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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 173)

Kurt Volker, Trump’s Envoy for Ukraine, Resigns

Westlake Legal Group merlin_158531811_aaab7ac0-f029-4144-bda7-a7c374a1378c-facebookJumbo Kurt Volker, Trump’s Envoy for Ukraine, Resigns United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Kurt D. Volker Giuliani, Rudolph W

WASHINGTON — Kurt D. Volker, the State Department’s special envoy for Ukraine, who got caught in the middle of the pressure campaign by President Trump and his lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to find damaging information about Democrats, resigned his post on Friday.

Mr. Volker, a former ambassador who served in the part-time, unpaid position to help Ukraine resolve its armed confrontation with Russia-sponsored separatists, told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday that he was stepping down.

His departure came just days after Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats came to light and triggered a full-blown House impeachment inquiry. House leaders announced on Friday that they would interview Mr. Volker in a deposition next week.

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Trump Meets With LaPierre to Discuss How N.R.A. Could Support Political Defense

Westlake Legal Group 27dc-guns-facebookJumbo Trump Meets With LaPierre to Discuss How N.R.A. Could Support Political Defense United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J National Rifle Assn mass shootings LaPierre, Wayne impeachment gun control firearms

President Trump met on Friday with Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association, to discuss how the N.R.A. could provide financial support for the president’s defense as he faces political headwinds, including impeachment, according to two people familiar with the meeting.

It was not clear whether Mr. Trump asked Mr. LaPierre for his support, or if the idea was pitched by the N.R.A. But in return for the support, Mr. LaPierre asked that the White House “stop the games” over gun control legislation, people familiar with the meeting 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 that he said after the mass shootings he might support.

But caught between political pressures to do something and doing nothing on gun legislation, Mr. Trump has been idling while Congress waits for a sign from the White House on what it plans to propose. 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.

Meanwhile, White House aides and Mr. Trump’s allies have been seeking to blame 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.”

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House Democrats Issue First Subpoena in Ukraine 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.”

It was the first official action in the rapidly escalating impeachment investigation.

The officials that Democrats’ said must appear were Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch; Ambassador Kurt Volker; George Kent; T. Ulrich Brechbuhl; and Gordon Sondland.

“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 Chairmen wrote.

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

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Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-cong1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X House Democrats Issue First Subpoena in Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry tlaib, rashida Pelosi, Nancy impeachment Giuliani, Rudolph W Cicilline, David N Barr, William P
Trump Pressed Ukraine’s President to Investigate Democrats as ‘a Favor’

Sept. 25, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 25dc-impeach-sub-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v3 House Democrats Issue First Subpoena in Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry tlaib, rashida Pelosi, Nancy impeachment Giuliani, Rudolph W Cicilline, David N Barr, William P
Rashida Tlaib’s Expletive-Laden Cry to Impeach Trump Upends Democrats’ Talking Points

Jan. 4, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 05dc-impeach-threeByTwoSmallAt2X House Democrats Issue First Subpoena in Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry tlaib, rashida Pelosi, Nancy impeachment Giuliani, Rudolph W Cicilline, David N Barr, William P

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Clinton’s White House Faced Impeachment With Discipline. Trump’s Approach Is Different.

WASHINGTON — The last time Congress tried to impeach a president, the White House chief of staff had one rule: No one who wasn’t working directly on impeachment, including the president himself, was ever allowed to talk about it.

John D. Podesta, President Bill Clinton’s wiry, uber-disciplined chief of staff, delivered the message during a senior staff meeting. White House staffers were supposed to stay in their lanes, doing their jobs, or risk being fired. Any water cooler discussion about the Monica Lewinsky scandal, or the impeachment proceedings, and “I will break your neck,” Mr. Podesta recalled telling his staffers, using an expletive. And that especially applied to Mr. Clinton.

Mr. Clinton’s aides had studied Watergate, and their takeaway was that the public believed President Richard M. Nixon was being buried by the scandal, in part, because he talked about it endlessly. So their approach was that the only way to survive and to keep his job approval rating up was to demonstrate that the White House was still working, and that Mr. Clinton was still doing the job he was elected to do for the people.

The strategy of controlling and disciplining Mr. Clinton worked. While a Republican-led House impeached him in December 1998, Democrats picked up five House seats the month before, his approval rating soared to 73 percent in the days afterward, and he was acquitted of the charges by the Republican-led Senate in February 1999.

But the approach is unlikely to succeed with President Trump, someone less concerned with policy than he is with how things play in distinct, daily news cycles. He heads into what appears to be a rapidly unfurling impeachment inquiry unprepared temperamentally, and with a depleted staff, many of whom are shrugging off the seriousness of what the president faces.

The White House communications and press operations have seen their roles subsumed by Mr. Trump, who thinks he is his own best spokesman and sees little need to to control his anger at his accusers. And the West Wing, under the leadership of an acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, has reverted to an unstructured work space governed by Mr. Trump’s moods, with aides often dismissed or marginalized if they tell the president things he doesn’t want to hear.

Mr. Mulvaney is often described as a figurehead, with Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, serving as the de facto chief of staff. The White House Counsel’s Office is also understaffed; Emmet T. Flood, who was part of Mr. Clinton’s impeachment legal team and then oversaw the Trump administration’s legal response to the special counsel investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, stepped down in June, as Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation wrapped up.

A White House official said there had been “no need” for a replacement, and that there were no impeachment preparations underway in the White House because so far there was no actual impeachment inquiry to prepare for.

If anything, Mr. Trump and some of his advisers have grown convinced since the Mueller investigation that the tight discipline that worked 20 years ago may not be necessary.

Having a formal war room, or rapid response operation, “would be overreaction on our part,” said Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president. “It would be playing on the Democrats’ turf.” And if impeachment succeeds, Trump officials are anticipating a Republican-held Senate that would not permit witnesses to testify at length and would not convict him.

