web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 183)

Trump Pressed Ukraine’s Leader on Inquiry Into Biden’s Son

Westlake Legal Group 20dc-whistleblower-sub-facebookJumbo Trump Pressed Ukraine’s Leader on Inquiry Into Biden’s Son Zelensky, Volodymyr Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J State Department Giuliani, Rudolph W Foreign Aid Espionage and Intelligence Services Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — President Trump pressed the Ukrainian president in a July call to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son, according to a person familiar with the conversation, an apparently blatant mixture of foreign policy with his 2020 re-election campaign.

Mr. Trump also repeatedly told President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to talk with his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who had been urging the government in Kiev for months to investigate Mr. Biden and his family, according to two other people briefed on the call.

Mr. Trump’s request for an investigation of the family of Mr. Biden, a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, is part of the secret whistle-blower complaint that is said to be about Mr. Trump and at least in part about his dealings with Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the complaint.

The president has made no secret that he wanted Ukraine to investigate whether there was any improper overlap between Mr. Biden’s own diplomatic efforts there and his son’s role with a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch. “Someone ought to look into Joe Biden,” Mr. Trump told reporters on Friday in response to a question about whether he brought up Mr. Biden during his call with Mr. Zelensky.

The new revelations gave added urgency to critical questions about Mr. Trump’s dealings with the Ukrainian government. At the same time that the president sought an investigation into a potential political rival, the Trump administration for weeks froze military aid for Ukraine, which is battling Russian-controlled separatists in the country’s east.

The United States suspended the assistance to Ukraine in early July, according to a former American official. Mr. Trump did not discuss the aid in the July 25 call with Mr. Zelensky, whose government did not learn of the suspension until August, according to people familiar with the call. The Wall Street Journal first reported details of it.

For Democrats who want to examine the whistle-blower complaint — itself the subject of an internal administration dispute over whether to hand it over to Congress, as is generally required by law — the key question is whether Mr. Trump was demanding a quid pro quo, explicitly or implicitly. Democratic House committee chairmen are already investigating whether he misappropriated the American foreign policy apparatus for personal political advantage and have requested the transcript of his call with Mr. Zelensky from the State Department and the White House.

The burgeoning controversy had echoes of the dominant scandal of the first years of Mr. Trump’s administration: whether his campaign sought help from Russia to benefit him in 2016. Ultimately, the special counsel found that although “insufficient evidence” existed to determine that Mr. Trump or his advisers engaged in a criminal conspiracy with the Russians, his campaign welcomed Moscow’s election sabotage and expected to benefit from it.

Any attempt by Mr. Trump to ask a foreign power to “dig up dirt” on a political rival while withholding aid is corrupt, said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, one of the panels examining Mr. Trump’s Ukraine dealings.

“No explicit quid pro quo is necessary to betray your country,” tweeted Mr. Schiff, who has also pushed for the whistle-blower complaint to be given to Congress.

Mr. Trump opened a direct counterattack on Friday on the whistle-blower, whose identity is unknown, as are many details about the complaint. The president dismissed the allegations and labeled the whistle-blower, without evidence, a political partisan.

“It’s a ridiculous story. It’s a partisan whistle-blower,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, though he acknowledged he did not know the person’s identity. “They shouldn’t even have information.”

Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani have pressed for an investigation of the Bidens for weeks, after reports this year in The New York Times and elsewhere examined whether a Ukrainian energy company that had faced corruption investigations sought to buy influence in Washington by hiring Mr. Biden’s younger son, Hunter Biden, who had a lobbying business in Ukraine while his father was vice president.

During his vice presidency, Mr. Biden cast himself as both the Obama administration’s booster of military assistance to Kiev as well as the chief antagonist of the notorious corruption in Ukraine’s government. In early 2016, he threatened to withhold $1 billion in American loan guarantees if Ukraine’s top prosecutor was not dismissed after accusations that he had ignored rampant corruption.

Mr. Biden succeeded; the prosecutor general was voted out office. And Hunter Biden had an interest in the outcome: The owner of the energy company whose board he sat on had been in the sights of the fired prosecutor general.

The former vice president accused Mr. Trump in a statement of using the power of the United States to extract “a political favor.” Mr. Biden called for the president to release the transcript of his call with Mr. Zelensky and said that if the reports about it proved true, “there was no bottom to President Trump’s willingness to abuse his power and abase our country.”

He also said the allegations that he or his son committed wrongdoing in Ukraine were baseless. “Not one single outlet has given any credibility to his assertion,” Mr. Biden told reporters on Friday after a campaign event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Controversy over the Trump administration’s Ukraine policy has swirled for weeks but was confined mostly to foreign policy experts. The revelations about the whistle-blower complaint plunged the issue into the center of the political debate.

Congress has still not seen the whistle-blower’s allegation. Although the inspector general for the intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, has sought to provide it, the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, has blocked him in a dispute over legal requirements.

Mr. Maguire and his general counsel decided against providing the complaint to Congress after consulting with Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, according to a person familiar with the move.

Mounting evidence that the White House was involved in the effort to withhold the complaint from lawmakers has stirred anger on Capitol Hill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Mr. Maguire of violating the law.

“If the president has done what has been alleged, then he is stepping into a dangerous minefield with serious repercussions for his administration and our democracy,” she added in a statement.

Republicans were largely silent about Mr. Trump’s calls for a foreign investigation of his political rival. Their apparent desire to avoid criticizing the president during a political crisis stood in contrast to the criticism from Republicans, including Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, after the administration froze aid to Ukraine.

The administration, critics said, has struggled to explain the move, which has convinced some Democrats that it was part of an effort bring about a Biden investigation.

