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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 17)

House Investigators Question Kurt Volker, First Impeachment Witness

WASHINGTON — House investigators on Thursday privately questioned Kurt D. Volker, the State Department’s former special envoy for Ukraine, interviewing the first witness in their growing impeachment inquiry into whether President Trump tried to bend American policy for his own political benefit.

Mr. Volker, a former ambassador to NATO, has not been accused of directly taking part in Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate a leading political rival. But he appears to have been caught up in efforts by the president and his lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to enlist Ukrainian leaders to unearth damaging information about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

Mr. Volker’s name appears several times in an anonymous C.I.A. whistle-blower complaint that set off the impeachment inquiry, and Mr. Giuliani has said publicly he briefed Mr. Volker on his efforts. The complaint centers on a July call Mr. Trump had with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, in which he pressed him to investigate Mr. Biden, and asserts that Mr. Volker advised the Ukrainians on how to “navigate” Mr. Trump’s demands.

Investigators for the House Intelligence Committee want to know what Mr. Volker knew, and when, about Mr. Giuliani’s work in Ukraine, the president’s decision to withhold $391 million in security assistance from the country at the same time he was pressing for the investigations of Democrats, and the Trump administration’s decision to recall Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former United States ambassador to Ukraine who was targeted by the president and Mr. Giuliani for ostensibly being insufficiently loyal.

Another key avenue of inquiry for investigators on Thursday is likely to be the American delegation that visited Kiev for Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration, which included Mr. Volker; Gordon Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union; Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin; and Rick Perry, the energy secretary. House investigators were expected to ask questions about the message the officials delivered to the new government.

The interview, which Mr. Volker participated in voluntarily, was expected to last several hours out of public view. Before he arrived, Mr. Volker provided the House with more than 60 pages of documents, mostly text messages, related to his work at the State Department, according to a congressional official familiar with the investigation, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the ongoing inquiry.

Mr. Volker resigned on Friday from his part-time, unpaid State Department post without public explanation. A person familiar with his thinking said the longtime diplomat concluded he could no longer be effective in the post in light of the unfolding scandal. But the resignation also freed him to appear before the House investigators without restrictions, according to people familiar with his account.

As special envoy for Ukraine, Mr. Volker was near the heart of the administration’s diplomacy with the country. But, he has told colleagues, he was not involved in the pressure campaign, and was only trying to prod the new president to stick to his campaign promises of fighting corruption, people familiar with his account said.

Mr. Volker has also told friends and colleagues that he believed that the Trump administration was withholding the aid to Ukraine because of generalized concerns about corruption, rather than to force a specific investigation of the Biden family, according to a person familiar with his account.

But Mr. Volker did know about Mr. Giuliani’s interest in having the Ukrainians investigate Mr. Biden, the person said. The two discussed it at a meeting that Mr. Giuliani has said took place in July, according to people familiar with his account. At that meeting, intended to pave the way for a meeting with the Ukrainians, Mr. Volker told Mr. Giuliani he believed the allegations against the Bidens were baseless, according to a person briefed on the conversation. But Mr. Volker did not disagree with Mr. Giuliani’s contention that there was corruption in Ukraine, and that some in the country wanted to try to influence Mr. Biden through his son.

Mr. Giuliani did not argue the point with Mr. Volker, but said he wanted the Ukrainian government to investigate if Ukrainian citizens had violated their laws. Mr. Volker said that was what the government was supposed to do. At the end of the meeting, Mr. Volker put Mr. Giuliani in touch with Andriy Yermak, the new Ukrainian president’s adviser, according to people familiar with his account.

The whistle-blower’s complaint says that a day after Mr. Trump spoke with Mr. Zelensky in July, Mr. Volker and Mr. Sondland met with Mr. Zelensky and other political figures in person. The whistle-blower said that multiple American officials told him the two Americans gave “advice” to the Ukrainians “about how to navigate the demands that the president had made of Mr. Zelensky.”

The complaint also says that the two men had tried to “contain the damage” to American national security posed by the scheme.

Mr. Volker was expected to testify that he did not know why the aid had been frozen at the time of that conversation. While he had pushed for a call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky, Mr. Volker had no early warning that the July 25 call had been scheduled.

Even before the first deposition began, Republicans were raising complaints about the fairness of the investigative process. Representative Michael T. McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote to its chairman on Wednesday protesting that committee staff would not be allowed to ask questions during the depositions and that Republicans had been given fewer slots than Democrats. Democrats said Mr. McCaul’s complaint about partisan parity was unfounded, and that Republicans and Democrats would be represented Thursday in equal numbers.

But Republicans were demanding other answers about the fast-unfolding inquiry, highlighting some of the murkiness of Democrats’ intentions.

Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the top House Republican, wrote to Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday requesting she “suspend” the impeachment investigation “until transparent and equitable rules and procedures are established to govern the inquiry, as is customary.”

Democrats are deviating from recent historical precedent for presidential impeachment proceedings. When the House conducted impeachment inquiries of Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton, the full chamber held votes to authorize the inquiries. And the majority party established rules meant to clearly govern their work and give the president substantial due process.

This time, Ms. Pelosi and her team believe no House vote is necessary and do not intend to take one. And they have said little publicly about how they expect the investigation to play out, or what procedures will govern it. Mr. McCarthy demanded she offer an outline, and said that any deviation from past precedent would be unfair to the president and would “create a process completely devoid of any merit or legitimacy.”

For now, though, Democrats are pushing forward with haste, issuing near-daily requests or subpoenas for documentary evidence and witness testimony.

The session with Mr. Volker is expected to be the first in a fast-paced series of interviews in the coming weeks, when Democrats aim to bring a parade of witnesses behind closed doors for questioning. Ms. Yovanovitch is expected to appear next week.

Other State Department diplomats, including Mr. Sondland, and associates of Mr. Giuliani’s are scheduled to participate, as well, but it remains to be seen whether they will appear voluntarily. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the committee this week that its requests were inappropriately aggressive and untenable.

First, though, the Intelligence Committee will privately debrief the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, on Friday. Mr. Atkinson met with the panel once before, but he was barred from discussing a preliminary investigation he conducted to determine the credibility of the whistle-blower complaint. Now, lawmakers expect him to provide a list of which administration officials he interviewed before ultimately deeming the complaint “credible.”

‘We’re Not Fooling Around’: House Democrats Vow to Subpoena White House

Oct. 2, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 02dc-impeach-promo2-threeByTwoSmallAt2X House Investigators Question Kurt Volker, First Impeachment Witness Yovanovitch, Marie L Volker, Kurt D United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Pompeo, Mike Pelosi, Nancy impeachment
Kurt Volker, Trump’s Envoy for Ukraine, Resigns

Sept. 27, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_158531811_aaab7ac0-f029-4144-bda7-a7c374a1378c-threeByTwoSmallAt2X House Investigators Question Kurt Volker, First Impeachment Witness Yovanovitch, Marie L Volker, Kurt D United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Pompeo, Mike Pelosi, Nancy impeachment
White House Tried to ‘Lock Down’ Ukraine Call Records, Whistle-Blower Says

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_161536872_e2f1a6cc-83ed-47eb-9f37-00f53ae437da-threeByTwoSmallAt2X House Investigators Question Kurt Volker, First Impeachment Witness Yovanovitch, Marie L Volker, Kurt D United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Pompeo, Mike Pelosi, Nancy impeachment

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

House Investigators Question First Impeachment Witness

WASHINGTON — House investigators on Thursday privately questioned Kurt D. Volker, the State Department’s former special envoy for Ukraine, interviewing the first witness in their growing impeachment inquiry into whether President Trump tried to bend American policy for his own political benefit.

