian officials, including on issues clearly in her area of responsibility.

Ms. Hill was the first person who worked in the White House to be deposed by House investigators and appeared despite the administration’s declaration last week that it would refuse to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry or allow its staff to do so. The White House did not attempt to stop Ms. Hill from testifying, according to the person familiar with her account, but White House lawyers exchanged letters with Ms. Hill’s lawyer about precedents regarding the confidentiality of presidential communications.

[Rudy Giuliani was a zero-tolerance mayor who cleaned up New York as he inflamed racial tensions. He was hailed as “America’s Mayor” after 9/11. Now, he’s at the center of the Trump impeachment inquiry. Watch “The Weekly,” our new TV show.]

The House Intelligence Committee issued a last-minute subpoena Monday morning to compel Ms. Hill to speak with the investigators, according to an official involved in the investigation. The arrangement was similar to one used last week to secure Ms. Yovanovitch’s cooperation, allowing both witnesses to more easily justify ignoring the White House’s clear opposition to cooperation with the House inquiry.

Ms. Hill, who was described as sensitive to the concerns of executive confidentiality, may limit her answers regarding direct interactions with the president. But her testimony has been highly anticipated, in part because she has a long history as a skeptic of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia who nonetheless worked for two years for Mr. Trump as he made friendship with the Russian leader a high priority.

Ms. Hill brought no opening statement to Monday’s session, unlike Ms. Yovanovitch and Kurt D. Volker, the former special envoy for Ukraine, when they were interviewed by House investigators. The interview was taking place behind closed doors, but parts or all of it may be made public later. Unlike Mr. Volker, she had no documents, emails or text messages to turn over because she left them behind when she stepped down.

Westlake Legal Group impeachment-investigation-tracker-promo-1570214529724-articleLarge-v3 Former Trump Aide Fiona Hill Speaks to Impeachment Investigators on Ukraine Zelensky, Volodymyr Yovanovitch, Marie L United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Pompeo, Mike National Security Council Hill, Fiona (1965- ) Giuliani, Rudolph W Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates

Subpoenas and Requests for Evidence in the Trump Impeachment Inquiry

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

Hers was the first of an active week of investigative work on Capitol Hill, where Democrats have scheduled closed-door sessions with a number of officials who could shed light on Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. George P. Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state who deals with the region, is scheduled to testify on Tuesday. Gordon D. Sondland, the Trump donor turned ambassador to the European Union who inserted himself into the Ukraine portfolio, is due to testify on Thursday.

Ms. Hill is a widely respected, British-born former Brookings Institution scholar and intelligence officer. She is the author, with Clifford Gaddy, of “Mr. Putin,” a critical biography of the Russian leader, and she served as senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs on the National Security Council staff from 2017 until last summer.

She turned over her duties to her successor on July 15 and left on July 19, just days before the July 25 telephone call in which Mr. Trump pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate conspiracy theories about Ukrainian help to Democrats in the 2016 election and supposed corruption by former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Ms. Hill was prepared to testify that she opposed the idea of the phone call because she did not understand its purpose. While it was described as a congratulatory call following parliamentary elections in Ukraine, Mr. Trump had already made a congratulatory call to Mr. Zelensky in April following his own election.

Ms. Hill has told associates that while she was the president’s top adviser on Russia and Ukraine, she was cut out of decisions and discussions as Mr. Giuliani and others ran a shadow diplomacy intended to benefit Mr. Trump’s political position.

She was not told that Mr. Trump would use the July 25 call to press for an investigation into Mr. Biden nor did she know about the president’s decision to withhold $391 million in American assistance to Ukraine until shortly before her departure, according to the person informed about her account.

Her testimony would not establish a quid pro quo between the suspended aid and Mr. Trump’s pressure for investigations, the person said. But she would confirm that the administration leveraged a coveted White House invitation for Mr. Zelensky to a commitment to investigate corruption, which was seen as code for investigating Democrats.

Ms. Hill took her objections to the treatment of Ms. Yovanovitch, who was targeted by Mr. Giuliani and conservative media outlets, to John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, as well as others. Mr. Bolton shared her concerns, according to the person, and was upset at Mr. Giuliani’s activities, which she viewed as essentially co-opting American foreign policy toward Ukraine.

Ms. Yovanovitch, a 33-year veteran of the foreign service who served under Republican and Democratic administrations, including three times as an ambassador, told House investigators last week that she was abruptly told to get “on the next plane” home last spring, ending her tour in Ukraine.

