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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 172)

Pelosi Pushes for Simple Message on Impeachment as Inquiry Barrels Ahead

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_147434778_0dcf2ec2-6dd5-4d79-9854-e5140c202ce2-articleLarge Pelosi Pushes for Simple Message on Impeachment as Inquiry Barrels Ahead United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry tlaib, rashida Presidential Election of 2020 Phillips, Dean B impeachment Gottheimer, Joshua S (1975- ) Eshoo, Anna G Deutch, Ted (1966- ) Craig, Angela D (1972- ) Cicilline, David N

Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, leaving a House Democratic Caucus meeting Wednesday on Capitol Hill.CreditErin Schaff for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a private appeal on Sunday to Democrats not to squander their chance to build public support for a full-scale impeachment inquiry into President Trump, pressing lawmakers to maintain a simple and somber message as she declared “we are ready” to push forward with a politically divisive process.

“The polls have changed drastically about this,” Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, told her colleagues during a private conference call, according to a Democratic aide who listened and described the private conversation on condition of anonymity. “Our tone must be prayerful, respectful, solemn, worthy of the Constitution.”

After months of murky messaging around a confusing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and Mr. Trump’s efforts to derail that inquiry, Democrats believe the new push, centered on Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the leader of Ukraine to dig up dirt on a political rival, gives them a fresh start with the public — a chance to make a clear-cut case that the president deserves to be removed.

Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the Democrat who leads the Intelligence Committee, told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that more subpoenas in the inquiry would be coming as soon as early this week, including one for Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer whom he deputized to follow up with the Ukrainians on investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Congress is now on a two-week recess, and most lawmakers are back home in their districts. Party leaders sent the rank and file home on Friday with instructions and talking points cards aimed at emphasizing the gravity of the moment. They contained two central messages for lawmakers to deliver to constituents: Mr. Trump abused his office, and Democrats would follow the facts.

“We want to keep this simple,” said Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who heads the party’s messaging arm, clutching talking points cards headlined “No One Is Above the Law.” He added: “This is not complicated. This is misconduct that the president has admitted to.”

Only a month ago, Ms. Pelosi told Democrats in another confidential conference call that the public support for an impeachment inquiry simply did not exist. But in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday evening, she said changed circumstances had altered her calculus.

“We could not ignore what the president did. He gave us no choice,” she said, adding: “I always said we will follow the facts where they take us, and when we see them, we will be ready. And we are ready.”

More than half of Americans — and an overwhelming number of Democrats — say they approve of the inquiry, according to a CBS News poll released Sunday. But the survey found a partisan split, with most Democrats calling the president’s handling of Ukraine illegal and most Republicans calling Mr. Trump’s actions proper — or, if improper, at least legal.

The week-old inquiry is barreling forward, even with lawmakers out of town for a two-week recess. Mr. Schiff, appearing on the ABC program “This Week,” said Sunday that the whistle-blower who triggered the inquiry would testify “very soon.”

But Mr. Schiff hinted the committee might not call Mr. Giuliani, the bombastic former New York mayor who was essentially running a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine on behalf of Mr. Trump. Interviewed on ABC shortly before Mr. Schiff, Mr. Giuliani at first said he “wouldn’t cooperate with Adam Schiff,” then said he “will consider it.”

Sunday night was only the latest effort by Ms. Pelosi to try to strike a dignified tone for the process with her appearance on “60 Minutes.” In a series of interviews, she has been making the case that Mr. Trump engaged in “a cover-up,” calling this moment a “sad day for our country.”

But the carefully coordinated messaging campaign may be upended before it starts. Liberals are reveling in news of an inquiry that they believe should have been opened long ago. The campaign of Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, whose profane cry for impeachment made news on her first day in office, is already selling T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan using a two-letter abbreviation for the expletive she used back in January.

And on the presidential campaign trail, Democrats are talking up impeachment, which poses a danger that the public will think the party is prejudging the outcome of the inquiry and politicizing a solemn task that has grave implications for the future of the nation.

“We need to make sure this is fact-driven and evidence-based, “ said Representative Josh Gottheimer, a centrist Democrat from New Jersey who had resisted calls for the inquiry until now. “You can’t prejudge something that is so solemn and obviously could have a big historical impact on our country, and you need to keep the country together.”

On Friday, three congressional committees issued a subpoena to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, demanding that he produce documents and a slate of witnesses that could shed light on Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to pursue investigations into his political opponents, including Mr. Biden.

And while Ms. Pelosi has said the House would continue to investigate other aspects of the Trump presidency, it is becoming increasingly clear that Ukraine is the central focus and that Mr. Schiff, a former prosecutor, is its de facto leader. Although Mr. Trump has repeatedly called on Mr. Schiff to resign, many Democrats believe he presents a good face to the public.

Representative Cheri Bustos, Democrat of Illinois, who runs the party’s campaign arm, told colleagues on the call that her committee would begin polling voters in key swing districts on impeachment and the House’s inquiry, according to three Democrats on the call.

Mr. Schiff has scheduled a closed briefing on Friday with the inspector general of the intelligence community, who conducted a preliminary investigation of the whistle-blower complaint and found it credible.

“We have to flesh out all of the facts for the American people,” Mr. Schiff wrote in a letter to colleagues. “The seriousness of the matter and the danger to our country demands nothing less.”

For moderates in Trump-friendly districts — many of whom opposed opening an inquiry just a week ago — this moment is fraught with political peril. Some vulnerable freshmen who now support the inquiry are already saying that they are aware that they may become one-term members of Congress as a result. Some are bracing for a backlash at home.

“I’m going to tell my constituents that this is a decision I never wanted to have to make, that the president left us no choice but to open an impeachment inquiry,” said Representative Angie Craig, a freshman from Minnesota who flipped a Republican seat in a district won by the president. She added, “I didn’t come here to impeach the president.”

Ms. Craig and other moderates met privately with Ms. Pelosi on Thursday, seeking guidance on how to talk about impeachment back home. She writes a weekly newsletter to her constituents, and said she intended to use it to invite constituents to draw their own conclusions, and will ask them to read relevant documents, including the whistle-blower’s complaint.

Representative Adam Schiff has scheduled a closed briefing on Friday with the inspector general of the intelligence community.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Democrats believe the facts are on their side. The president has acknowledged talking to Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, about investigating Mr. Biden. The transcript of their July 25 call and the whistle-blower’s complaint back that up. It is an easy-to-understand, digestible narrative, unlike the other inquiries Democrats have been pursuing, including the Russia investigation, hush money payments and Mr. Trump’s business dealings.

“I still believe in story,” said Representative Anna G. Eshoo, Democrat of California and a close ally of Ms. Pelosi. “There’s clarity to this Ukraine story.”

But it will be a hard conversation for vulnerable moderates like Representative Dean Phillips, Democrat of Minnesota, who also resisted an inquiry until recently.

“I come from a very engaged district that is thoughtful, respectful for the most part and believes in accountability,” he said. “I am grateful to those Republican constituents of mine and throughout the country who recognize this isn’t about an individual president or politician, this is about process, principle and the rule of law.”

His message to voters who ask him what he is doing? “I’m doing my job.”

Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting from Washington, and Jonathan Martin from Austin, Tex.