Mr. Volker, a former ambassador to NATO, has not been accused of directly taking part in Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate a leading political rival. But he appears to have been caught up in efforts by the president and his lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to enlist Ukrainian leaders to unearth damaging information about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

Mr. Volker’s name appears several times in an anonymous C.I.A. whistle-blower complaint that set off the impeachment inquiry, and Mr. Giuliani has said publicly he briefed Mr. Volker on his efforts. The complaint centers on a July call Mr. Trump had with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, in which he pressed him to investigate Mr. Biden, and asserts that Mr. Volker advised the Ukranians on how to “navigate” Mr. Trump’s demands.

Investigators for the House Intelligence Committee want to know what Mr. Volker knew, and when, about Mr. Giuliani’s work in Ukraine, the president’s decision to withhold $391 million in security assistance from the country at the same time he was pressing for the investigations of Democrats, and the Trump administration’s decision to recall Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former United States ambassador to Ukraine who was targeted by the president and Mr. Giuliani for ostensibly being insufficiently loyal.

Another key avenue of inquiry for investigators on Thursday is likely to be the American delegation that visited Kiev for Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration, which included Mr. Volker, Gordon Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union; Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin; and Rick Perry, the energy secretary. House investigators were expected to ask questions about the message the officials delivered to the new government.

The interview, which Mr. Volker participated in voluntarily, was expected to last several hours out of public view. Before he arrived, Mr. Volker provided the House with more than 60 pages of documents, mostly text messages, related to his work at the State Department, according to a congressional official familiar with the investigation, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the ongoing inquiry.

Mr. Volker resigned on Friday from his part-time, unpaid State Department post without public explanation. A person familiar with his thinking said the longtime diplomat concluded he could not longer be effective in the post in light of the unfolding scandal. But the resignation also freed him to appear before the House investigators without restrictions, according to people familiar with his account.

As special envoy for Ukraine, Mr. Volker was near the heart of the administration’s diplomacy with the country. But, he has told colleagues, he was not involved in the pressure campaign, and was only trying to prod the new president to stick to his campaign promises of fighting corruption, people familiar with his account said.

Mr. Volker has also told friends and colleagues that he believed that the Trump administration was withholding the aid to Ukraine because of generalized concerns about corruption, rather than to force a specific investigation of the Biden family, according to a person familiar with his account.

But Mr. Volker did know about Mr. Giuliani’s interest in having the Ukrainians investigate Mr. Biden, the person said. The two discussed it at a meeting that Mr. Giuliani has said took place in July, according to people familiar with his account. At that meeting, intended to pave the way for a meeting with the Ukrainians, Mr. Volker told Mr. Giuliani he believed the allegations against the Bidens were baseless, according to a person briefed on the conversation. But Mr. Volker did not disagree with Mr. Giuliani’s contention that there was corruption in Ukraine, and that some in the country wanted to try to influence Mr. Biden through his son.

Mr. Giuliani did not argue the point with Mr. Volker, but said he wanted the Ukrainian government to investigate if Ukrainian citizens had violated their laws. Mr. Volker said that was what the government was supposed to do. At the end of the meeting, Mr. Volker put Mr. Giuliani in touch with Andriy Yermak, the new Ukrainianpresident’s adviser, according to people familiar with his account.

The whistle-blower’s complaint says that a day after Mr. Trump spoke with Mr. Zelensky in July, Mr. Volker and Mr. Sondland met with Mr. Zelensky and other political figures in person. The whistle-blower said that multiple American officials told him the two Americans gave “advice” to the Ukrainians “about how to navigate the demands that the president had made of Mr. Zelensky.”

It also says that the two men had tried to “contain the damage” to American national security posed by the scheme.

Mr. Volker was expected to testify that he did not know why the aid had been frozen at the time of that conversation. While he had pushed for a call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky, Mr. Volker had no early warning that the July 25 call had been scheduled.

Even before the first deposition began, Republicans were raising complaints about the fairness of the investigative process. Representative Michael T. McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote to its chairman on Wednesday protesting that committee staff would not be allowed to ask questions during the depositions and that Republicans had been given fewer slots than Democrats. Democrats said Mr. McCaul’s complaint about partisan parity was unfounded, and that Republicans and Democrats would be represented Thursday in equal numbers.

But Republicans were demanding other answers about the fast-unfolding inquiry, highlighting some of the murkiness of Democrats’ intentions.

Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the top House Republican, wrote to Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday requesting she “suspend” the impeachment investigation “until transparent and equitable rules and procedures are established to govern the inquiry, as is customary.”

Democrats are deviating from recent historical precedent for presidential impeachment proceedings. When the House conducted impeachment inquiries of Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton, the full chamber held votes to authorize the inquiries. And the majority party established rules meant to clearly govern their work and give the president substantial due process.

This time, Ms. Pelosi and her team believe no House vote is necessary and do not intend to take one. And they have said little publicly about how they expect the investigation to play out, or what procedures will govern it. Mr. McCarthy demanded she offer an outline, and said that any deviation from past precedent would be unfair to the president and would “create a process completely devoid of any merit or legitimacy.”

For now, though, Democrats are pushing forward with haste, issuing near-daily requests or subpoenas for documentary evidence and witness testimony.

The session with Mr. Volker is expected to be the first in a fast-paced series of interviews in the coming weeks, when Democrats aim to bring a parade of witnesses behind closed doors for questioning. Ms. Yovanovitch is expected to appear next week.

Other State Department diplomats, including Mr. Sondland, and associates of Mr. Giuliani’s are scheduled to participate, as well, but it remains to be seen whether they will appear voluntarily. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the committee this week that its requests were inappropriately aggressive and untenable.

First, though, the Intelligence Committee will privately debrief the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, on Friday. Mr. Atkinson met with the panel once before, but he was barred from discussing a preliminary investigation he conducted to determine the credibility of the whistle-blower complaint. Now, lawmakers expect him to provide a list of which administration officials he interviewed before ultimately deeming the complaint “credible.”

‘We’re Not Fooling Around’: House Democrats Vow to Subpoena White House

Oct. 2, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 02dc-impeach-promo2-threeByTwoSmallAt2X House Investigators Question First Impeachment Witness Yovanovitch, Marie L Volker, Kurt D United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Pompeo, Mike Pelosi, Nancy impeachment
Kurt Volker, Trump’s Envoy for Ukraine, Resigns

Sept. 27, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_158531811_aaab7ac0-f029-4144-bda7-a7c374a1378c-threeByTwoSmallAt2X House Investigators Question First Impeachment Witness Yovanovitch, Marie L Volker, Kurt D United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Pompeo, Mike Pelosi, Nancy impeachment
White House Tried to ‘Lock Down’ Ukraine Call Records, Whistle-Blower Says

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_161536872_e2f1a6cc-83ed-47eb-9f37-00f53ae437da-threeByTwoSmallAt2X House Investigators Question First Impeachment Witness Yovanovitch, Marie L Volker, Kurt D United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Pompeo, Mike Pelosi, Nancy impeachment

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Trump Publicly Urges China to Investigate the Bidens

Westlake Legal Group 03dc-prexy-promo-facebookJumbo Trump Publicly Urges China to Investigate the Bidens Xi Jinping United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Thursday publicly called on China to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., in an extraordinary presidential request to a foreign country for help that could benefit him in the 2020 election.

“China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” Mr. Trump said Thursday as he left the White House to travel to Florida where he was expected to announce an executive order on Medicare.

The call for China to investigate Mr. Biden and his son Hunter’s business dealings there came as the first witness appeared on Capitol Hill to be interviewed by House investigators as part of an impeachment inquiry into the president’s request in a phone call for help from President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.