While the deputy secretary of state told her she had “done nothing wrong,” her removal, she testified, appeared to be based “on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives,” a reference to Mr. Giuliani and some of his associates.

Two associates of Mr. Giuliani were charged on Thursday with campaign finance violations connected to their efforts to push Ms. Yovanovitch out. They raised money for Pete Sessions, then a Republican member of Congress from Texas, and Mr. Sessions then pressed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to fire Ms. Yovanovitch for privately expressing “disdain” for the Trump administration. Ms. Yovanovitch denied ever expressing that sentiment.

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

Ex-Trump Aide Fiona Hill to Testify on Pressure to Oust Ambassador to Ukraine

Westlake Legal Group 14dc-impeach-sub-facebookJumbo Ex-Trump Aide Fiona Hill to Testify on Pressure to Oust Ambassador to Ukraine Zelensky, Volodymyr Yovanovitch, Marie L United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Pompeo, Mike National Security Council Giuliani, Rudolph W Fiona Hill

WASHINGTON — Fiona Hill, President Trump’s former top Russia and Europe adviser, headed to Capitol Hill on Monday morning where she is prepared to testify that she and other officials objected strenuously to the removal of the ambassador to Ukraine, only to be disregarded.

Ms. Hill, who stepped down from the White House’s National Security Council staff over the summer, viewed the recall of Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch from Kiev as an egregious abuse of the system by allies of Mr. Trump who were seeking to remove a perceived obstacle, according to a person familiar with Ms. Hill’s account.

The removal of Ms. Yovanovitch has emerged as a key episode in the narrative under examination by the House as part of its impeachment inquiry against Mr. Trump. A career diplomat, Ms. Yovanovitch was targeted by Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and other allies who were seeking to press Ukraine to investigate Mr. Trump’s Democratic rivals.

Ms. Hill will be the first person who worked in the White House to be deposed by House investigators and is appearing despite the White House declaration last week that it would refuse to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry or allow its staff to do so. The White House has not attempted to stop Ms. Hill from testifying, according to the person familiar with her account, but White House lawyers have exchanged letters with Ms. Hill’s lawyer about precedents regarding the confidentiality of presidential communications.

[Rudy Giuliani was a zero-tolerance mayor who cleaned up New York as he inflamed racial tensions. He was hailed as “America’s Mayor” after 9/11. Now, he’s at the center of the Trump impeachment inquiry. Watch “The Weekly,” our new TV show.]

Sensitive to those restraints, Ms. Hill may limit answers regarding direct interactions with the president, the person said. But her testimony is being highly anticipated, in part because she has a long history as a skeptic of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia who nonetheless worked for two years for Mr. Trump, who has made friendship with Mr. Putin a high priority.

She will not offer an opening statement as did Ms. Yovanovitch and Kurt D. Volker, the former special envoy for Ukraine, when they were interviewed by House investigators. The interview will take place behind closed doors but parts or all of it may be made public later. Unlike Mr. Volker, she has no documents, emails or text messages to turn over because she left them behind when she stepped down.

Her interview will kick off another week of investigation by the House. George P. Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state who deals with the region, is scheduled to testify on Tuesday. Gordon D. Sondland, the Trump donor turned ambassador to the European Union who inserted himself into the Ukraine portfolio, is due to testify on Thursday.

Ms. Hill is a widely respected British-born former Brookings Institution scholar and intelligence officer. She is the author, with Clifford Gaddy, of “Mr. Putin,” a critical biography of the Russian leader, and she served as senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs on the National Security Council staff from 2017 until last summer.

She turned over her duties to her successor on July 15 and left on July 19, just days before the July 25 telephone call in which Mr. Trump pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate conspiracy theories about Ukrainian help to Democrats in the 2016 election and supposed corruption by former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Ms. Hill is prepared to testify that she opposed the idea of the phone call because she did not understand its purpose. While it was described as a congratulatory call following parliamentary elections in Ukraine, Mr. Trump had already made a congratulatory call to Mr. Zelensky in April following his own election.

Ms. Hill will testify that while she was the president’s top adviser on Russia and Ukraine, she was cut out of the loop as Mr. Giuliani and others ran a shadow diplomacy intended to benefit Mr. Trump’s political position, according to the person informed about her account. She was not told, the person said, that Mr. Trump would use the call to press for an investigation into Mr. Biden.

Her testimony will not establish a quid pro quo between Mr. Trump’s pressure for investigations and his decision to withhold $391 million in American assistance to Ukraine, the person said. But she will confirm that the administration leveraged a coveted White House invitation for Mr. Zelensky to a commitment to investigate corruption, which was seen as code for investigating Democrats.