“They have no shame,” said Michael Carpenter, a former aide to Mr. Biden and expert on Ukraine. He added: “They released the assistance in mid-September after the bipartisan uproar over the freeze — and under pressure from the House investigations. But strikingly, the administration never articulated why the assistance was frozen in the first place.”

Mr. Giuliani has spearheaded a push for a Biden inquiry. He met with Mr. Zelensky’s emissaries this summer in hopes of encouraging his government to pursue investigations into the family as well as whether Ukrainian officials took steps during the 2016 election to damage Mr. Trump’s campaign.

Mr. Giuliani has said he was acting on his own, though his comments on Thursday seemed to draw a closer connection to Mr. Trump. “A President telling a Pres-elect of a well known corrupt country he better investigate corruption that affects US is doing his job,” Mr. Giuliani tweeted shortly after an appearance on CNN, where he first denied, then admitted, asking the government in Kiev to investigate the Bidens.

Although they agreed to meet with Mr. Giuliani, the Ukranians have so far refused to open the investigations. But there is little doubt the pressure from Mr. Trump is causing stress on the new government, according to a former Ukranian official.

Since 2014, Ukraine has been under attack by Russia and its proxy, a fight that has become a grinding conflict that has made it difficult for Kiev to continue its overhaul efforts and work to become more integrated with Europe and the West.

But now Ukraine also finds itself potentially at odds with the leader of its most critical partner, the United States, and at the center of a political battle in Washington.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky will meet next week on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, a senior administration official confirmed after Mr. Zelensky’s office announced the meeting on Friday. But the administration has put off any commitment for a White House meeting, which Mr. Zelensky views as critical for the relationship.

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

U.S. Agreement With El Salvador Seeks to Divert Asylum Seekers

Westlake Legal Group 20dc-immig-facebookJumbo U.S. Agreement With El Salvador Seeks to Divert Asylum Seekers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J McAleenan, Kevin K Immigration and Emigration Illegal Immigration Homeland Security Department El Salvador Asylum, Right of

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration signed an agreement with the government of El Salvador on Friday that could force Central American migrants traveling through El Salvador to seek refuge in that violent and dangerous country instead of in the United States.

The agreement is a win for President Trump and his hard-line immigration policies, and it gives him another ally in Central America as he tries to block migrants from seeking asylum at the southwestern border. Washington has signed a similar agreement with Guatemala.

But details on the agreement with El Salvador remain vague, including what steps need to be taken to carry it out.

After signing the accord with Alexandra Hill, El Salvador’s foreign minister, the acting secretary of homeland security, Kevin K. McAleenan, promoted the deal as a broader collaboration that included United States investment into El Salvador’s asylum system. He provided few details.

“Individuals crossing through El Salvador should be able to seek protections there, and we want to enforce the integrity of that process throughout the region but with the broader part of our partnership for addressing migration flows,” Mr. McAleenan said.

Mr. McAleenan has prioritized such agreements to slow the flow of migrants fleeing corruption and persecution in their home countries by forcing them to seek protection elsewhere. Fewer migrants cross through El Salvador, however, compared with Guatemala.

Even without the buy-in of other nations, the Trump administration has taken perhaps the most significant step to curb asylum seeking at the United States border by forbidding applications from would-be asylum seekers who have traveled through another country on their way to America. Under that action, only those already denied asylum in a third country can appeal for it from the United States.

The Supreme Court allowed the administration to enforce policy, but it is still being challenged.

And while Mr. McAleenan and Mr. Trump have discussed the accords with Central American countries as crucial factors in the reduction of apprehensions at the border, they have yet to actually be put in place.

When the United States signed its “safe-third country” agreement with Guatemala, Trump administration officials said migrants would start being returned to that country in August under the agreement. Officials from both countries have walked that label back because it carries a stigma, calling the label a “cooperative agreement” instead.

Guatemala’s Constitutional Court ruled that lawmakers in the capital, Guatemala City, needed to approve the policy before it could be carried out, and that has yet to happen. The administration has also failed to get Mexico to sign such an agreement.

Human rights advocates say it makes no sense to ask migrants to seek protection in countries like El Salvador and Guatemala, which are among the most dangerous, gang-ridden places in the world.

Tens of thousands of Salvadorans have been displaced from their homes, and the number of disappearances suggests that the official homicide rate may be considerably higher than the numbers reported by the police.

In 2018, about 46,800 Salvadorans sought asylum worldwide, ranking the country sixth in the world for new asylum seekers. In addition, according to a government study supported by the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, at least 71,500 Salvadorans have been internally displaced by violence. Overall, about 150,000 Salvadorans have become refugees or sought asylum in recent years.

“All these rules, agreements and procedural hurdles are creating a paper wall on the southern border, one that is just as inhumane, immoral, and illegal as one made of metal or bricks,” said Eric Schwartz, the president of Refugees International, an advocacy organization. “When history looks back on this period in the United States, the judgment will be harsh and unsparing.”

Since taking office in June, President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador has moved quickly to try to bring down the country’s homicide rate, sending the military into its most violent areas.

Although it had already begun to fall since 2017, when it was the highest in the world, according to the United Nations office on drugs and crime, the first three months of Mr. Bukele’s presidency showed a continued drop. According to Roberto Valencia, a Salvadoran reporter who analyzes homicide statistics released by the National Civil Police, the homicide rate in August was the lowest since 2013.

In 2017, there were 10.8 homicide a day in El Salvador, which has a population of about 6.5 million. In July, there were five homicides each day, and 4.2 in August, according to Mr. Valencia.

Still, Ms. Hill acknowledged the dire conditions.

“This is El Salvador’s responsibility because El Salvador has not been able to give our people enough security or opportunities so that they can stay and thrive in El Salvador,” Ms. Hill said.