Mr. Trump has defended his conversation with Mr. Zelensky as “perfect” even after a reconstructed transcript of the call was released that showed him seeking help from Ukraine in investigating the Bidens. And he doubled down on his request on Thursday.

“I would say that President Zelensky, if it were me, I would recommend that they start an investigation into the Bidens,” Mr. Trump said. “Because nobody has any doubt that they weren’t crooked.”

These requests, which critics argue are an abuse of presidential power, echo comments Mr. Trump made as a presidential candidate in 2016 for Russia to release missing emails of his political opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Trump made the comments about China ahead of the latest round of trade talks, which are set to take place next week.

“We’re going to have a meeting with them, we’ll see,” Mr. Trump said of the talks. “I have a lot of options on China. But if they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous power.”

In calling for China to investigate the Bidens, Mr. Trump referred to a business deal Hunter Biden was in that involved a fund drawing from investment from the Chinese government-owned Bank of China.

The fund was announced in late 2013 — days after Hunter Biden and one of his daughters flew to China from Japan aboard Air Force Two with the vice president, who was in the midst of a diplomatic mission to calm rising tensions in the region, warning Chinese leaders not to use fighter jets to enforce an air defense zone created by Beijing over contested waters. Hunter Biden and his daughter participated in a few public events there with Mr. Biden.

The conservative author Peter Schweizer claimed that Hunter Biden used the trip to secure a deal with the Bank of China. That allegation has been echoed by Mr. Trump’s allies, and by the president himself on Thursday.

But a lawyer for Hunter Biden has said that he did not conduct any business related to the China investment fund on that trip, and that he was never an equity owner in the fund while his father was vice president. Hunter Biden later acquired a 10 percent interest in the entity that oversees the fund, but to date has not received any money from the arrangement, according to the lawyer.

Mr. Trump on Thursday said he had not personally asked President Xi for assistance. “But it’s certainly something we can start thinking about because I’m sure that President Xi does not like being under that kind of scrutiny.”

Mr. Trump’s suggestion that China investigate the Bidens comes as a delegation of senior Chinese officials is set to come to Washington next week for another round of trade negotiations. The two countries, which have been locked in a trade war, are hoping to make progress toward a deal after a breakdown in the talks in May, leading to an escalation of tariffs on each other’s goods.

Mr. Trump publicly continues to express ambivalence about the need for a deal while his advisers have been contemplating additional measures, such as banning Chinese companies from American stock exchanges, to inflict economic pain on China. The United States is expected to raise tariff rates on more Chinese imports on Oct. 15.

In recent weeks Mr. Trump has been raising the issue of Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China along with his allegations that his business in Ukraine represented conflicts of interest for his father, the former vice president. Mr. Trump’s Republican allies have also lodged such concerns.

In August, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asking him whether the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States was improperly influenced by Mr. Biden in 2015 when it approved the acquisition of a United States automotive technology company, Henniges Automotive, by a Chinese company and an investment firm linked to Hunter Biden.

The Treasury Department has said that it was reviewing the case.

Alan Rappeport and Kenneth P. Vogel contributed reporting.

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

Joe Biden Fires Back at Trump: ‘You’re Not Going to Destroy Me’

Westlake Legal Group merlin_162016506_9fe6ffb9-f167-421f-8379-567f0ebd4001-facebookJumbo Joe Biden Fires Back at Trump: ‘You’re Not Going to Destroy Me’ Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2020 Biden, Joseph R Jr

RENO, Nev. — Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday night delivered his most forceful response yet to President Trump’s attacks on him and his son, accusing the Trump team of waging a campaign of “lies, smears, distortions and name calling” geared at knocking him out of the presidential race.

Mr. Biden made his comments during a campaign swing through Nevada after days of internal debate among his advisers over how best to refute unsubstantiated claims by the president and his personal lawyer that Mr. Biden improperly assisted his son’s business ventures in Ukraine and China.

The counterattack, people close to Mr. Biden said, was intended to demonstrate what he had been promising supporters for the past week: that he would not let Mr. Trump “hijack” his campaign by allowing the president’s narrative to take root. It was also intended to prove, in a walk-and-chew-gum kind of way, that he could multitask even when facing withering political fire — unveiling a serious policy proposal on guns early Wednesday in Las Vegas, then pivoting to a sharp political attack by nightfall in the north.

State of the Race

“Let me make something clear to Trump and his hatchet men and the special interests funding his attacks against me: I’m not going anywhere,” Mr. Biden told a crowd of about 500 at the Truckee Meadows Community College here.

“You’re not going to destroy me,” he said to cheers from supporters, a handful wearing “Impeach 45” jerseys. “And you’re not going to destroy my family. I don’t care how much money you spend or how dirty the attacks get.”

The American people, Mr. Biden said, “know me and they know him. The idea of Donald Trump attacking anyone’s credibility is a joke.”

Earlier in the day, speaking at a gun safety forum in Las Vegas, Mr. Biden blasted the president and his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who had communicated with Ukrainian officials on Mr. Trump’s behalf.

He said there was “zero, zero, zero” evidence that his family had done anything wrong.

Mr. Biden’s increasingly bitter fight with Mr. Trump comes at a potential tipping point in the 2020 Democratic presidential race. Until recently, Mr. Biden had been leading in most national polls since he entered the field last spring. But Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, fueled by a highly disciplined campaign, has surged in many early-voting states.

A Monmouth University national poll released Wednesday showed Mr. Biden locked in a statistical dead heat with Ms. Warren, who garnered 28 percent support from Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters to his 25 percent, a difference within the survey’s margin of error.

At Wednesday night’s rally, Mr. Biden took a swipe at some of his Democratic opponents who had accused him of focusing too much on Mr. Trump and not enough on issues facing voters.

“A lot of my opponents say we have to do more than just beat Donald Trump,” he said. “I agree. We have to do more than beat Donald Trump. We have to beat him like a drum.”

Mr. Biden’s team has been alarmed by reports that Mr. Trump’s supporters plan to launch an aggressive advertising campaign to portray the former vice president as the person who had acted improperly — despite the lack of any evidence to support that claim.

And Mr. Biden’s top advisers have been equally incensed by what they view as the news media’s willingness to air unsupported allegations by Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani.

The president and his lawyer have alleged that Mr. Biden, as vice president, pressured the Ukrainians to force out a top prosecutor in order to derail an inquiry into a Ukrainian company that had paid his son, Hunter Biden. But Mr. Biden said Wednesday that he had been enforcing the demands of the Obama administration and other Western nations by seeking to replace the prosecutor with an official more committed to fighting corruption.

On Sunday, Anita Dunn and Kate Bedingfield, two senior Biden strategists, wrote to several major television networks asking them to stop booking Mr. Giuliani on their news programs, accusing him of spreading “debunked conspiracy theories.”

Mr. Biden amplified that argument on Wednesday, urging reporters to regard Mr. Trump’s statements, and his tweets, as not simply fodder for controversy but as a dangerous “abuse of power” that included enlisting foreign leaders as allies in his re-election effort.

Mr. Trump, he said, is “afraid of just how badly I would beat him next November.”

The president, in his own remarks on Wednesday, did not agree.

“I’d rather run against Biden than almost any of those candidates,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House.

More on the Impeachment Inquiry and the 2020 Race
Biden’s Strategy for Managing the Ukraine Story

Sept. 25, 2019

Trump, Biden and Ukraine: Sorting Out the Accusations

Sept. 22, 2019

Ukraine and Whistle-Blower Issues Emerge as Major Flashpoints in Presidential Race

Sept. 21, 2019

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

For Finland’s President and Other Guests of Trump, Stoicism Is Key

WASHINGTON — An awkward handshake is really the least of their worries.