Ms. Hill took her objections to the treatment of Ms. Yovanovitch, who was targeted by Mr. Giuliani and conservative media outlets, to John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, as well as others. Mr. Bolton shared her concerns, according to the person, and was upset at Mr. Giuliani’s activities, which she viewed as essentially co-opting American foreign policy toward Ukraine.

Ms. Yovanovitch, a 33-year veteran of the foreign service who served under Republican and Democratic administrations, including three times as an ambassador, told House investigators last week that she was abruptly told to get “on the next plane” home last spring, ending her tour in Ukraine.

While the deputy secretary of state told her she had “done nothing wrong,” her removal, she testified, appeared to be based “on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives,” a reference to Mr. Giuliani and some of his associates.

Two associates of Mr. Giuliani were arrested on Thursday on campaign finance charges connected to their efforts to push Ms. Yovanovitch out. They raised money for Pete Sessions, then a Republican member of Congress from Texas, and Mr. Sessions then pressed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to fire Ms. Yovanovitch for privately expressing “disdain” for the Trump administration. Ms. Yovanovitch denied ever expressing that sentiment.

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

Macabre Video of Fake Trump Shooting Media and Critics Is Shown at His Resort

WASHINGTON — A video depicting a macabre scene of a fake President Trump shooting, stabbing and brutally assaulting members of the news media and his political opponents was shown at a conference for his supporters at his Miami resort last week, according to footage obtained by The New York Times.

Several of Mr. Trump’s top surrogates — including his son Donald Trump Jr., his former spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis — were scheduled to speak at the three-day conference, which was held by a pro-Trump group, American Priority, at Trump National Doral Miami. Ms. Sanders and a person close to Mr. Trump’s son said on Sunday that they did not see the video at the conference.

Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said on Twitter Monday that while Mr. Trump has not seen the video, “based upon everything he has heard, he strongly condemns” it.

The video, which includes the logo for Mr. Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, comprises a series of internet memes. The most violent clip shows Mr. Trump’s head superimposed on the body of a man opening fire inside the “Church of Fake News” on parishioners who have the faces of his critics or the logos of media organizations superimposed on their bodies. It appears to be an edited scene of a church massacre from the 2014 dark comedy film “Kingsman: The Secret Service.”

The disclosure that the video was played shows how Mr. Trump’s anti-media language has influenced his supporters and bled into their own propaganda. Mr. Trump has made attacks on the news media a mainstay of his presidency, and he tweeted a similar — but far less violent video — in 2017. In recent weeks as he has confronted impeachment proceedings, he has ramped up his attacks on the news media, repeatedly calling it the “enemy of the people.”

A person who attended the conference last week took a video of the clip on his phone and had an intermediary send it to a reporter for The Times. Parts of the video were posted on YouTube in 2018 by a user with a history of creating pro-Trump mash-ups.

The organizer of the event said in a statement on Sunday that the clip had been played at the conference, saying it was part of a “meme exhibit.” He denounced the video and said his organization was looking into how it was shown at the event.

“Content was submitted by third parties and was not associated with or endorsed by the conference in any official capacity,” said the organizer, Alex Phillips. “American Priority rejects all political violence and aims to promote a healthy dialogue about the preservation of free speech. This matter is under review.”

Organizers declined to say exactly where at Mr. Trump’s resort the video was shown.

A person close to Mr. Trump’s son said he was unaware that the video had been played at the conference. Ms. Sanders said she was unaware of the video’s existence until a Times reporter contacted her.

“I was there to speak at a prayer breakfast, where I spoke about unity and bringing the country together,” Ms. Sanders said. “I wasn’t aware of any video, nor do I support violence of any kind against anyone.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162670983_b9f9054b-2adf-412d-a75a-a332b8db3066-articleLarge Macabre Video of Fake Trump Shooting Media and Critics Is Shown at His Resort Violence (Media and Entertainment) Video Recordings, Downloads and Streaming United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Jr Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Media DeSantis, Ron

A scene from a video depicting a fake President Trump massacring the news media and his critics that was shown at a conference for his supporters at Trump National Doral Miami last week.

A spokesman for Mr. Trump’s campaign said he knew nothing about the video.

“That video was not produced by the campaign, and we do not condone violence,” said Tim Murtaugh, the spokesman.

A DeSantis spokeswoman did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The video depicts a scene inside the “Church of Fake News,” where parishioners rise as Mr. Trump — dressed in a black pinstripe suit and tie — walks down the aisle. Many parishioners’ faces have been replaced with the logos of news media organizations, including PBS, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and NBC.

