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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 193)

Trump Had Deal With Scotland Airport That Sent Flight Crews to His Resort

Westlake Legal Group 09dc-hotel-facebookJumbo Trump Had Deal With Scotland Airport That Sent Flight Crews to His Resort United States Politics and Government United States Air Force Turnberry (Scotland Golf Resort) Trump, Donald J Scotland Pence, Mike ireland Hotels and Travel Lodgings Conflicts of Interest

WASHINGTON — Back in 2014, soon after acquiring a golf resort in Scotland, Donald J. Trump entered a partnership with a struggling local airport there to increase air traffic and boost tourism in the region.

The next year, as Mr. Trump began running for president, the Pentagon decided to ramp up its use of that same airport to refuel Air Force flights and gave the local airport authority the job of helping to find accommodations for flight crews who had to remain overnight.

Those two separate arrangements have now intersected in ways that provide the latest evidence of how Mr. Trump’s continued ownership of his business produces regular ethical questions.

On Monday, President Trump sought to tamp down a growing controversy over a stay at the resort by United States military personnel who were traveling through the airport in Scotland in March. First on Twitter and later speaking to reporters at the White House, he said he was not involved in any decision to put an Air Force flight crew at the resort, known as Trump Turnberry.

“I know nothing about an Air Force plane landing at an airport (which I do not own and have nothing to do with) near Turnberry Resort (which I do own) in Scotland, and filling up with fuel, with the crew staying overnight at Turnberry (they have good taste!),” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “NOTHING TO DO WITH ME.”

But documents obtained from Scottish government agencies show that the Trump Organization, and Mr. Trump himself, played a direct role in setting up an arrangement between the Turnberry resort and officials at Glasgow Prestwick Airport.

The government records, released through Scottish Freedom of Information law, show that the Trump organization, starting in 2014, entered a partnership with the airport to try to increase private and commercial air traffic to the region.

As part of that arrangement, the Trump Organization worked to get Trump Turnberry added to a list of hotels that the airport would routinely send aircrews to, even though the Turnberry resort is 20 miles from the airport, farther away than many other hotels, and has higher advertised prices.

Trump Organization executives held a series of meetings with the airport officials to negotiate terms that would lead to more referrals, the documents show.

“As a list of hotels that we use for our business, being honest, Turnberry was always last on the list, based on price,” Jules Matteoni, a manager at Glasgow Prestwick, wrote in June 2015 to executives at Trump Turnberry. “Yesterday’s proposal places Turnberry in a favorable position and gives us food for thought in our placement of crews moving forward.”

Mr. Trump visited Glasgow Prestwick in 2014 and promised to help increase traffic at the airport, although at the time he was largely referring to plans to drive corporate jets there and attract other commercial traffic perhaps carrying golfers on the way to his resort.

“Forging a new partnership between the airport and the Trump Organization will undoubtedly be mutually beneficial,” Iain Cochrane, then the chief executive of the airport, said at the time of Mr. Trump’s visit.

Both the Defense Department and executives at the airport confirmed on Monday that the airport also has a separate arrangement with the United States Air Force. Under that arrangement, the Scottish airport not only refuels American military planes but also helps arrange hotel accommodations for arriving crews, as it does for some civilian and commercial aircraft.

“We provide a full handling service for customers and routinely arrange overnight accommodation for visiting aircrew when requested,” the Prestwick airport said in a statement on Monday. “We use over a dozen local hotels, including Trump Turnberry, which accounts for a small percentage of the total hotel bookings we make.”

It was through the arrangement with the Pentagon that a seven-person United States Air Force crew ended up staying at the Trump Turnberry in March. An Air Force C-17 military transport plane was on its way from Alaska to Kuwait when it stopped at Prestwick overnight to refuel and give the crew a break.

The crew, which consisted of active duty and national guard members from Alaska, was charged $136 per room, which was less expensive than a Marriott property’s rate of $161. And both were under the per diem rate of $166.

“A local agent on contract with the U.S. government assisted with the reservations and indicated that there wasn’t a room available closer to Prestwick airport,” the Air Force said in a statement. A Defense Department official added on Monday that “yes — the Air Force relies on a contracted representative at the Prestwick airport to support our aircrew needs.”

The number of such stops by Air Force planes at Prestwick rose from 180 in 2017 to 257 last year and 259 so far this year. The 259 stops this year included 220 overnight stays. Since October 2017, records show 917 payments for expenses including fuel at the airport worth a total of $17.2 million.

Air Force officials could not say on Monday how many times military crews had been sent to Trump Turnberry, but added that they are now going through vouchers to come up with such a count.