As President Trump continues to rage against impeachment — and the Democrats and whistle-blower he holds responsible for bringing it about — visiting world leaders are encountering a different kind of diplomatic mission.

It includes a welcome ceremony, a meeting with Mr. Trump and an invitation to sit stone-faced for an indeterminate amount of time on live television as the president accuses people of treason, lies and corruption. And sometimes the session is reprised a little later in a formal news conference.

That was what happened on Wednesday when President Sauli Niinisto of Finland became the latest foreign leader to strike a straight-lipped contrast to Mr. Trump as Mr. Trump defended himself and attacked his adversaries. Not once but twice.

As reporters crowded into the Oval Office, Mr. Trump sat beside his guest and accused Democratic lawmakers, including Representative Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, of treason. Mr. Trump also suggested that the congressman was not fit to carry the secretary of state’s “‘blank’ strap,” as Mr. Niinisto looked on.

“He should resign from office in disgrace,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Schiff, “and frankly they should look at him for treason.”

Adding to the awkward scene, a Finnish reporter seemed to pick up on the president’s anger, and asked Mr. Trump what he could learn from Finland, which has been rated the happiest country in the world.

“Finland is a happy country,” Mr. Trump said in response as he slapped Mr. Niinisto’s knee. “Finland is a happy country. He’s a happy leader, too.”

Mr. Niinisto nodded and seemingly moved to swat Mr. Trump’s hand away.

But the American president wasn’t done. And at a news conference later Wednesday, Mr. Niinisto was all but forced to again express some stolid Nordic enthusiasm.

“Mr. President, you have here a great democracy,” Mr. Niinisto told Mr. Trump in the East Room. “Keep it going on.”

Skipping the usual protocol with a visiting foreign leader is nothing new for Mr. Trump.

He has launched into meandering asides, including falsely claiming his father was born in Germany as Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, looked on in April. In 2017, he seemed to forget to shake hands with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 02dc-memo-02-articleLarge For Finland’s President and Other Guests of Trump, Stoicism Is Key Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sauli Niinisto, Morrison, Scott (1968- ) impeachment

President Trump last year with President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria.CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

And, in front of Muhammadu Buhari, the president of Nigeria, Mr. Trump took questions concerning reports that he had called several African nations “shithole countries.”

“We didn’t discuss it because the president knows me,” Mr. Trump told reporters during his news conference with Mr. Buhari in April 2018, “and he knows where I’m coming from, and I appreciate that.”

Faced with the same question, the Nigerian president demurred, saying “the best thing for me is to keep quiet.”

Since the beginning of Mr. Trump’s presidency, at least some world leaders and their aides have made it a point to anticipate unexpected moments like these and plan ahead, according to a former official in the Washington diplomatic community who spoke on the condition of anonymity to not describe private planning.

The president’s approach has bent the norms of a protocol system put in place by Mr. Trump’s modern predecessors, according to Peter Selfridge, who served as the United States chief of protocol during the Obama administration.

“Obviously,” Mr. Selfridge said, “this president uses the press conference a little differently.”

President Barack Obama would regularly give his diplomatic guests warnings that a press availability might contain off-topic questions, according to a former Obama administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. But Mr. Obama would also appear visibly annoyed when asked questions not related to the purpose of the visit, especially if he was abroad.

When asked if Mr. Trump gave his visitors a similar heads-up, Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, indicated that there was no need.

“I think foreign leaders are well aware that the U.S. press corps often has no desire to cover the foreign diplomacy taking place during these visits,” Ms. Grisham wrote in an email.

Indeed, Mr. Trump’s behavior often overshadows whatever diplomacy is taking place. White House officials told journalists before Mr. Niinisto’s visit that it would focus on economic cooperation and mutual security concerns between the two countries, which is a familiar refrain before any such visit.

But in the past two weeks, impeachment and the allegations against Mr. Trump and his relations with Ukraine have overshadowed diplomatic concerns.

That was more than just subtext to Mr. Trump’s meeting last week in New York with Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president. Mr. Zelensky, who in a transcript of his phone call with Mr. Trump in July adeptly flattered the president, could barely mask his discomfort when the two met with reporters afterward.

“It’s a great pleasure to me to be here,” Mr. Zelensky said, “and it’s better to be on TV than by phone, I think.”

Mr. Trump with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia last month at the White House.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

And two weeks ago, Scott Morrison, the prime minister of Australia, had little time to prepare when his state visit came just as the furor over the president and Ukraine began to unfold.

After Mr. Morrison’s welcome ceremony, Mr. Trump pulled him into the Oval Office and began deriding the whistle-blower’s complaint that details him repeatedly pressing the Ukrainian president to talk with aides interested in an investigation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Defending his behavior on the call, he turned to Mr. Morrison for support.

“I’ve had conversations with many leaders,” Mr. Trump said. “They’re always appropriate. I think Scott can tell you that.”

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Is Age Only a Number, Even When You’re Running for President?

For months, Senator Bernie Sanders brushed off questions about his age, offering a simple, six-word mantra to those who doubt he’s energetic enough to run for president: “Follow me around the campaign trail.”

But in the hours before the chest pains that led to an emergency procedure in a Las Vegas hospital, Mr. Sanders, 78, uttered a different, perhaps more telling, series of six words.

“Get me a chair up here,” he said, turning to his deputy campaign manager on Tuesday, before sitting down in front of the crowd of 250 gathered for a fund-raiser in a Persian restaurant. “It’s been a long day here.”

For months, Democrats have watched as a trio of septuagenarians commanded a majority of support in their crowded primary field: Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., 76, Senator Elizabeth Warren, 70, and Mr. Sanders, have consistently led in the contest to face President Trump, 73, next year.

Presidential campaigns always reflect the hopes and fears — or, as political strategists call them, the “kitchen table conversations” — of the voters who cast the ballots. And this year, along with health care costs and college affordability, stagnant wages and immigration, the contest also reflects another issue, one that strikes at the heart of a country where the highest share of the electorate will be older than 65 since at least 1970: How old is too old?

Voters, who have watched candidates through debate stages and state party dinners, on sweaty stages and speed-walking across the state fair, corn dog in hand, do not generally want to say there is a ceiling. No one is too old to be doing this. They just are not sure they would want to be keeping up such a rigorous schedule in their 70s. Would you?

Gerontologists and other experts in aging say there is simply no way to definitively address the question of an upper age limit on the rigors of the presidency.

“There’s no answer. It’s unknowable,” said Dr. Mark Lachs, co-chief of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian. “It’s true that rates of physical and cognitive impairment are age dependent but there’s all kind of variability.”

The averages paint a sobering picture: The average life expectancy in the United States is just under 79, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even as Americans live longer than ever before, about 85 percent of older adults have at least one chronic disease, and more than three-quarters have at least two.

But despite the statistics, one person’s 70 can be another’s 60, Dr. Lachs said. And being 70 years old, he added, is not at all what it used to be.

“The yardstick gets moved every decade because the country is aging and medical care becomes better,” he said. “Age should not be a disqualification for the presidency.”

That’s a message some voters happily believe, as they confront the realities of aging in their own lives. The number of Americans who plan to retire after age 66 has steadily ticked up over the past quarter century, with a quarter saying they do not plan to retire at all.

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Ms. Warren speaking at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“Seventy is the new fifty,” said Halliestine Zimmerman, a retired accountant from Greenville, S.C., who celebrated her 70th birthday in June, a week before Ms. Warren did. “You don’t really think I am at the end of my life span, you think more you are in the middle. I know what it is I want out of my life, and you know how to get it.”

