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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 155)

In Show of Support, Trump Meets With Giuliani Over Lunch

WASHINGTON — President Trump had lunch on Saturday with Rudolph W. Giuliani amid revelations that prosecutors were investigating Mr. Giuliani for possible lobbying violations, and speculation that his position as the president’s personal lawyer was in jeopardy.

The lunch, at Mr. Trump’s golf course in Sterling, Va., was among several shows of the president’s support for Mr. Giuliani on Saturday. They seemed meant to tamp down questions about Mr. Giuliani’s status with a client famous for distancing himself from advisers when they encounter legal problems of their own.

Mr. Trump, during a Saturday night appearance on Fox News, called Mr. Giuliani “a great gentleman” and said he is still his lawyer. “I know nothing about him being under investigation. I can’t imagine it,” he told the host Jeanine Pirro.

Before the lunch, Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump spoke on the phone, according to two people familiar with the discussions. Also beforehand, Mr. Trump praised Mr. Giuliani on Twitter as a “legendary ‘crime buster’ and greatest Mayor in the history of NYC.”

Mr. Giuliani “may seem a little rough around the edges sometimes, but he is also a great guy and wonderful lawyer,” the president’s tweet continued.

And Mr. Trump dismissed the investigation into Mr. Giuliani as a “a one sided Witch Hunt” carried out by the “Deep State.”

The president echoed language he had used to minimize the special counsel’s investigation into whether he or his campaign worked with Russians who interfered in the 2016 election to try to help him win the presidency.

Mr. Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor and New York mayor, was retained last year to help defend the president in the special counsel’s investigation.

But his efforts to undermine the investigation’s origins and its conclusions helped lead Mr. Trump into an impeachment inquiry. The inquiry focuses on whether Mr. Trump, with assistance from Mr. Giuliani, abused the presidency to pressure Ukraine to pursue investigations for his political benefit, including into whether Ukrainians played a role in spurring the inquiry of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are now investigating whether Mr. Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine may have run afoul of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, The New York Times reported on Friday.

Mr. Giuliani has defended his work in Ukraine and said it did not require him to register under FARA.

Mr. Trump was not enamored with the negative publicity around Mr. Giuliani, people close to the president said, but he remains loyal because of his lawyer’s willingness to aggressively defend him during the special counsel’s inquiry.

It is not clear what was discussed at the lunch.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162594609_dbbb74c6-c935-4cf1-b213-9f719b21b78c-articleLarge In Show of Support, Trump Meets With Giuliani Over Lunch Ukrainian-Americans Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Mueller, Robert S III Giuliani, Rudolph W Biden, Joseph R Jr

The presidential motorcade leaving the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., on Saturday.CreditCheriss May for The New York Times

The lunch is unlikely to end speculation over whether the president will ultimately consider Mr. Giuliani a liability. Another of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers, Michael D. Cohen, met privately with the president in Florida in March 2018, a month before the F.B.I. searched his home, hotel room and office. Mr. Trump publicly embraced Mr. Cohen, until it became clear he might speak against the president.

A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Asked over text message about the significance of the lunch, Mr. Giuliani directed a reporter to Mr. Trump’s show of support on Twitter.

He said his relationship with Mr. Trump was “the same as ever,” but declined to answer additional questions, explaining he was watching the New York Yankees’ playoff baseball game against the Houston Astros.

The two people familiar with the discussions between Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani said they believed it would be difficult to prove that Mr. Giuliani violated FARA.

The law requires American citizens to disclose to the Justice Department any contacts with the government or media in the United States at the direction or request of foreign politicians or government officials, regardless of whether they paid for the representation.

Mr. Giuliani has acknowledged that he and two of his associates, who were arrested on campaign finance charges on Wednesday, worked with Ukrainian prosecutors to collect potentially damaging information about targets of Mr. Trump and his allies, including a former American ambassador to Ukraine and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son, Hunter Biden.

Mr. Giuliani shared that material this year with American government officials and a Trump-friendly columnist in an effort to undermine the ambassador and other Trump targets.

But Mr. Giuliani said that he had undertaken that work on behalf of Mr. Trump, not the Ukrainian prosecutors. He said he had in fact turned down an offer to represent one of the prosecutors because it would have posed a conflict with his work for the president.

What concerns some of Mr. Trump’s advisers more than a possible FARA prosecution related to his Ukraine work is that Mr. Giuliani, who has been representing the president pro bono, is facing a contentious and potentially costly divorce from his third wife, Judith Nathan, and that he may have taken on clients overseas who could be problematic for him with prosecutors.

While Mr. Trump has been reluctant to separate from Mr. Giuliani, some of his advisers hope he will. They remain concerned about Mr. Giuliani’s public commentary about the president and the Ukraine issue.

Kenneth P. Vogel reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York. Annie Karni contributed reporting from Washington.

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Impeachment Support Grows, but So Does the Public Divide

Westlake Legal Group 12dc-impeachmentvoters-facebookJumbo Impeachment Support Grows, but So Does the Public Divide Voting and Voters Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party Polls and Public Opinion impeachment Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party

CULPEPER, Va. — Over lunch at the Frost Cafe, a corner diner in a picturesque pocket of Virginia that President Trump won handily in 2016, opinion over his impeachment is as varied as anywhere in the country.

Garland Gentry, 74, a pro-Trump retiree, declared the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry “another in a long line of hoaxes,” while Cindy Rafala, 59, a therapist, sat nearby and wondered, “If we don’t impeach, then what are our principles?”

Donnie Johnston, a newspaper columnist who voted for Mr. Trump but has since soured on him, said Democrats are right to look into the president’s effort to pressure the leader of Ukraine to dig up dirt on political rivals. Mr. Trump, he said, makes “a wonderful tyrant but he’s a miserable president.”

The shifting tides in Culpeper, a rural town of about 18,000 nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and in communities across the country, are a warning sign for Mr. Trump as Congress returns to Washington Tuesday after a two-week recess and Democrats’ impeachment inquiry kicks into high gear. They suggest that while Americans are deeply split along party lines over the push to remove Mr. Trump, their views on impeachment are beginning to crystallize in some unexpected ways.

From Iowa to Texas to Virginia to New York — and especially in swing districts like this one, where Representative Abigail Spanberger, a freshman Democrat, flipped a seat long held by Republicans — interviews with dozens of voters suggest what public polls have begun to show: that there is growing support for the impeachment inquiry that could ultimately result in Mr. Trump’s ouster, even as sharp divides remain over his conduct and character.

Democrats, aware of the risks of a backlash by voters against the impeachment process, have been monitoring public opinion vigilantly and tailoring their message and strategy accordingly. On a private conference call on Friday afternoon, leaders briefed their rank and file on private polling of 57 politically competitive districts that confirmed what public polls have reported in recent days: while a stark partisan divide persists, public support is growing for impeaching the president, and for the inquiry itself.

An average of impeachment polls calculated by the website FiveThirtyEight found that, as of Oct. 11, 49.3 percent of respondents supported impeachment and 43.5 percent did not. A survey released this past week by The Washington Post found 58 percent said the House was correct to open an inquiry.

And polling by a group of Democratic strategists found a potential opportunity to sway the public still further: nearly a quarter of the respondents categorized by strategists as “impeachment skeptics” opposed the inquiry but were not ready to say that Mr. Trump did nothing wrong.

Those figures do not point to a broad consensus around impeachment, and the interviews in recent days made clear there is none. Republicans here and around the country view the Democrats’ inquiry as just one more effort to undo the results of the 2016 presidential race. Just 14 percent of them back impeachment, according to FiveThirtyEight, compared to 82 percent of Democrats.

At a weekly steak fry in Trump-friendly Bandera, Texas, a town that bills itself as the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” most people seemed to agree with Holly Mydland, a fiddler, that the inquiry is “just bull crap,” and the local congressman, Representative Chip Roy, a Republican who has said he wants to follow the facts, but insisted that “only in Washington are people all in a tizzy about this.”

But Michael Clark, 69, a retired purchasing agent for an oil company who considers himself an independent, said the inquiry “has merit — we need to know the truth whatever the truth may be.”

And in Westerville, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus that will host a Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Don Foster, who voted for Mr. Trump but no longer supports him, said he found the latest allegations as more dire than those investigated by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, involving Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“This one seems more true than the Mueller report,’’ he said. “I’m guessing that Trump really is guilty, I just don’t know yet.’’

Still, Democrats are confronting some warning signs of their own as they pursue what Speaker Nancy Pelosi has conceded is the most divisive process in American political life. While the Democratic base overwhelmingly supports impeachment, many share the view of Ms. Rafala, the therapist in Culpeper, who said she is “worried to death that it could backfire.”