Lt. Gen. Jon T. Thomas, the deputy commander of the Air Force Air Mobility Command, said in an interview on Monday that the rising number of military stopovers at Prestwick was entirely based on operational demands, as the airport is in a convenient location, has 24-hour operations and offers ample aircraft parking, among other advantages. He added that the Air Force has been using Prestwick for stopovers since at least the late 1990s.

But he agreed that the decision to place Air Force crew members at a hotel owned by Mr. Trump’s family had created questions that the Defense Department needed to address. As a result, the Air Force is now reviewing policies on where crews are put up in hotels during international trips.

“Let’s make sure we are considering potential for misperception that could be created by where we billet the aircrews,” he said. “It is a reasonable ask for us to make sure we are being sensitive to misperceptions that could be formed by the American people or Congress or anyone else.”

Mr. Trump disputed that there were any legitimate questions about the stay by the Air Force crew, suggesting that he was so wealthy that the business was inconsequential to him.

“I don’t need to have somebody take a room overnight at a hotel,” Mr. Trump said.

He also dismissed suggestions that he was profiting when Vice President Mike Pence recently spent two nights at the Trump family’s golf resort in Doonbeg, Ireland.

“So what is happening is the following: Every time you find a person landing in an airplane within 500 miles of something I own, Mike Pence, as an example, his family lives in Doonbeg, Ireland,” Mr. Trump said, rejecting these questions as unfounded.

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C.I.A. Informant Extracted From Russia Had Sent Secrets to U.S. for Decades

WASHINGTON — Decades ago, the C.I.A. recruited and carefully cultivated a midlevel Russian official who began rapidly advancing through the governmental ranks. Eventually, American spies struck gold: The longtime source landed an influential position that came with access to the highest level of the Kremlin.

As American officials began to realize that Russia was trying to sabotage the 2016 presidential election, the informant became one of the C.I.A.’s most important — and highly protected — assets. But when intelligence officials revealed the severity of Russia’s election interference with unusual detail later that year, the news media picked up on details about the C.I.A.’s Kremlin sources.

C.I.A. officials worried about safety made the arduous decision in late 2016 to offer to extract the source from Russia. The situation grew more tense when the informant at first refused, citing family concerns — prompting consternation at C.I.A. headquarters and sowing doubts among some American counterintelligence officials about the informant’s trustworthiness. But the C.I.A. pressed again months later after more media inquiries. This time, the informant agreed.

The move brought to an end the career of one of the C.I.A.’s most important sources. It also effectively blinded American intelligence officials to the view from inside Russia as they sought clues about Kremlin interference in the 2018 midterm elections and next year’s presidential contest.

CNN first reported the 2017 extraction on Monday. Other details — including the source’s history with the agency, the initial 2016 exfiltration offer and the cascade of doubts set off by the informant’s subsequent refusal — have not been previously reported. This article is based on interviews in recent months with current and former officials who spoke on the condition that their names not be used discussing classified information.

Officials did not disclose the informant’s identity or new location, both closely held secrets. The person’s life remains in danger, current and former officials said, pointing to Moscow’s attempts last year to assassinate Sergei V. Skripal, a former Russian intelligence official who moved to Britain as part of a high-profile spy exchange in 2010.

The Moscow informant was instrumental to the C.I.A.’s most explosive conclusion about Russia’s interference campaign: that President Vladimir V. Putin ordered and orchestrated it himself. As the American government’s best insight into the thinking of and orders from Mr. Putin, the source was also key to the C.I.A.’s assessment that he affirmatively favored Donald J. Trump’s election and personally ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

The informant, according to people familiar with the matter, was outside of Mr. Putin’s inner circle, but saw him regularly and had access to high-level Kremlin decision-making — easily making the source one of the agency’s most valuable assets.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158391375_76303c50-b51e-4492-b7d5-13cea86097d4-articleLarge C.I.A. Informant Extracted From Russia Had Sent Secrets to U.S. for Decades United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Putin, Vladimir V Presidential Election of 2016 News and News Media Informers Espionage and Intelligence Services Cyberwarfare and Defense Classified Information and State Secrets central intelligence agency

The C.I.A. has long sought to get an informant close to Mr. Putin.CreditPool photo by Mikhail Klimentyev

Handling and running a Moscow-based informant is extremely difficult because of Mr. Putin’s counterintelligence defenses. The Russians are known to make life miserable for foreign spies, following them constantly and at times even roughing them up. Former C.I.A. employees describe the entanglements as “Moscow rules.”

The informant’s information was so delicate, and the need to protect the source’s identity so important, that the C.I.A. director at the time, John O. Brennan, kept information from the operative out of President Barack Obama’s daily brief in 2016. Instead, Mr. Brennan sent separate intelligence reports, many based on the source’s information, in special sealed envelopes to the Oval Office.