Mr. Trump, aides said, shares that view, and on Thursday he expressed no interest in building a war room to respond to what he views as an effort by congressional Democrats to harass him. In contrast to the Mueller investigation, which required the White House to turn over millions of documents, his aides feel there is little for them to do at the moment.

Also complicating matters, the White House Counsel’s Office and the National Security Council are implicated in the whistle blower’s complaint, which details how White House lawyers “directed” people to remove an electronic transcript of Mr. Trump’s phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine from the computer system where such transcripts are typically stored. The White House on Friday said lawyers from the National Security Council actually decided how to store the transcript.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160918452_411a0e8b-dc53-4b91-8291-f1a2ff1aded5-articleLarge Clinton’s White House Faced Impeachment With Discipline. Trump’s Approach Is Different. United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Mulvaney, Mick Maguire, Joseph (1952- ) impeachment Conway, Kellyanne Clinton, Bill

Under the leadership of an acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the West Wing has reverted to an unstructured workspace governed by President Trump’s moods.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Another complication: Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, has served as Mr. Trump’s main television surrogate in charge of rapid response, but he appears likely to be called as a witness and a key player in the proceedings.

That hasn’t stopped the former New York mayor from continuing to speak to the media, appearances the president has praised. “It is impossible that the whistle-blower is a hero and I’m not,” Mr. Giuliani said in an interview with The Atlantic on Thursday. “I will be the hero! These morons — when this is over, I will be the hero.”

In theory, Mr. Trump’s White House could have been more prepared than Mr. Clinton was for the formal impeachment inquiry that Speaker Nancy Pelosi set in motion on Tuesday.

In January 1998, when news of the investigation into Mr. Clinton’s relationship with Ms. Lewinsky first broke, the White House was blindsided and had to build a rapid-response operation and legal team from scratch. Mr. Trump, in contrast, spent almost two years fighting the special counsel’s investigation and lived with the threat of impeachment hovering over him since the early days of his administration.

But so far, there is little in terms of structure, and nothing in terms of discipline, emanating from the president.

“It’s very, very difficult, not because the White House counsel isn’t capable of that, but because Trump forces people out of their lane and into defending him,” Mr. Podesta said. “That’s the wrong strategy. The only way to survive is to keep focused on trying to act like you’re still the president of the United States.”

On Thursday, two days after Ms. Pelosi began a formal impeachment inquiry, Mr. Trump appeared to be letting the story overwhelm everything else. While Joseph Maguire, the acting director of National Intelligence, defended the rights of the whistle-blower while testifying in front of the House Intelligence Committee, Mr. Trump was comparing him to a spy.

“You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right?” Mr. Trump told a stunned group of staffers from the United States Mission to the United Nations on Thursday and their family members “We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

For now, the White House is planning to allow Mr. Trump to run his own show. It hopes the president’s ability to use the internet to amplify a message means Mr. Trump won’t need the same kind of structure that helped the White House respond to a slow-moving impeachment inquiry in the 1990s. And with sympathetic Fox News hosts, as well as conservative news outlets like Breitbart amplifying attacks on Democrats and support for Mr. Trump, the White House today has what is essentially an independent rapid response team working that they don’t even need to direct or bankroll.

Mr. Mulvaney briefly floated the idea of bringing in Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager who has been mulling a run for Senate in his home state of New Hampshire, to help lead some of the White House’s anti-impeachment messaging from the outside, according to two people familiar with what took place. But others close to Mr. Trump said that Mr. Lewandowski’s combative turn as a witness before the House Judiciary Committee recently could complicate that kind of role, and the idea was quickly sidelined.

West Wing officials said they viewed the Democrats as the ones fighting from a weak position. “Nancy Pelosi in a matter of moments washed away careful, deliberative restraint,” Ms. Conway said. “For months, she said it had to be bipartisan and accepted by the public. Neither is true.”

Inside the West Wing, aides who have been numbed since the release of the Access Hollywood tape by normally career-ending scandals that did not stop Mr. Trump’s climb are shrugging off the latest scandal. That view is shared Trump loyalists in the administration.

“It’s silly to bring an impeachment proceeding based on an anonymous whistle-blower who is not directly involved and whose complaint no one had seen,” Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, said in an interview scheduled to air Friday on Fox Business Network, after the complaint had been made public. “What I think is really disgraceful is that anonymous whistle-blowers are given total credibility.”

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House Democrats Plan Hearing as Early as Next Week in Impeachment Inquiry

WASHINGTON — House Democrats pushed ahead Friday with a rapidly unfurling impeachment inquiry into President Trump, planning subpoenas and plotting out a witness list for a proceeding that could yield its first hearing as early as next week.

“Everything is real time,” Representative Mike Quigley, Democrat of Illinois and a member of the Intelligence Committee. “You don’t sit back and contemplate the future when you are in the middle of it.”

With Congress now in a two-week recess and lawmakers headed back home to their districts, Democrats were working on two tracks, meticulously outlining a rapid-fire set of investigative steps while they honed their messaging for what promises to be a divisive and politically charged process.

House Democratic leaders instructed their rank-and-file on Friday to keep it simple when talking to voters, emphasizing that Mr. Trump had “engaged in serious wrongdoing” and had “abused the office of the president.” Investigators for Representative Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, were assembling a plan of inquiry and sequence of witnesses the committee should call or subpoena for testimony.

Representative David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island and head of the party’s messaging arm, circulated talking points for his colleagues, aimed especially at helping moderates — many of whom were against an impeachment inquiry only a week ago, but have now voiced their support — explain this past week’s dizzying turn of events to their constituents.

Headlined “No One Is Above The Law,” the talking points laid out three central messages for Democrats: that the president “engaged in serious wrongdoing, betrayed his oath of office and undermined national security,” that he “pressured a foreign government to target a political opponent to help in his re-election and tried to cover it up” and that they would follow the facts.

“We want to keep this simple,” said Mr. Cicilline, clutching the talking point cards in his hand. “This is not complicated. This is misconduct that the president has admitted to.”