Holly Mydland said that the inquiry is “just bull crap.”CreditCallaghan O’Hare for The New York Times Michael Clark, who considers himself an independent, said the inquiry “has merit.”CreditCallaghan O’Hare for The New York Times

In West Des Moines, Iowa, Dimeka Jennings said she is far more focused on the 2020 election than on the efforts in Congress to remove Mr. Trump, which she predicts will fail.

“We need to look at beating Trump, and doing so at all costs,” Ms. Jennings said.

And in Reno, Nev., April Friedman, 48, a teacher for students with special needs, said she thought the impeachment inquiry was important but wished the government would also address other more pressing issues.

“I’m in a Title I school and we have cockroaches in our trailer,” she said, referring to the law that mandates extra federal funding for schools with large concentrations of low-income students. “I know there’s a lot going on, but that’s what I’m focused on.”

When lawmakers left Washington for their home districts at the end of September, Ms. Pelosi instructed her fellow Democrats to speak about impeachment in “prayerful, respectful, solemn” tones in an effort to persuade the public that Democrats were acting out of principle, not politics. Two weeks later, it is not clear whether they have succeeded.

“I think the jury’s still out,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster. For Democrats, she said, “the risk is less that voters disagree with them on impeachment and more that people will think: ‘Why are you engaged in this when my prescription drug bill has gone up, my health care is uncertain, my job doesn’t pay very well, my kid’s got student debt?’ ”

Meantime, the impeachment inquiry is barreling ahead as Democrats seek to build their case that Mr. Trump abused his power by using a security aid package and the promise of a White House visit to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate Democrats including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Mr. Biden’s younger son, Hunter. On Friday, Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, testified behind closed doors, telling impeachment investigators that the president had personally pushed for her ouster based on “false claims.”

During their conference call on Friday, Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois, who runs the party’s campaign arm, urged fellow Democrats to focus on kitchen-table issues and to speak about impeachment in “direct, simple and values-based” language, according to aides who listened to the call.

The advice reflected the findings of internal polls that the most potent argument for Democrats is that Mr. Trump has abused his power and put himself above the law. It was also an acknowledgment that Republicans are succeeding at persuading some voters that the impeachment push is distracting Democrats from getting things done for their constituents.

“They’ve been hassling the president since the day he got in office,” said Diane Segura, 56, who works as a nurse near the 11th Street Cowboy Bar in Bandera. “I’m tired of hearing it, tired of dealing with it.”

“It’s just more of the same,” she added.

But for many Democratic voters, the impeachment push is long overdue.

“Regardless of what your party is, I don’t understand how you could look at that and think this is not worthy of an investigation,’” said Deborah Harris, a self-described “strong Democrat” in Iowa City, referring to Mr. Trump’s entreaties to President Zelensky. She added, “This is crossing a line.”

But in between there are hints of an important shift among a constituency critical to the president’s future: independents. The FiveThirtyEight tracker shows 44 percent of independents favor impeachment, up from 33 percent after Mr. Mueller concluded his two-year investigation. A memo prepared by Navigator Research, a progressive polling project, entitled “How to Talk About Impeachment,” found even stronger support among independents, with 51 percent backing impeachment.

Culpeper, a town that is older than America itself and sits roughly halfway between Washington, D.C. and Charlottesville, Va., offers a snapshot of America’s impeachment divide.

At the Rusty Willow Boutique, an upscale women’s clothing shop that was preparing for its grand opening, just the mention of Mr. Trump prompted a squabble between Sonya Pancione, 57, the shop’s owner, and Denise Reynolds, 50, one of her best friends from church. Ms. Pancione is dead-set against impeachment.

“Respect the office. It’s a democracy. People voted for him,” she said.

Ms. Reynolds loathes Mr. Trump and blames him for inciting racial hatred. She was once excited about his candidacy — “I thought we needed somebody who understood business in that seat,” she said — but says now that if he were impeached and removed from office, “it would not upset me in the least.”

Denise Reynolds, left, and Sonya Pancione feel differently about the impeachment inquiry.CreditJason Andrew for The New York Times Nick Freitas, a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates, helped organize a “Stop the Madness!” rally.CreditJason Andrew for The New York Times

Ms. Spanberger, a former C.I.A. officer and federal postal inspector who worked on money laundering cases before joining Congress, reflects the shifting tide. She won her district, which includes Culpeper, narrowly in 2018, casting herself as a moderate who wanted to solve problems like the high cost of prescription drugs. She visited Culpeper this past week, making it the first stop on a two-day “education tour,” but declined an interview for this article.

For months, she resisted calls for impeachment. But after the Ukraine news broke, she joined six freshman Democrats who have national security backgrounds in writing an opinion piece in The Washington Post to call for Ms. Pelosi to open an inquiry.

Now Mr. Trump and his allies are targeting vulnerable Democrats like her. In Pennsylvania, Florida, Iowa and other battleground states, scores of Republicans turned out this month for “Stop the Madness!” rallies orchestrated by the Trump campaign. Here in Culpeper, the local party staged its own rally last Saturday.

“Abigail won on a blue-wave year, and she really won on this whole notion that she was going to go down and be an independent voice, the she wasn’t interested in impeachment, she was really interested in getting things done,” said Nick Freitas, a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates, who helped organize the event.

“And here we are.”

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting from Bandera, Texas; Nick Corasaniti from Iowa City, Trip Gabriel in Westerville, Ohio, and Astead W. Herndon from West Des Moines, Iowa and Reno, Nev.

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For Both Trump and Xi, Trade Deal Comes Amid Growing Pressures at Home

Westlake Legal Group 12dc-tradechina-sub1-facebookJumbo-v2 For Both Trump and Xi, Trade Deal Comes Amid Growing Pressures at Home Xi Jinping United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Economy United States Trump, Donald J International Trade and World Market Customs (Tariff) China Agriculture and Farming

BEIJING — The interim trade pact announced Friday between the United States and China came together as both country’s leaders faced mounting political pressures and rising economic worries at home.

For months, President Trump has increased pressure on Beijing with higher tariffs on Chinese goods, insisting on a comprehensive trade deal that addressed a long list of concerns about how China manages its economy. And for months, senior Chinese officials met Mr. Trump’s escalating tariffs with their own as they remained equally emphatic that any deal must completely erase Mr. Trump’s tariffs.

On Friday, both sides decided that half a deal was better than none, consenting to a preliminary agreement that would involve China buying more American farm products and taking several other limited steps to open its economy in exchange for the United States foregoing its planned tariff increase next week.

The truce will help calm a trade fight that has taken a significant toll on the world’s two largest economies and threatened to further slow global growth at a precarious moment. Perhaps more important, it will help both Mr. Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, secure a win in the midst of domestic tumult.

Mr. Xi faces violent street protests in Hong Kong, as well as sharply rising grocery prices that could be brought down with imports of American food. Mr. Trump is eager to change the conversation away from an impeachment inquiry and a rapidly widening series of questions about his team’s involvement in Ukraine. And both leaders are confronting a steady drip of negative economic news, as the trade war weighs on manufacturing and business investment.

“It’s pretty clear that the U.S. and China have fought this trade war to a stalemate,” said Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “At the moment, neither side sees any real advantage in escalation. The president wants an off-ramp for electoral reasons, and I think the Chinese want an off-ramp primarily for economic reasons.”

Mr. Trump and his advisers have denied that the trade war has caused any economic damage in the United States, instead blaming a strong dollar as well as the Federal Reserve, which has already begun cutting interest rates. But the evidence is becoming harder to ignore. On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund warned that the trade war with China could cost the global economy around $700 billion by 2020 — a loss equivalent to the size of Switzerland’s entire economy.

Top Fed officials have also warned of economic risks from Mr. Trump’s trade war and cautioned that while the Fed will do what it can to keep the expansion going, its powers are limited. And stock markets, whose performance Mr. Trump has pointed to in the past as a barometer of his success as president, have been whipsawed by every escalation.

“Every time there’s a little bad news, the market would go down incredibly,” Mr. Trump said on Friday as he announced the deal. “Every time there was a little bit of good news, the market would go up incredibly.”

With Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign approaching, he and his advisers are increasingly conscious of the need to limit any economic damage, particularly among key political constituencies like farmers, who have suffered the most.

The American farm economy has stumbled into recession, hurt by a sharp drop-off in sales to China, among the largest export markets for agricultural goods like soybeans, pork and corn. While the administration has tried to blunt the pain with two rounds of financial assistance, farmers have increasingly pleaded with the White House to end the trade war, saying the handouts are not enough to make up for the lost sales.

That pain was set to get worse next week. Until Friday’s truce, Mr. Trump had planned to increase tariffs on $250 billion worth of goods to 30 percent from 25 percent, a hike that would likely have been met with further retaliation by China and been particularly burdensome for consumers and businesses going into the holiday season.