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Trump Was Repeatedly Warned That Ukraine Conspiracy Theory Was ‘Completely Debunked’

WASHINGTON — President Trump was repeatedly warned by his own staff that the Ukraine conspiracy theory that he and his lawyer were pursuing was “completely debunked” long before the president pressed Ukraine this summer to investigate his Democratic rivals, a former top adviser said on Sunday.

Thomas P. Bossert, who served as Mr. Trump’s first homeland security adviser, said he told the president there was no basis to the theory that Ukraine, not Russia, intervened in the 2016 election and did so on behalf of the Democrats. Speaking out for the first time, Mr. Bossert said he was “deeply disturbed” that Mr. Trump nonetheless tried to get Ukraine’s president to produce damaging information about Democrats.

Mr. Bossert’s comments, on the ABC program “This Week” and in a subsequent telephone interview, underscored the danger to the president as the House moves ahead with an inquiry into whether he abused his power for political gain. Other former aides to Mr. Trump said Sunday that he refused to accept reassurances about Ukraine no matter how many times it was explained to him, instead subscribing to an unsubstantiated narrative that has now brought him to the brink of impeachment.

The latest revelations came as the impeachment inquiry rushed ahead at a brisk pace. The House chairman taking the lead said that the whistle-blower who first brought the matter to light will testify soon and that a subpoena for documents will be issued early this week to Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer who spearheaded the effort to find dirt on Democrats in Ukraine.

As Democrats pressed forward, a new poll showed that a majority of Americans support an impeachment inquiry for the first time, a worrying development for a White House that until now has been able to make the argument that the public opposed impeaching Mr. Trump. A senior White House aide tried to turn the tables by arguing that Mr. Trump was the real whistle-blower because he was uncovering Democratic corruption.

As Republicans struggled to defend the president on Sunday, Mr. Bossert’s remarks offered a hint of cracks in the Republicans’ armor. While Mr. Bossert was forced out in 2018 when John R. Bolton became national security adviser, he has remained publicly loyal until now to a president who prizes fealty above all else.

“It is completely debunked,” Mr. Bossert said of the Ukraine theory on ABC. Speaking with George Stephanopoulos, Mr. Bossert blamed Mr. Giuliani for filling the president’s head with misinformation. “I am deeply frustrated with what he and the legal team is doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president. It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again and for clarity here, George, let me just again repeat that it has no validity.”

He added that pressing Ukraine’s president was disturbing, but noted that it remained unproven whether Mr. Trump’s decision to withhold aid to Ukraine was tied to the demand for investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

“It is a bad day and a bad week for this president and for this country if he is asking for political dirt on an opponent,” Mr. Bossert said. “But it looks to me like the other matter that’s far from proven is whether he was doing anything to abuse his power and withhold aid in order to solicit such a thing.”

Other former aides said separately on Sunday that the president had a particular weakness for conspiracy theories involving Ukraine, which in the past three years has become the focus of far-right media outlets and political figures. Mr. Trump was more willing to listen to outside advisers like Mr. Giuliani than his own national security team.

Mr. Trump has known Mr. Giuliani, the former New York mayor, for years and likes his pugnacious approach and the fact that he never pushes back, said one former aide, who like others asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. Mr. Giuliani would “feed Trump all kinds of garbage” that created “a real problem for all of us,” said the former aide.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 29dc-bossert2-articleLarge Trump Was Repeatedly Warned That Ukraine Conspiracy Theory Was ‘Completely Debunked’ Zelensky, Volodymyr Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Republican Party Presidential Election of 2016 impeachment House Committee on Intelligence Ethics and Official Misconduct Democratic Party Bossert, Thomas P Biden, Joseph R Jr

Representative Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said a whistle-blower whose complaint rocked Washington last week would testify “very soon.”CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

House Democrats may try to explore that as they move expeditiously in their inquiry. Representative Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on Sunday that the whistle-blower whose complaint rocked Washington last week would testify “very soon” and that Mr. Giuliani would be ordered to turn over documents.

Mr. Schiff, a former prosecutor who is the de facto chief of the inquiry, also issued a pointed warning to Mr. Trump and the White House, who have a history of blocking congressional requests for witnesses and records. “If they’re going to obstruct, then they are going to increase the likelihood that Congress may feel it necessary to move forward with an article of obstruction,” he said on “This Week.”

Mr. Trump continued his bellicose attacks on his accusers. “I want Schiff questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason,” he wrote on Twitter. And he threatened the whistle-blower, who is protected by law from retribution. “Was this person SPYING on the U.S. President? Big Consequences!”

Republicans have had a tough time defending Mr. Trump and have mostly tried to redirect the conversation to suggest that Mr. Biden engaged in wrongdoing. Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican in the House, repeatedly changed the subject on Sunday when Chuck Todd, the moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” pressed him on whether he believed a summary transcript of the Ukraine call merited further investigation.

“Well, they’ve been investigating President Trump for two years, making way for baseless allegations,” Mr. Scalise finally said. “They’re investigating everything.”

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, suggested that Mr. Trump appoint a special prosecutor to look into Mr. Biden’s role in the firing of a former prosecutor in Ukraine, and said he had no problem with the president’s phone call.

“I’m openly telling everybody in the country I have the president’s back because I think this is a setup,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

One of the few Republicans to express concern over the allegations was Representative Will Hurd, Republican of Texas and a former C.I.A. officer who is not seeking re-election. “There are troubling issues within the whistle-blower’s report,” he said on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “But they are allegations. And I think that’s why we should explore these allegations through hearings.”

The White House put out Stephen Miller, the president’s senior adviser, to offer his defense on the Sunday talk show circuit. Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Mr. Miller denounced the whistle-blower as a “deep-state operative” who is part of a cabal of “unelected bureaucrats who think they need to take down this president.”

Mr. Trump, he added, was the one searching for wrongdoing by pursuing corruption allegations against Mr. Biden and Democrats. “The president is the whistle-blower here,” Mr. Miller said. “The president of the United States is the whistle-blower. And this individual is a saboteur trying to undermine a democratically elected government.”

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, suggested that President Trump appoint a special prosecutor to look into Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s role in the firing of a former prosecutor in Ukraine.CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

Central to the complaint by the whistle-blower was a July 25 telephone call in which Mr. Trump pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to “do us a favor” and investigate Democrats at a time when the president had just ordered $391 million in aid to Ukraine frozen.

While his focus on Mr. Biden has drawn the most attention, Mr. Trump also urged Mr. Zelensky to look into a theory about the 2016 election that holds that Ukraine hacked the Democratic National Committee and then framed Moscow, possibly at the behest of Democratic operatives.

He specifically cited an American cybersecurity firm, CrowdStrike, which he seemed to believe was a Ukrainian company, and brought up a Democratic National Committee computer server, which he suggested might be in Ukraine.

While serving Mr. Trump, Mr. Bossert repeatedly told him that his questions about the D.N.C. server were without merit, according to a former senior administration official. In fact, the main server for the committee was located in the party’s headquarters in Washington, and was later displayed there, next to a file cabinet that was broken into by the Watergate burglars in nearly a half-century ago.

The first time Mr. Bossert and other aides refuted the D.N.C. server theory came before the inauguration when intelligence agency directors briefed him on Russia’s election interference operation. Mr. Trump may not have absorbed it because he was thrown off guard when told about a Democratic-financed dossier that included unproven allegations about his ties to Russia.