The information itself was so important and potentially controversial in 2016 that top C.I.A. officials ordered a full review of the informant’s record, according to people briefed on the matter. Officials reviewed information the source had provided years earlier to ensure that it had proved accurate.

Even though the review passed muster, the source’s rejection of the C.I.A.’s initial offer of exfiltration prompted doubts among some counterintelligence officials. They wondered whether the informant had been turned and had become a double agent, secretly betraying his American handlers. That would almost certainly mean that some of the information the informant provided about the Russian interference campaign or Mr. Putin’s intentions would have been inaccurate.

Some operatives had other reasons to suspect the source could be a double agent, according to two former officials, but they declined to explain further.

Other current and former officials who acknowledged the doubts said they were put to rest when the source agreed to be extracted after the C.I.A. asked a second time.

Leaving behind one’s native country is a weighty decision, said Joseph Augustyn, a former senior C.I.A. officer who once ran the agency’s defector resettlement center. Often, informants have kept their spy work secret from their families.

“It’s a very difficult decision to make, but it is their decision to make,” Mr. Augustyn said. “There have been times when people have not come out when we strongly suggested that they should.”

The decision to extract the informant was driven “in part” because of concerns that Mr. Trump and his administration had mishandled delicate intelligence, CNN reported. But former intelligence officials said there was no public evidence that Mr. Trump directly endangered the source, and other current American officials insisted that media scrutiny of the agency’s sources alone was the impetus for the extraction.

The source’s information was integral to the report from American intelligence agencies on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections.CreditChet Strange for The New York Times

Mr. Trump was first briefed on the intelligence about Russian interference, including material from the prized informant, two weeks before his inauguration. A C.I.A. spokeswoman responding to the CNN report called the assertion that Mr. Trump’s handling of intelligence drove the reported extraction “misguided speculation.”

Some former intelligence officials said the president’s closed-door meetings with Mr. Putin and other Russian officials, along with Twitter posts about delicate intelligence matters, have sown concern among overseas sources.

“We have a president who, unlike any other president in modern history, is willing to use sensitive, classified intelligence however he sees fit,” said Steven L. Hall, a former C.I.A. official who led the agency’s Russia operations. “He does it in front of our adversaries. He does it by tweet. We are in uncharted waters.”

But the government had indicated that the source existed long before Mr. Trump took office, first in formally accusing Russia of interference in October 2016 and then when intelligence officials declassified parts of their assessment about the interference campaign for public release in January 2017. News agencies, including NBC, began reporting around that time that Mr. Putin’s involvement in the election sabotage and on the C.I.A.’s possible sources for the assessment.

The following month, The Washington Post reported that the C.I.A.’s conclusions relied on “sourcing deep inside the Russian government.” And The New York Times later published articles disclosing details about the source.

The news reporting in the spring and summer of 2017 convinced United States government officials that they had to update and revive their extraction plan, according to people familiar the matter.

The extraction ensured the informant was in a safer position and rewarded for a long career in service to the United States. But it came at a great cost: It left the C.I.A. struggling to understand what was going on inside the highest ranks of the Kremlin.

The agency has long struggled to recruit sources close to Mr. Putin, a former intelligence officer himself wary of C.I.A. operations. He confides in only a small group of people and has rigorous operational security, eschewing electronic communications.

James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence who left office at the end of the Obama administration, said he had no knowledge of the decision to conduct an extraction. But, he said, there was little doubt that revelations about the extraction “is going to make recruiting assets in Russia even more difficult than it already is.”

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Trump Declares Afghan Peace Talks With Taliban ‘Dead’

Westlake Legal Group 09dc-trumpafghan1-facebookJumbo Trump Declares Afghan Peace Talks With Taliban ‘Dead’ United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Taliban September 11 (2001) Camp David (Md) Afghanistan War (2001- ) Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — President Trump declared that peace talks with the Taliban were “dead, as far as I’m concerned,” saying he called off a meeting at Camp David after the militant group in Afghanistan killed 12 people, including one American soldier.

Speaking to reporters on Monday as he left for a political rally in North Carolina, Mr. Trump said he did not intend to try to revive efforts to reach a peace accord with the Taliban that could accelerate the removal of American troops from the country.

“They are dead — they are dead. As far as I’m concerned they are dead,” Mr. Trump said of peace talks, accusing the group of the attack that killed an American soldier from Puerto Rico. “You can’t do that. You can’t do that with me. So they are dead as far as I’m concerned.”

