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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 163)

Impeachment Fight May Help a New NAFTA Deal

Westlake Legal Group merlin_149149407_0a6f61d5-8746-484c-9b23-07cd02828074-facebookJumbo Impeachment Fight May Help a New NAFTA Deal United States Politics and Government United States Chamber of Commerce Trump, Donald J Pelosi, Nancy North American Free Trade Agreement Mexico Lighthizer, Robert E Labor and Jobs International Trade and World Market impeachment House Committee on Ways and Means Canada

WASHINGTON — The escalating impeachment drama between Congress and the White House that has all but doomed hopes of most legislative progress this fall has instead enhanced the prospects for approval, within weeks, of one major initiative: a sweeping new trade agreement among the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Top lawmakers in both parties and others closely following the talks said that substantial progress had been made in resolving the sticking points, and that a decisive House vote on the accord to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement could occur before Congress departed for Thanksgiving.

The deal may be a rare bright spot in an otherwise dysfunctional dynamic that has taken hold in the capital, and it owes its progress to a coincidence of timing, productive negotiations that have unfolded behind closed doors for months and political necessity for two parties that each has distinct reasons to hope it succeeds.

“We are on a path to yes,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters last week in one of the strongest signals yet that she would put the full weight of her leadership behind passage of the agreement, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Both parties have strong political incentives to approve the trade deal despite deep Democratic skepticism over such pacts after American jobs flowed into Mexico after the ratification of NAFTA in 1993.

For President Trump and Republicans, the agreement is a major priority that could bolster American businesses and help struggling farmers, while showing voters that they have been good stewards of the economy. For Democrats, the accord is a way to give lawmakers from swing districts a broadly popular achievement to show constituents, and a way to counter criticism that they have accomplished little during their time in Washington, which has more often consisted of passing legislation that dies in the Republican-controlled Senate.

That has become even more important now that House Democrats are engaged in an impeachment inquiry that could lead to the president’s ouster. Democrats who represent Republican-leaning districts are facing a potential backlash from Republican and independent voters angry over the Democrats’ emphasis on impeachment, and they are looking for ways to show that they can still produce policies that benefit Americans.

“We are going to demonstrate that simultaneously you can govern,” said Representative Richard E. Neal, the Massachusetts Democrat who leads the Ways and Means Committee. Mr. Neal is leading a delegation to Mexico for a meeting on Tuesday with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to seek final assurances over aspects of the trade agreement.

Top Democrats also see the agreement as a vehicle to achieve some major progressive goals that would otherwise be impossible to extract from a Republican administration. Republicans are considering potential sweeteners for Democrats, including a plan to shore up pensions that has been sought by Mr. Neal and labor unions.

House Democrats and Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, have been exchanging proposals and counterproposals for weeks, trying to satisfy demands for labor and environmental guarantees. Both sides say the confidential talks have produced results that are leading to increasing confidence that Ms. Pelosi will put the measure on the floor relatively soon.

“It has been a patient give-and-go, and I think we have moved the ball toward the goal,” Mr. Neal said.

Even Democrats skeptical of a trade deal based on their previous experience said the talks with Mr. Lighthizer, who has built credibility with the lawmakers, had been substantive and helpful.

“We have been having conversations for I think over a year, and the Democrats made very serious, thoughtful proposals around issues that we have been consistent on over the years,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, a member of a working group appointed by the speaker to work out Democratic concerns over the agreement.

But Ms. DeLauro, who opposed NAFTA and was an early critic of the failed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, was not quite ready to sign off.

“We are making headway,” she said. “Our view is that when it is right, we will go. We are not there yet.”

There are substantial issues that could still hold up a final agreement. It is not clear, for instance, how negotiators plan to address Democrats’ objections to a provision that would extend protections to pharmaceutical companies for new products. Democrats argue that such measures could hamper future efforts to enact legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs.

Democrats say that their main fear is that Mexico will not enforce the provisions of the trade deal in areas such as minimum wage requirements and environmental standards, and that the United States will not be allowed to make inspections to determine whether the agreement is being followed. They were alarmed by news reports of labor department budget cuts in Mexico, a fear the Mexican government has raced to alleviate.

Republicans lobbying for the agreement argue that supporting it should be an easy choice for Democrats who have long criticized NAFTA, since the new version amounts to an update with several far more progressive elements than the existing agreement, such as new minimum pay levels.

Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio and a chief trade negotiator for President George W. Bush, is a leading proponent of the agreement and has been trying to sell Democrats on its merits.

“If you vote no on this, that means you are saying, ‘Let’s go with NAFTA,’ and politically for most Democrats, NAFTA is a four-letter word,” Mr. Portman said in an interview. “I just think logic prevails in the end.”

More than that, some Democrats believe the trade agreement is their best prospect for achieving some bipartisan success in such a highly polarized environment.

“People understand and appreciate that we’re trying to get to yes, and we’re trying to get it right,” Representative Lizzie Fletcher said.

Ms. Fletcher, who represents the Houston area, noted in an interview the number of trade relationships between her district and both countries in the new trade agreement, and said sealing the deal would show that the gridlocked Congress could achieve some consensus.

“People really want to know about how we’re working together and where there’s bipartisan agreement,” she added. “They want to know that we’re trying to solve real problems.”

Representative Abigail Spanberger, Democrat of Virginia, said the trade deal was a rare consequential measure that could pass the House without falling victim to Republican resistance in the other chamber or in the White House.

“The notable thing about U.S.M.C.A. is that it’s also a priority for the Senate and for the president,” Ms. Spanberger said of the new trade deal. “That hasn’t been the case for some of our most impactful legislation.”

To move the agreement forward, Democrats will need to conclude that it is beneficial enough to them that they are willing to share credit with Mr. Trump over an accomplishment that he will undoubtedly herald in his re-election campaign. Ms. Pelosi, who voted for NAFTA in the House, has told colleagues that she wants to get the new trade agreement approved, and has made clear that she hopes Democrats can separate the impeachment fight and the trade deal.

“They have nothing to do with each other,” Ms. Pelosi said. She added that if the president did not work with Democrats because they questioned his conduct, “then the ball is in his court.”

Despite the priority the Trump administration and congressional Republicans have put on the trade agreement, some concern has arisen in recent days that Mr. Trump, furious over the impeachment showdown, would pull back on the agreement and try to blame Democrats for its collapse, saying they could not get it done because of a single-minded focus on impeachment.

“The Do Nothing Democrats don’t have time to get it done!” Mr. Trump tweeted Thursday about the trade deal.

Ultimately, backers of the agreement believe, the White House will embrace congressional approval of the long-sought agreement as a major victory for the president.

“We are pretty bullish,” said Neil Bradley, executive vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “The speaker is saying all the right things, and they are actually making progress in the negotiations.”

“At the end of the day,” he said, “you want to show that impeachment is not the only thing you are focused on.”