Shortly before Valentine’s Day in 2017, Mr. Bossert brought in Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, to brief Mr. Trump not only on the summary about the conclusion that it was Russia, but with the technical mechanics that led to the conclusion. At that point, Trump appeared to register that it was Russia. But periodically after that, he would say at rallies that he wondered about the server. Mr. Bossert would not re-educate him each time.

Another former senior official said it was a constant struggle to convince Mr. Trump that Russia, not Ukraine, had interfered in the election. The president would accept it after speaking with his more grounded aides, this official said, but then revert to believing it was a plot by Democrats or Ukrainians or others after speaking with associates outside the administration like Mr. Giuliani.

But even as his role in the controversy was debated over the weekend, Mr. Giuliani had the endorsement of Mr. Trump to continue appearing on television on Sunday defending himself and the president, according to two Trump advisers.

“I am defending my client the best way I know how,” Mr. Giuliani said on “This Week,” appearing shortly after Mr. Bossert did.

In a brief telephone interview after his ABC appearance, Mr. Bossert allowed for the possibility that it was someone other than Mr. Giuliani who had gotten in Mr. Trump’s head.

“In fairness, I don’t know that it was Rudy Giuliani that put that conspiracy theory into the president’s head,” he said. “I know somebody did and I was under the impression it was Mayor Giuliani. If Mayor Giuliani wasn’t promoting the D.N.C. server conspiracy theory, then I apologize.”

But in his television interview, Mr. Bossert made clear how serious the issue was, suggesting it could end Mr. Trump’s presidency. “The D.N.C. server and that conspiracy theory has got to go; they have to stop with that,” he said. He noted that the president “has not gotten his pound of flesh yet” from the investigation into his own ties to Russia. “But George, if he continues to focus on that white whale, it’s going to bring him down.”

Chris Cameron, Matthew Rosenberg and David E. Sanger contributed reporting.

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How Mark Milley, a General Who Mixes Bluntness and Banter, Became Trump’s Top Military Adviser

WASHINGTON — Mark A. Milley never planned to spend his life in the military.

He faced a choice between joining crew-cut cadets at West Point and attending an Ivy League university. As he weighed the decision, his father, a Marine who fought at Iwo Jima in World War II, made clear he did not want his son joining the military, and even enlisted another son to sabotage the young Milley’s West Point visit by getting acquaintances to show him the more miserable parts of the Army college regimen.

Alexander Milley, the father, won the battle — Mark Milley did not go to West Point, but to Princeton, where he grew his hair long and played on the hockey team.

But the elder Milley, who died in 2015, lost the larger war. Something had been planted in his brain, Mark Milley has told friends, that made him believe that he was lucky to be born in America, and duty bound to follow his father’s footsteps. At Princeton, he joined the R.O.T.C.

On Monday, Gen. Mark A. Milley, a four-star Army officer with multiple combat tours during his 39 years of service, will be sworn in as the highest-ranking military officer in the country: chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He succeeds Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. of the Marines, who was appointed by President Barack Obama.

It will then be up to General Milley, who easily mixes charming banter and bluntness, to manage what is probably the most consequential professional relationship of his life: becoming the senior military adviser to a mercurial president who has routinely brought the Pentagon into the political fray, to the discomfort of many top Pentagon officials.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161589627_6e6b2530-7890-4efc-8e50-e0d340996516-articleLarge How Mark Milley, a General Who Mixes Bluntness and Banter, Became Trump’s Top Military Adviser United States Defense and Military Forces United States Army Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Milley, Mark A Mattis, James N Joint Chiefs of Staff Iraq Dunford, Joseph F Jr

The next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, left, with William S. Cohen, then defense secretary, at the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea in 1998.CreditYun Jai-hyoung/Associated Press

At the Pentagon, one narrative about General Milley’s ascent was that he got the top job — over Gen. David L. Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff who was the choice of Jim Mattis, the defense secretary at the time — because he cozied up to President Trump, massaging their relationship with jokes and friendly chats interspersed with exchanges about how to rein in bloated military costs.

Mr. Trump himself flicked at that during a Medal of Honor presentation last year when he cited conversations with General Milley about the cost of expensive bombs. “I could see in his eyes when I talk about the cost of those bombs,” the president said. “He’s good at throwing them, but he’s also good at pricing them.”

(The president had a point. Back in 2016, when General Milley was Army chief of staff and the service was going through a drawn-out process of trying to find a new pistol, an exasperated General Milley exploded. “Two years to test? At $17 million?” he later scoffed to a think tank audience in Washington. “You give me $17 million on a credit card, and I’ll call Cabela’s tonight.”)

Late last year, Mr. Trump overruled Mr. Mattis (who quit soon afterward over a dispute regarding troops in Syria and several other issues related to the president’s worldview) and announced suddenly — almost a full year before General Dunford’s term was to expire — that he was appointing General Milley as the next chairman.

General Milley’s friends and people who have worked with him say his ability to get along with Mr. Trump is simply a reflection of the ebullient general’s personality. Unlike General Dunford, who is more reserved, General Milley never met anyone he did not like — at least at first.

He talks. And talks. He is an avid student of history in general and military history in particular. He cites St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and Henry David Thoreau in conversation — and do not get him started on the Battle of Kasserine Pass, the World War II debacle in Tunisia when unprepared American troops were outfoxed by German forces. (He does hold a master’s degree in international relations from Columbia University.)

Gen. Mark A. Milley with President Trump last year at an Army-Navy college football game. General Milley’s friends and people who have worked with him say his ability to get along with Mr. Trump is a reflection the general’s ebullient personality.CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times

When General Milley talks about war, it is from the point of view of someone who has been under fire multiple times. During the Iraq war, he was a brigade commander and one of a group of hotshot colonels who would all go on to bigger things at the Pentagon: Robert Abrams, now a four-star general and commander of United States Forces Korea; Stephen Lanza, who rose to become a three-star general and commander of I Corps; and James C. McConville, now a four-star and the new Army chief of staff.

During his time in Iraq, Mark A. Milley picked his way through open sewage in Abu Ghraib, took fire from rocket-propelled grenades in Sadr City and gave lip to a higher-ranking American officer clad in tanker boots who dared to question whether Colonel Milley’s brigade, suddenly tasked as a quick-reaction force, could handle Baghdad in the middle of a flaming insurgency. “General, we’re the most mobile force you’ve ever had,” Colonel Milley said, according to people with knowledge of the conversation. “We’ll do just fine in your city.”

As Army chief of staff, General Milley has come under criticism from some in the Special Operations community for his involvement in the investigation into the 2017 ambush in Niger that left four American soldiers dead. He persuaded Patrick M. Shanahan, who was acting defense secretary, to curtail a broader review, and also protected the career of an officer who some blamed for the ambush. General Milley’s backers said he prevented the officer from leading another combat unit.

But General Milley also has an instinct for finding common ground with different types of people. At a conference of senior African military leaders in Arusha, Tanzania, in May of 2016, General Milley broke the stiffness in the room as he opened his keynote speech by affectionately calling the American major general who organized the conference a knucklehead, eliciting laughter, and then by likening his own time under fire during the Iraq war to conflicts in which African militaries had taken part.