Ms. Zimmerman’s husband, whose age she would only give as “70 plus,” had a triple bypass several years ago and today he regularly plays tennis.

“He’s doing fantastic, so a stent doesn’t bother me at all,” she said, of Mr. Sanders. “I don’t think he will stop campaigning, I don’t think he should — remember a lot of people don’t make it to his age.”

But others worry that an older commander-in-chief would share the declines they have experienced in their own physical and mental abilities over the years.

Discussions of aging have been all-but-inescapable on the campaign trail. Since he entered the race, Mr. Biden has been dogged by questions about his physical fitness and condition — concerns he has tried to alleviate by bounding through parade routes and shaking dozens of hands in steamy summer weather. Mr. Sanders keeps a blistering campaign schedule that often includes multiple events in multiple cities each day. And supporters of Ms. Warren gush about her vitality, bragging about the hundreds of selfies she takes with supporters after each appearance.

“I was just amazed that when you first came out here, Senator Warren, that you ran up those steps the way that you did, and all this energy and stamina that you have,” Nikita L. Jackson, a Rock Hill, S.C., city councilwoman, said as she praised Ms. Warren to a crowd at a town hall event on Saturday.

None of the Democratic candidates have been particularly eager to delve into the details of their health. Aides to Mr. Sanders released a brief statement noting that he “was found to have a blockage in one artery and two stents were successfully inserted,” a fairly common procedure in the United States. Like his rivals, Mr. Sanders has not yet released his medical records, though all three have vowed to do so before the Iowa caucuses in February.

With little actual medical information, even minor irregularities in how candidates appear have prompted a flurry of age-related speculation. When Mr. Sanders hit his head on the edge of a glass shower door, his campaign explained that he had received a cut requiring stitches but stressed that he did not fall. Mr. Biden appeared to be moving his mouth in a strange fashion during the last debate, which led to questions about whether he wore dentures. At Mr. Biden’s campaign events, voters question whether his verbal missteps can be attributed to his age.

“He’s not as sharp as he might be,” said Carol Sobelson, 63, at a campaign event in Concord, N.H. “He’s done a lot for our country, he was a great vice president. He’s probably not my first choice.”

Health, or the perception of a candidate’s health, is unlikely to be off the table in a campaign against Mr. Trump. In 2016, his supporters spliced together video footage of Hillary Clinton coughing and Mr. Trump often questioned her stamina, particularly after she abruptly left a ceremony in New York honoring the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Already, Mr. Trump has started questioning Mr. Biden’s energy levels, nicknaming him “Sleepy Joe.”

Nearly all Democrats prefer candidates in their 40s through 60s, according to surveys. When asked about the ideal age for a president, just 3 percent said the 70s, according to polling released by Pew Research Center in May. Other polls have shown that Americans express more discomfort with a candidate in their 70s than one who is gay, Muslim or an independent.

The two Democratic nominees who have won the White House since 1992 — Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — made generational change a key part of their winning campaign message. Both were the youngest in their primary fields.

Katie Glueck and Sydney Ember contributed reporting from New York. Thomas Kaplan contributed reporting from Reno, Nev., and Jennifer Medina contributed reporting from Greenville, S.C.

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Attention Foreign Leaders Planning to Visit the White House: A Stoic Expression Is Key to Survival

WASHINGTON — An awkward handshake is really the least of their worries.

As President Trump continues to rage against impeachment — and the Democrats and whistle-blower he holds responsible for bringing it about — visiting world leaders are encountering a different kind of diplomatic mission.

It includes a welcome ceremony, a meeting with Mr. Trump and an invitation to sit stone-faced for an indeterminate amount of time on live television as the president accuses people of treason, lies and corruption. And sometimes the session is reprised a little later in a formal news conference.

That was what happened on Wednesday when President Sauli Niinisto of Finland became the latest foreign leader to strike a straight-lipped contrast to Mr. Trump as Mr. Trump defended himself and attacked his adversaries. Not once but twice.

As reporters crowded into the Oval Office, Mr. Trump sat beside his guest and accused Democratic lawmakers, including Representative Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, of treason. Mr. Trump also suggested that the congressman was not fit to carry the secretary of state’s “‘blank’ strap,” as Mr. Niinisto looked on.

“He should resign from office in disgrace,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Schiff, “and frankly they should look at him for treason.”

Adding to the awkward scene, a Finnish reporter seemed to pick up on the president’s anger, and asked Mr. Trump what he could learn from Finland, which has been rated the happiest country in the world.

“Finland is a happy country,” Mr. Trump said in response as he slapped Mr. Niinisto’s knee. “Finland is a happy country. He’s a happy leader, too.”

Mr. Niinisto nodded and seemingly moved to swat Mr. Trump’s hand away.

But the American president wasn’t done. And at a news conference later Wednesday, Mr. Niinisto was all but forced to again express some stolid Nordic enthusiasm.

“Mr. President, you have here a great democracy,” Mr. Niinisto told Mr. Trump in the East Room. “Keep it going on.”

Skipping the usual protocol with a visiting foreign leader is nothing new for Mr. Trump.

He has launched into meandering asides, including falsely claiming his father was born in Germany as Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, looked on in April. In 2017, he seemed to forget to shake hands with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.

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President Trump last year with President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria.CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

And, in front of Muhammadu Buhari, the president of Nigeria, Mr. Trump took questions concerning reports that he had called several African nations “shithole countries.”

“We didn’t discuss it because the president knows me,” Mr. Trump told reporters during his news conference with Mr. Buhari in April 2018, “and he knows where I’m coming from, and I appreciate that.”

Faced with the same question, the Nigerian president demurred, saying “the best thing for me is to keep quiet.”

Since the beginning of Mr. Trump’s presidency, at least some world leaders and their aides have made it a point to anticipate unexpected moments like these and plan ahead, according to a former official in the Washington diplomatic community who spoke on the condition of anonymity to not describe private planning.

The president’s approach has bent the norms of a protocol system put in place by Mr. Trump’s modern predecessors, according to Peter Selfridge, who served as the United States chief of protocol during the Obama administration.

“Obviously,” Mr. Selfridge said, “this president uses the press conference a little differently.”

President Barack Obama would regularly give his diplomatic guests warnings that a press availability might contain off-topic questions, according to a former Obama administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. But Mr. Obama would also appear visibly annoyed when asked questions not related to the purpose of the visit, especially if he was abroad.

When asked if Mr. Trump gave his visitors a similar heads-up, Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, indicated that there was no need.

“I think foreign leaders are well aware that the U.S. press corps often has no desire to cover the foreign diplomacy taking place during these visits,” Ms. Grisham wrote in an email.

Indeed, Mr. Trump’s behavior often overshadows whatever diplomacy is taking place. White House officials told journalists before Mr. Niinisto’s visit that it would focus on economic cooperation and mutual security concerns between the two countries, which is a familiar refrain before any such visit.

But in the past two weeks, impeachment and the allegations against Mr. Trump and his relations with Ukraine have overshadowed diplomatic concerns.

That was more than just subtext to Mr. Trump’s meeting last week in New York with Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president. Mr. Zelensky, who in a transcript of his phone call with Mr. Trump in July adeptly flattered the president, could barely mask his discomfort when the two met with reporters afterward.

“It’s a great pleasure to me to be here,” Mr. Zelensky said, “and it’s better to be on TV than by phone, I think.”

Mr. Trump with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia last month at the White House.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

And two weeks ago, Scott Morrison, the prime minister of Australia, had little time to prepare when his state visit came just as the furor over the president and Ukraine began to unfold.

After Mr. Morrison’s welcome ceremony, Mr. Trump pulled him into the Oval Office and began deriding the whistle-blower’s complaint that details him repeatedly pressing the Ukrainian president to talk with aides interested in an investigation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Defending his behavior on the call, he turned to Mr. Morrison for support.