Mr. Trump said on Friday that China has agreed to buy $40 billion to $50 billion worth of American farm goods annually, after scaling up over a period of two years. He compared the figures to annual Chinese purchases before the trade war, which were about $24 billion.

“The deal I just made with China is, by far, the greatest and biggest deal ever made for our Great Patriot Farmers in the history of our Country,” Mr. Trump tweeted on Saturday morning. “In fact, there is a question as to whether or not this much product can be produced? Our farmers will figure it out. Thank you China!”

The compromise is even more timely for Mr. Xi. Sharply rising food prices have become a national issue in China. A lethal epidemic among the country’s pigs, with mortality as high as what people in Europe faced during the Black Death of the mid-14th century, has sent prices skyward for pork as well as for alternatives like beef and lamb.

As the Chinese public has begun asking, “Where’s the beef?”, China’s trade negotiators suddenly have an answer: It can come from the United States, along with a lot of pork, soybeans and other food.

But while the agreement will benefit certain industries, it will likely not reverse a trend toward greater economic divisions between the two countries.

If the understanding on Friday holds together, it would allow the United States to retain tariffs imposed over the past 16 months on a wide array of Chinese industries. That could prompt many companies to continue efforts to shift production away from China, possibly to the United States but more likely to American allies in Southeast Asia.

Eswar Prasad, a professor of trade policy at Cornell University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said the agreement will defer new sanctions but do little to resolve the major underlying sources of friction between the two countries.

“It’s hard to see this really amounting to an actual de-escalation of tensions or anything that businesses can take to the bank,” Mr. Prasad said.

Mr. Trump has often criticized past administrations for ceding too much to China, and negotiating endlessly with limited results. China experts say that the many months of painful standoff have perhaps shown the limits to Mr. Trump’s winner-take-all approach.

“We can’t get Cuba to do what we want,” said Elizabeth C. Economy, the director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. “I don’t know why we could get China to do what we want.”

Negotiators say they will continue discussing other issues once the deal is signed. But the compromise does signal a shift in strategy for officials in the Trump administration, who had previously said they would settle for no less than a comprehensive pact that addressed so-called “structural issues.”

“What we want is fair trade,” Robert Lighthizer, Mr. Trump’s top negotiator, told Congress in February. “That requires structural change.”

American negotiators have talked about curbing various Chinese industrial policies that they view as harmful to American businesses, including China’s generous subsidies to its state-owned companies, policies that coerce technology away from multinational firms and a pernicious history of cybertheft.

But while the agreement includes some new protections on intellectual property, greater access for financial services companies and guidelines as to how China manages its currency, it does not appear to address several of these deeper concerns.

In a statement, the U.S.-China Business Council, which represents American companies that do business in China, said it hoped the tentative agreement would restore sufficient confidence to allow negotiators to tackle other issues, including “market-distorting subsidies for state-owned enterprises and equal treatment for U.S. and other foreign companies.”

Whether China will agree to deeper concessions is not guaranteed, particularly given Mr. Xi’s political sensitivities at home. Those crises have come at a bad time for Mr. Xi in terms of China’s political calendar.

In the next three weeks, Mr. Xi will face a long-awaited session of the 204-member Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. The committee, which has not gathered since February of last year, holds enormous power in China and has authority to change the country’s leaders.

While Mr. Xi’s political dominance seems secure, he appears to be facing renewed pressure to share some of that power. His colleagues, particularly Premier Li Keqiang, who oversees government ministries while Mr. Xi oversees the Communist Party, have become slightly more visible lately, although still in Mr. Xi’s shadow.

As the Central Committee session approaches, Mr. Xi has taken personal responsibility to an unusual degree for both the status of China’s relationship with the United States as well as the general health of the Chinese economy. To handle the trade talks with the United States, Mr. Xi chose a Communist Party commission that he personally oversees, and put one of his closest advisers, Vice Premier Liu He, in charge of it.

“In the current dilemma, he to some extent needs to answer to the Central Committee members who attend the meeting,” wrote Deng Yuwen, a former editor at an influential Communist Party journal in Beijing, in an opinion column on Thursday.

The possibility that the deal announced on Friday falls apart after the Central Committee meets remains a real one. The Chinese appear to be hedging their bets. Chinese state media did not describe the arrangement on Saturday as an actual deal. Mr. Trump himself was quick to say on Friday that legal details of the deal had not yet been worked out and committed to paper.

China and the United States have reached two previous truces in their trade war — the first in December in Buenos Aires and the second in June in Osaka, Japan. The Buenos Aires accord lasted five months. The Osaka accord crumbled in a month.

“Anything can happen,” Mr. Trump said Friday when asked if the deal could fall apart before the two sides plan to sign it, at a summit of global leaders in Chile next month. “That can happen. I don’t think it will. I think we know each other very well.”

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As Impeachment Divide Persists, More Voters Embrace an Inquiry

Westlake Legal Group 12dc-impeachmentvoters-facebookJumbo As Impeachment Divide Persists, More Voters Embrace an Inquiry Voting and Voters Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party Polls and Public Opinion impeachment Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party

CULPEPER, Va. — Over lunch at the Frost Cafe, a corner diner in a picturesque pocket of Virginia that President Trump won handily in 2016, opinion over his impeachment is as varied as anywhere in the country.

Garland Gentry, 74, a pro-Trump retiree, declared the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry “another in a long line of hoaxes,” while Cindy Rafala, 59, a therapist, sat nearby and wondered, “If we don’t impeach, then what are our principles?”

Donnie Johnston, a newspaper columnist who voted for Mr. Trump but has since soured on him, said Democrats are right to look into the president’s effort to pressure the leader of Ukraine to dig up dirt on political rivals. Mr. Trump, he said, makes “a wonderful tyrant but he’s a miserable president.”

The shifting tides in Culpeper, a rural town of about 18,000 nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and in communities across the country, are a warning sign for Mr. Trump as Congress returns to Washington Tuesday after a two-week recess and Democrats’ impeachment inquiry kicks into high gear. They suggest that while Americans are deeply split along party lines over the push to remove Mr. Trump, their views on impeachment are beginning to crystallize in some unexpected ways.

From Iowa to Texas to Virginia to New York — and especially in swing districts like this one, where Representative Abigail Spanberger, a freshman Democrat, flipped a seat long held by Republicans — interviews with dozens of voters suggest what public polls have begun to show: that there is growing support for the impeachment inquiry that could ultimately result in Mr. Trump’s ouster, even as sharp divides remain over his conduct and character.

Democrats, aware of the risks of a backlash by voters against the impeachment process, have been monitoring public opinion vigilantly and tailoring their message and strategy accordingly. On a private conference call on Friday afternoon, leaders briefed their rank and file on private polling of 57 politically competitive districts that confirmed what public polls have reported in recent days: while a stark partisan divide persists, public support is growing for impeaching the president, and for the inquiry itself.

An average of impeachment polls calculated by the website FiveThirtyEight found that, as of Oct. 11, 49.3 percent of respondents supported impeachment and 43.5 percent did not. A survey released this past week by The Washington Post found 58 percent said the House was correct to open an inquiry.

And polling by a group of Democratic strategists found a potential opportunity to sway the public still further: nearly a quarter of the respondents categorized by strategists as “impeachment skeptics” opposed the inquiry but were not ready to say that Mr. Trump did nothing wrong.

Those figures do not point to a broad consensus around impeachment, and the interviews in recent days made clear there is none. Republicans here and around the country view the Democrats’ inquiry as just one more effort to undo the results of the 2016 presidential race. Just 14 percent of them back impeachment, according to FiveThirtyEight, compared to 82 percent of Democrats.

At a weekly steak fry in Trump-friendly Bandera, Texas, a town that bills itself as the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” most people seemed to agree with Holly Mydland, a fiddler, that the inquiry is “just bull crap,” and the local congressman, Representative Chip Roy, a Republican who has said he wants to follow the facts, but insisted that “only in Washington are people all in a tizzy about this.”

But Michael Clark, 69, a retired purchasing agent for an oil company who considers himself an independent, said the inquiry “has merit — we need to know the truth whatever the truth may be.”

And in Westerville, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus that will host a Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Don Foster, who voted for Mr. Trump but no long supports him, said he found the latest allegations as more dire than those investigated by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, involving Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“This one seems more true than the Mueller report,’’ he said. “I’m guessing that Trump really is guilty, I just don’t know yet.’’

Still, Democrats are confronting some warning signs of their own as they pursue what Speaker Nancy Pelosi has conceded is the most divisive process in American political life. While the Democratic base overwhelmingly supports impeachment, many share the view of Ms. Rafala, the therapist in Culpeper, who said she is “worried to death that it could backfire.”