“Many of you in this room are descendants of fighters who practiced guerrilla warfare against the French, the British, the colonial forces of Europe,” General Milley told senior military officials from 37 African countries. “Embedded in your armies is the knowledge of how to fight guerrilla warfare.”

General Milley will be fighting a different type of guerrilla warfare soon, as Mr. Trump’s top military adviser. It is a delicate and highly specialized job to walk the tightrope of giving the president the best military advice possible while saluting and following directives with which one might not fully agree.

General Milley, a four-star Army officer with multiple combat tours, honoring fallen troops last year at Arlington National Cemetery.CreditCliff Owen/Associated Press

“You have to have a framework of values and principles that you adhere to — lines in the sand that you will not cross,” Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents George W. Bush and Obama, said in an interview. “Because standing in the presence of the most powerful person in the world, and having to adhere to those values in a consequential decision; you have to have those values and that framework or you will fail at it.”

Senior officials at the Pentagon insist the American military has no business in partisan politics. During his Senate confirmation hearing in July, General Milley promised that he would not let himself be pushed by the White House. “We will not be intimidated into making stupid decisions,” he said in response to questions from Senator Angus King of Maine. “We will give our best military advice and not keep the consequences to ourselves.”

It is certain he will face challenges in that.

The Pentagon in the Trump presidency has agreed to divert some of its congressionally allotted funding for schools on military bases to instead build the border wall. American service members have worn paraphernalia related to the president’s “Make America Great Again” slogan to Mr. Trump’s speeches on American bases, while the president has attacked his Democratic opponents in Congress — angering some active-duty and retired military personnel who feel those in uniform should never be publicly partisan or put on partisan display. The Navy exchanged emails with the White House about keeping the warship John S. McCain out of view while Mr. Trump was visiting Japan, because of the president’s enmity toward the American war hero and senator, who died last year.

And Mr. Trump’s efforts to get the government of Ukraine to go after former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., another political opponent, have dragged the Pentagon into the middle of an impeachment crisis, as senior Pentagon leaders are scrambling to explain why military aid to Ukraine was withheld despite a Defense Department letter saying that Kiev had met the benchmarks necessary to get the assistance.

General Milley has not spoken publicly about the Ukraine issue. But it will certainly dog his coming tenure.

“Milley is going to have to craft his relationship with his president himself,” Admiral Mullen said. “For military leaders, operating in a political environment will push you to the limit, and you’ve got to be prepared to say, ‘I’m not going there.’”

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Former Trump Security Adviser Says He’s ‘Deeply Disturbed’ by Ukraine Call

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s first homeland security adviser said on Sunday that he was “deeply disturbed” by Mr. Trump’s effort to pressure a foreign leader to investigate his political rival, while Democrats moved forward with their rapidly evolving impeachment inquiry into the president.

The comments by Thomas P. Bossert, who served Mr. Trump as homeland security adviser from 2017 to 2018 until being forced out when John R. Bolton became national security adviser, amounted to a rare break with a president who prizes loyalty above all else. But Mr. Bossert tempered them, saying the central allegation against Mr. Trump — that he withheld military aid from Ukraine to advance his political interests — had not yet been proved.

“It is a bad day and a bad week for this president and for this country if he is asking for political dirt on an opponent,” he said on the ABC program “This Week.” “But it looks to me like the other matter that’s far from proven is whether he was doing anything to abuse his power and withhold aid in order to solicit such a thing.”

He also said another request Mr. Trump made to the Ukrainian president — that Ukraine investigate an American cybersecurity firm, CrowdStrike, and the location of a Democratic National Committee server — was based on a conspiracy theory that had been “completely debunked.”

That theory, prominent on the far right, holds that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that hacked into the server and intervened in the 2016 presidential election. But Mr. Bossert emphasized that American intelligence officials concluded that Russia was behind the hacking of the server, and he took the president’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to task for spreading the theory.

“At this point I am deeply frustrated with what he and the legal team is doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president,” Mr. Bossert said. “It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again.”

The comments came as the inquiry into the president rushed ahead at a dizzying pace. The Sunday talk shows — a staple of life in official Washington — were choked with lawmakers and other officials, even as Congress is on a two-week recess and most members are back in their home districts.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said a whistle-blower whose complaint rocked Washington last week would testify “very soon.”

Mr. Schiff, a former prosecutor who is the de facto chief of the inquiry, also issued a pointed warning to Mr. Trump and the White House, who have a history of stonewalling Congress and refusing to turn over witnesses and records. “If they’re going to obstruct, then they are going to increase the likelihood that Congress may feel it necessary to move forward with an article of obstruction,” he said on “This Week.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group 29dc-bossert2-articleLarge Former Trump Security Adviser Says He’s ‘Deeply Disturbed’ by Ukraine Call Zelensky, Volodymyr Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Republican Party Presidential Election of 2016 impeachment House Committee on Intelligence Ethics and Official Misconduct Democratic Party Bossert, Thomas P Biden, Joseph R Jr

Representative Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said a whistle-blower whose complaint rocked Washington last week would testify “very soon.”CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

As Republicans struggled to defend the president on Sunday, Mr. Bossert’s remarks offered a hint of cracks in the Republicans’ armor. A handful of Republicans, including Senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska, have also said they were troubled by Mr. Trump’s effort to push the leader of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

And Representative Will Hurd, Republican of Texas and a former C.I.A. officer who is not seeking re-election, said Sunday that the allegations needed to be investigated. “There are troubling issues within the whistle-blower’s report,” he said on the CBS program “Face the Nation.” “But they are allegations. And I think that’s why we should explore these allegations through hearings. We’re — we had a hearing last week. We’re going to be having some depositions this week as well in order to get to the bottom of this.”

The inquiry centers on what amounts to a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine by the president and Mr. Giuliani. Central to the complaint by a whistle-blower was a July 25 telephone call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, at a time when the White House was withholding military aid to Ukraine.

A summary transcript of the call, released last week by the White House, shows that Mr. Trump asked Mr. Zelensky to “do me a favor” by investigating corruption in Ukraine.

Mr. Trump later brought Mr. Biden into the conversation, urging Mr. Zelensky to have a prosecutor look into Mr. Biden and his son Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company when Mr. Biden was vice president. The younger Mr. Biden’s work has raised conflict of interest questions, but a former Ukrainian prosecutor said he found no evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Biden or his son.

In his complaint, which the inspector general for the intelligence community deemed credible, the whistle-blower said the White House had tried to “lock down” all records of the call. Current and former White House officials have since confirmed that Mr. Trump used a secure system — intended for highly classified material — to store transcripts of that call and others with world leaders, even those that are not highly classified.

Democrats are accusing the White House of a cover-up, but Republicans have concentrated on another aspect of the call: Mr. Trump’s insistence that Ukraine investigate leaks about his 2016 campaign. Mr. Bossert called the situation “a mess,” and warned the president that if he did not end his fixation on what happened in 2016 election, it would “bring him down.”

Mr. Trump has long been suspicious of people in the federal bureaucracy — the so-called deep state — and the impeachment inquiry appears to be exacerbating the president’s fears that his own administration is conspiring against him. Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to the president, complained on Sunday of leakers who seek to destroy the president.