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

Trump Declares ‘Time for Us to Get Out’ of Syria as Republicans Object

Westlake Legal Group 07dc-prexy-01-facebookJumbo Trump Declares ‘Time for Us to Get Out’ of Syria as Republicans Object United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces State Department Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Graham, Lindsey Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense Department

WASHINGTON — President Trump vowed on Monday to pull back from military involvement in the Middle East and leave it to others “to figure the situation out,” even as some of his Republican allies condemned him for abandoning allies and emboldening regional enemies.

In a series of Twitter messages, the president defended his decision to clear the way for a Turkish military operation that could sweep away America’s Kurdish allies near the Syrian border, arguing that the internecine conflict among forces in the region was not a top priority for a war-weary United States.

“I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” Mr. Trump wrote. “WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN. Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out.”

But after a flood of criticism from congressional Republicans, Mr. Trump pivoted hours later, saying that he would prevent Turkey from going too far, without explaining what he meant or where that line would be drawn.

“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!),” he wrote.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader and one of Mr. Trump’s staunchest advocates in the Senate, joined the Republican chorus on Monday afternoon. “I urge the President to exercise American leadership” and maintain the American deployment in Syria. He also reminded Mr. Trump of a Senate vote in January that Congress rebuked him over a planned withdrawal.

“A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime,” he said. “And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup.”

A Defense Department official said that the president’s tweet removed any ambiguity about whether Mr. Trump had endorsed a Turkish attack on the Kurds. “The Department of Defense made clear to Turkey — as did the president — that we do not endorse a Turkish operation in Northern Syria,” said Jonathan Hoffman, the Pentagon spokesman, in a statement. “The U.S. armed forces will not support, or be involved in any operation.”

The president’s abrupt decision on Sunday to defer to Turkey’s desire to intervene in Syria overrode the objections of the Pentagon and State Department, which sought to maintain a small American troop presence in northeastern Syria, and caught even some of Mr. Trump’s top supporters off guard. Republican hawks in Congress joined with Democrats in castigating the president and promising to try to sanction Turkey if it followed through with its plans.

[A look at who is affected by Trump’s shift in Syria.]

“If I didn’t see Donald Trump’s name on the tweet, I would have thought it was Obama’s rationale for getting out of Iraq,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and usually one of the president’s most vocal backers, said on Fox News.

As with President Barack Obama’s decision to pull out American troops from Iraq in 2011, Mr. Graham said, Mr. Trump’s withdrawal would create a vacuum for remnants of the Islamic State, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and others to surge forward again.

“This is a big win for Iran and Assad, a big win for ISIS,” Mr. Graham said, using another term for the Islamic State. “I will do everything I can to sanction Turkey if they step one foot in northeastern Syria. That will sever my relationship with Turkey. I think most of the Congress feels that way.”

Mr. Graham said he would also introduce a nonbinding resolution asking Mr. Trump to reconsider his move, which he called “shortsighted and irresponsible.” The president’s assertion that the Islamic State has been defeated is “the biggest lie being told by this administration,” Mr. Graham added.

The announcement set off a swift and bipartisan backlash from other lawmakers as well.

Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a member of the House Republican leadership, called withdrawing United States forces from northern Syria “a catastrophic mistake.” Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said it would be “a grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria.”

Nikki Haley, Mr. Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations, joined the chorus. “We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back,” she wrote on Twitter. “The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake. #TurkeyIsNotOurFriend.”

Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, shared a tweet from Mr. Graham and added his own thoughts. “The President’s decision to abandon our Kurd allies in the face of an assault by Turkey is a betrayal,” he wrote. “It says that America is an unreliable ally; it facilitates ISIS resurgence; and it presages another humanitarian disaster.”

Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky and one of the president’s staunchest defenders, emerged as the lone congressional backer of the move. The president “once again fulfills his promises to stop our endless wars and have a true America First foreign policy,” Mr. Paul wrote on Twitter.

Some conservatives also came to the president’s defense. “Some will cast any deal w/ Turkey as @realDonaldTrump getting close w/ a dictator,” Hugh Hewitt, the talk show host, wrote. “It’s not. It’s dealing with the realities that we can’t stay forever.”

Mr. Trump came to office promising to get out of overseas wars, contending that the country’s military involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has been largely a waste of lives and money with little to show for it.

A similarly sudden decision last winter to pull American troops out of Syria prompted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to resign, and Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State, accelerated his own planned departure in protest.

The Senate, led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, relayed their displeasure in January when it voted overwhelmingly to rebuke Mr. Trump over his planned withdrawal of military forces from Syria and Afghanistan.

Mr. Trump later walked back his decision in Syria to some extent, but has been frustrated not to be doing more to extricate the United States from entanglements in the region. His supporters said the latest move should therefore not be a surprise and the Kurds had fair warning.

The decision came after a telephone call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. American officials indicated that the 100 to 150 United States military personnel deployed to northeastern Syria would be pulled back in advance of any Turkish operation but that they would not be completely withdrawn from Syria.

The Kurdish forces in the area, part of the Syrian Democratic Forces, or S.D.F., have been the most reliable American ally in the region for years, a critical element in recapturing territory once controlled by the Islamic State. But Turkey has long considered the Kurdish fighters to be terrorists and has lobbied the United States to abandon support for them.

“The United States was supposed to be in Syria for 30 days, that was many years ago,” Mr. Trump wrote on Monday. “We stayed and got deeper and deeper into battle with no aim in sight.” Now, he said, it is time to leave.

He offered little sympathy for the fate of America’s Kurdish allies: “The Kurds fought with us,” he wrote, “but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so.”

Mr. Trump has been particularly irritated that the United States continues to pay to detain thousands of Islamic State fighters. For months, he has tried to pressure European states and others to take those fighters who originated from there, only to run into strong resistance.

“Europe did not want them back, they said you keep them USA!” Mr. Trump wrote. “I said ‘NO, we did you a great favor and now you want us to hold them in U.S. prisons at tremendous cost. They are yours for trials.’ They again said ‘NO,’ thinking, as usual, that the U.S. is always the ‘sucker,’ on NATO, on Trade, on everything.”

But if Turkey moves against the Kurds, the S.D.F. could abandon camps to fight the Turks, potentially allowing some 10,000 captured Islamic State fighters, including 2,000 foreigners, to escape. United States military officers were trying to reassure the S.D.F. in hopes of avoiding such a scenario.

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

Seeking Ukraine Aid Records, House Subpoenas White House Budget Office and Pentagon

Westlake Legal Group 07dc-impeach-facebookJumbo Seeking Ukraine Aid Records, House Subpoenas White House Budget Office and Pentagon United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B impeachment

WASHINGTON — The House on Monday subpoenaed the Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget for documents about the Trump administration’s decision to withhold security aid for Ukraine, expanding the impeachment inquiry into how President Trump sought to pressure the government there to dig up dirt on his political rivals.

The subpoenas, issued by the Democrat-controlled House Intelligence Committee, gave the federal agencies until Oct. 15 to comply.