Holly Mydland said that the inquiry is “just bull crap.”CreditCallaghan O’Hare for The New York Times Michael Clark, who considers himself an independent, said the inquiry “has merit.”CreditCallaghan O’Hare for The New York Times

In West Des Moines, Iowa, Dimeka Jennings said she is far more focused on the 2020 election than on the efforts in Congress to remove Mr. Trump, which she predicts will fail.

“We need to look at beating Trump, and doing so at all costs,” Ms. Jennings said.

And in Reno, Nev., April Friedman, 48, a teacher for students with special needs, said she thought the impeachment inquiry was important but wished the government would also address other more pressing issues.

“I’m in a Title I school and we have cockroaches in our trailer,” she said, referring to the law that mandates extra federal funding for schools with large concentrations of low-income students. “I know there’s a lot going on, but that’s what I’m focused on.”

When lawmakers left Washington for their home districts at the end of September, Ms. Pelosi instructed her fellow Democrats to speak about impeachment in “prayerful, respectful, solemn” tones in an effort to persuade the public that Democrats were acting out of principle, not politics. Two weeks later, it is not clear whether they have succeeded.

“I think the jury’s still out,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster. For Democrats, she said, “the risk is less that voters disagree with them on impeachment and more that people will think: ‘Why are you engaged in this when my prescription drug bill has gone up, my health care is uncertain, my job doesn’t pay very well, my kid’s got student debt?’ ”

Meantime, the impeachment inquiry is barreling ahead as Democrats seek to build their case that Mr. Trump abused his power by using a security aid package and the promise of a White House visit to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate Democrats including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Mr. Biden’s younger son, Hunter. On Friday, Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, testified behind closed doors, telling impeachment investigators that the president had personally pushed for her ouster based on “false claims.”

During their conference call on Friday, Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois, who runs the party’s campaign arm, urged fellow Democrats to focus on kitchen-table issues and to speak about impeachment in “direct, simple and values-based” language, according to aides who listened to the call.

The advice reflected the findings of internal polls that the most potent argument for Democrats is that Mr. Trump has abused his power and put himself above the law. It was also an acknowledgment that Republicans are succeeding at persuading some voters that the impeachment push is distracting Democrats from getting things done for their constituents.

“They’ve been hassling the president since the day he got in office,” said Diane Segura, 56, who works as a nurse near the 11th Street Cowboy Bar in Bandera. “I’m tired of hearing it, tired of dealing with it.”

“It’s just more of the same,” she added.

But for many Democratic voters, the impeachment push is long overdue.

“Regardless of what your party is, I don’t understand how you could look at that and think this is not worthy of an investigation,’” said Deborah Harris, a self-described “strong Democrat” in Iowa City, referring to Mr. Trump’s entreaties to President Zelensky. She added, “This is crossing a line.”

But in between there are hints of an important shift among a constituency critical to the president’s future: independents. The FiveThirtyEight tracker shows 44 percent of independents favor impeachment, up from 33 percent after Mr. Mueller concluded his two-year investigation. A memo prepared by Navigator Research, a progressive polling project, entitled “How to Talk About Impeachment,” found even stronger support among independents, with 51 percent backing impeachment.

Culpeper, a town that is older than America itself and sits roughly halfway between Washington, D.C. and Charlottesville, Va., offers a snapshot of America’s impeachment divide.

At the Rusty Willow Boutique, an upscale women’s clothing shop that was preparing for its grand opening, just the mention of Mr. Trump prompted a squabble between Sonya Pancione, 57, the shop’s owner, and Denise Reynolds, 50, one of her best friends from church. Ms. Pancione is dead-set against impeachment.

“Respect the office. It’s a democracy. People voted for him,” she said.

Ms. Reynolds loathes Mr. Trump and blames him for inciting racial hatred. She was once excited about his candidacy — “I thought we needed somebody who understood business in that seat,” she said — but says now that if he were impeached and removed from office, “it would not upset me in the least.”

Denise Reynolds, left, and Sonya Pancione feel differently about the impeachment inquiry.CreditJason Andrew for The New York Times Nick Freitas, a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates, helped organize a “Stop the Madness!” rally.CreditJason Andrew for The New York Times

Ms. Spanberger, a former C.I.A. officer and federal postal inspector who worked on money laundering cases before joining Congress, reflects the shifting tide. She won her district, which includes Culpeper, narrowly in 2018, casting herself as a moderate who wanted to solve problems like the high cost of prescription drugs. She visited Culpeper this past week, making it the first stop on a two-day “education tour,” but declined an interview for this article.

For months, she resisted calls for impeachment. But after the Ukraine news broke, she joined six freshman Democrats who have national security backgrounds in writing an opinion piece in The Washington Post to call for Ms. Pelosi to open an inquiry.

Now Mr. Trump and his allies are targeting vulnerable Democrats like her. In Pennsylvania, Florida, Iowa and other battleground states, scores of Republicans turned out this month for “Stop the Madness!” rallies orchestrated by the Trump campaign. Here in Culpeper, the local party staged its own rally last Saturday.

“Abigail won on a blue-wave year, and she really won on this whole notion that she was going to go down and be an independent voice, the she wasn’t interested in impeachment, she was really interested in getting things done,” said Nick Freitas, a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates, who helped organize the event.

“And here we are.”

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting from Bandera, Texas; Nick Corasaniti from Iowa City, Trip Gabriel in Westerville, Ohio, and Astead W. Herndon from West Des Moines, Iowa and Reno, Nev.

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Giuliani Is Said to Be Under Investigation for Ukraine Work

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-giuliani1-facebookJumbo Giuliani Is Said to Be Under Investigation for Ukraine Work Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Parnas, Lev Lutsenko, Yuri V Justice Department impeachment Giuliani, Rudolph W Fruman, Igor Campaign Finance Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter Berman, Geoffrey S

WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani broke lobbying laws in his dealings in Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the inquiry.

The investigators are examining Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to undermine the American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, one of the people said. She was recalled in the spring as part of Mr. Trump’s broader campaign to pressure Ukraine into helping his political prospects.

The investigation into Mr. Giuliani is tied to the case against two of his associates who were arrested this week on campaign finance-related charges, the people familiar with the inquiry said. The associates were charged with funneling illegal contributions to a congressman whose help they sought in removing Ms. Yovanovitch.

Mr. Giuliani has denied wrongdoing, but he acknowledged that he and the associates worked with Ukrainian prosecutors to collect potentially damaging information about Ms. Yovanovitch and other targets of Mr. Trump and his allies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son, Hunter Biden. Mr. Giuliani shared that material this year with American government officials and a Trump-friendly columnist in an effort to undermine the ambassador and other Trump targets.

Federal law requires American citizens to disclose to the Justice Department any contacts with the government or media in the United States at the direction or request of foreign politicians or government officials, regardless of whether they pay for the representation. Law enforcement officials have made clear in recent years that covert foreign influence is as great a threat to the country as spies trying to steal government secrets.

A criminal investigation of Mr. Giuliani raises the stakes of the Ukraine scandal for the president, whose dealings with the country are already the subject of an impeachment inquiry. It is also a stark turn for Mr. Giuliani, who now finds himself under scrutiny from the same United States attorney’s office he led in the 1980s, when he first rose to prominence as a tough-on-crime prosecutor and later ascended to two terms as mayor of New York.

It was unclear how far the investigation has progressed, and there was no indication that prosecutors in Manhattan have decided to file additional charges in the case. A spokeswoman for the United States attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, declined to comment.

Mr. Giuliani said that federal prosecutors had no grounds to charge him with foreign lobbying disclosure violations because he said he was acting on behalf of Mr. Trump, not the Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, when he collected the information on Ms. Yovanovitch and the others and relayed it to the American government and the news media.

“Look, you can try to contort anything into anything, but if they have any degree of objectivity or fairness, it would be kind of ridiculous to say I was doing it on Lutsenko’s behalf when I was representing the president of the United States,” Mr. Giuliani said. Mr. Lutsenko had chafed at Ms. Yovanovitch’s anticorruption efforts and wanted her recalled from Kiev.

Mr. Giuliani also said he was unaware of any investigation into him, and he defended the pressure campaign on Ukrainians, which he led, as legal and above board.

CNN and other news organizations reported that federal prosecutors were scrutinizing Mr. Giuliani’s financial dealings with his associates, but it has not been previously reported that federal prosecutors in Manhattan are specifically investigating whether he violated foreign lobbying laws in his work in Ukraine.

Ms. Yovanovitch told impeachment investigators on Friday that Mr. Trump had pressed for her removal for months even though the State Department believed she had “done nothing wrong.”

Mr. Giuliani had receded from the spotlight in recent years while he built a brisk international consulting business, including work in Ukraine. But he re-emerged in the center of the political stage last year, when Mr. Trump retained him for the special counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference.