Already, some Democrats were veering off that somber message, stoking progressive outrage about Mr. Trump’s conduct to call for his immediate removal. The re-election campaign of Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan began selling T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Impeach the MF,” using a two-letter abbreviation for an expletive the first-term congresswoman used for the president when she uttered that phrase in a speech to activists in January.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161604357_9368a514-6113-40fa-ae14-58a5c189369e-articleLarge House Democrats Plan Hearing as Early as Next Week in Impeachment Inquiry Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry tlaib, rashida Pelosi, Nancy impeachment Giuliani, Rudolph W Cicilline, David N Barr, William P

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she wants the impeachment inquiry done expeditiously.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

The inquiry centers on Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the president of Ukraine to launch a corruption investigation into Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., part of a whistle-blower’s complaint that charged the president with using his office to enlist foreign help to boost his own re-election in 2020. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she wants it done expeditiously, and Mr. Schiff’s committee is expected to march forward with the investigation in the coming days.

Mr. Trump, increasingly enraged by the airing of the allegations against him and Democrats’ move to consider impeaching him as a result, tried to defend himself in an irate series of tweets on Friday. He called his conversation with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine “perfect” and “appropriate” and lashed out at Mr. Schiff, demanding his resignation.

Ms. Pelosi, who has embarked on a media tour of sorts after embracing the impeachment push, said that William P. Barr, the attorney general, had “gone rogue,” given the role of the Justice Department in withholding the whistle-blower complaint from Congress. In his conversation with Mr. Zelensky that was a crucial element of the complaint, Mr. Trump instructed the Ukrainian president to follow up with Mr. Barr and Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, on launching the investigation of Mr. Biden.

“Since he was mentioned in all of this, it’s curious that he would be making decisions about how the complaint would be handled,” Ms. Pelosi said of Mr. Barr on CNN.

The committee has already stated publicly that it intends to meet with the whistle-blower in a secure setting as soon as possible, to try to identify other officials who witnessed the alleged events and who would be willing to cooperate with their work.

They also will speak again with the intelligence community inspector general, Michael Atkinson, who was restricted last week from sharing any details with Congress about the work his office did to initially corroborate the complaint. This time, Mr. Atkinson would be freer to discuss that work, which could give the committee a clearer sense of where it should start its work.

Mr. Quigley said he expected the committee would call Mr. Barr and Mr. Giuliani, as well as officials in the White House and elsewhere who appear to have brought their concerns to the whistle-blower.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, will be working in Washington during the recess.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Committee staff could begin interviewing other potential witnesses in the coming days. Much of that work would likely take place out of view, lawmakers said, to speed up the fact-finding process and avoid the political implications of public hearings.

Democrats on the panel said they expected to spend at least a portion of the House’s two-week recess in Washington working. They are in the early stages of planning a thematic hearing for next week, potentially focused on Ukraine and American foreign policy, or on whistle-blowers, an officials familiar with the matter said.

“It’s the committee’s intention to pick up momentum, so I imagine a lot of work will get done in the next two weeks,” said Representative Jim Himes of Connecticut, the second-ranking Democrat on the panel.

For many Democrats, the past week has been a rat-a-tat series of jolts. On Monday, seven moderates, all with military or national security backgrounds — and most of whom had opposed impeachment — called for an inquiry, opening the floodgates for more moderates to join in.

Tuesday brought Ms. Pelosi’s announcement. On Wednesday, the White House released a transcript of Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky. On Thursday, the whistle-blower’s complaint was made public, including the explosive allegation that the White House sought to “lock down” records of the call. Ms. Pelosi accused Mr. Trump of a “cover up”

By Friday, most Democrats seemed exhausted, grateful for a two-week break to gather their thoughts. Many said they intended to do more listening than talking. Liberals including Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota were beaming; they believe an impeachment inquiry should have begun a long time ago.

But moderates looked somber, burdened with the weight of the moment. Among them was Representative Angie Craig, a freshman who flipped a Republican seat in Minnesota. Ordinarily private about her Christian faith, she said she has turned to the Bible for solace.

“I’m going to tell my constituents that this is a decision I never wanted to have to make,” Ms. Craig said, “that the president left us no choice but to open an impeachment inquiry.”

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Westlake Legal Group 26dc-cong1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X House Democrats Plan Hearing as Early as Next Week in Impeachment Inquiry Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry tlaib, rashida Pelosi, Nancy impeachment Giuliani, Rudolph W Cicilline, David N Barr, William P
Trump Pressed Ukraine’s President to Investigate Democrats as ‘a Favor’

Sept. 25, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 25dc-impeach-sub-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v3 House Democrats Plan Hearing as Early as Next Week in Impeachment Inquiry Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry tlaib, rashida Pelosi, Nancy impeachment Giuliani, Rudolph W Cicilline, David N Barr, William P
Rashida Tlaib’s Expletive-Laden Cry to Impeach Trump Upends Democrats’ Talking Points

Jan. 4, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 05dc-impeach-threeByTwoSmallAt2X House Democrats Plan Hearing as Early as Next Week in Impeachment Inquiry Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry tlaib, rashida Pelosi, Nancy impeachment Giuliani, Rudolph W Cicilline, David N Barr, William P

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‘The New Berlin Wall’: Why Ukraine Is Central to the Scandal

IVANO-FRANKIVSK, Ukraine — His voice crackling over what he complained was a “terrible” sound system, Donald J. Trump in September 2015 heaped praise on the oligarch who had invited him to speak by video link from New York to a conference in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian oligarch, Victor Pinchuk, had secured 20 minutes of Mr. Trump’s time — and a heap of flattery from the future president, who described him as “a very, very special man” — with a donation of $150,000 to Mr. Trump’s now defunct foundation.

The same oligarch, a steel magnate long enmeshed with Ukraine’s business and political elite, had earlier donated more than $10 million to the Clinton Foundation and been invited to dine at the Washington home of Hillary and Bill Clinton.