She also emphasized that the Bukele administration sought to prevent Salvadorans from making the dangerous trip to the United States, referring to a photograph of a father and daughter from El Salvador who drowned in June in the Rio Grande.

“That hit El Salvador in the heart,” Ms. Hill said. “And it hit the United States in the heart. And that’s what we’re trying to avoid.”

Mr. McAleenan committed to helping El Salvador build its system with the United Nations high commissioner for refugees.

The commissioner was not consulted on this latest agreement, and Giovanni Bassu, the regional representative for Central America and Cuba, said he had not seen the agreement.

He also said El Salvador’s “very small” asylum office does not have any dedicated staff. Only 30 people applied for asylum in the country last year; 18 of those applications are still pending.

“My main message is that they have other priorities that the state should be investing in,” Mr. Bassu said. “I think rightfully the Salvadoran government is investing its resources where there is a need,” including managing internal displacement and addressing the root causes of migration.

It also remains unclear what El Salvador will receive from the United States. For the agreement with Guatemala, the United States agreed to invest $40 million in aid through commissioner to help build the country’s asylum system. Ms. Hill said the El Salvador government would need help combating gangs, as well as more economic opportunities.

Mr. Bukele has previously lobbied the United States to provide the 200,000 Salvadorans living in the United States with temporary protected status for 20 years. The Trump administration’s attempts to remove those protections have been blocked in court, but that status will expire in January.

On Friday, Ms. Hill again said those Salvadorans needed help, but neither her nor Mr. McAleenan said it was part of the agreement.

“The T.P.S. is temporary,” she said. “But there are also other measures that we are working on to find a permanent solution to this issue.”

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

Giuliani Revels in Another Cable Dust-up Defending Trump

Westlake Legal Group 20dc-rudy-facebookJumbo Giuliani Revels in Another Cable Dust-up Defending Trump United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Giuliani, Rudolph W Cuomo, Christopher Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — In a television appearance on CNN Thursday night, Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, appeared to acknowledge that President Trump had tried to pressure Ukraine into investigating Joseph R. Biden, Jr., the former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate.

“Of course I did,” Mr. Giuliani said when pressed by Chris Cuomo, the CNN host, about whether he had asked Ukrainian officials to investigate Mr. Biden, just 30 seconds after denying he had done just that. It seemed like the latest head-scratching revelation from Mr. Giuliani, a former New York mayor, to ignite new questions about abuse of power by a president coercing a foreign leader to investigate a political rival.

Twitter burst alive in real time with video clips and commentary about Mr. Giuliani’s 28-minute pugilistic exchange with Mr. Cuomo, whom Mr. Giuliani called a “sellout” who was “blinded” by “prejudice.”

But what seemed like a needless misstep by Mr. Giuliani may have been just the kind of suicide-mission media strategy he had in mind.

It was reminiscent of an appearance Mr. Giuliani made on Fox News last year, when he revealed that Mr. Trump had reimbursed Michael D. Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer, for a $130,000 payment Mr. Cohen made to keep a pornographic film star named Stormy Daniels from going public with her story of an affair with the future President of the United States.

At the time, people close to Mr. Giuliani said privately that, while he had contradicted Mr. Trump’s own version of events, it was a strategy designed to save his client from being implicated in a campaign finance-related charge. Federal prosecutors said in July that they had “effectively concluded” their inquiry, though it’s unclear whether Mr. Giuliani’s strategy had anything to do with it.

Crazy like a fox, or not, Mr. Giuliani’s unconstrained television appearances have long raised concerns with the rest of Mr. Trump’s legal team, as well as White House officials, who view him less as a traditional lawyer and more as a longtime friend of Mr. Trump’s who has taken on the role of a freelancing, often off-message spokesman. And like the president himself, Mr. Giuliani has seemed emboldened since the report by Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel, proved to be less damaging to the president than expected.

Mr. Giuliani does not check with Mr. Trump or anyone in the White House before booking himself on television (the White House declined to comment about his latest appearance). He sometimes skates outside of his lane, answering questions about policy deliberations he isn’t necessarily a part of, like the timing of the release of American hostages in North Korea, and the end of mass deportations of undocumented immigrants.

But for Mr. Giuliani, his is a theatrical game plan that he believes helped move the dial of public opinion on the Mueller investigation, and will ultimately work to clear Mr. Trump of any allegations of wrongdoing, while raising questions about Mr. Biden.

“Some government lawyer would be nervous to do what I do,” he said in an interview on Friday. “I’m a private lawyer, I represent my client, and I’m going to prove it to you that he’s innocent. Whether you like it or not, somehow I’m going to eventually get you to cover it.”

It’s far from clear that Mr. Giuliani’s argument — that a whistle-blower complaint filed by an intelligence official against Mr. Trump will “turn out to be even stupider than Papadopoulos” — will prevail. Mr. Trump, according to multiple sources, pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter, and urging him to work with Mr. Giuliani on such an inquiry. Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani have denied discussing the former mayor’s contacts with Ukranian officials.

Mr. Giuliani described his 28 minutes of cross talk with Mr. Cuomo on Thursday night as “pretty rough.” During the exchange, Mr. Giuliani said he had no idea whether Mr. Trump spoke with the Ukrainian president about Mr. Biden, or Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. But if he did, Mr. Giuliani said, “he had every right to do it.”

“I need a platform to get that out,” he said Friday. “The platform requires them beating me over the head.” If that meant he had to sustain some blows, he said, so be it.

Mr. Giuliani said he was flooded with responses to his interview, calling it his “best appearance on television,” and noting that he “laid out the hypocrisy.”

Mr. Giuliani said that enduring Mr. Cuomo’s aggressive questioning was the price he was willing to pay to give voice to his claims that the Obama White House asked the Ukrainians to “dig up dirt” on Mr. Trump and Mr. Manafort.