“If I don’t invite the right people the meeting will leak, if I don’t say the right thing they’ll go to the Hill,” Mr. Miller said, appearing on “Fox News Sunday.” “They’ve been doing this continuously for nearly three years.”

Republicans have had a tough time defending Mr. Trump, and have mostly been trying to redirect the conversation to insinuate that Mr. Biden engaged in wrongdoing. Representative Steve Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the House, repeatedly changed the subject on Sunday when Chuck Todd, the moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” pressed him on whether he believed a summary transcript of the Ukraine call merited further investigation.

“Well, they’ve been investigating President Trump for two years, making way for baseless allegations,” Mr. Scalise finally said. “They’re investigating everything.”

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, suggested that Mr. Trump appoint a special prosecutor to look into Mr. Biden’s role in the firing of a former prosecutor in Ukraine, and said he had no problem with the president’s call.

“I’m openly telling everybody in the country I have the president’s back because I think this is a setup,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, suggested that President Trump appoint a special prosecutor to look into Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s role in the firing of a former prosecutor in Ukraine.CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

Mr. Miller offered little concrete information on the president’s prepared defenses against impeachment, but the senior policy adviser did offer what could become the Trump administration’s narrative on Ukraine going forward: that the president is being martyred in a long war against government corruption by the deep state.

“The president is the whistle-blower here,” Mr. Miller said. “We have to focus on the real scandal, which is three years of deep state sabotage.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she wants the inquiry to move expeditiously, and her top lieutenants are following her lead. On Friday, three House committees issued subpoenas to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, demanding that he produce a tranche of documents related to the Zelensky call.

This Friday, the Intelligence Committee will hold a closed briefing with the inspector general of the intelligence community, who conducted a preliminary investigation of the whistle-blower’s complaint and determined that it was credible.

“We have to flesh out all of the facts for the American people,” Mr. Schiff wrote Friday in a letter to his colleagues. “The seriousness of the matter and the danger to our country demands nothing less.”

Chris Cameron contributed reporting.

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Impeachment Battle to Turn for First Time on a President’s Ties to a Foreign Country

Westlake Legal Group merlin_161599218_eecd81cf-4fbc-49e8-8db9-907bb8968fcd-facebookJumbo Impeachment Battle to Turn for First Time on a President’s Ties to a Foreign Country Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Madison, James (1751-1836) impeachment Hamilton, Alexander Constitution (US)

WASHINGTON — Alexander Hamilton, as usual, got right to the heart of the matter. When the framers were designing the Constitution and its power of impeachment, one of the high crimes they had in mind was giving into what Hamilton called “the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.”

For the authors of the country’s charter, there were few bigger threats than a president corruptly tied to forces from overseas. And so as the House opened an impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s interactions with Ukraine this past week, the debate quickly focused on one of the oldest issues in America’s democratic experiment.

The emerging battle over the future of Mr. Trump’s presidency will explore as never before the scope and limits of a commander in chief’s interactions with other countries. His adversaries echo the fears of the founders in accusing Mr. Trump of committing high crimes by pressuring Ukraine to dig up dirt on Democratic opponents while holding up American aid. Mr. Trump contends that impeaching him would infringe on the ability of future presidents to conduct foreign policy.

Unlike the impeachment battles involving Andrew Johnson, Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton, the debate over Mr. Trump turns on whether a president can solicit or accept help from abroad to advance his political fortunes and where lies the line between the national interest and personal interests.

Shortly after the latest revelations about Mr. Trump’s pressure on Ukraine, Senator Christopher Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, denounced what he called “the president’s corrupt efforts to press a foreign nation into the service of his re-election campaign.”

“To use America’s global credibility as a casino token, to be cashed in for personal political gain,” he added, “is an intolerable abuse of power and totally anathema to the rule of law.”

Mr. Trump has maintained that he was the one trying to stop illicit foreign involvement in American politics by pressing President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to examine whether Ukrainians helped Democrats during the 2016 campaign and to look into unsubstantiated corruption allegations involving former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

“If that perfect phone call with the President of Ukraine Isn’t considered appropriate, then no future President can EVER again speak to another foreign leader!” he wrote on Twitter on Friday.

While the framers of the Constitution might never have imagined an impeachment battle waged 280 characters at a time, they did essentially foresee a showdown over foreign influence on an American president. In fact, in the early years of the republic, one of the most dominant fears of the political class was falling under the sway of other powers.

“There was a concern, even a paranoia, about foreign intervention, about people who don’t have the interests of a new country being taken advantage of by an old power,” said Corey Brettschneider, a political-science professor and constitutional scholar at Brown University and author of “The Oath and the Office.”

The framers expressed this explicitly by inserting what is now called the emoluments clause in the Constitution, barring international payments or gifts to a president or other federal elected official: “No person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”

Once a forgotten element of the Constitution, it has attained new popular recognition in the Trump era as multiple critics of the president wage legal battles arguing that he has violated the emoluments clause through hotels and resorts of his that are patronized by Middle East sheikhs and other foreign potentates.

Indeed, Mr. Trump’s entire presidency has been shadowed by questions of foreign ties. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, concluded his investigation by saying he had not found sufficient evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy between Russia and Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, but that was a narrow legal judgment.

While the president has sought to interpret that report to mean that Russia’s ties to the campaign were a “hoax” made up by his opponents, in fact Mr. Mueller’s investigation documented extensive contacts between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russian figures.

It concluded that the Kremlin sought specifically to help Mr. Trump get elected, and Mr. Mueller said Mr. Trump’s campaign welcomed Russia’s help. Mr. Trump at one point even publicly called on Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails, and within hours Russian agents sought to do just that by trying to break into her computer servers.

In the end, House Democrats shied away from trying to impeach Mr. Trump on those grounds since Mr. Mueller said he could not establish a criminal conspiracy. But it set the stage for the current impeachment battle.

The concept of impeachment was adopted from Britain, where there had been plenty of misadventures in foreign policy involving bribes, treaties and ill-advised royal marriage matches over the years.

“Foreign policy mistakes or corruption of foreign policy is a big component of the body of British impeachment precedents that the framers had in mind,” said Frank O. Bowman III, a law professor at the University of Missouri and author of the new book, “High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

The fear of foreign powers likewise animated the discussion over impeachment. The delegates who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787, seeking to replace the dysfunctional Articles of Confederation, wanted to create a stronger executive but not a king immune from accountability. The challenge was figuring out what would trigger the most radical remedy of removal from office.

At first, the delegates adopted a phrase from Hugh Williamson of North Carolina making a president “removable on impeachment and conviction of malpractice or neglect of duty,” a phrase so broad as to allow Congress to force out a chief executive not just for corruption but for ineffectiveness, more akin to a prime minister who loses a vote of confidence.

That went too far for some delegates and the debate was reopened. What they were looking to avoid, among other things, was a president abusing power for his own personal gain — and the thought of a president who subordinated the national good to foreign interests was high on the list.

James Madison feared that a president might “betray his trust to foreign powers,” while Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania, who at first opposed including an impeachment clause at all, agreed that they needed recourse for “the danger of seeing the first Magistrate in foreign pay.”

So they crafted a clause empowering Congress to impeach a president “for treason, or bribery.”