The equal opportunity largess of powerful Ukrainians like Mr. Pinchuk helps explain why so many of the most dimly lit and hazardous roads of American politics keep leading back to Ukraine, a poor, dysfunctional country on Europe’s eastern fringe.

[Read more about how Ukraine landed in the middle of an American political drama.]

Caught between the clashing geopolitical ambitions of Russia and the West, Ukraine has for years had to balance competing outside interests and worked hard to cultivate all sides and also rival groups on the same side, no matter how incompatible their agendas, with offers of money, favors and prospects for career advancement.

Paul Manafort, Rudolph Giuliani, Joe Biden’s son Hunter and Hillary Clinton have all, at one time or another, found their way there, escorted by Ukrainian guides with deep pockets and a keen sense of how to appeal to their vanities, ambitions and greed.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161483037_1b708e6a-d9a7-491d-8b8f-70be18ce4e69-articleLarge ‘The New Berlin Wall’: Why Ukraine Is Central to the Scandal Zelensky, Volodymyr Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Miss Universe Organization Manafort, Paul J Lutsenko, Yuri V KIEV, Ukraine Giuliani, Rudolph W Clinton Foundation Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter Berlin Wall

President Trump met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodomyr Zelensky, in New York on Wednesday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“The fact is Ukraine is an amazing place,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Pinchuk’s conference in 2015. “I’ve known so many people over so many years in the Ukraine.”

He told Ukraine’s new president, Volodomyr Zelensky, much the same thing this week when they met in New York, though the only specific person from Ukraine he wanted to tell Mr. Zelensky about was a former Miss Universe contestant.

Ukraine, said Serhii Plokhy, a Harvard historian whose books include “The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine,” has for centuries been tugged in different directions by rival suitors, and became a “battlefield” between Russia and the West when it declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

“The front lines are always places that attract both heroes and villains who go there from world capitals to make a name, advance a career, make a fortune, etc. — and then carry back home legacies, memories and skeletons for their closets,” Mr. Plokhy said.

Ukraine’s allure for American carpetbaggers, political consultants and adventurers has put it at the center of not just one but now two presidential elections in the United States and a host of second-tier scandals.

Before becoming Mr. Trump’s campaign manager before the 2016 election, Mr. Manafort made millions of dollars in Ukraine, working as an adviser to the country’s leadership out of an office in Kiev. Mr. Giuliani has repeatedly looked to the same city and a new set of Ukrainian leaders for dirt on Mr. Trump’s political foes ahead of the 2020 poll.

Paul Manafort’s political consulting and advising operation was run out of a first-floor office in central Kiev.CreditJoseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times

Yevhen Hlibovytskyi, a lecturer in philosophy at the Ukrainian Catholic University, said Ukraine’s pivotal position in geopolitical struggles had made Kiev, a picturesque capital of cobblestoned streets on the Dnepr River, into the 21st century’s equivalent of Cold War dens of intrigue like Vienna and Berlin or Casablanca during World War II.

“Ukraine is the country that hosts the Berlin Wall at the moment,” he said. “Ukraine is the country where the clash between the free and unfree world takes place. It’s only natural that some players will be seeking protection in the West,” sometimes by crossing palms with silver.

Put upon over the centuries by more powerful neighbors claiming their land, notably Russia, Poland and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Ukrainians have rarely had firm allies or even their own functioning state, a situation that has encouraged a highly transactional approach to foreign and also domestic affairs.

Unlike Russia, ruled since the time of Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century by a single, strong leader, usually a tyrant, Ukraine has always been a land of competing power centers. This has made it a fertile ground for democracy but also left it a highly fractured nation with an ever shifting constellation of feuding power-brokers who often look to foreigners for help in their internal struggles.

The whistle-blower’s complaint released on Thursday revealed how Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, played into this dynamic, focusing his efforts to get Joe Biden and his son investigated on a group of senior law-enforcement officials in Ukraine who had been locked for months in a bitter turf war with rival factions within the same state structure.

The officials Mr. Giuliani sought out in the name of fighting corruption were engaged in a long feud with Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau. The bureau, which has worked closely with the F.B.I. and was set up in 2014 with strong support from the Obama administration, is one of the few government agencies in Ukraine that Western diplomats in Kiev view as reasonably honest and competent.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who the whistle-blower’s complaint suggested was the target of President Trump’s pressuring of Ukraine.CreditMark Makela for The New York Times

Political survival in Ukraine has for centuries often hinged on finding a strong patron abroad. This sometimes led to disaster, most famously in the case of Ivan Mazepa, the Cossack leader of an embryonic state in eastern Ukraine in the 17th century. Initially an ally of Peter the Great of Russia, Mazepa, worried by the rise of powerful Cossack rivals, switched sides to ally with Russia’s great enemy at the time, Sweden, which he thought would offer protection. Instead, it led him to crushing defeat by Russia at the Battle of Poltava in 1709.

“Ukrainians all the time tried to form an alliance with the stronger side,” said Volodymyr Yermolenko, editor in chief at Ukraine World, an online magazine. Mazepa, despite his defeat, is revered as a national hero in Ukraine for trying, albeit with catastrophic consequences, to hold Russia at bay by finding a powerful patron in the West.

Mr. Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager and now a convicted fraudster, made a fortune in Ukraine by convincing its since toppled pro-Russian president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, that he could, for a hefty fee, help woo Europe and blacken the reputation of his main political rival, Yulia Timochenko, who had been thrown in jail.

Mr. Biden’s son Hunter earned at least $850,000 for serving on the board of a Cyprus-registered Ukrainian gas company that needed help in cleaning up its image after falling foul of anticorruption investigators in Ukraine. The company insisted it was the victim of internal score-settling.

Yevhen Mahda, director of the Institute of World Policy, a research group, compared Ukraine’s recruitment of people like Mr. Manafort to the medieval practice of paying the Catholic Church for “indulgences,” which were supposed to reduce God’s punishment for sinful behavior.

“A lot of Ukrainian politicians have this stereotype that you pay an influential figure in the West, from Europe or America, and they will cleanse you of your sins,” he said.