The president’s declaration was the latest evidence of difficulty in the nine-month effort to negotiate an exit of American troops from Afghanistan after America’s longest war, which began after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

But it was unclear whether Mr. Trump’s angry denunciation would mean a permanent end to the talks. The president has demonstrated a willingness to swing from one extreme to the other in the conduct of foreign policy, for example alternately condemning and then praising Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea.

The long-running effort to negotiate peace in Afghanistan has split the administration, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo supporting it, but with John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, opposing the talks.

Mr. Trump had promised during his presidential campaign to withdraw American troops from endless wars around the world, and has pushed to bring soldiers home from Afghanistan and Iraq. The president defended the idea of finalizing a peace agreement at Camp David, saying the famous presidential retreat had been used before to host people who “would not have been considered politically correct.”

But he said that it was his decision — and his alone — to cancel the meeting after word of the Taliban attacks.

“It was my idea, and it was my idea to terminate it,” Mr. Trump said. “I didn’t discuss it with anybody else. When I heard, very simply, that they killed one of our soldiers and 12 other innocent people, I said ‘There is no way I’m meeting on that basis.’”

To underscore that the peace talks with the Taliban were off, Mr. Trump asserted, without providing any evidence, that the United States military had “hit the Taliban harder in the last four days than they’ve been hit in over 10 years. So that’s the way it is.”

Today, though, the American military presence in Afghanistan is far lower than it has been in prior years, when tens of thousands of troops from the United States were engaged in much more aggressive and frequent engagement with the Taliban.

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Afghans Glad Trump Stopped Taliban Talks, Even if They Doubt His Explanation

KABUL, Afghanistan — For several days after Abdul Sami was sent tumbling and knocked unconscious by a powerful Taliban car bombing last week, he had no idea that an American soldier was among the 12 people killed.

Perched on a hospital bed on Monday, his legs and abdomen wrapped in bandages, Mr. Sami just shrugged when told that the soldier’s death had been cited by President Trump as the basis for his decision to abort peace talks with the Taliban.

“Tell Mr. Trump I’m very, very tired and I don’t feel like keeping up with these peace talks anyway,” said Mr. Sami, 23, a travel agency employee. “There is no point in trying for peace when the Taliban does such terrible things to innocent people.”

For many Afghans, the abrupt suspension of talks after 10 months of negotiations was not entirely unexpected. What jarred them was the notion that a single attack, and the death of one American, could really have upended the talks when the deaths of thousands of Afghans this year — not to mention at least 15 other American soldiers — had not.

That was the question on the mind of Ghulam Mohammad, 35, a laborer wounded in the bombing that killed the American, Army Sgt. First Class Elis Barreto Ortiz. His wiry body was bent in pain Monday from a hole ripped in his stomach by shrapnel.

“It’s always the poor people who are stepped on and killed,” Mr. Mohammad said. “Nobody cares about us — not Trump, not our own government.”

The doctor who treated him also was skeptical.

“This is all a political game. Why talk for ten months and then suddenly stop — and just because an American soldier was killed?” asked the doctor, who was not authorized to speak with reporters.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160493811_0d337d79-dd81-4365-a748-0e8dd8469922-articleLarge Afghans Glad Trump Stopped Taliban Talks, Even if They Doubt His Explanation Trump, Donald J Terrorism Taliban Afghanistan War (2001- ) Afghanistan

“It was never in the interests of the Afghan people,” Shahla Farid, a law professor at Kabul University. said of the American talks with the Taliban.CreditKiana Hayeri for The New York Times

“I’d like to ask Mr. Trump why he didn’t stop the peace talks after all those attacks when the Taliban killed so many civilians,” the doctor said.

There had been deep skepticism in Afghanistan that the Taliban would ever agree to share power, cut ties with terrorist groups or stop killing civilians — especially after the group ramped up suicide attacks in urban centers during the talks.

In the countryside, Afghan forces supported by American advisers and air power also have intensified operations since last fall. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that more than a thousand Taliban fighters had been killed over the previous 10 days.

Since negotiations between the United States and the Taliban began last fall, many Afghans had lived in a state of suspended animation, between hope and dread. There was hope that decades of war might finally come to a close, but dread that under a peace deal the Taliban would return to power and reimpose their brutal repression.

Many Afghans also have expressed concern that the United States, eager to end nearly 18 years of war in Afghanistan, would withdraw its 14,000 troops abruptly. Some fear such a move would precipitate the kind of mayhem that nearly destroyed the country and brought the Taliban to power in 1996.

The suspension of talks between the United States and the Taliban appeared to open the way for proceeding with a presidential election Sept. 28. The election had been in doubt because of concerns that it would interfere with talks between the Afghan government an the Taliban, which had been expected to begin as early as this month as part of the proposed agreement scuttled by Mr. Trump.