Russia’s sabotage also ushered in a new focus at the Justice Department on enforcing the laws regulating foreign influence that had essentially sat dormant for a half-century and under which Mr. Giuliani is now being investigated.

Through his two associates who also worked to oust the ambassador, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Mr. Giuliani connected early this year with Mr. Lutsenko, who served as Ukraine’s top prosecutor until August. Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman had previously connected Mr. Giuliani to Mr. Lutsenko’s predecessor, Viktor Shokin, late last year.

Mr. Parnas had told people that Ms. Yovanovitch was stymieing his efforts to pursue gas business in Ukraine. Mr. Parnas also told people that one of his companies had paid Mr. Giuliani hundreds of thousands of dollars for an unrelated American business venture, and Mr. Giuliani said he advised Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman on a Ukrainian dispute.

Mr. Lutsenko had sought to relay the information he had collected on Mr. Trump’s targets to American law enforcement agencies and saw Mr. Giuliani as someone who could make that happen. Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Lutsenko initially spoke over the phone and then met in person in New York in January.

Mr. Lutsenko initially asked Mr. Giuliani to represent him, according to the former mayor, who said he declined because it would have posed a conflict with his work for the president. Instead, Mr. Giuliani said, he interviewed Mr. Lutsenko for hours, then had one of his employees — a “professional investigator who works for my company” — write memos detailing the Ukrainian prosecutors’ claims about Ms. Yovanovitch, Mr. Biden and others.

Mr. Giuliani said he provided those memos to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this year and was told that the State Department passed the memos to the F.B.I. He did not say who told him.

Mr. Giuliani said he also gave the memos to the columnist, John Solomon, who worked at the time for The Hill newspaper and published articles and videos critical of Ms. Yovanovitch, the Bidens and other Trump targets. It was unclear to what degree Mr. Giuliani’s memos served as fodder for Mr. Solomon, who independently interviewed Mr. Lutsenko and other sources.

Mr. Solomon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lobbying disclosure law contains an exemption for legal work, and Mr. Giuliani said his efforts to unearth information and push both for investigations in Ukraine and for news coverage of his findings originated with his defense of Mr. Trump in the special counsel’s investigation.

He acknowledged that his work morphed into a more general dragnet for dirt on Mr. Trump’s targets but said that it was difficult to separate those lines of inquiry from his original mission of discrediting the origins of the special counsel’s investigation.

Mr. Giuliani said Mr. Lutsenko never specifically asked him to try to force Ms. Yovanovitch’s recall, saying he concluded himself that Mr. Lutsenko probably wanted her fired because he had complained that she was stifling his investigations.

“He didn’t say to me, ‘I came here to get Yovanovitch fired.’ He came here because he said he had been trying to transmit this information to your government for the past year, and had been unable to do it,” Mr. Giuliani said of his meeting in New York with Mr. Lutsenko. “I transmitted the information to the right people.”

The president sought to distance himself earlier on Friday from Mr. Giuliani, saying he was uncertain when asked whether Mr. Giuliani still represented him. “I haven’t spoken to Rudy,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “I spoke to him yesterday quickly. He is a very good attorney and he has been my attorney.”

Mr. Giuliani later said that he still represented Mr. Trump.

The recall of the ambassador and the efforts by Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani to push for investigations in Ukraine have emerged as the focus of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump.

The impeachment was prompted by a whistle-blower complaint about Mr. Trump pressing President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in a July phone call to pursue investigations that could help Mr. Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign. At the time, the Trump administration had frozen $391 million in military assistance to Ukraine for its fight against Russian-backed separatists.

The State Department’s inspector general has turned over to House impeachment investigators a packet of materials including the memos containing notes of Mr. Giuliani’s interviews with Mr. Lutsenko and Mr. Shokin.

The investigation into Mr. Giuliani is the latest to scrutinize one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers. His former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, implicated the president when he pleaded guilty last year to making hush payments during the 2016 campaign to women who claimed affairs with Mr. Trump, which he has denied.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan mentioned Mr. Trump as “Individual 1” in court papers but never formally accused him of wrongdoing.

Michael S. Schmidt and Kenneth P. Vogel reported from Washington, and Ben Protess and William K. Rashbaum from New York.

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

Giuliani Is Said to Be Under Investigation for Ukraine Work

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-giuliani1-facebookJumbo Giuliani Is Said to Be Under Investigation for Ukraine Work Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Parnas, Lev Lutsenko, Yuri V Justice Department impeachment Giuliani, Rudolph W Fruman, Igor Campaign Finance Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter Berman, Geoffrey S

WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani broke lobbying laws in his dealings in Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the inquiry.

The investigators are examining Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to undermine the American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, one of the people said. She was recalled in the spring as part of Mr. Trump’s broader campaign to pressure Ukraine into helping his political prospects.

The investigation into Mr. Giuliani is tied to the case against two of his associates who were arrested this week on campaign finance-related charges, the people familiar with the inquiry said. The associates were charged with funneling illegal contributions to a congressman whose help they sought in removing Ms. Yovanovitch.

Mr. Giuliani has denied wrongdoing, but he acknowledged that he and the associates worked with Ukrainian prosecutors to collect potentially damaging information about Ms. Yovanovitch and other targets of Mr. Trump and his allies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son, Hunter Biden. Mr. Giuliani shared that material this year with American government officials and a Trump-friendly columnist in an effort to undermine the ambassador and other Trump targets.

Federal law requires American citizens to disclose to the Justice Department any contacts with the government or media in the United States at the direction or request of foreign politicians or government officials, regardless of whether they pay for the representation. Law enforcement officials have made clear in recent years that covert foreign influence is as great a threat to the country as spies trying to steal government secrets.

A criminal investigation of Mr. Giuliani raises the stakes of the Ukraine scandal for the president, whose dealings with the country are already the subject of an impeachment inquiry. It is also a stark turn for Mr. Giuliani, who now finds himself under scrutiny from the same United States attorney’s office he led in the 1980s, when he first rose to prominence as a tough-on-crime prosecutor and later ascended to two terms as mayor of New York.

It was unclear how far the investigation has progressed, and there was no indication that prosecutors in Manhattan have decided to file additional charges in the case. A spokeswoman for the United States attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, declined to comment.

Mr. Giuliani said that federal prosecutors had no grounds to charge him with foreign lobbying disclosure violations because he said he was acting on behalf of Mr. Trump, not the Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, when he collected the information on Ms. Yovanovitch and the others and relayed it to the American government and the news media.

“Look, you can try to contort anything into anything, but if they have any degree of objectivity or fairness, it would be kind of ridiculous to say I was doing it on Lutsenko’s behalf when I was representing the president of the United States,” Mr. Giuliani said. Mr. Lutsenko had chafed at Ms. Yovanovitch’s anticorruption efforts and wanted her recalled from Kiev.

Mr. Giuliani also said he was unaware of any investigation into him, and he defended the pressure campaign on Ukrainians, which he led, as legal and above board.

CNN and other news organizations reported that federal prosecutors were scrutinizing Mr. Giuliani’s financial dealings with his associates, but it has not been previously reported that federal prosecutors in Manhattan are specifically investigating whether he violated foreign lobbying laws in his work in Ukraine.

Ms. Yovanovitch told impeachment investigators on Friday that Mr. Trump had pressed for her removal for months even though the State Department believed she had “done nothing wrong.”

Mr. Giuliani had receded from the spotlight in recent years while he built a brisk international consulting business, including work in Ukraine. But he re-emerged in the center of the political stage last year, when Mr. Trump retained him for the special counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference.

Russia’s sabotage also ushered in a new focus at the Justice Department on enforcing the laws regulating foreign influence that had essentially sat dormant for a half-century and under which Mr. Giuliani is now being investigated.

Through his two associates who also worked to oust the ambassador, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Mr. Giuliani connected early this year with Mr. Lutsenko, who served as Ukraine’s top prosecutor until August. Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman had previously connected Mr. Giuliani to Mr. Lutsenko’s predecessor, Viktor Shokin, late last year.

Mr. Parnas had told people that Ms. Yovanovitch was stymieing his efforts to pursue gas business in Ukraine. Mr. Parnas also told people that one of his companies had paid Mr. Giuliani hundreds of thousands of dollars for an unrelated American business venture, and Mr. Giuliani said he advised Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman on a Ukrainian dispute.

Mr. Lutsenko had sought to relay the information he had collected on Mr. Trump’s targets to American law enforcement agencies and saw Mr. Giuliani as someone who could make that happen. Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Lutsenko initially spoke over the phone and then met in person in New York in January.

Mr. Lutsenko initially asked Mr. Giuliani to represent him, according to the former mayor, who said he declined because it would have posed a conflict with his work for the president. Instead, Mr. Giuliani said, he interviewed Mr. Lutsenko for hours, then had one of his employees — a “professional investigator who works for my company” — write memos detailing the Ukrainian prosecutors’ claims about Ms. Yovanovitch, Mr. Biden and others.