Mr. Trump stops in the middle of the church, pulls a gun out of his suit jacket pocket and begins a graphic rampage. As the parishioners try to flee, the president fires at them. He shoots Black Lives Matter in the head, and also shoots Vice News.

Some of those in the church try to apprehend Mr. Trump. He fends them off and makes his way toward the altar, knocking over several pews. He wrestles a parishioner with a Vice News logo as a face to the ground and then shoots the person at point blank range. In the background, the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, is seen trying to get away.

From there, Mr. Trump attacks a range of his critics. He strikes the late Arizona senator John McCain in the back of the neck. He hits the television personality Rosie O’Donnell in the face and then stabs her in the head. He strikes Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California. He lights the head of Senator Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential rival, on fire.

He takes Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, hostage before throwing him to the ground. Then he strikes former President Barack Obama in the back and throws him against a wall.

Others shown in the video include Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC; former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; former President Bill Clinton; the film producer Harvey Weinstein; and Representative Adam B. Schiff, the California Democrat who as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is overseeing an impeachment inquiry of Mr. Trump.

The clip ends with Mr. Trump putting a stake into the head of a person with a CNN logo for a face. Mr. Trump then stands on the altar, admiring his rampage, and smiles.

The video is similar in style to one Mr. Trump tweeted in July 2017, in which he is shown at a wrestling match body slamming CNN’s logo and beating it up. The president was roundly criticized for encouraging violence against journalists by posting that clip, but his supporters enjoyed it, and helped make the tweet viral.

Throughout his 2016 campaign and presidency, Mr. Trump has sought to demonize the news media, partly out of frustration about the coverage of his administration and partly because he likes to have an opponent to target. Mr. Trump has also sought to undermine confidence in the mainstream media, some of his advisers acknowledge privately, to make people doubt the accuracy of less favorable accounts of what goes on in his administration.

The president said at a rally on Friday that there was an “unholy alliance of corrupt Democrat politicians, deep-state bureaucrats and the fake news media.”

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Trump Followed His Gut on Syria. Calamity Came Fast.

Westlake Legal Group 14dc-assess2-facebookJumbo Trump Followed His Gut on Syria. Calamity Came Fast. United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J

President Trump’s acquiescence to Turkey’s move to send troops deep inside Syrian territory has in only one week’s time turned into a bloody carnage, forced the abandonment of a successful five-year-long American project to keep the peace on a volatile border, and given an unanticipated victory to four American adversaries: Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State.

Rarely has a presidential decision resulted so immediately in what his own party leaders have described as disastrous consequences for American allies and interests. How this decision happened — springing from an “off-script moment” with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, in the words of a senior American diplomat — likely will be debated for years by historians, Middle East experts and conspiracy theorists.

But this much already is clear: Mr. Trump ignored months of warnings from his advisers about what calamities likely would ensue if he followed his instincts to pull back from Syria and abandon America’s longtime allies, the Kurds. He had no Plan B, other than to leave. The only surprise is how swiftly it all collapsed around the president and his depleted, inexperienced foreign policy team.

Day after day, they have been caught off-guard, offering up differing explanations of what Mr. Trump said to Mr. Erdogan, how the United States and its allies might respond, and even whether Turkey remains an American ally. For a while Mr. Trump said he acted because the Islamic State was already defeated, and because he was committed to terminating “endless wars” by pulling American troops out of the Middle East. By the end of the week he added 2,000 — to Saudi Arabia.

One day he was inviting Mr. Erdogan to visit the White House; the next he was threatening to “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if it crossed a line that he never defined.

Mr. Erdogan just kept going.

Mr. Trump’s error, some aides concede in off-the-record conversations, was entering the Oct. 6 call underprepared, and then failing to spell out for Mr. Erdogan the potential consequences — from economic sanctions to a dimunition of Turkey’s alliance with the United States and its standing in NATO. He has since threatened both, retroactively. But it is not clear Mr. Erdogan believes either is a real risk.

The drama is nowhere near over. Out of necessity, the Kurds switched sides on Sunday, turning their backs on Washington and signing up with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, a man the United States has called a war criminal for gassing his own people. At the Pentagon, officials struggled with the right response if Turkish forces — NATO allies — again opened fire on any of the 1,000 or so Americans now preparing to retreat from their positions inside Syria. Those troops are trapped for now, since Turkey has cut off the roads; removing them may require an airlift.

And over the weekend, State and Energy Department officials were quietly reviewing plans for evacuating roughly 50 tactical nuclear weapons that the United States had long stored, under American control, at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, about 250 miles from the Syrian border, according to two American officials.