George Mason of Virginia argued that was too limited; there were plenty of abuses that did not add up to treason. He proposed adding “maladministration.” But that again seemed too open-ended to Madison, who complained that it would mean a president served essentially at the pleasure of the Senate.

Mason then suggested “other high crimes and misdemeanors,” the compromise that was then accepted.

But Americans have been debating ever since just what qualified as a high crime. Again, the framers had illicit ties with foreign powers in mind. During the Virginia ratifying convention, Edmund Randolph linked impeachment to foreign money, saying that a president “may be impeached” if discovered “receiving emoluments from foreign powers.” Others suggested that lying to the Senate about information related to a foreign treaty would qualify for impeachment.

That concern would continue to be a preoccupation of the country’s early leaders. In his farewell address, George Washington spoke of “the insidious wiles of foreign influence,” calling it “one of the most baneful foes of republican government” and urging America “to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.” Thomas Jefferson echoed that in warning against “entangling alliances” with foreign powers.

Other presidents have been accused of crossing lines when it came to foreign affairs and personal political interests. As a candidate in 1968, Mr. Nixon sought to secretly throw a “monkey wrench” into Vietnam peace talks conducted by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration to help his own election chances, although that took place before he was himself the president.

That was not included as part of the articles of impeachment later drafted against him over Watergate. Some Democrats wanted to charge Mr. Nixon with high crimes for concealing the bombing of Cambodia but the House Judiciary Committee rejected that. Mr. Nixon resigned before the full House voted on whether to impeach him.

People associated with Ronald Reagan’s campaign in 1980 were accused of striking a secret deal with Iran to delay the release of American hostages until after the election, but a bipartisan House investigation later concluded there was no merit to the allegations.

Mr. Clinton came under fire after Chinese interests tied to the Beijing government funneled large sums of money into Democratic coffers during his 1996 re-election campaign. But that controversy was soon overshadowed by revelations of his affair with Monica S. Lewinsky, leading to his impeachment and acquittal on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

The only impeachment involving foreign policy came in the case of a senator, William Blount, who was accused in 1787 of scheming to transfer parts of Florida and the Louisiana territory to Britain. The House impeached Blount but he fled Washington and the Senate opted to expel him rather than convict him at trial.

A mere 232 years later, Congress and the country will now again confront the question of where the line sits between national interests and personal political interests.

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White House Classified Computer System Is Used to Hold Transcripts of Sensitive Calls

Westlake Legal Group merlin_161609544_84a31f63-af9b-4bd1-8a2b-06e87df33a03-facebookJumbo White House Classified Computer System Is Used to Hold Transcripts of Sensitive Calls Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2020 National Security Council Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

WASHINGTON — The White House put some reconstructed transcripts of delicate calls between President Trump and foreign officials, including President Vladimir V. Putin and the Saudi royal family, into a highly classified computer system after embarrassing leaks of his conversations, according to current and former officials.

The handling of Mr. Trump’s calls with world leaders has come under scrutiny after questions over whether a transcript of a July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was improperly placed into this computer system.

The latest revelations show the focus that White House officials put on safeguarding not only classified information but also delicate calls with Mr. Trump, the details of which the administration did not want leaked.

A whistle-blower complaint accuses officials of trying to “lock down” access to information about the conversation with Mr. Zelensky by improperly storing the rough transcript of the July 25 call in the highly classified system after the call took place.

In the case of the calls with the Saudi royal family, the restrictions were set beforehand, and the number of people allowed to listen was sharply restricted. The Saudi calls placed in the restricted system were with King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prince Khalid bin Salman, who at the time was the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

While the calls included delicate information about Mr. Trump’s discussions about the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, there was no apparent evidence of impropriety by Mr. Trump, said a person familiar with the matter.

The access restrictions placed on the calls with Mr. Putin of Russia and the Saudi royal family were first reported Friday night by CNN.

The practice began after details of Mr. Trump’s Oval Office discussion with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, leaked to the news media, leading to questions of whether the president had released classified information, according to multiple current and former officials. The White House was particularly upset when the news media reported that Mr. Trump had called James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, a “nut job” during that same meeting, according to current and former officials.

The White House had begun restricting access to information after initial leaks of Mr. Trump’s calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia. But the conversation with Mr. Lavrov and Sergey I. Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the United States, prompted tighter restrictions.

Several current and former officials played down the significance of placing the classified calls into the secure system, saying it made sense to restrict the calls given the number of leaks from the Trump White House.

Nevertheless, the use of the system has come under scrutiny after the unclassified version of the whistle-blower complaint was made public. The complaint raised questions that the July 25 with the Ukrainian president had been improperly placed in the classified system, suggesting that officials put the reconstructed transcript into a system meant to protect the nation’s most sensitive secrets.

The Trump administration said on Friday that National Security Council lawyers had made the decision to place the rough transcript of that phone call into a highly classified computer system accessible to only a small number of officials.

“N.S.C. lawyers directed that the classified document be handled appropriately,” said a senior administration official. The statement was also first reported by CNN.

But the official did not actually say how the document was handled, nor address the whistle-blower’s specific charge that the reconstructed transcript, in what would be a highly unusual action, was moved from a computer system widely accessible to National Security Council officials to one reserved for those with code-word clearance to handle the country’s most closely guarded secrets like covert operations and foreign surveillance.

A White House spokesman did not respond when asked about that specific claim. Democrats in Congress and former N.S.C. officials and lawyers in both parties have said such an action, if motivated by a desire to conceal Mr. Trump’s efforts to put political pressure on the Ukrainian leader, would be far from appropriate, and at a minimum, unethical. But in a combative exchange with reporters later in the day, Kellyanne Conway, a White House counselor, repeated the spokesman’s language, saying that “as I understand, the document was handled appropriately at all times.”

“I think the most important thing about said document is that the whole world has access to it now,” Ms. Conway said, citing its release by the White House this week.

Democrats say the president abused his power by conditioning aid for Ukraine on whether its government investigated one of his 2020 campaign rivals, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and his son Hunter Biden, and will examine whether that constitutes a high crime and misdemeanor. The treatment of the document will form part of that inquiry.

In his complaint, the whistle-blower said that unnamed White House officials told him that they had been “‘directed’ by White House lawyers” to remove the record of the call from the National Security Council’s main computer system and load it into one managed by the agency’s intelligence directorate that is not connected to the main system and that requires special permissions and enhanced security clearances to access.

That would have the effect of vastly reducing the number of people who can read — and therefore leak — the document, in what the whistle-blower described in his complaint as an acknowledgment that the president’s comments to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, had been highly improper.

“One White House official described this act as an abuse of this electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective,” the whistle-blower wrote. His complaint also alleged that other, unspecified presidential transcripts had received similar treatment.

The administration official did not name any of the lawyers involved. The National Security Council is part of the White House and advised by lawyers who report to the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone. The National Security Council’s chief legal adviser is John Eisenberg, a Cipollone deputy.

Mr. Eisenberg also had a role in conducting a preliminary inquiry into the allegations, well before the whistle-blower complaint was filed. The C.I.A. officer who would become the future whistle-blower first contacted, anonymously, the C.I.A.’s general counsel, Courtney Simmons Elwood, days after the July 25 call.