The panel appears to be trying to unearth communications and other records that might shed light on one of the enduring mysteries of the United States’ interactions with Ukraine: why the White House decided last summer to abruptly suspend the $391 million aid package, and whether it was connected to contemporaneous efforts by Mr. Trump and his personal lawyer to pressure the country to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

The White House has denied that the aid was being withheld to exert leverage over the Ukrainians, but at least one senior diplomat worried privately that that was precisely what was happening, and the administration has been unwilling to answer questions about the timeline and rationale for the decision. Regardless of the reasoning, the decision to withhold aid that was allocated by Congress on a bipartisan basis prompted confusion and concern within the State and Defense departments, as well as among lawmakers in both parties.

Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry in the House suspect the actions may be related.

“The enclosed subpoena demands documents that are necessary for the committees to examine this sequence of these events and the reasons behind the White House’s decision to withhold critical military assistance to Ukraine that was appropriated by Congress to counter Russian aggression,” read the letters, signed by Representative Adam B. Schiff, chairman of the Intelligence Committee; Representative Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee; and Representative Eliot L. Engel, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

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

Trump Taxes: President Ordered to Turn Over Returns to Manhattan D.A.

A federal judge on Monday rejected a bold argument from President Trump that sitting presidents are immune from criminal investigations, allowing the Manhattan district attorney’s office to move forward with a subpoena seeking eight years of the president’s personal and corporate tax returns.

The ruling issued by Judge Victor Marrero of Manhattan federal court does not mean that the president’s tax returns will be turned over immediately. Mr. Trump’s lawyers quickly appealed the decision, and the appeals court agreed to temporarily block the order.

Judge Victor Marrero’s Ruling

Court ruling in Trump v. New York D.A. (PDF, 75 pages, 1.98 MB)

Westlake Legal Group thumbnail Trump Taxes: President Ordered to Turn Over Returns to Manhattan D.A. Vance, Cyrus R Jr Trump, Donald J Trump Tax Returns Trump Organization Mazars USA Manhattan (NYC) Justice Department Decisions and Verdicts Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- ) Barr, William P  75 pages, 1.98 MB

The judge’s decision came a little more than a month after the Manhattan district attorney subpoenaed Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for his personal and corporate returns dating to 2011. The demand touched off a legal showdown that raised new constitutional questions and drew in the Justice Department, which supported the president’s request to delay enforcement of the subpoena.

Mr. Vance’s office has been investigating whether any New York State laws were broken when Mr. Trump and his company reimbursed the president’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, for payments he made in the run-up to the 2016 election to the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels, who had said she had an affair with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump has denied having an affair with Ms. Daniels.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers sued last month to block the subpoena, arguing that the Constitution effectively makes sitting presidents immune from all criminal inquiries until they leave the White House. The lawyers acknowledged that their argument had not been tested in courts, but said the release of the president’s tax returns would cause him “irreparable harm.”

In his 75-page ruling, Judge Marrero called the president’s argument “repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values.” Presidents, their families and businesses are not above the law, the judge wrote.

A lawyer for the president and a spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., each declined to comment.

Mr. Vance’s office had asked Judge Marrero to dismiss Mr. Trump’s suit, saying a grand jury had a right to “pursue its investigation free from interference and litigious delay” and rejecting his claim to blanket immunity. The judge was appointed by President Bill Clinton.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have called the investigation by Mr. Vance, a Democrat, politically motivated. Mr. Vance has accused the president and his team of trying to run out the clock on the investigation.

Last week, lawyers with Mr. Trump’s Justice Department jumped into the fray, asking the judge to temporarily block the subpoena while the court takes time to consider the “significant constitutional issues” in the case.

The Justice Department, led by Attorney General William P. Barr, did not say whether it agreed with Mr. Trump’s position that presidents cannot be investigated. But, citing the constitutional questions, the department said it wanted to provide its views. A spokeswoman for the department declined to comment on the ruling Monday.

The Constitution does not explicitly say whether presidents can be charged with a crime while in office, and the Supreme Court has not answered the question.

Federal prosecutors are barred from charging a sitting president with a crime because the Justice Department has decided that presidents have temporary immunity while they are in office.

But in the past, that position has not precluded investigating a president. Presidents, including Mr. Trump, have been subjects of federal criminal investigations while in office. Local prosecutors, such as Mr. Vance, are also not bound by the Justice Department’s position.

As part of a temporary deal reached last month, Mr. Vance’s office agreed not to enforce the subpoena until two days after Judge Marrero issued a ruling, which would give Mr. Trump a chance to appeal if he lost. But that agreement was to expire at 1 p.m. on Monday.

The president and his lawyers have fought vigorously to shield his tax returns, which Mr. Trump said during the 2016 campaign that he would make public but has since refused to disclose.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have sued to block attempts by congressional Democrats and New York lawmakers to gain access to his tax returns and financial records. They also successfully challenged a California law requiring presidential primary candidates to release their tax returns.

If Mr. Vance ultimately prevails in obtaining the president’s tax returns, they would not automatically become public. They would be protected by rules governing the secrecy of grand jury investigations unless the documents became evidence in a criminal case.

Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, which he sued along with the district attorney’s office to bar the company from turning over his returns, reissued the statement it released nearly three weeks ago when the lawsuit was filed, saying it “will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations.”

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

Trump Declares ‘Time for Us to Get Out’ of Syria as Allies Object

Westlake Legal Group 07dc-prexy-01-facebookJumbo Trump Declares ‘Time for Us to Get Out’ of Syria as Allies Object United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces State Department Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Graham, Lindsey Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense Department

WASHINGTON — President Trump vowed on Monday to pull back from military involvement in the Middle East and leave it to others “to figure the situation out,” even as one of his strongest supporters condemned him for abandoning allies and emboldening regional enemies.

In a series of Twitter messages, the president defended his decision to clear the way for a Turkish military operation that would sweep away America’s Kurdish allies near the Syrian border, arguing that the internecine conflict among forces in the region was not a top priority for a war-weary United States.

“I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” Mr. Trump wrote. “WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN. Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out.”

The president’s abrupt decision overrode the objections of the Pentagon and State Department, which sought to maintain a small American troop presence in northeastern Syria, and caught even some of Mr. Trump’s top allies off guard. One of the top Republican hawks in Congress quickly castigated the president and promised to try to sanction Turkey if it followed through with its plans.

[A look at who is affected by Trump’s shift in Syria.]

“If I didn’t see Donald Trump’s name on the tweet, I would have thought it was Obama’s rationale for getting out of Iraq,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a top backer of the president’s, said on Fox News.

As with President Barack Obama’s decision to pull out American troops from Iraq in 2011, Mr. Graham said, this would create a vacuum for remnants of the Islamic State, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and others to surge forward again.