Mr. Giuliani said he provided those memos to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this year and was told that the State Department passed the memos to the F.B.I. He did not say who told him.

Mr. Giuliani said he also gave the memos to the columnist, John Solomon, who worked at the time for The Hill newspaper and published articles and videos critical of Ms. Yovanovitch, the Bidens and other Trump targets. It was unclear to what degree Mr. Giuliani’s memos served as fodder for Mr. Solomon, who independently interviewed Mr. Lutsenko and other sources.

Mr. Solomon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lobbying disclosure law contains an exemption for legal work, and Mr. Giuliani said his efforts to unearth information and push both for investigations in Ukraine and for news coverage of his findings originated with his defense of Mr. Trump in the special counsel’s investigation.

He acknowledged that his work morphed into a more general dragnet for dirt on Mr. Trump’s targets but said that it was difficult to separate those lines of inquiry from his original mission of discrediting the origins of the special counsel’s investigation.

Mr. Giuliani said Mr. Lutsenko never specifically asked him to try to force Ms. Yovanovitch’s recall, saying he concluded himself that Mr. Lutsenko probably wanted her fired because he had complained that she was stifling his investigations.

“He didn’t say to me, ‘I came here to get Yovanovitch fired.’ He came here because he said he had been trying to transmit this information to your government for the past year, and had been unable to do it,” Mr. Giuliani said of his meeting in New York with Mr. Lutsenko. “I transmitted the information to the right people.”

The president sought to distance himself earlier on Friday from Mr. Giuliani, saying he was uncertain when asked whether Mr. Giuliani still represented him. “I haven’t spoken to Rudy,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “I spoke to him yesterday quickly. He is a very good attorney and he has been my attorney.”

Mr. Giuliani later said that he still represented Mr. Trump.

The recall of the ambassador and the efforts by Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani to push for investigations in Ukraine have emerged as the focus of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump.

The impeachment was prompted by a whistle-blower complaint about Mr. Trump pressing President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in a July phone call to pursue investigations that could help Mr. Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign. At the time, the Trump administration had frozen $391 million in military assistance to Ukraine for its fight against Russian-backed separatists.

The State Department’s inspector general has turned over to House impeachment investigators a packet of materials including the memos containing notes of Mr. Giuliani’s interviews with Mr. Lutsenko and Mr. Shokin.

The investigation into Mr. Giuliani is the latest to scrutinize one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers. His former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, implicated the president when he pleaded guilty last year to making hush payments during the 2016 campaign to women who claimed affairs with Mr. Trump, which he has denied.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan mentioned Mr. Trump as “Individual 1” in court papers but never formally accused him of wrongdoing.

Michael S. Schmidt and Kenneth P. Vogel reported from Washington, and Ben Protess and William K. Rashbaum from New York.

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

Ukraine Envoy Says She Was Told Trump Wanted Her Out Over Lack of Trust

WASHINGTON — The State Department’s request went in early March to Marie L. Yovanovitch, a longtime diplomat who had served six presidents: Would she extend her term as ambassador to Ukraine, scheduled to end in August, into 2020?

Less than two months later came another departmental communiqué: Get “on the next plane” to Washington. Her ambassadorship was over.

How and why Ms. Yovanovitch was removed from her job has emerged as a major focus of the impeachment inquiry being conducted by House Democrats. And in nearly nine hours of testimony behind closed doors on Capitol Hill on Friday, Ms. Yovanovitch said she was told after her recall that President Trump had lost trust in her and had been seeking her ouster since summer 2018 — even though, one of her bosses told her, she had “done nothing wrong.”

Her version of events added a new dimension to the tale of the campaign against her. It apparently began with a business proposition being pursued in Ukraine by two Americans who, according to an indictment against them unsealed on Thursday, wanted her gone, and who would later become partners with the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani in digging up political dirt in Ukraine for Mr. Trump.

From there it became part of the effort by Mr. Giuliani to undercut the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and push for damaging information about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a possible Democratic challenger to Mr. Trump in 2020.

In her prepared testimony to House investigators, Ms. Yovanovitch, 60, offered no new details about how Mr. Giuliani’s campaign against her was communicated to the president or how Mr. Trump communicated his demand that she be ordered home. But her testimony, provided to The New York Times, amounted to a scathing indictment to Congress of how the Trump administration’s foreign policy intersected with business and political considerations.

Americans abroad in search of personal gain or private influence — especially in a country like Ukraine with a long history of corruption and people eager to exploit them — threatened to undermine the work of loyal diplomats and the foreign policy goals of the United States, she said.

Her removal, she said, was a case in point.

“Although I understand that I served at the pleasure of the president, I was nevertheless incredulous that the U.S. government chose to remove an ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives,” she said.

Ms. Yovanovitch’s testimony, which could help build momentum for the impeachment inquiry, captured the arc of her troubled tenure in Ukraine: how Mr. Giuliani and his allies mounted a campaign against her based on what she described as scurrilous lies, how the State Department capitulated to the president’s demands to recall her, and the upshot — losing an experienced ambassador in a pivotal country that is under threat from Russia and in the middle of a change in government.

More broadly, she portrayed the State Department as a whole as “attacked and hollowed out from within.” Unless it backs up its diplomats, especially in the face of false attacks by foreign interests, she said, more of them will leave and the wrong message will be transmitted around the world.

“Bad actors” in Ukraine and elsewhere will “see how easy it is to use fiction and innuendo to manipulate our system,” she warned. “The only interests that will be served are those of our strategic adversaries, like Russia.”

She had been removed from her post in Ukraine before the events most at the heart of the impeachment inquiry: whether Mr. Trump withheld White House meetings or military aid to Ukraine this spring and summer to pressure its new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to Mr. Biden and his younger son, Hunter Biden.

That Ms. Yovanovitch, who remains a State Department employee, showed up at all to testify was remarkable. In a letter this week, the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, lashed out at the impeachment inquiry, saying government officials would not testify and that no documents would be provided. The White House did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.

Ms. Yovanovitch’s defiance of the administration’s directive against appearing before the impeachment proceeding raises the possibility that other government officials will follow suit. She called upon the State Department leaders and Congress to defend the institution, saying “I fear that not doing so will harm our nation’s interest, perhaps irreparably.”

The turnabout appeared to validate the tactics adopted by Democrats, who have issued rapid-fire subpoenas since they opened the inquiry two weeks ago and warned that any attempts by the administration to block their fact-finding will promptly become fodder for an article of impeachment charging Mr. Trump with obstructing Congress. When the State Department tried late Thursday to direct Ms. Yovanovitch not to appear, the Democrats promptly issued a subpoena and told her she had no choice but to appear.

At least one other State Department official is also expected to testify, despite the White House policy. Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union who was initially expected to testify this week but failed to show up, has now been rescheduled for next week. Mr. Sondland is close to Mr. Trump and could support the White House’s narrative that the administration’s policy in Ukraine has been driven by a focus on rooting out corruption.

Ms. Yovanovitch, a 33-year veteran of the foreign service, had held two previous ambassadorships when President Barack Obama appointed her as envoy to Ukraine in mid-2016. She was deeply steeped in the region and American policy.

But in 2018, she found herself targeted by two American businessmen, Lev Parnas, who was born in Ukraine and Igor Fruman, who was born in Belarus. Both came to play central roles in Mr. Giuliani’s efforts on behalf of Mr. Trump in Ukraine.

But at first, the two men were focused on their own business dealings. One possible reason for their opposition to Ms. Yovanovitch was that they perceived her to be standing in the way of a business plan they were promoting. Ms. Yovanovitch was a supporter of a reform-minded chief executive of Naftogaz, Ukraine’s state energy company. The two men were hoping to sell American liquefied natural gas to Naftogaz, but the chief executive, Andriy Kobolyev, had rejected their proposal.

American diplomats traditionally pay close attention to the energy industry in Ukraine, long a font of corruption and an avenue for Russia to influence Ukrainian politics. In that same vein, Ms. Yovanovitch had supported Mr. Kobolyev to curb back room deals.

Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman had a plan to replace Mr. Kobolyev: they suggested to another Naftogaz executive that using their political ties in the United States, they could install him in Mr. Kobolyev’s place if he accepted their business deal. Those negotiations were described by Dale Perry, an American energy executive and former business partner of a Naftogaz executive, who is familiar with the conversations.

The pair also had a plan to replace the ambassador. They tried to undermine her with the Ukrainian government and news media by spreading stories that she was an Obama holdover who disdained Mr. Trump, interviews show.