Ms. Elwood then contacted Mr. Eisenberg to begin his inquiry. Mr. Eisenberg and his team began calling people in the N.S.C. about their concerns about the call, according to people familiar with the matter. It is not clear if that inquiry included questions of how the records were handled.

Ms. Conway pleaded ignorance of the details of how the N.S.C. handles records of foreign leader calls, saying that “the people who handle such things said it was handled appropriately.”

After transcripts of conversations Mr. Trump had with the leaders of Australia and Mexico leaked into the media early in his presidency, she said, “my understanding is that we changed some of the protocols” regarding how records of such calls are managed. Those changes have included limiting the distribution of the call transcripts, something that had been known for some time.

Ms. Conway dodged specific questions about whether it would have been improper for the White House to place the N.S.C.’s reconstructed transcript of the Ukraine call into the more secure computer system.

Mr. Trump continued to rage on Twitter on Friday over criticism of his phone call with Mr. Zelensky while he and his allies maintained their effort to deflect attention from the president’s actions and onto the former vice president and Hunter Biden.

“If that perfect phone call with the President of Ukraine isn’t considered appropriate, then no future President can EVER again speak to another foreign leader!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

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N.R.A.’s LaPierre Asks Trump to “Stop the Games” Over Gun Legislation in Discussion About Its Support

Westlake Legal Group 27dc-guns-facebookJumbo N.R.A.’s LaPierre Asks Trump to “Stop the Games” Over Gun Legislation in Discussion About Its Support United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J National Rifle Assn mass shootings LaPierre, Wayne impeachment gun control firearms

President Trump met in the White House on Friday with Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association, and discussed prospective gun legislation and whether the N.R.A. could provide support for the president as he faces impeachment and a more difficult re-election campaign, according to two people familiar with the meeting.

During the meeting, Mr. LaPierre asked that the White House “stop the games” over gun control legislation, people familiar with the meeting said. It was not clear whether Mr. Trump asked Mr. LaPierre for his support, or what that support would look like.

In a statement Friday evening, an N.R.A. spokesman confirmed the meeting took place but insisted The Times’s account of the meeting was “inaccurate.”

“The N.R.A. categorically denies any discussion occurred about special arrangements pertaining to the N.R.A.’s support of the President and vice versa,” the statement said.

Mr. LaPierre has been a leader in an aggressive campaign by gun rights advocates to influence the White House in the months since the back-to-back mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. In a series of calls and meetings, he has tried to move Mr. Trump away from proposing any sort of background check measures akin to what he said after the mass shootings he might support.

Even before the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry, Mr. LaPierre’s influence on Mr. Trump has been clear. After a 30-minute phone call last month, Mr. Trump appeared to be espousing N.R.A. talking points when answering questions about guns.

“We have very, very strong background checks right now, but we have sort of missing areas and areas that don’t complete the whole circle,” the president told reporters last month, adding, “I have to tell you that it’s a mental problem.”

Privately, Mr. Trump has raised questions with his aides about the N.R.A.’s ability to help back his 2020 campaign the way it did in 2016, when it poured over $30 million into his election, more than any other outside group. He has voiced concerns that the group looks like it is going bankrupt and may lack the political clout it had last election cycle.

This year, the N.R.A. has been mired in investigations by attorneys general in New York and Washington, D.C. and beset by leaks about its lavish spending practices, while also facing restive donors and inquiries over its ties to Russia. And its finances have been strained.

Recent public filings have shown that it largely exhausted a $25 million line of credit that was guaranteed by the deed to its Fairfax, Va., headquarters, and borrowed against insurance policies taken out on its executives. Oliver North, who departed this year as the N.R.A.’s president in an acrimonious leadership fight, has said that the organization’s legal bills, running between $1.5 million and $2 million a month from its main law firm, have created an “existential crisis.”

In the midterm elections, gun control groups outspent the N.R.A., upending the usual political dynamics. But the organization still has considerable resources and more than five million members, many of whom overlap with Mr. Trump’s base. And rallying grass-roots support has traditionally been one of its strengths.

Aides have reassured Mr. Trump that the group is still in good enough financial shape to help him, even as his own political fortunes have shifted since the mass shootings.

For his part, Mr. Trump has been caught between opposing political pressures to do something on gun legislation and to maintain the status quo. He has idled in neutral while Congress has waited for a sign from the White House on what it plans to propose.

The White House has also been sending mixed messages on its intentions. Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and a senior White House adviser, was still calling around to senators this week, saying her father wanted to make a move on guns even as he faced impeachment. But Mr. Trump’s meeting with Mr. LaPierre on Friday indicated that his priority may be his own political survival rather than making any strides on guns.

In the meantime, White House aides and Mr. Trump himself have sought to blame House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who announced a formal impeachment inquiry against Mr. Trump on Tuesday, for lowering the chances of working together on bipartisan measures.

“It’s no secret the president wants meaningful solutions to protect American communities and potentially stop one of these tragedies from ever happening again,” said Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman, “and he’s going to continue doing his job even though Democrats refuse to do theirs.”

Mr. Trump and Ms. Pelosi spoke about gun policy on Tuesday. Ms. Pelosi’s staff characterized the call as completely lacking in substance on gun measures. Mr. Trump said she cared only about impeachment.

“Nancy Pelosi is not interested in guns and gun protection and gun safety. Mr. Trump said during a bilateral meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine at the United Nations General Assembly. “All she’s thinking about is this.”

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House Democrats Issue First Subpoena in Impeachment Inquiry

WASHINGTON — House Democrats, kick-starting their impeachment inquiry into President Trump, subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday, demanding he produce a tranche of documents related to the president’s dealings with Ukraine. Separately, they instructed him to make five State Department officials available for depositions in the coming two weeks.

A failure to do so, the leaders of three House committees wrote jointly, would be construed as “evidence of obstruction of the House’s inquiry” — an offense Democrats have made clear they view as grounds for impeachment.

It was the first major action in the rapidly escalating impeachment investigation, which began this week amid revelations that Mr. Trump pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate a leading political rival, possibly using United States aid as leverage. It came as House Democrats planned an aggressive pace for their inquiry, eyeing their first hearing on the matter as early as next week.

The Intelligence Committee has also scheduled a private briefing for next Friday with Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general, who first attempted to share a whistle-blower complaint outlining the matter with Congress, according to a committee official.

Mr. Atkinson met with House lawmakers last week, but was restricted from discussing any of the complaint’s substance. This time, Mr. Atkinson will be freer to describe his efforts to corroborate the complaint, which he ultimately deemed a matter of “urgent concern” that “appears credible.”

The letters to Mr. Pompeo were sent by Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee; Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee; and Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee.

“The committees are investigating the extent to which President Trump jeopardized national security by pressing Ukraine to interfere with our 2020 election and by withholding security assistance provided by Congress to help Ukraine counter Russian aggression,” the three chairmen wrote.

[Read the letter from three House committee chairmen informing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the subpoena.]

The subpoena for documents seeks any communications or other paperwork related to a call between the two leaders, efforts by the president’s private lawyer to advance the effort, as well as the Trump administration’s decision to temporarily withhold $391 million in security aid from Ukraine.