“This is a big win for Iran and Assad, a big win for ISIS,” Mr. Graham said. “I will do everything I can to sanction Turkey if they step one foot in northeastern Syria. That will sever my relationship with Turkey. I think most of the Congress feels that way.”

Mr. Graham said he would also introduce a nonbinding resolution asking Mr. Trump to reconsider his move, which he called “shortsighted and irresponsible.” The president’s assertion that the Islamic State has been defeated is “the biggest lie being told by this administration,” Mr. Graham added.

The announcement set off a swift and bipartisan backlash from other lawmakers as well, with some of the president’s closest allies on Capitol Hill taking to Twitter to denounce the decision, all while carefully avoiding the president’s name.

Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a member of the House Republican leadership, called withdrawing United States forces from northern Syria “a catastrophic mistake.” Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said it would be “a grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria.”

The Senate, led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, previously relayed their displeasure with Mr. Trump’s isolationist instinct in Syria in January, when it voted overwhelmingly to rebuke Mr. Trump over his planned withdrawal of military forces from Syria and Afghanistan.

Mr. Trump came to office promising to get out of overseas wars, contending that the country’s military involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has been largely a waste of lives and money with little to show for it.

A similarly sudden decision last winter to pull American troops out of Syria prompted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to resign and Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State, accelerated his own planned departure in protest.

Mr. Trump later walked back his decision to some extent, but has been frustrated not to be doing more to extricate the United States from entanglements in the region.

His latest decision came after a telephone call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. American officials indicated that the 100 to 150 United States military personnel deployed to northeastern Syria would be pulled back in advance of any Turkish operation but that they would not be completely withdrawn from Syria.

The Kurdish forces in the area, part of the Syrian Democratic Forces, or S.D.F., have been the most reliable American ally in the region for years, a critical element in recapturing territory once controlled by the Islamic State. But Turkey has long considered the Kurdish fighters to be terrorists and has lobbied the United States to abandon support for them.

“The United States was supposed to be in Syria for 30 days, that was many years ago,” Mr. Trump wrote on Monday. “We stayed and got deeper and deeper into battle with no aim in sight.” Now, he said, it is time to leave.

He offered little sympathy for the fate of America’s Kurdish allies: “The Kurds fought with us,” he wrote, “but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so.”

Mr. Trump has been particularly irritated that the United States continues to pay to detain thousands of Islamic State fighters. For months, he has tried to pressure European states and others to take those fighters who originated from there, only to run into strong resistance.

“Europe did not want them back, they said you keep them USA!” Mr. Trump wrote. “I said ‘NO, we did you a great favor and now you want us to hold them in U.S. prisons at tremendous cost. They are yours for trials.’ They again said ‘NO,’ thinking, as usual, that the U.S. is always the ‘sucker,’ on NATO, on Trade, on everything.”

But if Turkey moves against the Kurds, the S.D.F. could abandon camps to fight the Turks, potentially allowing some 10,000 Islamic State fighters, including 2,000 foreigners, to escape. United States military officers were trying to reassure the S.D.F. in hopes of avoiding such a scenario.

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

A Look at Who Is Affected by Trump’s Shift in Syria

Westlake Legal Group 07kurds-explainer1-facebookJumbo A Look at Who Is Affected by Trump’s Shift in Syria United States International Relations Turkey Trump, Donald J Syria Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

BEIRUT, Lebanon — President Trump’s decision on Sunday to step aside and let Turkish forces come into northern Syria instantly cast into doubt the fate of ethnic Kurds there who have been the United States’ closest allies in the fight against the Islamic State, and who had worked to achieve a degree of self-rule in that stretch of Syria.

[Details on the sudden U.S. announcement and what it could mean for the region.]

Now, the question of who could provide a long-term deterrent to Iranian and Russian interests in the area — and help ensure that ISIS does not rebound in Syria — is suddenly very much in play again.

The prospect of a Turkish military push into northern Syria has caused deep fear in Kurdish areas there, as well as a burning sense that the Kurds have been betrayed by the United States after years of partnership on the battlefield.

The Syrian Democratic Forces — a loose coalition of militias that is led by Syrian Kurdish fighters and came together expressly to fight ISIS with American backing, training and air support — accused the United States on Monday of failing to fulfill its obligations, paving the way for Turkey to invade.

The S.D.F. also warned that a Turkish incursion could undo the gains made against the Islamic State.

“This military operation in northeast Syria will have a great negative effect on our war against the ISIS organization and will destroy all that has been achieved in terms of stability over the past years,” the group said in a statement.

It said it would “not hesitate for one instant to defend ourselves,” and called on the area’s people to “defend our homeland from Turkish aggression.”

It was unclear on Monday when and where Turkish forces would cross into Syria, but the sense of betrayal by the United States among Syrian Kurds was clear.

“U.S. forces on the ground showed us that this is not how they value friendship and alliance,” Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the S.D.F., wrote on Twitter on Monday, adding that Mr. Trump’s decision was “about to ruin the trust and cooperation between the S.D.F. and U.S.”

Still, the Syrian Kurds have few other supporters to turn to.

Inside Syria, most of what remains of the country’s rebel movement is backed by Turkey and opposes the S.D.F., and its relations with the government of President Bashar al-Assad are chilly.

Some analysts speculate that the Kurds will be forced to court Mr. Assad’s government for protection.

The Kurds are the driver within the Syrian Democratic Forces, which came together to help the United States fight the jihadists of the Islamic State.

Its fighters received air support and training from the United States and fought together on the ground with American Special Operations forces against the jihadists, losing thousands of fighters.

That has won the group praise from a range of top United States officials, and after eight years of war in Syria, the S.D.F. remains the only significant armed group still aligned with Washington.

While many of the group’s fighters and most of its leaders are ethnic Kurds, the S.D.F. also includes Arabs and members of Syria’s other religious and ethnic minorities. Its ideology is secular, and it promotes a form of democracy characterized by rule at the community level.

The United States has given the S.D.F. generous military support, but it has not endorsed the group’s political project, in part to keep from alienating Turkey even more.

Since the official destruction of the ISIS caliphate early this year, the S.D.F. has continued to pursue Islamic State remnants in cooperation with United States forces while seeking to strengthen the network of local councils that have been established to govern areas liberated from the jihadists.

The Kurdish forces have also become the de facto guardians of tens of thousands of former Islamic State residents and jailed fighters in northern Syria, and they receive limited aid to do so.

If a new conflict breaks out in the area, the question of what happens to those ISIS prisoners and their family members will become urgent.

The United States’ close cooperation with the S.D.F. has angered Turkey, a United States ally in NATO. Turkey accuses the Kurdish fighters of being terrorists and closely to the P.K.K., a guerrilla organization that has fought a bloody, decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

Both Turkey and the United States consider the P.K.K. a terrorist organization. But American officials have publicly tried to play down the links between that group and the S.D.F. while privately acknowledging that they exist.