Those weapons, one senior official said, were now essentially Erdogan’s hostages. To fly them out of Incirlik would be to mark the de facto end of the Turkish-American alliance. To keep them there, though, is to perpetuate a nuclear vulnerability that should have been eliminated years ago.

“I think this is a first — a country with U.S. nuclear weapons stationed in it literally firing artillery at US forces,” Jeffrey Lewis of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies wrote last week.

For his part, Mr. Erdogan claims nuclear ambitions of his own: Only a month ago, speaking to supporters, he said, he said he “cannot accept” rules that keep Turkey from possessing nuclear weapons of its own.

“There is no developed nation in the world that doesn’t have them,” he said. (In fact, most do not.)

“This president keeps blindsiding our military and diplomatic leaders and partners with impulsive moves like this that benefit Russia and authoritarian regimes,” said Senator Jack Reed, the Rhode Island Democrat and longtime member of the Armed Services Committee.

“If this president were serious about ending wars and winning peace, he’d actually articulate a strategy that would protect against a re-emergence of ISIS and provide for the safety of our Syrian partners,” Mr. Reed added. “But he has repeatedly failed to do that. Instead, this is another example of Donald Trump creating chaos, undermining U.S. interests, and benefitting Russia and the Assad regime.”

The other major beneficiary is Iran, perhaps Mr. Trump’s most talked-about geo-political foe, which has long supported the Syrian regime and sought freer rein across the country.

But none of that appeared to have been anticipated by Mr. Trump, who has no fondness for briefing books and meetings in the Situation Room intended to game out events two or three moves ahead. Instead, he often talks about the trusting his instincts.

“My gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me,” he said late last year. He was discussing the Federal Reserve, but could just as easily been talking foreign policy; in 2017 he told a reporter, right after his first meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, that it was his “gut feel” for how to deal with foreign leaders, honed over years in the real estate world, that guided him. “Foreign policy is what I’ll be remembered for,” he said.

But in this case the failure to look around corners has blown up on him at a speed that is rare in foreign policy and national security. The closest analogue may date back to 1950, during Harry Truman’s administration, when Secretary of State Dean Acheson described America’s new “defense perimeter” in a speech, saying it ran from southern Japan through the Philippines. That left out the Korean Peninsula, and two weeks later Joseph Stalin, the Soviet leader, appeared to have given Kim Il-sung, grandfather of the current North Korean leader, permission to launch his invasion of the South. The bloody stalemate that followed lives with the United States today.

At the time, the United States kept a token force in South Korea, akin to the one parked along the Turkish-Syrian border. And it is impossible to know whether the North Korean attack would have been launched even without Mr. Acheson’s failure to warn about American action if a vulnerable ally was attacked — just as it is impossible to know if Mr. Erdogan would have sent his troops over the border if that phone call, and Mr. Trump’s failure to object, had never happened.

It was Mr. Trump himself who, during a presidential debate with Hillary Clinton in 2016, blamed President Barack Obama for a similar error. “President Obama and Secretary Clinton created a vacuum the way they got out of Iraq,” he said, referring to the 2011 withdrawal. “They shouldn’t have been in, but once they got in, the way they got out was a disaster. And ISIS was formed.”

Even his allies see the parallel. “If I didn’t see Donald Trump’s name on the tweet I thought it would be Obama’s rationale for getting out of Iraq,” Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Mr. Trump’s most vociferous defenders in recent years, but among his harshest Republican critics for the Syria decision, said last week.

As James F. Jeffrey, who worked for Mr. Obama as ambassador to Turkey, then to Iraq, and now serves as Mr. Trump’s special envoy for Syria, noted several years ago, it’s debatable whether events would have played out differently if the United States had stayed in Iraq.

Could a residual force have prevented ISIS’s victories?” he asked in a Wall Street Journal essay five years ago. “With troops we would have had better intelligence on al Qaeda in Iraq and later ISIS, a more attentive Washington, and no doubt a better-trained Iraqi army. But the common argument that U.S. troops could have produced different Iraqi political outcomes is hogwash. The Iraqi sectarian divides, which ISIS exploited, run deep and were not susceptible to permanent remedy by our troops at their height, let alone by 5,000 trainers under Iraqi restraints.”

Mr. Trump may now be left to make the same argument about Syria: That nothing could have stopped Mr. Erdogan, that the Russians would benefit in any case, that there are other ways to push back at Iran. Perhaps history will side with him.

For now, however, he has given up most of what little leverage he had.

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