“I found it very troubling and disturbing that a couple of business people, and whoever they were working with, could claim to remove a U.S. ambassador,” Mr. Perry said

Promising to help him raise $20,000 toward his re-election, they enlisted the help of Pete Sessions, who was then a Republican congressman from Texas then serving as the powerful head of the House Rules Committee, according to an indictment unsealed on Thursday charging Mr. Parnas, Mr. Fruman and two other men with violating campaign finance laws. Mr. Sessions sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claiming without evidence that the ambassador was disloyal to the president.

Ms. Yovanovitch also had repeated run-ins with Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Yuri Lutsenko, over allegations of corruption with the prosecutor’s office. Mr. Lutsenko would also come to work closely with Mr. Giuliani on the effort to help Mr. Trump.

As they pursued their own agenda in Ukraine in 2018, Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman were also working more closely to dig up political dirt with Mr. Giuliani, with whom Mr. Parnas also had a separate business relationship.

As part of that effort, Mr. Giuliani seized on criticism of Ms. Yovanovitch as another way to suggest that she was disloyal to Mr. Trump and could have been part of an effort to undercut him from Ukraine during the 2016 campaign.

Mr. Giuliani helped encourage further stories in conservative news outlets critical of her early in 2019, even as the State Department was asking her to remain in Ukraine until next year.

Some State Department officials were distressed by the critical news reports. Philip Reeker, an acting assistant secretary of state, told an adviser to Mr. Pompeo in an email that in casting her as a “liberal outpost,” critics were pushing a “fake narrative” that “really is without merit or validation.”

By this March, the attacks against Ms. Yovanovitch were reverberating in the president’s own circle. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s oldest son, posted a link on social media to an item that described the ambassador as “an anti-Trump, Obama flunkey.” In his tweet, Mr. Trump called for fewer of “these jokers as ambassadors. “

Four days later, Mr. Giuiliani hand-delivered to Mr. Pompeo a packet of news articles and material critical of Ms. Yovanovitch. It included notes on an interview with a former prosecutor general of Ukraine, who had met with Mr. Giuliani. The former prosecutor claimed that Ms. Yovanovitch had blocked him from getting a visa to the United States and “is close to Mr. Biden.”

In late April, Ms. Yovanovitch received the message summoning her back to Washington to be told of her removal.

Mr. Fruman and Mr. Parnas were arrested Wednesday night at Dulles International Airport, on their way out of the country and charged with campaign finance violations, related in part to their dealings with Mr. Sessions. Prosecutors said they were working with at least one unnamed Ukrainian official who wanted to oust Ms. Yovanovitch.

Ms. Yovanovitch told House investigators that while she did not know Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking her, his associates “may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.”

Her sudden removal left American diplomats in Kiev seething. They told reporters privately that Ms. Yovanovitch had been treated shabbily and that Mr. Giuliani’s freelancing diplomacy was undercutting their efforts to work with the new Ukrainian president’s administration.

Westlake Legal Group impeachment-investigation-tracker-promo-1570214529724-articleLarge-v3 Ukraine Envoy Says She Was Told Trump Wanted Her Out Over Lack of Trust Yovanovitch, Marie L United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Giuliani, Rudolph W Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Biden, Joseph R Jr

Subpoenas and Requests for Evidence in the Trump Impeachment Inquiry

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

She recounted her conversation about her ouster with John Sullivan, the deputy secretary of state, at some length. While Ms. Yovanovitch was testifying, Mr. Trump nominated Mr. Sullivan to be the next ambassador to Russia. The timing appeared to be coincidental.

In a meeting in Washington, she said Mr. Sullivan told her “that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause.” He added “that there had been a concerted campaign against me and that the department had been under pressure from the president to remove me since the summer of 2018.”

She expressed dismay and disappointment about her experience, and predicted serious consequences if the State Department failed to defend itself as an institution. “The harm will come not just through the inevitable and continuing resignation and loss of many of this nation’s most loyal and talented public servants,” she said.

“It also will come when those diplomats who soldier on and do their best to represent our nation face partners abroad who question whether the ambassador truly speaks for the president and can be counted upon as a reliable partner. The harm will come when private interests circumvent professional diplomats for their own gain, not the public good.”

Sharon LaFraniere and Nicholas Fandos reported from Washington, and Andrew E. Kramer from Kiev, Ukraine.

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Kevin McAleenan Is Out as Acting Homeland Security Secretary

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WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Friday the departure of Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security who spent his six-month tenure trying to curb a surge of asylum seekers at the southwestern border while managing a turbulent relationship with a president intent on restricting immigration.

Noting that they have “worked well together with Border Crossings being way down,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter that Mr. McAleenan wanted “to spend more time with his family and go to the private sector.”

Mr. McAleenan’s exit from the White House came after he tried publicly to embrace the president’s increasingly aggressive assault on legal and illegal immigration even as he privately resisted some of Mr. Trump’s most extreme ideas.

In an interview last week with The Washington Post, Mr. McAleenan complained about what he called the “tone, the message, the public face and approach” of immigration policy — a not-so-subtle reproach of the president’s own language about the border.

The comments enraged some of the president’s staunch allies, who called it an unforgivable public statement about his boss.

At the same time, Mr. McAleenan drew furious criticism from Democrats and immigration activists, who blamed him for going along with the president’s efforts to separate families at the border, block asylum seekers and deny green cards to poor immigrants.

On Monday, Mr. McAleenan was forced off the stage at Georgetown Law School, where he was scheduled to participate in an immigration forum. Protesters held signs that said “Stand with immigrants” and “Hate is not normal.” They chanted until he left the stage.

In his announcement, the president said that he would name a new acting secretary next week, but it was not immediately clear who would succeed Mr. McAleenan.

Mr. McAleenan, the president’s fourth homeland security secretary, appeared to be on his way out almost from the moment he replaced Kirstjen Nielsen, who was fired in April by Mr. Trump in a purge of several top immigration officials in the administration.

The president never nominated Mr. McAleenan to permanently assume the position and sometimes offered weak praise for the job he was doing. For the last several months, Mr. McAleenan, a career law enforcement official, has watched as the White House surrounded him with immigration hard-liners to oversee parts of his jurisdiction.

Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, who once advocated an end to birthright citizenship, was installed to lead the agency that manages legal immigration. Mark Morgan, who once said he could determine future gang members by looking at detained migrant children, was selected to oversee Immigration and Customs Enforcement. And Thomas D. Homan, who has supported the president’s separation of families in appearances on Fox News, was mentioned as a possible border czar to coordinate border policy.

Under the Vacancies Act, which stipulates that the position must go to certain ranked officials in the department, none of those hard-liners can immediately succeed Mr. McAleenan. Mr. Cuccinelli would face strong opposition from the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, for his political efforts to back insurgent Senate candidates, including one challenging Mr. McConnell.

Mr. McAleenan, a former lawyer who once served in the Obama administration, oversaw homeland security as it grappled with the highest number of crossings at the southwestern border in more than a decade, prompting the White House to issue aggressive policies against one of its closest allies.

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Those Foreign Business Ties? The Trump Sons Have Plenty Too

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Last month, the Trump family business received approval from a local government in Scotland for a major expansion of its golf resort near Aberdeen, marking the largest real estate development financed by the Trump Organization since the 2016 election.

In August, President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., flew to Jakarta to help kick-start sales at a pair of Trump-branded luxury resorts planned for Indonesia. He appeared at a private event with wealthy prospective buyers and joined his politically connected billionaire Indonesian business partner at a news conference.

And last year, Donald Jr. visited India to sell condos at future Trump-branded towers, appearing at an event that also featured India’s prime minister.

“I’m here as a businessman,” Mr. Trump told the gathering in New Delhi. “I’m not representing anyone.”

But for the children of the politically powerful, personal business and public dealings can often be indistinguishable, especially when private projects depend on foreign governments that are looking to bolster ties with Washington.

In recent weeks, as the president has become embroiled in a scandal involving his interactions with Ukraine, Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric have taken to attacking Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., for his business dealings in Ukraine and China.

The brothers have accused him of leveraging his family name for personal gain while his father served in the Obama administration. Among other things, Hunter Biden was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company that has been a focus of Mr. Trump’s interest in the country.

“At the VERY LEAST, there’s the appearance of impropriety,” Donald Trump Jr. wrote on Twitter. “A clear conflict of interest.” At a rally in Minneapolis on Thursday, Eric Trump’s charged remarks about the former vice president’s son inspired the crowd of Trump supporters to chant, “Lock him up!”

Republicans, led by the president, have sought to make Hunter Biden’s international business dealings an issue in the impeachment debate in Washington. But the high-profile attack roles being played by Mr. Trump’s eldest sons have now thrust their own business dealings into the spotlight too.

Both sons have operated and promoted the Trump family business overseas during their father’s presidency, even as he retains ownership. And while the Trump and Biden father-son relationships differ in many ways, the business dealings have set up a simple parallel.