While there are few clear examples of militant attacks on Turkey originating from S.D.F.-controlled territory, Turkey has watched the growth of Kurdish autonomy across its southern border with a rising sense of alarm, fearing that it could pose a national security threat.

Turkey has often raised these concerns with the United States, and in recent weeks American officials had sought to bring down tensions by brokering security arrangements near the Syrian-Turkish border with both sides.

But those measures failed to satisfy Turkish officials, prompting the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to inform Mr. Trump in a phone call on Sunday that he planned to send his forces into Syria to root out the Kurdish forces.

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A Look at Who Is Affected by Trump’s Shift in Syria

Westlake Legal Group 07kurds-explainer1-facebookJumbo A Look at Who Is Affected by Trump’s Shift in Syria United States International Relations Turkey Trump, Donald J Syria Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

BEIRUT, Lebanon — President Trump’s decision on Sunday to step aside and let Turkish forces come into northern Syria instantly cast into doubt the fate of ethnic Kurds there who have been the United States’ closest allies in the fight against the Islamic State, and who had worked to achieve a degree of self-rule in that stretch of Syria.

[Details on the sudden U.S. announcement and what it could mean for the region.]

Now, the question of who could provide a long-term deterrent to Iranian and Russian interests in the area — and help ensure that ISIS does not rebound in Syria — is suddenly very much in play again.

The prospect of a Turkish military push into northern Syria has caused deep fear in Kurdish areas there, as well as a burning sense that the Kurds have been betrayed by the United States after years of partnership on the battlefield.

The Syrian Democratic Forces — a loose coalition of militias that is led by Syrian Kurdish fighters and came together expressly to fight ISIS with American backing, training and air support — accused the United States on Monday of failing to fulfill its obligations, paving the way for Turkey to invade.

The S.D.F. also warned that a Turkish incursion could undo the gains made against the Islamic State.

“This military operation in northeast Syria will have a great negative effect on our war against the ISIS organization and will destroy all that has been achieved in terms of stability over the past years,” the group said in a statement.

It said it would “not hesitate for one instant to defend ourselves,” and called on the area’s people to “defend our homeland from Turkish aggression.”

It was unclear on Monday when and where Turkish forces would cross into Syria, but the sense of betrayal by the United States among Syrian Kurds was clear.

“U.S. forces on the ground showed us that this is not how they value friendship and alliance,” Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the S.D.F., wrote on Twitter on Monday, adding that Mr. Trump’s decision was “about to ruin the trust and cooperation between the S.D.F. and U.S.”

Still, the Syrian Kurds have few other supporters to turn to.

Inside Syria, most of what remains of the country’s rebel movement is backed by Turkey and opposes the S.D.F., and its relations with the government of President Bashar al-Assad are chilly.

Some analysts speculate that the Kurds will be forced to court Mr. Assad’s government for protection.

The Kurds are the driver within the Syrian Democratic Forces, which came together to help the United States fight the jihadists of the Islamic State.

Its fighters received air support and training from the United States and fought together on the ground with American Special Operations forces against the jihadists, losing thousands of fighters.

That has won the group praise from a range of top United States officials, and after eight years of war in Syria, the S.D.F. remains the only significant armed group still aligned with Washington.

While many of the group’s fighters and most of its leaders are ethnic Kurds, the S.D.F. also includes Arabs and members of Syria’s other religious and ethnic minorities. Its ideology is secular, and it promotes a form of democracy characterized by rule at the community level.

The United States has given the S.D.F. generous military support, but it has not endorsed the group’s political project, in part to keep from alienating Turkey even more.

Since the official destruction of the ISIS caliphate early this year, the S.D.F. has continued to pursue Islamic State remnants in cooperation with United States forces while seeking to strengthen the network of local councils that have been established to govern areas liberated from the jihadists.

The Kurdish forces have also become the de facto guardians of tens of thousands of former Islamic State residents and jailed fighters in northern Syria, and they receive limited aid to do so.

If a new conflict breaks out in the area, the question of what happens to those ISIS prisoners and their family members will become urgent.

The United States’ close cooperation with the S.D.F. has angered Turkey, a United States ally in NATO. Turkey accuses the Kurdish fighters of being terrorists and closely to the P.K.K., a guerrilla organization that has fought a bloody, decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

Both Turkey and the United States consider the P.K.K. a terrorist organization. But American officials have publicly tried to play down the links between that group and the S.D.F. while privately acknowledging that they exist.

While there are few clear examples of militant attacks on Turkey originating from S.D.F.-controlled territory, Turkey has watched the growth of Kurdish autonomy across its southern border with a rising sense of alarm, fearing that it could pose a national security threat.

Turkey has often raised these concerns with the United States, and in recent weeks American officials had sought to bring down tensions by brokering security arrangements near the Syrian-Turkish border with both sides.

But those measures failed to satisfy Turkish officials, prompting the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to inform Mr. Trump in a phone call on Sunday that he planned to send his forces into Syria to root out the Kurdish forces.

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President Endorses Turkish Military Operation in Syria, Shifting U.S. Policy

Westlake Legal Group 06dc-military-new-facebookJumbo President Endorses Turkish Military Operation in Syria, Shifting U.S. Policy United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Terrorism Syria Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense Department Defense and Military Forces

WASHINGTON — In a major shift in United States military policy in Syria, the White House said on Sunday that President Trump had given his endorsement for a Turkish military operation that would sweep away American-backed Kurdish forces near the border in Syria.

Turkey considers the Kurdish forces to be a terrorist insurgency, and has long sought to end American support for the group. But the Kurdish fighters, which are part of the Syrian Democratic Forces, or S.D.F., have been the United States’ most reliable partner in fighting the Islamic State in a strategic corner of northern Syria.

Now, Mr. Trump’s decision goes against the recommendations of top officials in the Pentagon and the State Department who have sought to keep a small troop presence in northeast Syria to continue operations against the Islamic State, or ISIS, and to act as a critical counterweight to Iran and Russia.

Administration officials said that Mr. Trump spoke directly with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on the issue on Sunday. And the officials indicated that the 100 to 150 United States military personnel deployed to that area would be pulled back in advance of any Turkish operation but that they would not be completely withdrawn from Syria.

On Monday, witnesses in Syria saw United States forces withdrawing from two positions in northeastern Syria: observation posts in Tel Abyad and Ein Eissa.

“Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,” the White House said in a statement released just before 11 p.m. in Washington. “The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”

It was unclear how extensive the Turkish operation would be, or whether Turkish forces would clash with the American-backed Kurds, a development that could jeopardize many of the counterterrorism gains achieved by the American military in the fight against ISIS.

Last December, Mr. Trump called for a complete United States withdrawal from Syria, but ultimately reversed himself after a backlash from Pentagon, diplomatic and intelligence officials, as well as important allies in Europe and the Middle East.

Soner Cagaptay, the director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and author of “Erdogan’s Empire: Turkey and the Politics of the Middle East,” said in a telephone interview that a Turkish incursion uncontested by the United States would allow Turkey to cut another swath into Kurdish-controlled territory in Syria. That would give Mr. Erdogan a ready place to send hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and prove yet again his influence with Mr. Trump on Syria policy.