“I’ve had conversations with many leaders,” Mr. Trump said. “They’re always appropriate. I think Scott can tell you that.”

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Impeachment War Room? Trump Does It All Himself, and That Worries Republicans

WASHINGTON — President Trump was watching television in the White House on Wednesday morning when cable news channels started airing Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, warning at a news conference that any attempts by the president to stonewall their impeachment investigation would be viewed as obstruction.

Mr. Trump did not wait for Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schiff to finish before responding. First he attacked Ms. Pelosi on Twitter, saying she was neglecting the work of Congress “and trying to win an election through impeachment.” Then he tweeted again, sharing a campaign video that accused Democrats of trying to undo the results of the 2016 election.

He continued those attacks later in the afternoon, both before and after a meeting with Sauli Niinisto, the president of Finland, and became increasingly angry as he went on.

Mr. Trump has long believed that he is the best communicator in the White House, but as the presidential campaign picks up its pace and the prospect of his impeachment becomes more real, he seems to be its only empowered communicator, a one-man war room responding to developments almost hour by hour. And that is making many Republicans anxious.

For now, the White House has no organized response to impeachment, little guidance for surrogates to spread a consistent message even if it had developed one, and minimal coordination between the president’s legal advisers and his political ones. And West Wing aides are divided on everything from who is in charge to whether, after two years of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, impeachment even poses a serious political threat to the president.

“This is a very different animal than the Mueller investigation,” said Josh Holmes, a former top aide to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader. “It’s a political question, not a legal one. They need to persuade Republicans in the House and the Senate of a bunch of really good arguments to have the partywide insulation the president is going to prefer going into this fight.”

And the White House has a narrow runway to adjust and tighten its response, with just over a week until the congressional recess ends. At that point, Republicans will return from their home districts and face questions about Mr. Trump’s tweets and condemnation of the whistle-blower — questions they might have difficulty answering.

“At this point, the president can hold his own,” Mr. Holmes added. “But I think they should be concerned with how Republicans handle it when they get back and for that, it probably does take a little bit of structure.”

For weeks, the most visible defender of the president has been Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, who is himself a central figure in the allegations that Mr. Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to find dirt on Democrats, leading several of the president’s advisers to warn that Mr. Giuliani’s freelance television appearances do him more harm than good.

But Mr. Trump has told them that he is pleased with the performances, and spent part of Saturday giving Mr. Giuliani talking points for the Sunday show circuit.

Others have urged the president to tone down his language, including his repeated use of the word “treason.” But Mr. Trump, who has frequently abandoned norms and paid little in terms of personal political consequences for doing so, has not changed his behavior. That has led some advisers, like Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, to settle into a hands-off approach. Mr. Mulvaney told associates he spent part of Sunday on a golf course outside Washington.

What’s left is Mr. Trump acting alone, and poised to live-tweet his own impeachment, complete with all-caps obscenities, alarming accusations of treason and warnings that impeachment is really a “coup.”

During his public appearances with Mr. Niinisto on Wednesday, Mr. Trump seemed as riled up as he has at any point in his presidency, railing against his opponents, mangling the facts to fit his preferred narrative and making allegations without evidence. Flush with anger and gesturing sharply, he spent most of his time on offense attacking his critics using words like “lowlife,” “dishonest,” “corrupt,” “shifty” and “fraud.”

Behind the scenes, Mr. Trump has seesawed from projecting confidence that there is a political benefit from the impeachment fight to lashing out at aides, blaming them for the fact that he is entangled by it in the first place.

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Some Trump aides would like to see the return of Emmet T. Flood, the White House lawyer who oversaw the administration’s response to the special counsel’s investigation.CreditMark Wilson/Getty Images

In an email, the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, rejected questions about the West Wing’s approach to the impeachment inquiry.

“We have stated this several times,” she said. “There has not been any effort to put together a war room. The president did nothing wrong and we are still working over here.”

The confusion in the White House is leaving conservatives who want to help support Mr. Trump without a clear road map for how to do so. At a meeting on Wednesday morning with conservatives and Capitol Hill aides, White House officials were still taking the temperature on the potential political fallout of impeachment, rather than offering any instructions about their path going forward.

Paul Teller, an aide in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, quizzed the group about whether it thought a long or short impeachment process would play better with the president’s base. Mr. Teller also told the group that he believed Mr. Trump would want to see Mr. McConnell bring impeachment to a vote on the Senate floor, where Mr. Trump would be acquitted, rather than move to simply dismiss the charges.

Stephen Miller, Mr. Trump’s main domestic policy adviser, also briefly attended the meeting, but observed more than he spoke, according to a person familiar with what took place.

In the West Wing, aides who have seen Mr. Trump survive potentially debilitating scandals like the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape a month before the 2016 election, and the appointment of a special counsel with wide-ranging powers to investigate him, are shrugging off impeachment as just another bump in the road.

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, is not pushing for the creation of any sort of official “war room,” and has told colleagues he is comfortable with the current structure supporting the president — one that also gives him freewheeling power.

Kellyanne Conway, the White House counselor and one of Mr. Trump’s longest-serving aides, has told reporters that Trump supporters will not leave him because of impeachment. She joins a group that includes Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s personal lawyers, and other aides and allies, who believe that anything resembling a White House “war room” is needless and would make them look as if they were under siege.

“We won the Mueller probe,” Mr. Sekulow said on his afternoon radio show on Monday. “I tell you what. If Mueller was a war, this is a skirmish.”

But on Wednesday night, one White House official was anticipating changes with some staff members focused on the inquiry.

Other aides privately conceded that they did not know how the politics of the impeachment process would play out, and would like to see the White House Counsel’s Office bring back someone like Emmet T. Flood, the White House lawyer who oversaw the administration’s response to the special counsel’s investigation and worked on President Bill Clinton’s legal team during his impeachment.

Mr. Flood left the administration in June.

Some are also starting to notice small public cracks in Republican support.

“Starting to encounter Republicans who wonder if maybe the President should step aside for Pence,” Erick Erickson, the conservative blogger and radio host, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “They’re absolutely in the minority on the GOP side, but there does seem to be a fatigue setting in — tired of always fighting and always having to defend.”

While Mr. Trump has been focused in recent days on defending himself, his advisers have continued the assault on Joseph R. Biden, Jr., the former vice president and current presidential candidate, hoping it will cut through the impeachment noise. Mr. Kushner, who has been overseeing campaign messaging on impeachment, also personally signed off on a new round of campaign ads attacking Mr. Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Mr. Trump insisted on Wednesday that he was not trying to damage Mr. Biden in order to knock him out of the race — even while he attacked him.

“I’d rather run against Biden than almost any of those candidates,” he told reporters. “And I think they’re all weak, but I think Biden has never been a smart guy and he’s less smart now than he ever was.”

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Trump Impeachment Inquiry: Latest Updates

Here’s what you need to know:

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Adam B. Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, held a news conference about the progress of their impeachment inquiry of President Trump.CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, notified his committee of the impending subpoena on Wednesday. He said the White House had thus far ignored Congress’s voluntary requests for materials related to President Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son and any attempt by the administration to conceal his actions.

“I do not take this step lightly,” Mr. Cummings wrote. “Over the past several weeks, the committees tried several times to obtain voluntary compliance with our requests for documents, but the White House has refused to engage with — or even respond to — the committees.”

The subpoena threat came as lawmakers expected to hear a mysterious bit of new information abruptly offered up by the State Department’s independent watchdog.