“I didn’t talk to the president about it before,” he said. “I didn’t talk to him about it after. I won’t tell you if I talked to him about it today, or not.”

On Thursday night, Mr. Giuliani appeared riled up when Mr. Cuomo finally wrapped up his interview. “You shouldn’t have a good night because what you’re doing is very bad for the country,” he said.

Off camera, Mr. Giuliani expressed a kinder view of Mr. Cuomo, one that also mimics Mr. Trump’s symbiotic love-hate relationship with the media. “I love Chris,” he said, saving his harsher criticisms for Mr. Cuomo’s network.

A year ago, Mr. Giuliani’s role as a member of the president’s legal team was more clearly defined than it is today. Mr. Trump was a client he represented in meetings with the Mueller team, helping to set the parameters under which Mr. Trump would submit himself to their questions (he ultimately agreed to answer questions only in writing, and with limited scope).

That investigation is now over, but Mr. Giuliani’s role in Mr. Trump’s orbit is not as Mr. Giuliani echoes Mr. Trump’s attacks on the “fake news” and suggests Mr. Trump’s presidential powers are so expansive that he cannot be credibly accused of wrongdoing based on the current set of allegations.

Mr. Giuliani suggested that the whistle-blower complaint and its aftermath are related to the work he has done for Mr. Trump since April 2018.

“I’m still his lawyer for the purposes of this investigation,” he said. “I see this as the final chapter in what really happened.”

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

Trump Focuses on Defending Saudis, Not Striking Iran, for Now

Westlake Legal Group merlin_159844542_98f33937-8e58-4eee-8af5-1848986d3ff8-facebookJumbo Trump Focuses on Defending Saudis, Not Striking Iran, for Now United States Defense and Military Forces United Arab Emirates Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Joint Chiefs of Staff Iran Esper, Mark T Defense Department

WASHINGTON — President Trump is sending a modest deployment of American troops to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, along with air and missile defense equipment, in response to the attacks on Saudi oil facilities, which the administration blames on Iran.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, disclosed the decision on Friday evening, with Mr. Esper framing the action as “defensive in nature.” General Dunford said that the precise number of American troops headed to the region has not been determined, but that it would be a “moderate deployment” in the hundreds, not thousands.

The announcement came as Mr. Trump is weighing whether to take direct military action against Iran in response to the attacks on Saudi Arabia, which rattled global energy markets and which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week called “an act of war.”

At the White House on Friday, Mr. Trump said that he could order a retaliatory strike in an instant, but that his current restraint should be seen as a sign of toughness.

Although the administration is not ruling out military strikes, senior officials indicated that, for now, the president was content to remain within the parameters of defense, not offense. Pressed by reporters about whether the administration was still considering so-called kinetic action, or military strikes, Mr. Esper said, “That’s not where we are right now.”

Earlier Friday, Mr. Trump announced new sanctions against Iran, and the administration is said to be considering a range of other actions, including cyberattacks.

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

Trump Pressed Ukraine’s Leader as Giuliani Pushed for Biden Inquiry

Westlake Legal Group 20dc-whistleblower-sub-facebookJumbo Trump Pressed Ukraine’s Leader as Giuliani Pushed for Biden Inquiry Zelensky, Volodymyr Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J State Department Giuliani, Rudolph W Foreign Aid Espionage and Intelligence Services Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — President Trump repeatedly pressed the Ukrainian president in a phone call to talk with his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who had been urging the government in Kiev for months to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his family, according to people briefed on the call.

Mr. Trump’s request for a Ukrainian investigation of Mr. Biden, a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, is part of the secret whistle-blower complaint that is said to be about Mr. Trump and at least in part about his dealings with Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The new revelations add to new scrutiny about Mr. Trump’s dealings with the Ukrainian government. He has made no secret that he wanted Kiev to investigate the Bidens, repeatedly raising it publicly.

But questions have emerged about whether Mr. Trump’s push for an inquiry into the Bidens was behind a weekslong White House hold on military aid for Ukraine. The United States suspended the military aid to Ukraine in early July, according to a former American official.

Mr. Trump did not discuss the aid in the July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, and Kiev did not learn of the suspension until August, according to people familiar with the call. The Wall Street Journal first reported details of it.

Mr. Trump dismissed earlier on Friday as a “partisan” attack the whistle-blower complaint said to involve his dealings with Ukraine amid mounting questions about his interactions with the country’s new government.

“It’s a ridiculous story. It’s a partisan whistle-blower,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, though he also acknowledged he did not know the person’s identity. “They shouldn’t even have information.”

When asked whether he had brought up Mr. Biden during the call with Mr. Zelensky, Mr. Trump waved away the question but added, “Someone ought to look into Joe Biden.”

Mr. Biden said on Friday that the allegations that he or his son did anything wrong in Ukraine are baseless.

“Not one single outlet has given any credibility to his assertion,” Mr. Biden told reporters after a campaign event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He said he had no more comment, but added: “The president should start to be president.”

The existence of the complaint, submitted by a member of the intelligence community to its inspector general, emerged late last week and exploded into the open late on Wednesday when The Washington Post reported that it concerned Mr. Trump. The administration has not shared the complaint with Congress, as is generally required by law, angering Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered a sharp warning to the Trump administration on Friday, saying in a statement that the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, was violating the law by refusing to disclose the complaint to Congress.

“If the president has done what has been alleged, then he is stepping into a dangerous minefield with serious repercussions for his administration and our democracy,” she said in a statement.

After the Ukraine link emerged in news reports late Thursday, Mr. Giuliani shed more light on it in a rambling CNN appearance, where he first denied, then admitted, to asking the government in Kiev to investigate the Bidens.