“It’s quite a significant development,” Mr. Cagaptay said.

Many Syria experts criticized the White House decision and cautioned that American abandonment of its Kurdish allies could widen the eight-year Syrian conflict and prompt the Kurds to ally with the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad to combat the much larger and more technologically advanced Turkish army.

“Allowing Turkey to move into northern Syria is one of the most destabilizing moves we can do in the Middle East,” Representative Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat and former Marine who served in the Iraq war, said on Twitter on Sunday night. “The Kurds will never trust America again. They will look for new alliances or independence to protect themselves.”

The announcement by the White House came as a shock to the S.D.F., Kurdish officials said on Monday. In a statement, the S.D.F. said that it had fulfilled its obligations in the efforts to reduce tensions with the Turks but that the United States had not.

The statement warned that a Turkish incursion could endanger the progress made to establish security in the wake of the battle against the Islamic State. It also called on Kurdish forces to “defend our homeland from the Turkish aggression.”

Mr. Erdogan has demanded a “safe zone” for his nation to run 20 miles deep and 300 miles along the Turkish-Syrian border east of the Euphrates. That area, he has said, would be reserved for the return of at least a million Syrian refugees now inside Turkey. Mr. Erdogan has threatened to send a wave of Syrian migrants to Europe instead if the international community does not support the initiative to send them back to Syria.

Since early August, the American and Turkish militaries have been working together on a series of confidence-building measures — including joint reconnaissance flights and ground patrols — in a 75-mile-long strip of that 300-mile border area.

American-backed Kurdish forces have pulled back several miles and destroyed fortifications in that area.

The pace of these operations has not been fast enough for Mr. Erdogan, and last week he began indicating that he planned to launch an incursion across the border. He did the same thing over the summer, prompting a flurry of American diplomatic activity bolstered by the military confidence-building measures.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both called their Turkish counterparts last week to try and reduce tensions. But unresolved threats from Turkey apparently resulted in the decision by Mr. Trump on Sunday.

American officials contacted late Sunday would not say how far back from the Turkish border American troops would redeploy, or whether this signals the beginning of a larger overall withdrawal of the 1,000 American troops now in northeast Syria conducting and supporting counterterrorism operations. Those troops rely on their partnership with the S.D.F. which has 60,000 total fighters, including both Kurdish and Arab militias.

One official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe a fluid military situation, said that American forces were pulling back from northeast Syria to “get out of the way.”

Officials described a military and political tension as the American military is pulled between two important allies in the civil war in Syria. Turkey is a major NATO ally, but the Kurdish S.D.F. forces have been a partner in the fight against ISIS.

“We are not going to support the Turks and we are not going to support the S.D.F.,” the official said. “If they go to combat, we’re going to stay out of it.”

There has been grave tension over Syria within the administration, as well.

In late December 2018, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned over Mr. Trump’s surprise order of a full withdrawal of 2,000 American troops from Syria. Two days later, Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the coalition to defeat ISIS, also resigned. In the months afterward, American officials quietly worked behind the scenes to ensure that some level of troops would remain in northeast Syria.

As recently as the week of the United Nations General Assembly summit in late September, senior American officials were saying there was consensus across the United States government, including Mr. Trump, on ensuring the welfare of the Kurdish forces and warding off Turkey’s persistent desire to attack those forces.

But around that same time, Turkish officials were privately saying that they saw things very differently: They said they perceived a sharp division between Mr. Trump and other American officials — most notably generals in the United States Central Command, which oversees troops in the Middle East. While it was clear the generals wanted to bar Turkey from the safe zone and keep American troops there, Mr. Trump clearly wanted the troops out, they said, and in the end he might get his way.

Mr. Erdogan had traveled to New York with the intention of talking about Syria and the Kurds with Mr. Trump in a private meeting. He attended a group dinner hosted by Mr. Trump, but the two did not have a formal meeting there. Mr. Trump did say at one event that Mr. Erdogan had “become a friend of mine.” The telephone call between the two on Sunday might have been organized as a substitute for the meeting that never took place.

“This looks to be another reckless decision made without deliberation or consultation following a call with a foreign leader,” Mr. McGurk said after hearing of Mr. Trump’s decision on Sunday. “The White House statement bears no relation to facts on the ground. If implemented, it will significantly increase risk to our personnel, as well as hasten ISIS’s resurgence.”

Turkish officials pointed to Mr. Trump’s favorable exchanges with Mr. Erdogan during the G20 summit meeting in Japan in June as another sign of a strong relationship between the two leaders. That bilateral meeting was more about a different security flash point between the United States and Turkey — the purchase by Turkey of the Russian S-400 missile defense system. But Mr. Trump has largely brushed that issue aside.

The White House statement on Sunday came as the Islamic State is gathering new strength, conducting guerrilla attacks across Iraq and Syria, retooling its financial networks and targeting new recruits at an allied-run tent camp, American military, counterterrorism and intelligence officers say.

Though Mr. Trump hailed a total defeat of the Islamic State this year — and asserted its territorial demise in Sunday night’s statement — defense officials in the region see things differently, acknowledging that what remains of the terrorist group is here to stay.

Over the past several months, ISIS has made inroads into the sprawling Al Hol tent camp in northeast Syria, and there is no ready plan to deal with the 70,000 people there, including thousands of family members of ISIS fighters.

American intelligence officials say the Al Hol camp, managed by Syrian Kurdish allies with little aid or security, is evolving into a hotbed of ISIS ideology. The American-backed Syrian Kurdish force also holds more than 10,000 ISIS fighters, including 2,000 foreigners, in separate makeshift prisons.

The custody of all these people could be in jeopardy, American officials said Sunday night, depending on whether any Turkish incursion sets off a much larger conflict in northeast Syria.

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Trump Endorses Turkish Military Operation in Syria, Shifting U.S. Policy

Westlake Legal Group 06dc-military-1sub--facebookJumbo Trump Endorses Turkish Military Operation in Syria, Shifting U.S. Policy United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Terrorism Syria Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense Department Defense and Military Forces

WASHINGTON — In a major shift in United States military policy in Syria, the White House said on Sunday that President Trump had given his endorsement for a Turkish military operation that would sweep away American-backed Kurdish forces near the border in Syria.

Turkey considers the Kurdish fighters to be a terrorist insurgency, and has long sought to end American support for the group. But the Kurdish group, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or S.D.F., has been the United States’ most reliable partner in fighting the Islamic State in a strategic corner of northern Syria.

Now, Mr. Trump’s decision goes against the recommendations of top officials in the Pentagon and the State Department who have sought to keep a small troop presence in northeast Syria to continue counterinsurgency operations against the Islamic State, or ISIS, and to act as a critical counterweight to Iran and Russia.