President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, who had fumed while his government was excluded from the Taliban talks with the United States, is running for a second five-year term. The Taliban, which fiercely opposes elections, has attacked polling stations in previous campaigns.

Violence continued unabated Monday. The Taliban besieged parts of three northern provinces, with civilians killed in the fighting along with government security forces and Taliban fighters.

Afghan security forces were seen in large numbers on the streets of Kabul on Monday.CreditJim Huylebroek for The New York Times

In Kabul, gunmen in trucks raced through the streets, firing in the air to commemorate the anniversary of Al Qaeda’s assassination of a famous politician and military commander, the Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Masood, two days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Some clashed with security forces.

The police said one security force member and a civilian bystander were killed. A roadside bomb wounded three Masood supporters.

Speaking at a ceremony honoring the slain commander, Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan’s chief executive, said, “Today, we are as far from peace as we were years ago,” an Afghan news channel reported.

In a video posted on Facebook, several pro-Masood gunmen were shown firing pistols at a billboard of Mr. Ghani, a political foe of many followers of Mr. Masood from the northern province of Panjshir.

For many Afghans, such scenes only deepened a sense of futility and despair born of exhaustion from the violence that intensified on both sides during the 10 months of talks between the Americans and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.

“It was never in the interests of the Afghan people,” Shahla Farid, a law professor at Kabul University and a women’s rights activist, said of the proposed deal for an American withdrawal. “The Afghan people who are the main victims of this war were kept in the dark.”

For many Afghan women, who were confined to their homes by the Taliban and forced to cover themselves in public, the halt to negotiations was a blessing. Women interviewed in recent months have said the rights and freedoms won since the American-led invasion toppled the Taliban in 2001 would be threatened by any deal that returned the Taliban to power.

Ms. Farid was so disillusioned by the proposed deal, she said, that she had planned to take nearly 500 burqas to the United States for women to wear in protest if the agreement were consummated.

Momin Rasooli, 18,suffered a chest wound suffered in a Taliban suicide bombing. Relatives visited him in the hospital.CreditKiana Hayeri for The New York Times

She said she believed Mr. Trump had seized on the American soldier’s death as a pretext to halt the proposed agreement, in part, over Taliban intransigence and concern that the group would not honor its commitments once American troops withdrew.

If not for public complaints about the proposed deal from women and other skeptics, a flawed agreement might have been finalized, said Mary Akrami, head of the Afghan Women’s Network, a coalition of rights groups. She said the deal would have legitimized the Taliban.

Ms. Akrami said she doubted Mr. Trump’s contention that he called off negotiations over the death of a single American soldier. If that explanation were true, she said, “it would be a disrespect to all Afghans, to all the victims who lost their lives.”

On social media Monday, many Afghans mocked the American special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, who said last week that a peace agreement had been reached “in principle,” pending approval by Mr. Trump.

“Khalilzad had a miscarriage in the ninth month,” one Facebook post read.

In the north, several civilians cut off by Taliban assaults but reached by telephone expressed relief that the talks were off.

When they heard the news, “people were happy, but still worried that this was another plot to hand us over to the Taliban,” said Malalai Saad, 46, a women’s rights activist in Kunduz.

Najmuddin Akrami, 65, a carpenter in Kunduz, said that regardless of any peace deal, the Taliban were getting stronger while “America is trying to play any game or trick to find a way to leave Afghanistan.”

At the hospital in Kabul, Momin Rasooli, 18, sat shirtless with a bandage covering a chest wound suffered in a Taliban suicide bombing on Sept. 2. His brother, Jawad Jawed, 25, tried to console him.

Mr. Jawed said he never believed the American talks with the Taliban would produce a real peace.

“As long as there is an Afghanistan, there will always be fighting and death,” he said. “It’s all I’ve known all my life.”

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Trump Says He Did Not Know About Service Members Staying at His Resort in Scotland

Westlake Legal Group 09dc-hotel-facebookJumbo Trump Says He Did Not Know About Service Members Staying at His Resort in Scotland United States Politics and Government United States Air Force Turnberry (Scotland Golf Resort) Trump, Donald J Scotland Pence, Mike ireland Hotels and Travel Lodgings Conflicts of Interest

WASHINGTON — President Trump said Monday that he knew “nothing about an Air Force plane landing at an airport” in Scotland and its crew then staying at the Trump family’s nearby Turnberry golf resort, addressing for the first time a growing controversy over the use by the Air Force of his resort there for overnight stays by military personnel.

The tweet by Mr. Trump came after the Air Force announced it is reviewing the procedures it uses to place military personnel in hotels, following questions about the matter by House investigators.