Mr. Giuliani has spearheaded a push for such an inquiry. He met with Mr. Zelensky’s emissaries this summer in hopes of encouraging his government to ramp up investigations into two matters regarding the Biden family: the question of any overlap with Mr. Biden’s diplomatic dealings with Ukraine, as well as the details of his son’s involvement in a gas company there.

Mr. Giuliani has said he was acting on his own, though his comments on Thursday seemed to draw a closer connection to Mr. Trump. “A President telling a Pres-elect of a well known corrupt country he better investigate corruption that affects US is doing his job,” Mr. Giuliani wrote on Twitter shortly after his appearance on CNN asserting the same thought.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky will meet next week on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, a senior administration official confirmed after Mr. Zelensky’s office announced the meeting on Friday.

In recent weeks, congressional aides and administration officials who work on Ukraine issues had become concerned that the White House was delaying the military assistance package for Kiev, according to people involved in an effort to free up the assistance.

Three Democratic House committee chairmen have requested the transcript of the president’s July call with Mr. Zelensky from the State Department and the White House as part of an investigation into whether Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani were misappropriating the American foreign policy apparatus for political gain.

Vice President Mike Pence, who recently met with Mr. Zelensky in Poland, denied bringing up Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to investigate Mr. Biden in their conversations, but said Mr. Trump was still making the decision on “the latest tranche of financial support.”

Mr. Trump also sought to allay concerns about his dealings with other foreign leaders. Part of the whistle-blower’s complaint deals with an unspecified commitment he made to an unnamed foreign leader, a person familiar with it has said. Mr. Trump also said on Friday that he did not know the leader in question.

“I had a great conversation with numerous people, numerous leaders, and I always look for the conversation that’s going to help the United States the most,” he said. Sitting alongside Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, who had just arrived for a state visit, Mr. Trump called his communications with other leaders “always appropriate.”

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

Program to Prevent Suicide by Veterans Earns Bipartisan Support

PHOENIX — Gloribel Ramos sunk slightly under the weight of her 32-pound body armor and gingerly gripped a plastic facsimile of an M4 rifle as she prepared to watch a video of a roadside bomb detonated in Iraq, all so she could better understand the experience of war and its impact on people who have fought in one.

Along with about three dozen other people gathered here, she had joined an effort to stem veteran suicide, one heavily reliant on civilians in the community willing to take the time to learn the warning signs rather than depend only on the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has for years failed on its own to turn the tide of veteran suicides.

The program, called Be Connected, represents a rare — and quiet — spot of bipartisan cooperation between congressional Democrats, who are highly critical of so much of the president’s policy, and the Trump administration, which has moved aggressively to try to turn around the intransigent veteran suicide rate.

“We are working well with them,” said Representative Mark Takano, Democrat of California and the chairman of the Committee On Veterans’ Affairs, referring to the department. He specifically cited the Be Connected program, which focuses on reaching veterans at risk for suicide, whether they live on a Native American reservation at the bottom of the Grand Canyon or in this bustling city.

Veterans died by suicide at roughly one and a half times the rate of the rest of the American population in 2017, according to data released Friday by the Department of Veterans Affairs. More than 6,000 veterans took their own lives each year between 2008 and 2017, and roughly 20 a day since 2014, according to the statistics.

There has been increasing awareness that suicidal veterans often are best reached through members of their own community, and not the federal government. Some of those veterans who may need help do not seek Department of Veterans Affairs services, and some suicides stem from issues not related to military service at all.

In March, President Trump issued an executive order to reduce the suicide rate by assigning other federal agencies — like the Agriculture Department in rural areas — to get involved, and enlisted local governments, veterans groups and social service organizations to pitch in.

The approach is a shift for an agency that for years attacked the problem alone, and it has impressed even the Democratic chairman of the House Committee on Veteran Affairs, who has been relentlessly critical of the department, especially over the issue of veteran suicide.

The program, called Be Connected, is based on one that worked with Arizona National Guard members who were dying by suicide at increasingly high rates over the last decade, and supported by a 2015 law designed to improve veteran’s mental health. It is operated by the Arizona Coalition for Military Families, a statewide public-private partnership that includes the Arizona governors office, the Arizona Department of Veterans Services, the federal veterans department and other partners. It is funded by a combination of federal, state, foundation and corporate sources.

There were roughly a dozen National Guard deaths in 2010 in Arizona; that fell to zero a year after the program began, said Thomas Winkel, director of the Arizona Coalition for Military Families, the backbone of the consortium.

The philosophy, he said, is to intervene on “the myriad issues that service members and their families struggle with” before they “lead to crisis.” Two years ago, the veterans department became an official partner in the consortium, which has since received 10,000 calls.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_136639860_922d38e7-4375-4a8f-a865-87b743511ea6-articleLarge Program to Prevent Suicide by Veterans Earns Bipartisan Support Wilkie, Robert Veterans Affairs Department Veterans Trump, Donald J Takano, Mark A Phoenix (Ariz) House of Representatives

Members of the Arizona National Guard in Phoenix last year. There were roughly a dozen National Guard deaths in 2010 in Arizona; that fell to zero a year after the program began.CreditCaitlin O’Hara/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

By identifying veterans who have the kinds of struggles that often lead to suicide, the program can connect them with the services they need while they still can be helped, like therapy, health care or a pet sitter to take care of their animals as they seek substance abuse treatment.

“It’s not just about health issues,” said Wanda Wright, the director of the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services. “It’s about all the determinants in your life that are barriers to services.”

The person to identify them comes from the community, like Ms. Ramos. They could be a doctor or nurse, or a civilian “navigator” such as a homeowner who spent the last few days chatting with his house painter, one who might happen to be a deeply troubled veteran. Those who sign up for navigator training might work for a state social service agency or a health care provider. But they might be just a family member of a veteran, or anyone else interested in helping veterans.