Former President Petro O. Poroshenko made relations with the Obama administration his top foreign relations priority and then invested heavily in wooing the Trump administration.CreditBrendan Hoffman/Getty Images

The pursuit of foreign protectors and patrons has been a common feature of Ukraine’s political and business elite, no matter what their own political leanings.

Ukraine’s former president Petro O. Poroshenko, elected after street protests toppled his pro-Russian predecessor in February 2014, made good relations with the Obama administration his top foreign relations priority and then invested heavily in wooing the Trump administration, despite having favored Mrs. Clinton in the 2016 election.

Mr. Poroshenko’s eagerness to win over Mr. Trump and his growing fears that political rivals would thwart his re-election opened the way for Mr. Giuliani to press Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Yuri Lutsenko, who has since been fired, to help Mr. Trump’s own re-election by investigating Joe Biden and his son.

How Mr. Poroshenko expected the Trump administration to help lift his sagging fortunes ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election, held in two rounds in March and April this year, is unclear. He got trounced anyway, losing emphatically to Mr. Zelensky, whose own officials quickly became the Trump team’s new targets in its drive to damage Mr. Biden.

While Democrats want Mr. Trump impeached over his dealings with Ukraine, the president and his allies have counterattacked with their own Ukraine-focused scandals. They have revived a debunked theory that the country colluded with the Clinton campaign to hurt Mr. Trump’s chances in 2016 and asserted, with little evidence, that Mr. Biden used his position as vice president to prevent Ukraine from investigating his son.

Ukrainians, jaded after years of watching their own leaders trade the power and privileges of office for personal financial or political gain, have mostly shrugged off what, for Mr. Trump, is possibly the most serious scandal to buffet the White House since Watergate toppled President Richard Nixon in 1974.

That a country few Americans paid much attention to in the past now commands center stage in Washington has stirred mostly bemusement in Ukraine. Those feelings are also tinged with a touch of pride that, after centuries in the shadow of Russia, its giant neighbor to the east, the nation is no longer seen as a backwater but a pivot around which the fate of the world’s most powerful country implausibly turns.

Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine’s foreign minister under Mr. Poroshenko, said in a caustic Twitter message this week that going down in history “as the country that led to the impeachment of the U.S. president” was “not a very fun prospect.” But, he added, “Now everyone understands what we are capable of.”

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Ukraine, the ‘New Berlin Wall,’ Once Again Lies at the Center of Scandal

IVANO-FRANKIVSK, Ukraine — His voice crackling over what he complained was a “terrible” sound system, Donald J. Trump in September 2015 heaped praise on the oligarch who had invited him to speak by video link from New York to a conference in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian oligarch, Victor Pinchuk, had secured 20 minutes of Mr. Trump’s time — and a heap of flattery from the future president, who described him as “a very, very special man” — with a donation of $150,000 to Mr. Trump’s now defunct foundation.

The same oligarch, a steel magnate long enmeshed with Ukraine’s business and political elite, had earlier donated more than $10 million to the Clinton Foundation and been invited to dine at the Washington home of Hillary and Bill Clinton.

The equal opportunity largess of powerful Ukrainians like Mr. Pinchuk helps explain why so many of the most dimly lit and hazardous roads of American politics keep leading back to Ukraine, a poor, dysfunctional country on Europe’s eastern fringe.

Caught between the clashing geopolitical ambitions of Russia and the West, Ukraine has for years had to balance competing outside interests and worked hard to cultivate all sides and also rival groups on the same side, no matter how incompatible their agendas, with offers of money, favors and prospects for career advancement.

Paul Manafort, Rudolph Giuliani, Joe Biden’s son Hunter and Hillary Clinton have all, at one time or another, found their way there, escorted by Ukrainian guides with deep pockets and a keen sense of how to appeal to their vanities, ambitions and greed.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161483037_1b708e6a-d9a7-491d-8b8f-70be18ce4e69-articleLarge Ukraine, the ‘New Berlin Wall,’ Once Again Lies at the Center of Scandal Zelensky, Volodymyr Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Miss Universe Organization Manafort, Paul J Lutsenko, Yuri V KIEV, Ukraine Giuliani, Rudolph W Clinton Foundation Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter Berlin Wall

President Trump met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodomyr Zelensky, in New York on Wednesday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“The fact is Ukraine is an amazing place,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Pinchuk’s conference in 2015. “I’ve known so many people over so many years in the Ukraine.”

He told Ukraine’s new president, Volodomyr Zelensky, much the same thing this week when they met in New York, though the only specific person from Ukraine he wanted to tell Mr. Zelensky about was a former Miss Universe contestant.

Ukraine, said Serhii Plokhy, a Harvard historian whose books include “The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine,” has for centuries been tugged in different directions by rival suitors, and became a “battlefield” between Russia and the West when it declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

“The front lines are always places that attract both heroes and villains who go there from world capitals to make a name, advance a career, make a fortune, etc. — and then carry back home legacies, memories and skeletons for their closets,” Mr. Plokhy said.

Ukraine’s allure for American carpetbaggers, political consultants and adventurers has put it at the center of not just one but now two presidential elections in the United States and a host of second-tier scandals.

Before becoming Mr. Trump’s campaign manager before the 2016 election, Mr. Manafort made millions of dollars in Ukraine, working as an adviser to the country’s leadership out of an office in Kiev. Mr. Giuliani has repeatedly looked to the same city and a new set of Ukrainian leaders for dirt on Mr. Trump’s political foes ahead of the 2020 poll.

Paul Manafort’s political consulting and advising operation was run out of a first-floor office in central Kiev.CreditJoseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times

Yevhen Hlibovytskyi, a lecturer in philosophy at the Ukrainian Catholic University, said Ukraine’s pivotal position in geopolitical struggles had made Kiev, a picturesque capital of cobblestoned streets on the Dnepr River, into the 21st century’s equivalent of Cold War dens of intrigue like Vienna and Berlin or Casablanca during World War II.