“I know nothing about an Air Force plane landing at an airport (which I do not own and have nothing to do with) near Turnberry Resort (which I do own) in Scotland, and filling up with fuel, with the crew staying overnight at Turnberry (they have good taste!),” Mr. Trump wrote in this tweet. “NOTHING TO DO WITH ME.”

In a separate tweet, Mr. Trump also disputed the suggestion that he had urged Vice President Mike Pence to stay at a second family resort, in this case, the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel in Doonbeg, Ireland.

“I had nothing to do with the decision of our great @VP Mike Pence to stay overnight at one of the Trump owned resorts in Doonbeg, Ireland,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Mike’s family has lived in Doonbeg for many years, and he thought that during his very busy European visit, he would stop and see his family!”

The series of tweets reflects the persistent controversies that are arising as a result of questions about potential conflicts of interest as Mr. Trump continues to own a collection of hotels, resorts and golf courses that are getting millions of dollars worth of business from the United States government, political candidates, lobbyists and others, as well as his own political campaign.

On Thursday, Mr. Pence is scheduled to appear at a fund-raising event for a conservative women’s group at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, continuing the pattern of visits by administration officials at Trump properties.

Air Force planes have increasingly used the Glasgow Prestwick Airport for refueling stops, which often include overnight stays. The number of such stops rose from 180 in 2017, to 257 as of last year and 259 so far this year. The 259 stops this year included 220 overnight stays. Since October 2017, records show 917 payments for expenses including fuel at the airport worth a total of $17.2 million.

In March, seven crew members flying on a C-17 military transport plane that was on its way to Kuwait from Alaska stayed overnight at the Trump Turnberry resort.

The crew was placed at the Trump property when a local agent on contract with the United States government “indicated that there wasn’t a room available closer,” the Air Force said in a statement. The Trump property charged the Air Force $136 per room, which the Air Force said was less expensive than a Marriott property, which had a rate of $161, and both were under the allowable maximum of $166.

But on Sunday, in a follow-up statement, the Air Force conceded that the decision might have created a public perception issue.

“While initial reviews indicate that aircrew transiting through Scotland adhered to all guidance and procedures, we understand that U.S. service members lodging at higher-end accommodations, even if within government rates, might be allowable but not advisable,” said the statement issued on Sunday evening by Brig. Gen. Edward W. Thomas Jr., the chief Air Force spokesman. “Therefore, we are reviewing all associated guidance.”

The issue, the Air Force said, is that even if the “aircrews follow all directives and guidance, we must still be considerate of perceptions of not being good stewards of taxpayer funds that might be created through the appearance of aircrew staying at such locations.”

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How Trump’s Plan to Secretly Meet With the Taliban Came Together, and Fell Apart

WASHINGTON — On the Friday before Labor Day, President Trump gathered top advisers in the Situation Room to consider what could be among the profound decisions of his presidency — a peace plan with the Taliban after 18 years of grinding, bloody war in Afghanistan.

The meeting brought to a head a bristling conflict dividing his foreign policy team for months, pitting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo against John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, in a battle for the competing instincts of a president who relishes tough talk but promised to wind down America’s endless wars.

As they discussed terms of the agreement, Mr. Pompeo and his negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, made the case that it would enable Mr. Trump to begin withdrawing troops while securing a commitment from the Taliban not to shelter terrorists. Mr. Bolton, beaming in by video from Warsaw, where he was visiting, argued that Mr. Trump could keep his campaign pledge to draw down forces without getting in bed with killers swathed in American blood.

Mr. Trump made no decision on the spot, but at some point during the meeting the idea was floated to finalize the negotiations in Washington, a prospect that appealed to the president’s penchant for dramatic spectacle. Mr. Trump suggested that he would even invite President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, whose government has not been party to the talks, and get him to sign on.

In the days that followed, Mr. Trump embraced an even more remarkable idea — he would not only bring the Taliban to Washington, but to Camp David, the crown jewel of the American presidency. The leaders of a rugged militant organization deemed terrorists by the United States would be hosted in the mountain getaway used for presidents, prime ministers and kings just three days before the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that led to the Afghan war.

Thus began an extraordinary few days of ad hoc diplomatic wrangling that upended the talks in a weekend Twitter storm. On display were all of the characteristic traits of the Trump presidency — the yearning ambition for the grand prize, the endless quest to achieve what no other president has achieved, the willingness to defy convention, the volatile mood swings and the tribal infighting.