Calls to a central telephone line are categorized by nine different “social determinants” related to health care, finances and other issues. A database is home to information on the veterans who are served to help refine the program.

Department officials hope the program will funnel more veterans into its services, since nearly 64 percent of vets who die by suicide are not connected to the veterans department’s health care system.

“We do see a decrease for vets treated in the V.A. who are diagnosed with depressive disorder,” said Dr. Matt Miller, the acting director of the V.A.’ s Suicide Prevention Program.

The program tries to identify veterans who may have the kinds of struggles that could lead to suicide.CreditConor E. Ralph for The New York Times

While the number of overall veteran suicides was highest among veterans 55 to 74 years old, accounting for 38 percent of all veterans deaths by suicide, veterans between 18 and 34 had the highest suicide rate in 2017, with 44.5 deaths per 100,000, a 76 percent increase from 2005.

There remain troubling trends among female veterans as well. After adjusting for age, the 2017 rate of suicide among women veterans was over two times the rate among women who were not veterans.

[Sign up for the weekly At War newsletter to receive stories about duty, conflict and consequence.]

Robert L. Wilkie, the secretary of veterans affairs, has repeatedly called veteran suicide his “No. 1 clinical priority.” He was confirmed in July 2018 and has spent much of his first year traveling to areas where the problem is particularly acute and putting together a team to attack the issue.

In the 2019 fiscal year, the department’s suicide prevention office is on track to spend $47 million, $20 million of which is allotted for outreach.

The agency’s prevention office had been in turmoil in recent years. Caitlin Thompson, its previous director, resigned in 2017 after tangling with political appointees. According to a Government Accountability Office report last year, the office has essentially languished, and spending on some outreach efforts had declined 77 percent since 2015, enraging lawmakers who thought the agency was letting the issue fester.

There is no data yet to demonstrate the program that worked so well on a small scale with National Guard veterans will reduce suicide nationally, but veterans department officials believe hard evidence will come.

“One of the biggest things in the executive order is that it moves the discussion of suicide to a national issue and makes it crosscutting with government agencies and communities,” Dr. Miller said. “That is so important when you look at the rising suicide rates around in the nation.”

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

United States to Sign Asylum Agreement With El Salvador, Official Says

Westlake Legal Group 20dc-immig-facebookJumbo United States to Sign Asylum Agreement With El Salvador, Official Says United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J McAleenan, Kevin K Immigration and Emigration Illegal Immigration Homeland Security Department El Salvador Asylum, Right of

WASHINGTON — The United States is expected Friday to sign an asylum agreement with the government of El Salvador to prevent certain migrants who pass through the violent and dangerous country from seeking refuge in the United States, according to an administration official.

The agreement is similar to one that President Trump’s administration negotiated with Guatemala in an ongoing effort to prevent migrants from crossing the border with Mexico and seeking asylum in the United States.

Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, will announce the agreement at a news conference on Friday afternoon, according to the official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the agreement before it is formally announced.

Mr. McAleenan has said that such agreements will help to slow the flow into the United States of migrants fleeing corruption and persecution in their home countries because it will force them to seek protection elsewhere.

But critics have said it makes no sense to ask the migrants to seek protection in those countries, because they are among the most dangerous, gang-ridden places in the world. The agreement with Guatemala requires migrants who pass through there to apply for asylum — and be rejected — before they are eligible to apply for asylum in the United States.

Immigrant advocacy organizations, who say the policies are orchestrated by Stephen Miller, the president’s top immigration architect, and are driven by ill will toward immigrants, have taken legal action to stop them.

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

Ukraine Pressured on U.S. Political Investigations

MOSCOW — Months before a whistle-blower’s complaint came to light this week, raising alarms over dealings between the Trump administration and Ukraine, the issue was roiling politics in Kiev.

The whistle-blower’s specific allegations remain cloaked in mystery, but they involve at least one instance of President Trump making an unspecified commitment to a foreign leader along with other actions, according to news reports in Washington. At least part of the allegation deals with Ukraine, the reports say.

But for months now in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, the government of the neophyte president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has been grappling with unwelcome political pressure by associates of Mr. Trump. Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, said in an interview Thursday night on CNN that he had pressed Ukrainian officials to pursue investigations into Mr. Trump’s political opponents, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his family.

Mr. Zelensky took office in May, but even before then, Mr. Giuliani has said he sought a meeting with the president to investigate a natural gas company, Burisma, where Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, had served on the board of directors.

Mr. Zelensky’s transition team, not wanting to be seen as taking sides in United States politics, rebuffed the request, a former adviser to Mr. Zelensky, Serhiy Leshchenko, said in an interview.

“It was clear that the Zelensky team doesn’t want to interfere in American politics,” Mr. Leshchenko said. “They were very angry about this issue.”

Mr. Leshchenko and two other Ukrainians, all of them young, Western-leaning politicians and veterans of the 2014 revolution, said in interviews that Mr. Giuliani’s efforts created the impression that the Trump administration’s willingness to back Mr. Zelensky was linked to his government’s readiness to pursue the investigations sought by Mr. Trump’s allies.

When it became clear that he would not be granted an audience with the incoming Ukrainian president, Mr. Giuliani asserted in an interview on Fox News that Mr. Zelensky was being advised by “people who are the enemies” of Mr. Trump, including Mr. Leshchenko.

Mr. Giuliani seemed to be referring to Mr. Leshchenko’s role in helping to draw attention to reports about the “black ledger” book that detailed $12.7 million in off-the-books payments to Paul J. Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, who did extensive work in Ukraine for Viktor F. Yanukovych, the disgraced former president.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159327390_4bdc416a-1487-42c9-93eb-e6a12cce946b-articleLarge Ukraine Pressured on U.S. Political Investigations Zelensky, Volodymyr Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Defense and Military Forces Corruption (Institutional) Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

Rudolph W. Giuliani at a rally for President Trump in Manchester, N.H., last week.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

After Mr. Giuliani’s appearance on Fox News, the incoming chief of staff for Mr. Zelensky told Mr. Leshchenko he would not be considered for a position in the new government, Mr. Leshchenko said.