“Ukraine is the country that hosts the Berlin Wall at the moment,” he said. “Ukraine is the country where the clash between the free and unfree world takes place. It’s only natural that some players will be seeking protection in the West,” sometimes by crossing palms with silver.

Put upon over the centuries by more powerful neighbors claiming their land, notably Russia, Poland and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Ukrainians have rarely had firm allies or even their own functioning state, a situation that has encouraged a highly transactional approach to foreign and also domestic affairs.

Unlike Russia, ruled since the time of Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century by a single, strong leader, usually a tyrant, Ukraine has always been a land of competing power centers. This has made it a fertile ground for democracy but also left it a highly fractured nation with an ever shifting constellation of feuding power-brokers who often look to foreigners for help in their internal struggles.

The whistle-blower’s complaint released on Thursday revealed how Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, played into this dynamic, focusing his efforts to get Joe Biden and his son investigated on a group of senior law-enforcement officials in Ukraine who had been locked for months in a bitter turf war with rival factions within the same state structure.

The officials Mr. Giuliani sought out in the name of fighting corruption were engaged in a long feud with Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau. The bureau, which has worked closely with the F.B.I. and was set up in 2014 with strong support from the Obama administration, is one of the few government agencies in Ukraine that Western diplomats in Kiev view as reasonably honest and competent.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who the whistle-blower’s complaint suggested was the target of President Trump’s pressuring of Ukraine.CreditMark Makela for The New York Times

Political survival in Ukraine has for centuries often hinged on finding a strong patron abroad. This sometimes led to disaster, most famously in the case of Ivan Mazepa, the Cossack leader of an embryonic state in eastern Ukraine in the 17th century. Initially an ally of Peter the Great of Russia, Mazepa, worried by the rise of powerful Cossack rivals, switched sides to ally with Russia’s great enemy at the time, Sweden, which he thought would offer protection. Instead, it led him to crushing defeat by Russia at the Battle of Poltava in 1709.

“Ukrainians all the time tried to form an alliance with the stronger side,” said Volodymyr Yermolenko, editor in chief at Ukraine World, an online magazine. Mazepa, despite his defeat, is revered as a national hero in Ukraine for trying, albeit with catastrophic consequences, to hold Russia at bay by finding a powerful patron in the West.

Mr. Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager and now a convicted fraudster, made a fortune in Ukraine by convincing its since toppled pro-Russian president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, that he could, for a hefty fee, help woo Europe and blacken the reputation of his main political rival, Yulia Timochenko, who had been thrown in jail.

Mr. Biden’s son Hunter earned at least $850,000 for serving on the board of a Cyprus-registered Ukrainian gas company that needed help in cleaning up its image after falling foul of anticorruption investigators in Ukraine. The company insisted it was the victim of internal score-settling.

Yevhen Mahda, director of the Institute of World Policy, a research group, compared Ukraine’s recruitment of people like Mr. Manafort to the medieval practice of paying the Catholic Church for “indulgences,” which were supposed to reduce God’s punishment for sinful behavior.

“A lot of Ukrainian politicians have this stereotype that you pay an influential figure in the West, from Europe or America, and they will cleanse you of your sins,” he said.

Former President Petro O. Poroshenko made relations with the Obama administration his top foreign relations priority and then invested heavily in wooing the Trump administration.CreditBrendan Hoffman/Getty Images

The pursuit of foreign protectors and patrons has been a common feature of Ukraine’s political and business elite, no matter what their own political leanings.

Ukraine’s former president Petro O. Poroshenko, elected after street protests toppled his pro-Russian predecessor in February 2014, made good relations with the Obama administration his top foreign relations priority and then invested heavily in wooing the Trump administration, despite having favored Mrs. Clinton in the 2016 election.

Mr. Poroshenko’s eagerness to win over Mr. Trump and his growing fears that political rivals would thwart his re-election opened the way for Mr. Giuliani to press Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Yuri Lutsenko, who has since been fired, to help Mr. Trump’s own re-election by investigating Joe Biden and his son.

How Mr. Poroshenko expected the Trump administration to help lift his sagging fortunes ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election, held in two rounds in March and April this year, is unclear. He got trounced anyway, losing emphatically to Mr. Zelensky, whose own officials quickly became the Trump team’s new targets in its drive to damage Mr. Biden.

While Democrats want Mr. Trump impeached over his dealings with Ukraine, the president and his allies have counterattacked with their own Ukraine-focused scandals. They have revived a debunked theory that the country colluded with the Clinton campaign to hurt Mr. Trump’s chances in 2016 and asserted, with little evidence, that Mr. Biden used his position as vice president to prevent Ukraine from investigating his son.

Ukrainians, jaded after years of watching their own leaders trade the power and privileges of office for personal financial or political gain, have mostly shrugged off what, for Mr. Trump, is possibly the most serious scandal to buffet the White House since Watergate toppled President Richard Nixon in 1974.

That a country few Americans paid much attention to in the past now commands center stage in Washington has stirred mostly bemusement in Ukraine. Those feelings are also tinged with a touch of pride that, after centuries in the shadow of Russia, its giant neighbor to the north, the nation is no longer seen as a backwater but a pivot around which the fate of the world’s most powerful country implausibly turns.

Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine’s foreign minister under Mr. Poroshenko, said in a caustic Twitter message this week that going down in history “as the country that led to the impeachment of the U.S. president” was “not a very fun prospect.” But, he added, “Now everyone understands what we are capable of.”

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Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Super-Secret N.S.C. Computer System

WASHINGTON — When the White House first released the reconstructed transcript of President Trump’s July 25 phone conversation with the president of Ukraine, some former government officials noticed something peculiar about it.

The document lacked a standard marking in its upper right-hand corner, known as a “package number,” or the number that the National Security Council officials would assign to the transcript as they logged it for storage.

Instead, it bore the marking “[PkgNumberShort],” which former officials, including one who served in the Trump White House, said was an indication that the document had not been formally placed into the council’s carefully organized records system according to normal practice.