The two letters pointed to an aggressive strategy on the part of House Democrats to pressure the Trump administration to furnish crucial information surrounding Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine or risk strengthening their case for impeaching the president based on obstruction of Congress.

The officials that the Democrats said must appear for depositions in early October were Marie Yovanovitch, the former American ambassador to Ukraine; Ambassador Kurt Volker, the United States special envoy to Ukraine; George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs; T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, a State Department counselor; and Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union. The officials were either mentioned in a whistle-blower complaint related to the Ukraine matter released this week or are connected to American policy work in the region.

“This subpoena is being issued by the Committee on Foreign Affairs after consultation with the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on Oversight and Reform. The subpoenaed documents shall be part of the impeachment inquiry and shared among the Committees,” the Democrats wrote. “Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry.”

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letters.

Lara Jakes contributed reporting.

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House Democrats Issue First Subpoena in Impeachment Inquiry

WASHINGTON — House Democrats, kick-starting their impeachment inquiry into President Trump, subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday, demanding he produce a tranche of documents related to the president’s dealings with Ukraine. Separately, they instructed him to make five State Department officials available for depositions in the coming two weeks.

A failure to do so, the leaders of three House committees wrote jointly, would be construed as “evidence of obstruction of the House’s inquiry” — an offense Democrats have made clear they view as grounds for impeachment.

It was the first major action in the rapidly escalating impeachment investigation, which began this week amid revelations that Mr. Trump pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate a leading political rival, possibly using United States aid as leverage. It came as House Democrats planned an aggressive pace for their inquiry, eyeing their first hearing on the matter as early as next week.

The Intelligence Committee has also scheduled a private briefing for next Friday with Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general, who first attempted to share a whistle-blower complaint outlining the matter with Congress, according to a committee official.

Mr. Atkinson met with House lawmakers last week, but was restricted from discussing any of the complaint’s substance. This time, Mr. Atkinson will be freer to describe his efforts to corroborate the complaint, which he ultimately deemed a matter of “urgent concern” that “appears credible.”

The letters to Mr. Pompeo were sent by Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee; Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee; and Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee.

“The committees are investigating the extent to which President Trump jeopardized national security by pressing Ukraine to interfere with our 2020 election and by withholding security assistance provided by Congress to help Ukraine counter Russian aggression,” the three chairmen wrote.

[Read the letter from three House committee chairmen informing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the subpoena.]

The subpoena for documents seeks any communications or other paperwork related to a call between the two leaders, efforts by the president’s private lawyer to advance the effort, as well as the Trump administration’s decision to temporarily withhold $391 million in security aid from Ukraine.

The two letters pointed to an aggressive strategy on the part of House Democrats to pressure the Trump administration to furnish crucial information surrounding Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine or risk strengthening their case for impeaching the president based on obstruction of Congress.

The officials that the Democrats said must appear for depositions in early October were Marie Yovanovitch, the former American ambassador to Ukraine; Ambassador Kurt Volker, the United States special envoy to Ukraine; George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs; T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, a State Department counselor; and Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union. The officials were either mentioned in a whistle-blower complaint related to the Ukraine matter released this week or are connected to American policy work in the region.

“This subpoena is being issued by the Committee on Foreign Affairs after consultation with the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on Oversight and Reform. The subpoenaed documents shall be part of the impeachment inquiry and shared among the Committees,” the Democrats wrote. “Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry.”

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letters.

Lara Jakes contributed reporting.

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Kremlin Says It Hopes Putin’s Calls With Trump Won’t Be Made Public

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MOSCOW — Amid the uproar over President Trump’s call to the leader of Ukraine, the Kremlin said on Friday that it hoped the contents of Mr. Trump’s phone conversations with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia would not be made public — a disclosure that would likely generate far more attention.

Mr. Trump’s conversations with Mr. Putin have been an enduring mystery and a subject of intense interest, given the evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to benefit Mr. Trump, who has adopted a friendlier stance toward Moscow than his predecessors.

Two days after the White House released a reconstruction of Mr. Trump’s call with the Ukrainian leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitri S. Peskov was asked if he worried about the confidentiality of the American president’s contacts with Mr. Putin.

“We would like to hope that we would not see such situations in our bilateral relations, which already have plenty of quite serious problems,” he said in a conference call with reporters.

He emphasized that accounts of phone conversations between leaders were classified. The release this week was “quite unusual,” he added.

Asked if the Kremlin would be ready to agree to release the contents of a phone call with Mr. Trump, Mr. Peskov said that such situations should be treated on a case-by-case basis.

“No one has turned to us with such requests,” he said.

Some Democrats, charging that Mr. Trump may be beholden to the Kremlin, have said that the White House should disclose more of what he and Mr. Putin have said to each other. But those calls have never reached the fever pitch prompted by a whistle-blower’s complaint about Mr. Trump’s July 25 call to Mr. Zelensky.

Based partly on that complaint, Speaker Nancy Pelosi began a formal impeachment inquiry of the president on Tuesday. The White House record of the call shows that Mr. Trump repeatedly urged Mr. Zelensky to order Ukraine’s government to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — a leading candidate running against the president — and his son Hunter.

Mr. Trump has urged Mr. Zelensky to strike a peace deal with Russia, which seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and has since that year supported separatist rebels trying to break eastern Ukraine away from the country.

Russia’s aggression prompted Western economic sanctions and Russia’s expulsion from the Group of 8 nations. Undoing those penalties is high on Mr. Putin’s agenda, and would depend on making peace with Ukraine.

Mr. Trump has said that Russia should be readmitted to what is now the Group of 7. And he has suggested that he believes Mr. Putin’s denials of Russian meddling in 2016, rather than the conclusion of United States intelligence agencies that the interference took place.

On Friday, Mr. Peskov declined to comment on the controversy surrounding Mr. Trump’s conversation with Mr. Zelensky.

At a lengthy news conference at the United Nations, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, appeared to studiously avoid calling on American reporters, presumably to avoid questions about Ukraine. When at last, a reporter from CNN was able to ask about the issue, Mr. Lavrov described it as unseemly and a violation of diplomatic decency.

“My mom taught me that it was improper to read other peoples’ letters,” Mr. Lavrov said. “There are traditions and manners, including in diplomacy, that presume a certain level of confidentiality.”

Over the past three years, Mr. Putin has had 11 phone conversations with Mr. Trump, the most recent in July, according to the Kremlin’s website. Only brief descriptions of the calls have been published by both sides.

The two leaders have habitually discussed the urgent need to improve bilateral ties, something that appeared more difficult than was expected when President Trump was elected, as well as an array of international issues, from nuclear disarmament in North Korea to conflict resolution in Syria and Ukraine.

In 2018, President Bill Clinton’s library released transcripts of his phone calls with President Boris N. Yeltsin of Russia. The transcripts revealed many interesting details about the bilateral relations, but also about Russia’s own history at a pivotal moment in 1999, when Mr. Yeltsin decided to select Mr. Putin as his successor.

“It took me a lot of time to think who might be the next Russian president in the year 2000,” Mr. Yeltsin told Mr. Clinton at the time, according to the transcript.

“Finally, I came across him, that is, Putin,” he said. “He’s tough. He has an internal ramrod,” said Mr. Yeltsin. “He will continue the Yeltsin line on democracy and economics and widen Russia’s contacts.”

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