What would have been one of the biggest headline-grabbing moments of his tenure was put together on the spur of the moment and then canceled on the spur of the moment. The usual National Security Council process was dispensed with; only a small circle of advisers was even clued in.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_156790473_7a708a42-ed75-4941-bd86-0b2350694951-articleLarge How Trump’s Plan to Secretly Meet With the Taliban Came Together, and Fell Apart United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Terrorism Taliban Pompeo, Mike Khalilzad, Zalmay Ghani, Ashraf Bolton, John R Afghanistan War (2001- ) Afghanistan

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, had differing views on the peace plan.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

And even after it fell apart, Mr. Trump took it upon himself to disclose the secret machinations in a string of Saturday night Twitter messages that surprised not only many national security officials across the government but even some of the few who were part of the deliberations.

For Mr. Trump, ending the war in Afghanistan has been a focus since taking office, a signature accomplishment that could help him win re-election next year. For nearly a year, Mr. Khalilzad, a former ambassador to Afghanistan, has engaged in talks with the Taliban to make that happen.

In recent weeks, it had been increasingly clear that the United States and the Taliban, after nine rounds of painstaking negotiations in Doha, Qatar, had ironed out most of the issues between them. Mr. Khalilzad declared that the agreement document had been finalized “in principle.”

The deal called for a gradual withdrawal of the remaining 14,000 American troops over 16 months, with about 5,000 of them leaving within 135 days. In return, the Taliban would provide counterterrorism assurances to ease American fears of a repeat of Sept. 11 from Afghan soil.

But the negotiations left out Afghanistan’s government, and Mr. Ghani’s officials criticized it for lacking measures that would ensure stability. At home, Mr. Trump was cautioned by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina; Gen. Jack Keane, a retired Army vice chief of staff; and Gen. David Petraeus, the retired Afghanistan and Iraq commander.

Mr. Bolton was the leading voice against the deal on the inside as Mr. Pompeo’s allies increasingly tried to isolate the national security adviser. Mr. Bolton argued that Mr. Trump could pull out 5,000 troops while still leaving enough forces to assist counterterrorism efforts without a deal with the Taliban, a group he argued could not be trusted.

In an interview on Sunday, Mr. Graham said he shared Mr. Trump’s desire “to end the war in Afghanistan between the Taliban and the Afghan people.” But he added that no deal could include withdrawing all American forces or trusting the Taliban to confront Al Qaeda or the Islamic State.

“My advice to the administration is, let’s focus on trying to shore up our relationship with Pakistan,” he said, adding that it should include a free-trade agreement. He said that the Taliban must be prevented from believing it can seek safe harbor in Pakistan.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the top American negotiator, had declared that an agreement document between the United States and the Taliban had been finalized “in principle.”CreditJim Huylebroek for The New York Times

When Mr. Khalilzad left Doha after the last round of talks concluded on Sept. 1, two days after the Situation Room meeting, he and his Taliban counterparts had finalized the text of the agreement, according to people involved. Leaders of both teams initialed their copies and handed them to their Qatari hosts.

Before the end of the meeting, Mr. Khalilzad brought up the idea of a Taliban trip to Washington. Taliban leaders said they accepted the idea — as long as the visit came after the deal was announced.

That would become a fundamental dividing point contributing to the collapse of the talks. Mr. Trump did not want the Camp David meeting to be a celebration of the deal; after staying out of the details of what has been a delicate effort in a complicated region, Mr. Trump suddenly wanted to be the dealmaker who would put the final parts together himself, or at least be perceived to be.

The idea was for Mr. Trump to hold separate meetings at Camp David with the Taliban and with Mr. Ghani, leading to a more global resolution.

Even as talks were wrapping up in Doha, the American ambassador to Afghanistan arrived at the presidential palace in Kabul with the proposal of a Camp David meeting, Afghan officials said.

Details were sorted out between the Afghan president and the American side when Mr. Khalilzad arrived from Doha and held four rounds of talks with Mr. Ghani. A plane would arrive to take Mr. Ghani and his delegation to the United States, according to the initial plan.

Mr. Ghani’s ministers knew that a Taliban delegation would most likely be arriving, too, but were unclear on the details. They had three priorities: the fate of presidential elections scheduled for Sept. 28, how the peace talks would move forward to include them and how they would bolster security forces to reduce the cost for the United States.

As a sign of how important the event was for the United States, Mr. Ghani got the Americans to agree to include on the trip his national security adviser, Hamdullah Mohib, who had essentially been kept out of the American meetings after lashing out at the peace process.

Members of the Taliban delegation in Doha, Qatar, in July. Taliban leaders said the Americans were tricking them into political suicide with the Camp David meeting.CreditKarim Jaafar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

For months, the Americans had essentially held Mr. Ghani’s re-election campaign hostage to a deal that they projected was imminent. Mr. Ghani was reduced to pretending that the September elections were still on by holding a couple of daily “virtual rallies” at which he addressed small gatherings around the country via video chat. If the American-Taliban deal were finalized, it would most likely push the elections back.