Ukrainian officials and intermediaries in touch with the Ukrainian government and Mr. Giuliani tried to find some way to mollify Mr. Giuliani and the Trump administration with an informal meeting or a phone call, Mr. Leshchenko said, but Mr. Zelensky vetoed all their proposals.

Eventually, a State Department official, Kurt D. Volker, the American envoy to settlement talks in the Ukraine war, arranged a meeting between Mr. Giuliani and a senior Ukrainian official in Madrid where the investigations were discussed.

The two presidents spoke by phone on July 25. In the call, Mr. Trump told Mr. Zelensky that Ukraine could improve its reputation and “interaction” with the United States by investigating corruption, according to a Ukrainian government summary.

It is not clear whether Mr. Trump specifically linked United States aid to Ukraine to political help in next year’s election in the United States by investigating his political opponents. Several weeks after the call it was reported that the Trump administration had put a hold on $250 million in Pentagon funding.

“For me, it’s crystal clear” that the Trump administration was seeking to trade military aid for Ukraine’s war against Russian-backed separatists for political favors, Daria M. Kaleniuk, the executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center in Kiev, said in an interview.

The hold on the aid was lifted on Sept. 12, after three congressional committees opened investigations into whether the Trump administration had misappropriated foreign policy tools to try to help the president politically. Those investigations were started in response to reporting on Mr. Giuliani’s activities in Ukraine.

Much was at stake in the delayed military assistance. More than 13,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Ukraine’s five-year war with Russian-backed separatists, Europe’s only active military conflict.

Mr. Trump has suggested he would like Attorney General William P. Barr to look into material gathered by the Ukrainian prosecutors. But under a bilateral legal assistance agreement, American law enforcement can only ask for evidence if a criminal investigation is underway in the United States, which is not the case.

“It is a very unfortunate situation for Zelensky,” Svitlana Zalishchuk, a former member of the foreign affairs committee in Ukraine’s Parliament, said in a telephone interview. “Obviously, he wants to build good relations with the American administration. At the same time, he doesn’t want to play American politics.”

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

Trump Calls Whistle-Blower ‘Partisan’ and Defends Conduct With Other Leaders

Westlake Legal Group 20dc-whistleblower-sub-facebookJumbo Trump Calls Whistle-Blower ‘Partisan’ and Defends Conduct With Other Leaders Zelensky, Volodymyr Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J State Department Giuliani, Rudolph W Foreign Aid Espionage and Intelligence Services Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — President Trump dismissed on Friday a whistle-blower complaint said to involve him as a “partisan” attack, but acknowledged that he did not know the identity of the person who lodged it.

Details of the complaint remained murky, but the allegations deal at least in part with Ukraine, two people familiar with it have said. That revelation immediately increased scrutiny on Mr. Trump’s public push for the country’s new government to investigate a political rival, Vice President Joseph R. Biden, and whether it was related to the White House’s hold this summer on a military aid package for Ukraine that it has since released.

Mr. Trump was also playing defense concerns that he was ill-equipped to handle delicate communications as other details of the complaint surfaced, including that it dealt in part with an unspecified commitment he made to an unnamed foreign leader, a person familiar with it has said. Mr. Trump also said that he did not know the leader in question.

“I had a great conversation with numerous people, numerous leaders, and I always look for the conversation that’s going to help the United States the most,” he told reporters in the Oval Office after the arrival of Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia for a state visit.

Mr. Trump derided the complaint as a “ridiculous story” and said his communications with other leaders were “at the highest level always appropriate.” When asked whether he had brought up Mr. Biden during a July phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, Mr. Trump waved away the question but added, “Someone ought to look into Joe Biden.”

The existence of the complaint, submitted by a member of the intelligence community to its inspector general, emerged late last week and exploded into the open late on Wednesday when The Washington Post reported that it concerned Mr. Trump.

And Thursday after the Ukraine link emerged in news reports late Thursday, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani shed more light on it in a rambling CNN appearance, where he first denied, then admitted, to asking the government in Kiev to investigate the Bidens.

Mr. Giuliani has spearheaded a push such an inquiry. He met with Mr. Zelensky’s emissaries this summer in hopes of encouraging his government to ramp up investigations into two matters regarding the Biden family: the question of any overlap with Mr. Biden’s diplomatic dealings with Ukraine, as well as the details of his son’s involvement in a gas company there.

Mr. Giuliani has said he was acting on his own, though his comments on Thursday seemed to draw a closer connection to Mr. Trump. “A President telling a Pres-elect of a well known corrupt country he better investigate corruption that affects US is doing his job,” Mr. Giuliani wrote on Twitter shortly after his appearance on CNN asserting the same thought.

Three Democratic House committee chairmen have requested the transcript of the president’s call with Mr. Zelensky from the State Department and the White House as part of an investigation into whether Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani were misappropriating the American foreign policy apparatus for political gain.

And in recent weeks, congressional aides and administration officials who work on Ukraine issues had become concerned that the White House was delaying the military assistance package for Kiev, according to people involved in an effort to free up the assistance.

Vice President Mike Pence, who recently met with Mr. Zelensky in Poland, denied bringing up Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to investigate Mr. Biden in their conversations, but said Mr. Trump was still making the decision on “the latest tranche of financial support.”