Administration officials said that Mr. Trump spoke directly with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on the issue on Sunday. And the officials indicated that the 100 to 150 United States military personnel deployed to that area would be pulled back in advance of any Turkish operation but that they would not be completely withdrawn from Syria.

“Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,” the White House said in a statement released just before 11 p.m. in Washington. “The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”

It was unclear how extensive the Turkish operation would be, or whether Turkish forces would clash with the American-backed Kurds, a development that could jeopardize many of the counterterrorism gains achieved by the American military in the fight against ISIS.

Last December, Mr. Trump called for a complete United States withdrawal from Syria, but ultimately reversed himself after a backlash from Pentagon, diplomatic and intelligence officials, as well as important allies in Europe and the Middle East.

Soner Cagaptay, the director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and author of “Erdogan’s Empire: Turkey and the Politics of the Middle East,” said in a telephone interview that a Turkish incursion uncontested by the United States would allow Turkey to cut another swath into Kurdish-controlled territory in Syria. That would give Mr. Erdogan a ready place to send hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and prove yet again his influence with Mr. Trump on Syria policy.

“It’s a quite a significant development,” Mr. Cagaptay said.

Many Syria experts criticized the White House decision and cautioned that American abandonment of its Kurdish allies could widen the eight-year Syrian conflict and prompt the Kurds to ally with the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad to combat the much larger and more technologically advanced Turkish army.

“Allowing Turkey to move into northern Syria is one of the most destabilizing moves we can do in the Middle East,” Representative Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat and former Marine who served in the Iraq war, said on Twitter on Sunday night. “The Kurds will never trust America again. They will look for new alliances or independence to protect themselves.”

Mr. Erdogan has demanded a “safe zone” for his nation to run 20 miles deep and 300 miles along the Turkish-Syrian border east of the Euphrates. That area, he has said, would be reserved for the involuntary return of at least a million Syrian refugees now inside Turkey. Mr. Erdogan has threatened to send a wave of Syrian migrants to Europe instead if the international community does not support the initiative to send them back to Syria.

Since early August, the American and Turkish militaries have been working together on a series of confidence-building measures — including joint reconnaissance flights and ground patrols — in a 75-mile-long strip of that 300-mile border area.

American-backed Kurdish forces have pulled back several miles and destroyed fortifications in that area.

The pace of these operations has not been fast enough for Mr. Erdogan, and last week he began indicating he planned to launch an incursion across the border. He did the same thing over the summer, prompting a flurry of American diplomatic activity bolstered by the military confidence-building measures.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both called their Turkish counterparts last week to try and reduce tensions. But unresolved threats from Turkey apparently resulted in the decision by Mr. Trump on Sunday.

American officials contacted late Sunday would not say how far back from the Turkish border American troops would redeploy, or whether this signals the beginning of a larger overall withdrawal of the 1,000 American troops now in northeast Syria conducting and supporting counterterrorism operations.

One official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe a fluid military situation, said that American forces were pulling back from northeast Syria to “get out of the way.”

Officials described a military and political tension as the American military is pulled between two important allies in the civil war in Syria. Turkey is a major NATO ally, but the Kurdish S.D.F. forces have been a partner in the fight against ISIS.

“We are not going to support the Turks and we are not going to support the S.D.F.,” the official said. “If they go to combat, we’re going to stay out of it.”

The White House statement and its ramifications come as the Islamic State is gathering new strength, conducting guerrilla attacks across Iraq and Syria, retooling its financial networks and targeting new recruits at an allied-run tent camp, American military, counterterrorism and intelligence officers say.

Though Mr. Trump hailed a total defeat of the Islamic State this year — and asserted its territorial demise in Sunday night’s statement — defense officials in the region see things differently, acknowledging that what remains of the terrorist group is here to stay.

A recent inspector general’s report warned that a drawdown ordered by Mr. Trump this year — from 2,000 American forces in Syria to less than half of that — has meant that the American military has had to cut back support for Syrian partner forces fighting ISIS. For now, American and international forces can only try to ensure that ISIS remains contained and away from urban areas, officials say.

Although there is little concern that the Islamic State will reclaim its former physical territory, a self-declared Islamic caliphate that was once the size of Britain and controlled the lives of up to 12 million people, the terrorist group has still mobilized as many as 18,000 remaining fighters in Iraq and Syria. These sleeper cells and strike teams have carried out sniper attacks, ambushes, kidnappings and assassinations against security forces and community leaders.

Over the past several months, ISIS has made inroads into a sprawling tent camp in northeast Syria, and there is no ready plan to deal with the 70,000 people there, including thousands of family members of ISIS fighters.

American intelligence officials say the Al Hol camp, managed by Syrian Kurdish allies with little aid or security, is evolving into a hotbed of ISIS ideology and a huge breeding ground for future terrorists. The American-backed Syrian Kurdish force also holds more than 10,000 ISIS fighters, including 2,000 foreigners, in separate makeshift prisons.

The custody of all these people could be in jeopardy, American officials said Sunday night, depending on whether any Turkish incursion sets off a much larger conflict in northeast Syria.

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‘We Absolutely Could Not Do That’: When Seeking Foreign Help Was Out of the Question

WASHINGTON — One day in October 1992, four Republican congressmen showed up in the Oval Office with an audacious recommendation. President George Bush was losing his re-election race, and they told him the only way to win was to hammer his challenger Bill Clinton’s patriotism for protesting the Vietnam War while in London and visiting Moscow as a young man.

Mr. Bush was largely on board with that approach. But what came next crossed the line, as far as he and his team were concerned. “They wanted us to contact the Russians or the British to seek information on Bill Clinton’s trip to Moscow,” James A. Baker III, Mr. Bush’s White House chief of staff, wrote in a memo later that day. “I said we absolutely could not do that.”

President Trump insists he and his attorney general did nothing wrong by seeking damaging information about his domestic opponents from Ukraine, Australia, Italy and Britain or by publicly calling on China to investigate his most prominent Democratic challenger. But for every other White House in the modern era, Republican and Democratic, the idea of enlisting help from foreign powers for political advantage was seen as unwise and politically dangerous, if not unprincipled.

A survey of 10 former White House chiefs of staff under Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama found that none recalled any circumstance under which the White House had solicited or accepted political help from other countries, and all said they would have considered the very idea out of bounds.

“I served three presidents in the White House and don’t remember even hearing any speculation to consider asking for such action,” said Andrew H. Card Jr., who ran the younger Mr. Bush’s White House and was the longest-serving chief of staff in the last six decades.

William M. Daley, who served as commerce secretary under Mr. Clinton and chief of staff under Mr. Obama, said if someone had even proposed such an action, he probably would “recommend the person be escorted out of” the White House, then fired and reported to ethics officials.

Other chiefs were just as definitive. “Did not happen on Reagan’s watch. Would not have happened on Reagan’s watch,” said Kenneth M. Duberstein, his last chief of staff. “I would have shut him down,” said Leon E. Panetta, who served as Mr. Clinton’s chief of staff and Mr. Obama’s defense secretary.