The full meaning of that became clear on Thursday only with the release of the complaint by an anonymous whistle-blower brought against Mr. Trump. The complaint explained that the transcript of the call between Mr. Trump and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was handled in a highly unusual manner, stored not in the National Security Council’s main computer system but in a far more secret and restricted system maintained by intelligence officials within the White House.

Westlake Legal Group trump-ukraine-timeline-promo-1569528528277-articleLarge-v2 Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Super-Secret N.S.C. Computer System Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B National Security Council Classified Information and State Secrets Biden, Joseph R Jr

Trump’s Efforts to Push Ukraine Toward a Biden Inquiry: A Timeline

A guide to the key figures and dates as President Trump and his allies pressured Ukraine to investigate his political opponents.

The whistle-blower, whom The New York Times has identified as a C.I.A. officer who was detailed to the White House, alleges that the National Security Council took an extra and previously unknown step to shield Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky from all but a very small number of officials by assigning it to that system.

The rough transcript of Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky was stored in a system operated by the agency’s intelligence directorate “solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive” information, the whistle-blower wrote. He added that White House officials told him it was “not the first time” Trump officials had confined a presidential transcript that way.

The more secure system is designed to hold delicate information about covert actions, intelligence programs and other highly classified activities, several former National Security Council officials said. Records of presidential calls with foreign leaders would be stored there only rarely, they said, in cases where those topics were discussed with close American partners like the leaders of Britain and Israel.

Accessing that special database requires enhanced desktop computer software not granted to all National Security Council officials. In extreme cases, agency aides must physically enter the offices of the intelligence directorate to read documents stored in the system. In the Obama White House, delicate documents were often hand delivered in a thick leather folder bearing the National Security Council seal and had to be returned.

The handling of the Ukraine call transcript has raised alarms among Democrats in Congress and former national security officials of both parties, including ones who served in the Trump administration. They agreed that nothing about the conversation appears to warrant placement in the extra-secure system.

“We need to look into the allegation that this may not be the only communication of a potentially corrupt character that was shielded by this classified information computer system abused for that purpose,” Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters on Thursday at the Capitol.

Mr. Schiff and other Democrats say it appears that the White House sought to hide Mr. Trump’s effort to pressure Mr. Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a possible opponent in the 2020 presidential election, and his son Hunter Biden, as well as to pursue conspiracy theories that hold that Russia did not meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

“During my tenure, I had no knowledge of documents being moved out for political sensitivity,” said a former Trump White House official familiar with the system. “I don’t know the legality of what was done. It certainly feels unethical.” The official said that decisions to move documents to different levels of classification typically involve the National Security Council’s legal office.

All officials at the agency, whose size has ranged from about 100 to 150 staff members in recent years, have security clearances that allow them access to a shared classified computer network on which countless documents are stored, many of them categorized at relatively low levels of secrecy.

Stored on the less-classified network are transcripts of presidential calls with foreign leaders, which past White Houses have actively distributed widely among national security and foreign policy officials on secure email systems.

After embarrassing leaks in 2017, in which two transcripts of Mr. Trump’s calls with foreign leaders were published in the news media, the Trump White House cut the number of people to whom phone call records were distributed.

In the case of Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky, White House officials appear to have concluded that it was not enough to limit distribution of the document, and made it impossible to read by all but a select few N.S.C. staff members. They did so by housing it in the far more restricted system, which requires software that most officials do not have.

Even those White House aides granted access to the more secret system must have specific permission to read individual documents there, which are known as Sensitive Compartmentalized Information and organized by code words. One former agency staff member said that in the most extreme cases, it might be necessary for an aide to physically visit the intelligence directorate to read certain documents.

Larry Pfeiffer, a former career intelligence official who served as White House Situation Room director during the Obama administration, said that the risk of political embarrassment is not adequate grounds for placing an N.S.C. document in a system designed for national security matters like the operation to kill Osama bin Laden.

“Clearly, someone made a decision that this conversation needed to be locked down,” Mr. Pfeiffer said. “You read this conversation and there is nothing ‘compartmented’ from an intelligence perspective.”

“Anyone with half a brain can read it and understand why they wanted to protect the distribution,” he added.

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 Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Super-Secret N.S.C. Computer System Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B National Security Council Classified Information and State Secrets Biden, Joseph R Jr
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Westlake Legal Group 26dc-trump-promo-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Super-Secret N.S.C. Computer System Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B National Security Council Classified Information and State Secrets Biden, Joseph R Jr
White House Knew of Whistle-Blower’s Allegations Soon After Trump’s Call With Ukraine Leader

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-whistleblower-promo-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v2 Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Super-Secret N.S.C. Computer System Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B National Security Council Classified Information and State Secrets Biden, Joseph R Jr
Document: Read the Whistle-Blower Complaint

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group whistleblower-complaint-promo-1569502500532-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v6 Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Super-Secret N.S.C. Computer System Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B National Security Council Classified Information and State Secrets Biden, Joseph R Jr

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Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Potential ‘Abuse’ of Secret N.S.C. Computer System

WASHINGTON — When the White House first released the reconstructed transcript of President Trump’s July 25 phone conversation with the president of Ukraine, some former government officials noticed something peculiar about it.

The document lacked a standard marking in its upper right-hand corner, known as a “package number,” or the number that the National Security Council officials would assign to the transcript as they logged it for storage.

Instead, it bore the marking “[PkgNumberShort],” which former officials, including one who served in the Trump White House, said was an indication that the document had not been formally placed into the council’s carefully organized records system according to normal practice.

The full meaning of that became clear on Thursday only with the release of the complaint by an anonymous whistle-blower brought against Mr. Trump. The complaint explained that the transcript of the call between Mr. Trump and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was handled in a highly unusual manner, stored not in the National Security Council’s main computer system but in a far more secret and restricted system maintained by intelligence officials within the White House.