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

For Trump, a Time of Indecision

WASHINGTON — Speaking to a Fox News reporter near the Mexican border on Wednesday, President Trump seemed taken aback when asked if the White House were preparing to roll out gun control proposals the next day, a timeline administration officials had suggested was likely.

“No, we’re not moving on anything,” Mr. Trump said. “We’re going very slowly in one way because we want to make sure it’s right.”

The result is that almost two months after the back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso and in Dayton, Ohio, when Mr. Trump said he wanted to pass “very meaningful background checks,” warnings from gun rights advocates and Republican lawmakers about the political blowback that would result from doing that have led to indecision about what to do and what the time frame is for sharing it.

But idling in neutral is not something the president is doing only on guns. In discussions with his staff, Mr. Trump has made clear he wants to accomplish something big, but seems stymied as to what it might be, according to interviews with a half-dozen aides and advisers. In the meantime, he has remained on the sidelines as divisive issues are debated and is treading water even on possible staff changes he wants to make, for fear of how things “play.”

On the international stage, Mr. Trump has seemed most conflicted about how to respond to Iran’s attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, threatening to order “the ultimate option” one moment, and then warning that getting involved in Middle East wars was a mistake the next.

And the lack of direction is apparent even in the message he delivers at his campaign rallies. With little in the way of policy proposals or a larger vision, he has been telling crowds from New Hampshire to South Carolina, “You have no choice but to vote for me,” and has been promoting his new slogan, “Keep America Great.”

On guns, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has made it clear he will not take any action until the White House does. “If the president is in favor of a number of things that he has discussed openly and publicly, and I know that if we pass it, it will become law, I’ll put it on the floor,” he said this month.

For Mr. Trump, who has been under pressure to act but appears to be aware that any decision he makes comes loaded with its own political risk, part of the holdup is division within his own administration.

When William P. Barr, the attorney general, and Eric Ueland, the White House legislative director, met with Republican lawmakers on Wednesday, distributing a plan to expand background checks, he did so with the blessing of the White House, according to people briefed on what took place. But White House communications officials immediately distanced the president from what they described as a “test run” on a proposal they expected would meet resistance and ultimately convinced Mr. Barr, who some Trump aides view as overly aggressive that the plan was a nonstarter.

“The president has not signed off on anything yet,” said Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman. Of the plan that was being distributed by a White House staff member and a senior administration official, he said, “This is not a White House document, and any suggestion to the contrary is completely false.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159938985_df46e76d-4aaf-42cb-8f68-669a0688b884-articleLarge For Trump, a Time of Indecision United States Politics and Government Trump, Melania Trump, Donald J Mulvaney, Mick McConnell, Mitch gun control E-Cigarettes Barr, William P

Mr. Trump said he would pass “very meaningful background checks” after the mass shooting last month in El Paso.CreditTamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Mr. Trump also appears to be tempering his aggressive vows to impose a ban on all flavored vaping products. In an announcement last week in the Oval Office, with the first lady, Melania Trump, by his side, Mr. Trump declared that “we can’t allow people to get sick, and we can’t have our youth be so affected.”

But days afterward, Mr. Trump sent out a tweet that raised questions about his commitment to a ban that his administration is forging ahead with. “Let’s get counterfeits off the market, and keep young children from Vaping!” Mr. Trump wrote, making the implicit argument that vaping was a good alternative to cigarettes and shifting the focus counterfeit products.

The tweet, Mr. Trump has told aides, came after a discussion with his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, who warned him that the ban was going to be received poorly by his conservative supporters. On Thursday, the White House scheduled and then abruptly postponed a meeting with conservatives concerned about the vaping ban. One person briefed on the process said the agencies that would impose such a ban were still reviewing how to go about it.

Still, to the president’s critics, Mr. Trump’s apparent paralysis on policy issues like guns is indicative of a larger problem in his administration.

“It requires stepping out of entertainment frame and into a political leadership frame,” said Peter Ambler, the executive director of Giffords, an organization tackling gun violence. “He’s not strong enough to forge any sort of compromise that would get anything less than full support from his base. He does not have that degree of political power or savvy, and that’s why he ends up in a perpetual ‘Infrastructure Week.’”

Mr. Trump’s defenders said he was no different from his predecessors, who also found themselves stalled at times in their presidencies. But some political analysts said Mr. Trump’s situation was different.

“There are a lot of balls in the air here, and it’s not quite clear how he’s going to catch them, or where they’re going to land,” said David Axelrod, a former top adviser to President Barack Obama. “On some things, he has strong opinions, but on many things, he doesn’t. If you don’t have some core organizing principles, other than your own political well-being, it’s easy to get lost.”

Despite wanting to give the impression that he is decisive, said one person close to Mr. Trump, part of his holdup is that the president constantly changes his mind and equivocates. While Mr. Trump often worries about how his decisions will play, he is also anxious about other people making decisions for him. Figuring out where Mr. Trump will end up, the person said, is like trying to figure out what number the roulette ball will land on.

The president has few, if any, trusted advisers to assist him. And Mr. Trump has also been left even more isolated without his longtime assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, whom the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, fired last month after she indiscreetly shared details about his family in an off-the-record dinner with a small group of reporters in Bedminster, N.J., according to multiple White House officials.

Ms. Westerhout had been one of the president’s few organizing influences, the officials said. In the weeks since she left, Mr. Trump has gone back and forth on his feelings about Mr. Mulvaney, praising him one day and denouncing him the next, people familiar with the discussions said.

For longtime Republican analysts, Mr. Trump has a single track he should be traveling on, and any distractions that cause him to take his eyes off could be disastrous politically.

“Right now his big challenge is regaining the initiative on the economic narrative,” said David Winston, a Republican pollster who works with the House Republican Conference. “That is still what is concerning the country. That is the core dynamic he’s going to have to deal with leading into this next election.”

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