Read the 1992 Memo President George Bush’s Team Sent About Seeking Foreign Help to Beat Bill Clinton

When Republican congressmen suggested Mr. Bush reach out to Russia or Britain for information that could help him win his re-election race against Bill Clinton, James A. Baker III, then the White House chief of staff, wrote this memo. (PDF, 1 page, 4.8 MB)

Westlake Legal Group thumbnail ‘We Absolutely Could Not Do That’: When Seeking Foreign Help Was Out of the Question United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Reagan, Ronald Wilson Presidents and Presidency (US) Presidential Election of 2016 Obama, Barack Clinton, Bill Bush, George W Bush, George Burisma Holdings Ltd Baker, James A III  1 page, 4.8 MB

The sense of incredulity among White House veterans in recent days crossed party and ideological lines. “This is unprecedented,” said Samuel K. Skinner, who preceded Mr. Baker as chief of staff under Mr. Bush. Other chiefs who said they never encountered such a situation included Thomas F. McLarty III and John D. Podesta (Clinton) and Rahm Emanuel, Denis R. McDonough and Jacob J. Lew (Obama).

History has shown that foreign affairs can be treacherous for presidents, even just the suspicion of mixing politics with the national interest. As a candidate in 1968, Richard M. Nixon sought to forestall a Vietnam peace deal by President Lyndon B. Johnson just before the election.

Associates of Mr. Reagan were accused of trying to delay the release of hostages by Iran when he was a candidate in 1980 for fear that it would aid President Jimmy Carter, but a bipartisan House investigation concluded that there was no merit to the charge. Mr. Clinton faced months of investigation over 1996 campaign contributions from Chinese interests tied to the Beijing government.

In none of those cases did an incumbent president personally apply pressure to foreign powers to damage political opponents. Mr. Trump pressed Ukraine’s president this summer to investigate involvement with Democrats in 2016 and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. while holding up $391 million in American aid. Mr. Trump has said he was simply investigating corruption, not trying to benefit himself.

“The right way to look at it is the vice president was selling our country out,” Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, said in an interview on Sunday. Mr. Trump was fulfilling his duty, he said. “I don’t see what the president did wrong.”

Mr. Giuliani has been leading Mr. Trump’s efforts to dig up evidence of corruption by the Democrats in Ukraine, meeting with various officials and negotiating a commitment by the newly installed government in Kiev to investigate conspiracy theories about Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election and supposed conflicts of interest by Mr. Biden.

Told that past White House chiefs of staff said any legitimate allegations should be handled by the Justice Department, not the president, Mr. Giuliani said: “That’s if you can trust the Justice Department. My witnesses don’t trust the Justice Department, and they don’t trust the F.B.I.” He added that he would not have either until Attorney General William P. Barr took over.

Mr. Barr has contacted foreign officials for help in investigating the origin of the special counsel investigation by Robert S. Mueller III into Russian interference and ties with Mr. Trump’s campaign, part of an effort to prove that the whole matter was a “hoax,” as the president has insisted.

Mr. Trump defends himself by saying that other presidents have leaned on foreign governments for help. That is true, but when other presidents have pressured counterparts and even held up American assistance to coerce cooperation, it has generally been to achieve certain policy goals — not to advance the president’s personal or political agenda.

As an example, Mr. Trump often cites Mr. Obama, who was overheard telling President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia in 2012 that he would have more “more flexibility” to negotiate missile defense after the fall election. While that may be objectionable, it is not the same thing as asking a foreign government to intervene in an American election.

“They assume everybody’s as sleazy and dirty as they are, which is not the case,” Mr. Emanuel said.

Mr. Trump points to Mr. Biden, arguing that the former vice president was the one who abused his power by threatening to withhold $1 billion in American aid to Ukraine unless it fired its prosecutor general.

Mr. Biden’s son Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, earning $50,000 a month. The company’s oligarch owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, had been a subject of cases overseen by the prosecutor, and so Mr. Trump contends that Mr. Biden sought the prosecutor’s ouster to benefit his son.

As a matter of appearances, at least, the former vice president’s family left him open to suspicion. Even some of his defenders say it was unseemly for Hunter Biden to seemingly trade on his family name. The elder Mr. Biden has said he never discussed his son’s business dealings in Ukraine with him, but some Democrats suggest he should have if only to prevent just such a situation from arising.

For all of that, however, no evidence has emerged that Mr. Biden moved to push out the prosecutor to benefit his son. No memo or text message has become public linking the two. None of the American officials who were involved at the time have come forward alleging any connection. No whistle-blower has filed a complaint.

In pressing for the prosecutor’s ouster, Mr. Biden was carrying out Mr. Obama’s policy as developed by his national security team and coordinated with European allies and the International Monetary Fund, all of which considered the Ukrainian prosecutor to be deliberately overlooking corruption.

Indeed, at the time Mr. Biden acted, there was no public evidence that the prosecutor’s office was actively pursuing investigations of Burisma, although Mr. Zlochevsky’s allies say the prosecutor continued to use the threat of prosecution to try to solicit bribes from the oligarch and his team.

The 1992 episode involving Mr. Bush and Mr. Baker provides an intriguing case study in the way previous administrations have viewed seeking political help overseas. At the time, Mr. Bush was trailing in the polls and eager for any weapon to turn things around.

Representatives Robert K. Dornan, Duncan Hunter and Duke Cunningham of California and Sam Johnson of Texas urged the president to ask Russia and Britain for help.

Mr. Dornan, reached last week, said Mr. Baker offered no objections during the meeting. “Baker sat there in the Oval Office like a bump on a log,” he recalled. “He said nothing.” If Mr. Baker advised Mr. Bush not to reach out to foreign governments, then he did so after the congressmen had left, Mr. Dornan said.

Mr. Dornan said that was a mistake and that Mr. Bush should have done as Mr. Trump has. “The bottom line from me was, ‘If you don’t do this, Mr. President, leader of the free world, you will lose,’” Mr. Dornan said. “And he didn’t do it and he lost. Baker cost Bush that second term.”

As it was, Mr. Baker and some of his aides got in trouble anyway because State Department employees searched Mr. Clinton’s passport file to determine whether he had ever tried to renounce his American citizenship. They found no such evidence, but an independent counsel was appointed to investigate whether the search violated any laws.

The attorney general who requested the investigation? Mr. Barr, in his first tour running the Justice Department. The independent counsel who was appointed? Joseph diGenova, a lawyer now helping Mr. Giuliani look for information in Ukraine. In the passport case, Mr. diGenova concluded that no laws had been broken and that he should never have been appointed in first place.

As for seeking help from Russia and Britain, Mr. Baker declined to comment last week, but his peers said he did exactly as they would have. “It would have been ludicrous at that stage to do anything,” Mr. Skinner said. “Baker’s decision was obviously the right one.”

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