The whistle-blower, whom The New York Times has identified as a C.I.A. officer who was detailed to the White House, alleges that the National Security Council took an extra and previously unknown step to shield Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky from all but a very small number of officials by assigning it to that system.

The rough transcript of Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky was stored in a the system operated by the agency’s intelligence directorate “solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive” information, the whistle-blower wrote. He added that White House officials told him it was “not the first time” Trump officials had confined a presidential transcript that way.

The more secure system is designed to hold delicate information about covert actions, intelligence programs and other highly classified activities, several former National Security Council officials said. Records of presidential calls with foreign leaders would be stored there only rarely, they said, in cases where those topics were discussed with close American partners like the leaders of Britain and Israel.

Accessing that special database requires enhanced desktop computer software not granted to all National Security Council officials. In extreme cases, agency aides must physically enter the offices of the intelligence directorate to read documents stored in the system. In the Obama White House, delicate documents were often hand delivered in a thick leather folder bearing the National Security Council seal and had to be returned.

The handling of the Ukraine call transcript has raised alarms among Democrats in Congress and former national security officials of both parties, including ones who served in the Trump administration. They agreed that nothing about the conversation appears to warrant placement in the extra-secure system.

“We need to look into the allegation that this may not be the only communication of a potentially corrupt character that was shielded by this classified information computer system abused for that purpose,” Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters on Thursday at the Capitol.

Mr. Schiff and other Democrats say it appears that the White House sought to hide Mr. Trump’s effort to pressure Mr. Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a possible opponent in the 2020 presidential election, and his son Hunter Biden, as well as to pursue conspiracy theories that hold that Russia did not meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

“During my tenure, I had no knowledge of documents being moved out for political sensitivity,” said a former Trump White House official familiar with the system. “I don’t know the legality of what was done. It certainly feels unethical.” The official said that decisions to move documents to different levels of classification typically involve the National Security Council’s legal office.

All officials at the agency, whose size has ranged from about 100 to 150 staff members in recent years, have security clearances that allow them access to a shared classified computer network on which countless documents are stored, many of them categorized at relatively low levels of secrecy.

Stored on the less-classified network are transcripts of presidential calls with foreign leaders, which past White Houses have actively distributed widely among national security and foreign policy officials on secure email systems.

After embarrassing leaks in 2017, in which two transcripts of Mr. Trump’s calls with foreign leaders were published in the news media, the Trump White House cut the number of people to whom phone call records were distributed.

In the case of Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky, White House officials appear to have concluded that it was not enough to limit distribution of the document, and made it impossible to read by all but a select few N.S.C. staff members. They did so by housing it in the far more restricted system, which requires software that most officials do not have.

Even those White House aides granted access to the more secret system must have specific permission to read individual documents there, which are known as Sensitive Compartmentalized Information and organized by code words. One former agency staff member said that in the most extreme cases, it might be necessary for an aide to physically visit the intelligence directorate to read certain documents.

Larry Pfeiffer, a former career intelligence official who served as White House Situation Room director during the Obama administration, said that the risk of political embarrassment is not adequate grounds for placing an N.S.C. document in a system designed for national security matters like the operation to kill Osama bin Laden.

“Clearly, someone made a decision that this conversation needed to be locked down,” Mr. Pfeiffer said. “You read this conversation and there is nothing ‘compartmented’ from an intelligence perspective.”

“Anyone with half a brain can read it and understand why they wanted to protect the distribution,” he added.

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 Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Potential ‘Abuse’ of Secret N.S.C. Computer System Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B National Security Council Classified Information and State Secrets Biden, Joseph R Jr
Trump Attacks Whistle-Blower’s Sources and Alludes to Punishment for Spies

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-trump-promo-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Potential ‘Abuse’ of Secret N.S.C. Computer System Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B National Security Council Classified Information and State Secrets Biden, Joseph R Jr
White House Knew of Whistle-Blower’s Allegations Soon After Trump’s Call With Ukraine Leader

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-whistleblower-promo-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v2 Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Potential ‘Abuse’ of Secret N.S.C. Computer System Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B National Security Council Classified Information and State Secrets Biden, Joseph R Jr
Document: Read the Whistle-Blower Complaint

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group whistleblower-complaint-promo-1569502500532-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v6 Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Potential ‘Abuse’ of Secret N.S.C. Computer System Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B National Security Council Classified Information and State Secrets Biden, Joseph R Jr

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Pelosi Says Barr Has ‘Gone Rogue’

WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday said that Attorney General William P. Barr had “gone rogue,” and questioned whether he could objectively make decisions about legal action in response to an explosive whistle-blower complaint accusing President Trump of misconduct, because Mr. Barr himself was mentioned in the document.

“I do think the attorney general has gone rogue,” Ms. Pelosi said on CNN. “He has for a long time now. And since he was mentioned, in all of this, it’s curious that he would be making decisions about how the complaint would be handled.”

Earlier Friday on MSNBC, Ms. Pelosi accused the White House trying to cover up a cover-up of the July 25 phone call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in which Mr. Trump pressured Mr. Zelensky to investigate a political opponent. The White House released a reconstructed transcript of the call this week, and on Thursday, the House Intelligence Committee released an unclassified version of the whistle-blower’s complaint.

Ms. Pelosi announced the start of an impeachment inquiry before the release of the reconstructed transcript and complaint.

The complaint did not describe any actions taken by Mr. Barr in efforts to persuade Ukraine to investigate matters that could benefit Mr. Trump politically. But it referenced Mr. Trump’s suggestion to Mr. Zelensky that he follow up with Mr. Barr about the investigations he was seeking. That raised concerns about whether he could oversee any subsequent inquiries into the allegations. And it underscored why most presidents aim to appoint an independent attorney general so there will not be questions about any conflict of interest.

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Westlake Legal Group 26dc-tictoc1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Pelosi Says Barr Has ‘Gone Rogue’ Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Pelosi, Nancy Justice Department impeachment Ethics and Official Misconduct Conflicts of Interest Barr, William P
8 Takeaways From the Whistle-Blower Complaint

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