Nicholas Fandos

Read on: ‘We’re Not Fooling Around’: House Democrats Tell White House Subpoena Is Coming

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President Trump disparaged Representative Adam B. Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, during a meeting with the president of Finland.CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

During a meeting at the White House with President Sauli Niinisto of Finland, President Trump raged at his Democratic inquisitors.

With his guest sitting a few feet away, Mr. Trump angrily called Representative Adam B. Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, “a lowlife,” and said he “should resign from office in disgrace, and frankly they should look at him for treason.”

Mr. Trump repeated his complaint that Mr. Schiff had “fraudulently” distorted his words in a House hearing last week by summarizing part of the president’s July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine. (Mr. Schiff said at the time that his summary was meant “at least part in parody.” Mr. Trump routinely satirizes the words of others.)

But Mr. Trump, who in a morning Twitter post said that Democrats are focused on “BULLSHIT,” chose to censor himself in a critique of Mr. Schiff, who said on Wednesday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may try to “interfere with witnesses” ordered to testify before Congress.

“That guy couldn’t carry his blank strap,” Mr. Trump said, unfavorably comparing Mr. Schiff to Mr. Pompeo. Mr. Trump seemed to be avoiding the words “jock strap” and using a common insult about masculinity.

Of the whistle-blower who lodged a formal complaint about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, Mr. Trump said: “I think a whistle-blower should be protected, if the whistle-blower is legitimate.”

At a second appearance with Mr. Niinisto not much later, Mr. Trump became increasingly angry while responding to questions about the impeachment investigation, complaining that it was part of a “hoax” that has been perpetrated against him since he took office, and threatening vaguely to bring “a major lawsuit” in retaliation. He went after Mr. Schiff anew, and blasted Speaker Nancy Pelosi, charging that she “hands out subpoenas like they’re cookies.”

— Michael Crowley

The C.I.A. officer who filed the whistle-blower complaint first had a colleague convey concerns about President Trump to the C.I.A.’s top lawyer. But concerned about how that avenue for airing his allegations was unfolding, the officer then approached a House Intelligence Committee aide about his allegations.

The early account by the future whistle-blower shows how determined he was to make known his allegations against Mr. Trump. It also explains how Mr. Schiff knew to press for the complaint when the Trump administration initially blocked lawmakers from seeing it.

The House staff member, following the committee’s procedures, suggested the officer find a lawyer to advise him and file a whistle-blower complaint. The aide shared some of what the officer conveyed to Mr. Schiff. The aide did not share the whistle-blower’s identity with Mr. Schiff or anyone else, an official said.

Mr. Trump wasted no time in trying to use the revelation about the whistle-blower’s attempt to alert Congress to try to denigrate his complaint. In a news conference in the East Room of the White House after this article was published, Mr. Trump called it a scandal that Mr. Schiff knew the outlines of the whistle-blower’s accusations before he filed his complaint.

“Big stuff. That’s a big story,” Mr. Trump said, waving a copy of the article in the air. “He knew long before and helped write it, too. It’s a scam,” the president added, accusing Mr. Schiff of helping the whistle-blower write his complaint. There is no evidence that Mr. Schiff did, and his spokesman said he saw no part of the complaint before it was filed.

— Julian E. Barnes

Read on: Schiff, House Intel Chairman, Got Early Warning of Whistle-Blower’s Accusations

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

The State Department’s independent watchdog arrived on Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon to privately deliver to lawmakers a mysterious set of documents he said related to the State Department and Ukraine. Democrats were preparing for another possible bombshell that, some whispered, might show top administration officials had tried to obstruct their work.

Instead, they got a packet of assorted news clippings and conspiratorial memos about Democratic malfeasance in Ukraine that the State Department’s inspector general, Steven A. Linick, said had been delivered to Mr. Pompeo earlier this year from someone purporting to be at the White House. A legal adviser at the department then handed it on to Mr. Linick’s office at the time.

Lawmakers and officials familiar with the briefing and material said Mr. Linick made clear he did not assign credibility to the roughly 40 pages of material and doubted its actual provenance, but he thought lawmakers should have it in light of their investigative work.

The material came in an aged manilla envelope that listed “The White House” as the return address. It contained several folders that appeared to have come from a Trump hotel.

Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, called the material an “irrelevant distraction from the matter at hand.”

“It is very clear what it is,” he told reporters. “It is a package of propaganda, misinformation and conspiracy theories. The real question is where did it come from and how did it end up in our laps?”

But there were also intriguing potential leads. Among the documents were what appeared to be notes of interviews involving Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and Ukrainian officials about the Bidens.

— Nicholas Fandos and Catie Edmondson

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed during a news conference in Rome that he had listened in on President Trump’s telephone conversation with the president of Ukraine.CreditCreditFabio Frustaci/EPA, via Shutterstock

“I was on the phone call,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a news conference in Rome — the first time he has addressed the topic publicly since reports surfaced that he had heard the exchange.

He did not elaborate on the conversation and did not answer a question about whether anything in it had raised a red flag for him.

Senator Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called on Wednesday for Mr. Pompeo to recuse himself from “all Ukraine-related matters,” saying Mr. Pompeo had a conflict of interest because he was among the Trump administration officials on the call. Mr. Menendez’s request followed a letter from the three House Democrats overseeing the impeachment inquiry who on Tuesday informed the deputy secretary of state, John Sullivan, that they would deal with him because they said Mr. Pompeo had a conflict of interest and could be called as a potential witness.

An anonymous whistle-blower within the government filed a complaint in August, citing the call and other factors as information that “the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”

The complaint, made public last week, says that White House officials, rather than storing a record of the conversation with Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, in the usual computer system, attempted to “lock down” information on it, placing it in a more secure system, accessible to fewer people. The whistle-blower asserted this was done because they “understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.”

— Jason Horowitz, Richard Pérez-Peña and Eileen Sullivan

Read on: Pompeo Confirms He Listened to Trump’s Call to Ukraine President

Related: First Barr, Now Pompeo: Italy Is Hub of Impeachment Intrigue for Trump Officials

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Document: Read the Whistle-Blower Complaint

The complaint filed by an intelligence officer about President Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine.

The book, which was adapted in an article in The New York Times, discusses a series of ideas that Mr. Trump raised with aides in his quest to fortify the border. Besides the moat, the article also discussed that he mused about shooting migrants in the legs to slow them down.

Mr. Trump called the report obviously “fake,” because, he erroneously said, it was the work of The Washington Post. The authors are reporters for The New York Times.

— Michael Crowley

Senator Mitch McConnell’s comment this week that the Senate would be forced to “take up” articles of impeachment from the House had the capital in a swirl, bracing for a full-blown Senate trial of President Trump. But as things now stand, any trial would probably be swift, ending in dismissal of the accusations.

While the focus was on the statement by Mr. McConnell, the majority leader, that the Senate would have “no choice” but to begin an impeachment proceeding, it was his next line that might have been more telling: “How long you are on it is a whole different matter.”

The fusty rules of the Senate make clear that Republicans could not unilaterally stonewall articles of impeachment of Mr. Trump as they did the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick B. Garland. But Mr. McConnell’s declaration suggests the Republican-controlled Senate could move expeditiously to toss them out if Republicans conclude the House impeachment is meritless, or a strictly partisan affair.

— Carl Hulse

Read more in the “On Washington” column: Impeachment Rules Say Senate Must Act, but Its Act Might Be a Swift Dismissal

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Echoes of Benghazi Criticism and Anger Confront Pompeo in Ukraine Inquiry

WASHINGTON — As a member of Congress, Mike Pompeo drove the Republican inquiry into the killing of a United States ambassador in Benghazi, Libya, and made clear there was no place for politics in American diplomacy. Nor, he said, would he tolerate “dithering” by an Obama administration State Department that he called “deeply obstructive of getting the American people the facts that they needed.”