“They are criticizing the vice president’s son for doing exactly what they are doing themselves,” said Martin Ford, a member of the Aberdeenshire Council in Scotland, which voted last month to approve a proposal by the Trumps to build a 500-unit housing development. “They are conducting international business here in Scotland.”

Eric Trump, in a statement to The New York Times, said there was a distinction between his father’s career in business, with his recent turn to politics, and Mr. Biden’s decades in public office.

“When my father became president, our family stopped doing international business deals,” he said, a reference to a pledge by the Trump Organization not to begin new overseas projects during the Trump presidency. Hunter Biden, he said, did the opposite when his father became vice president.

The Trump business activities in India, Indonesia and Scotland were considered in compliance with the pledge, according to the company’s ethics rules, because they were building on deals already in the works.

Mr. Biden’s campaign declined to comment on Friday. But in a tweet, the former vice president once again suggested that the attacks on his son were part of a political smear campaign. “Let me make something clear to President Trump: I’m not going anywhere,” he wrote. “You’re not going to destroy me. And you’re not going to destroy my family. I don’t care how dirty the attacks get.”

Conducting business on the international stage has long been standard for the Trump Organization, which has placed the Trump name on hotels and towers in several countries.

But its international dealings have become far more complicated since Mr. Trump took office and his sons took leadership of the business, especially when foreign governments have been involved to the company’s benefit.

When the Trump Organization tangled with the majority owner of a property in Panama, for example, its local lawyers at one point called on the Panamanian president for an assist.

In Indonesia, the government is helping to build a major new highway that will make a new Trump development more accessible. Construction is scheduled to begin soon on what will be known as Trump Residences Lido, which will include 280 homes, a golf course and a hotel, south of Jakarta.

The Trump family’s partner in Indonesia — a billionaire named Hary Tanoesoedibjo — is financing the project, with the Trump family getting a cut of the sales.

In marketing materials released this summer, which featured the Trump family logo and a photograph of Donald Trump Jr., the company noted that the “Trump Residences Lido can be accessed directly through the newly opened Bocimi Toll Road.”

In Scotland, the Aberdeenshire Council recently dropped an earlier requirement that the new housing development could not be built until the Trumps spent tens of millions of dollars on other investments at the resort.

Sebastian Leslie, a local official who supported the project, said the family received no special consideration. “We don’t do that — we don’t give anybody special favors,” Mr. Leslie said.

But Mr. Martin, a council member who opposed the approval, said the Trumps benefited handsomely from the change. “It is a much, much more lucrative deal now,” he said.

Revenues coming to the Trump family in the United States have drawn scrutiny too, including at the Trump International Hotel in Washington — a property, opened in the final stages of the 2016 campaign, that has flourished while Donald Trump Jr. and Eric have run the company.

The hotel has been a magnet for Republican lobbyists and political fund-raisers, and companies and foreign officials with business before the Trump administration have thrown parties there, including the Kuwait embassy and the government of Azerbaijan.

Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka has also retained a stake in the family business even as she serves as a White House adviser, and last year she received trademarks in China related to her separate fashion ventures. Her husband, Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to the president, maintains a stake in his own family’s real estate business, which has received and sought funding from international sources as well.

In 2017, Mr. Kushner met privately at the White House with top executives from Citibank and the private equity firm Apollo Global Management. Those meetings came as the firms were contemplating sizable loans to his family’s business, Kushner Companies, which they did eventually make.

And since Mr. Kushner entered the White House, his family has courted state-connected investors in China and the Middle East — both regions that were in Mr. Kushner’s government portfolio — to bail out the firm’s headquarters at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

But the presidency has also come with some costs for the Trump family business since the sons have been at the helm.

The company had been banking on global expansion to drive its growth, but when the president agreed to put a hold on new foreign deals, it curtailed those ambitions for his sons.

George Sorial, the company’s chief compliance counsel when the policy was developed, said it was the right thing to do even though it was not required by law and had cost the company significantly.

Eric Trump, in his statement to The Times, suggested that even the decision to forgo new foreign deals could be seen through the prism of Hunter Biden.

“My father was one of the most famous businessmen on earth and he sacrificed billions to be our president,” he said. “Joe Biden was an incredibly influential politician — his family made millions.”

The Biden campaign also sees opportunity in the nasty dispute. In a fund-raising email sent on Friday, the campaign singled out the Trump sons and the “lock him up” chant at the Thursday rally. “We are fighting back against this nonsense as hard as we know how every single day,” the campaign wrote.

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What Happened Today in the Trump Impeachment Inquiry

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Marie Yovanovitch, the former American ambassador to Ukraine, center, arriving to testify in a closed hearing Friday on Capitol Hill.CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

  • Marie Yovanovitch, the former American ambassador to Ukraine, told impeachment investigators in a closed-door interview that a top State Department official told her that President Trump had pushed for her removal even though the department believed she had “done nothing wrong.”

  • Ms. Yovanovitch said people associated with Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, “may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.”

  • Gordon Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union, like Ms. Yovanovitch, agreed to comply with a House subpoena and testify, defying a State Department order not to appear.


Ms. Yovanovitch delivered her searing account before Congress at the risk of losing her job, since the White House has ordered officials not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. This afternoon I stopped by the desk of Sharon LaFraniere, who has written about Ms. Yovanovitch, to discuss why the former ambassador to Ukraine was so intent on speaking out.

Sharon, how unusual was her participation? And how unusual was her testimony?

She testified despite a White House declaration that there would be no more cooperation with Congress. She’s acting in defiance of the White House. Her testimony today was a really damning indictment of how the Trump administration is conducting foreign policy. She warned against people who in search of personal gain or private influence undermined the work of American government officials and threatened the policy goals of the United States. And on top of all that, she said the State Department is being hollowed out from within, because diplomats don’t feel the government has their back.

What does she know that House Democrats want to know?

She seemed to suggest that businesspeople who are allies of Rudy Giuliani may have orchestrated this campaign to get her out for their own private gain. Was she removed because she was standing in the way of some sort of quid pro quo deal that the White House was planning to execute? Did they see her as unwilling to play ball in what might have been a corrupt game? Those are the questions impeachment investigators want to answer.


“Smart, charismatic, ruthless, a little megalomaniacal.” “Ambitious, righteous, then self-righteous.” “Personable … for a little while.” “Decisive, combative, conspiratorial.” “Pugilistic, erratic, extremely smart, reckless.” “Forceful, combative, energetic, vindictive, tireless, annoying.”

That’s Rudy Giuliani, as described by our reporters who have covered him over the past 35 years. A forthcoming episode of The Weekly traces his path from crime-busting prosecutor to Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, now at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

The episode focuses in part on a brutal zinger — that Mr. Giuliani needed only “a noun and a verb and 9/11” to construct a sentence — that was delivered by none other than Joe Biden, which helped sink the former New York City mayor’s 2008 presidential campaign.

“Giuliani did not like that line. I don’t think he ever forgot that Biden said it,” my colleague Maggie Haberman says on the show.

To better understand how we got to this point, I called Dan Barry, who appears in The Weekly episode and has chronicled Mr. Giuliani for decades.

What do you see in Rudy today that reminds you of the guy you’ve covered for so many years?

There’s this combativeness, that need to be at the center of attention — the willingness to go almost anywhere to champion whatever the cause of the moment is for him. All those character traits on display now are quite familiar to anyone who followed him closely 20 or 30 years ago. But the Rudy we see now is also at odds with the Rudy of the ’80s and ’90s, with his moral rectitude then. He was Mr. Law and Order.

Why, after so many years in the public eye, did he want to work for Mr. Trump?

He was leading in the polls in the 2007 to be the Republican nominee for president. He was spending oodles of money. He was getting a lot of ink. And then it all evaporated. He spent millions and ended up with one delegate. That stung. He was an international hero, and then was roundly rejected. He always wanted to be relevant. He needed to be relevant. What happened in 2016? He becomes relevant. Now, he’s effectively the shadow secretary of state. I think he revels in that.

Watch “The Weekly,” our new TV show, on FX Sunday at 10/9c.


  • Mr. Trump’s accounting firm must comply with a House committee’s demands for eight years of his financial records, a federal appeals court panel ruled on Friday.

  • The Justice Department asked another federal appeals court to stop the release of Mr. Trump’s tax returns to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, arguing that local prosecutors should have to meet a very high legal bar before investigating a sitting president.

  • “I think we do need an inquiry because we have to get to the bottom of it,” Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a moderate Republican, said when asked whether he supported the impeachment investigation. “I’m not ready to say I support impeachment and the removal of the president, but I do think we should have an impeachment inquiry.”

  • Trying to keep track of all the Ukraine-related characters from this week’s impeachment news? We wrote up a helpful guide.

The Impeachment Briefing is also available as a newsletter. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every weeknight.

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