Now, as secretary of state, Mr. Pompeo is facing a political crisis that directly challenges his leadership of the department he once excoriated. He is accused by House Democrats of blocking their impeachment inquiry by resisting the release of information to Congress that may shed light on the Trump administration’s shadow foreign policy with Ukraine.

And career diplomats, some of whom blame the Trump administration for dismembering the Foreign Service and undercutting American diplomacy, are expected to be among the first witnesses telling their stories to Congress during its inquiry.

“In many ways this seems to be a situation where he’s reaping what he sowed,” said Derek Chollet, the executive vice president of the German Marshall Fund, who served in both the State and Defense Departments under President Barack Obama.

During the Benghazi hearings in 2016, Mr. Pompeo bombarded Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with questions about whether the State Department had failed to put adequate security on the ground, leading to the death of an American ambassador. Now Mr. Pompeo is being asked whether his State Department was part of an effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The details are different, but lawmakers in both cases accused the State Department of obstruction and not supporting its diplomats.

With the tables turned, the House Foreign Affairs Committee is expected on Thursday to query Kurt D. Volker, a longtime diplomat, former ambassador to NATO and, until last week, the Trump administration’s special envoy for Ukraine.

Mr. Volker is the man who put Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, in touch with the new government in Kiev, though he appeared to have deep reservations about how Ukraine policy was veering off course. His testimony is expected to be followed over the coming days by that of Marie L. Yovanovitch, who was recalled early as the American ambassador to Ukraine and dismissed by Mr. Trump as “bad news,” someone he promised would “go through some things.”

Both will be asked whether they had evidence that Mr. Trump or his representatives were dangling American support — and suspending congressionally approved military assistance — to get political dirt from the Ukrainian government to undercut the presidential campaign of Mr. Biden.

Mr. Pompeo has often said that the Trump administration has not been tested by a true foreign crisis and that sooner or later one was coming. Now he is caught in the middle of a domestic one. He will be pressed to explain what he knew — after acknowledging that he listened in on a July 25 phone call between Mr. Trump and the newly elected president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky — and how he reacted when he heard his boss seek political help.

“I was on the phone call,” he said Wednesday, but ignored a question about what he thought about Mr. Trump’s requests.

That admission was a marked change. In interviews in recent weeks, Mr. Pompeo repeatedly evaded questions about the content of the call between the two presidents, and never volunteered that he had listened in.

In an interview on Sept. 22, days before the White House released a transcript of the call, Mr. Pompeo suggested that he was unaware of the details, telling Martha Raddatz of ABC that he had not seen the whistle-blower report and then describing American policy toward Ukraine in traditional terms, without reference to the favors Mr. Trump sought.

The Benghazi hearings that first brought national attention to Mr. Pompeo, then a conservative congressman from Kansas, investigated systematic security failings after four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, were killed in an attack on a diplomatic outpost and a nearby C.I.A. annex in 2012. The two-year congressional inquiry — one of the most bitterly partisan in history — concluded that the State Department and the C.I.A. did not appreciate the high security risk in Benghazi, but found no evidence that Mrs. Clinton was directly to blame.

Like the Benghazi hearings, the impeachment proceedings, opened last week by House Democrats, are as immersed in diplomacy as they are in political intrigue. In recent days Mr. Pompeo’s role in the Ukraine chain of events has become increasingly clearer — and ever closer to the center of the controversy.

His presence on the call with Mr. Zelensky was unusual, though not improper: Past secretaries of state have occasionally joined such calls, and often sit in on face-to-face meetings between presidents and foreign leaders.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161590845_fa66cdda-1b6b-4577-9f99-d7f77bca7455-articleLarge Echoes of Benghazi Criticism and Anger Confront Pompeo in Ukraine Inquiry Zelensky, Volodymyr Yovanovitch, Marie L Volker, Kurt D United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Pompeo, Mike impeachment House of Representatives Giuliani, Rudolph W Ethics and Official Misconduct Democratic Party Corruption (Institutional) Benghazi Attack (2012) Benghazi (Libya)

Kurt D. Volker, who resigned last week as the Trump administration’s special envoy for Ukraine, is expected to testify before a House panel on Thursday.CreditInna Sokolovskaya/EPA, via Shutterstock

But the questions are swirling about what role Mr. Pompeo may have played, if any, in Mr. Giuliani’s outreach campaign to top Ukrainian government officials. The effort bypassed career State Department diplomats, and Mr. Pompeo is nothing if not territorial — meaning he most likely would have objected to such dealings unless he was under instructions to allow them to proceed.

Then there is the question of the recall of Ms. Yovanovitch back to Washington after she was accused of being a disloyal envoy and was disparaged by the president’s son Donald Trump Jr.

The Foreign Affairs Committee is interested, and American diplomats, who declined to be named, say that Foreign Service officers have been in contact with the committee’s staff. A three-time ambassador, Ms. Yovanovitch has inspired considerable loyalty among her colleagues, many of whom seem ready to stand up in her defense.

Mr. Pompeo accused the House Democrats this week of directly contacting State Department officials and said they had been urged not to report the outreach.

That led to a sharp retort from three committee chairmen — Eliot L. Engel of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Adam B. Schiff of the Intelligence Committee and Elijah E. Cummings of the Oversight and Reform Committee — reminding Mr. Pompeo that it is a crime to obstruct a congressional inquiry “by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication.”

For his part, Mr. Pompeo has cast the State Department’s actions as above reproach.

“To the best of my knowledge, so from what I’ve seen so far, each of the actions that were undertaken by State Department officials was entirely appropriate,” Mr. Pompeo said on Sept. 26 in New York.

On Wednesday, he said American policy toward Ukraine would remain focused on pushing back against Russia, strengthening ties between Washington and Kiev, and rooting out corruption in Ukraine.

“It’s what the State Department officials that I’ve had the privilege to lead have been engaged in,” Mr. Pompeo said on Wednesday while on a diplomatic visit to Rome, “and it’s what we will continue to do, even while all this noise is going on.”

Officials close to Mr. Pompeo have described him as angry over Mr. Giuliani’s pressure campaign for the Ukrainian government to open an investigation into whether Mr. Biden, as vice president, had forced out a top prosecutor in order to shut down an inquiry that might have implicated his son Hunter Biden.

But caught between his loyalty to the president and his instinct to defend the State Department, Mr. Pompeo has never discussed the issue directly.

Mr. Pompeo’s supporters also say he recalled Ms. Yovanovitch out of concern for her safety as anger mounted against her in Kiev, where she had also criticized government corruption under the former Ukrainian president, Petro O. Poroshenko.

In neither case, however, did Mr. Pompeo speak out publicly to defend his diplomat or protect the State Department’s well-established turf in foreign affairs.

Not until Tuesday, in the middle of a visit to the Italian president’s official residence, did Mr. Pompeo come out swinging. But his broadside was aimed at the House Democrats who have demanded sworn testimony from Ms. Yovanovitch, Mr. Volker and three other State Department staff members.

Those depositions, initially scheduled to take place less than a week after they were compelled, amounted to “an attempt to intimidate, bully and treat improperly the distinguished professionals of the Department of State,” Mr. Pompeo wrote in a letter to Mr. Engel, Democrat of New York.

The Democrats now see Mr. Pompeo as another potential witness in the investigation and said that any attempts to block testimony or State Department documents “may infer that he is trying to cover up illicit activity and misconduct.”

“This would be a blatant cover-up and a clear abuse of power,” they said.

It was the latest move in an inquiry that promises to be part investigation, part political theater — just like the Benghazi hearings.

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