If Mr. Ghani had refused the Camp David meeting, he would have been called a spoiler of peace, a senior Afghan official said. So he took his chances; it was to be hosted by an ally on friendly turf, and it could help clarify whether there would be a peace deal, and whether the elections would proceed.

But Taliban leaders, having refused to negotiate directly with the Afghan government until after the group had an agreement with the United States, said the Americans were tricking them into political suicide.

A senior Taliban leader said on Sunday that Mr. Trump was fooling himself to think he could bring the Taliban and Mr. Ghani together at Camp David “because we do not recognize the stooge government” in Kabul.

The Americans were also rushing to finalize outstanding issues in the days before the last-minute proposed Camp David meeting. Among the most significant was a disagreement over the release of thousands of Taliban prisoners in Afghan prisons.

Afghan officials said the Americans had taken the liberty of negotiating on their behalf by agreeing to the release. Mr. Ghani’s government found that unacceptable, saying it would agree only if the Taliban reciprocated with an extensive cease-fire — something the insurgents are reluctant to do at this stage of the talks since violence is their main leverage.

The final negotiations occurred during a period of intensifying bloodshed. In response to Taliban attacks, American negotiators made clear they were prioritizing the agreement, not looking to boycott the talks. Their negotiations were undergirded by increasing battlefield pressure by the American military.

When Mr. Khalilzad and Gen. Austin S. Miller, the American commander in Afghanistan, returned to Doha on Thursday, it was to finalize technical appendices to the main text. The Taliban negotiators got no sense that anything was amiss and later posted on Twitter that the atmosphere was good.

President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan. His government has not been party to the talks.CreditJim Huylebroek for The New York Times

But the same day, aides told Mr. Trump about a suicide car bomb attack that killed an American soldier and 11 others. At this point, according to senior officials, Mr. Trump and his team were unified. He could not host Taliban leaders at Camp David just days after an American was killed.

“This is off; we can’t do this,” Mr. Trump told his aides, according to one official.

No announcement was made by the White House. In Kabul on Friday, Mr. Ghani’s officials told reporters that he planned to travel to the United States, and then hours later said he would not go.

But little was made of that at the time. The endgame of the talks seemed near, if not the timetable. Only then came Mr. Trump’s tweets on Saturday night disclosing that he had invited the Taliban and Mr. Ghani to Camp David — but called it off, citing the bombing.

The tweets took many in the administration by surprise; there was no reason for Mr. Trump to reveal what had happened, several officials said, especially since he has not given up on the idea of a negotiated settlement.

Hours later, Mr. Pompeo visited Dover Air Force Base for the arrival of the coffin of Army Sgt. First Class Elis Angel Barreto Ortiz, who was killed in the Kabul bombing. His presence was unusual for a secretary of state; the return of fallen American soldiers would be more traditionally attended by presidents or defense secretaries.

On Sunday, after their negotiating team held an emergency internal meeting in Doha, the Taliban said Mr. Trump’s decision to cancel the talks would hurt only the United States. The Afghan government blamed the Taliban, saying that the violence was making the peace process difficult.

American officials stressed that the peace drive was not over and the deal had been neither rejected nor accepted. With Mr. Trump especially, anything can happen.

But for the moment, at least, all sides seemed certain of one thing: Violence will now intensify. The war will go on.

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After Trump Calls Off Talks, Afghanistan Braces for Violence

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s decision to break off peace talks with the Taliban, at least for now, left Afghanistan bracing for a bloody prelude to national elections this month, while the administration declined on Sunday to rule out a withdrawal of American troops without a peace accord.

In a round of television interviews, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed an attack by the Taliban for the cancellation of talks at Camp David this weekend that the administration had expected would lead to the signing of a peace agreement.

Mr. Pompeo said that the Taliban had “tried to gain negotiating advantage by conducting terror attacks inside the country,’’ resulting in the death of an American soldier in Kabul. “We’re going to walk away from a deal if others try to use violence to achieve better ends in a negotiation,’’ he said.

But after abruptly scrapping a diplomatic process that appeared to be inching toward a conclusion, it was unclear where Mr. Trump would go from here.

The administration continued to face questions about what led to Mr. Trump’s sudden renunciation of the talks, including whether the sticking point was his desire to seal the deal himself in a dramatic summit meeting at Camp David.

Mr. Pompeo and other administration officials left open the door to a resumption of negotiations, and so did the Taliban. But any new talks may not happen for several months, with each side feeling that an agreement that seemed within reach was sabotaged by the other, Afghan officials said.

And there was a consensus in Kabul and Washington that the sudden derailment of what had seemed like a carefully orchestrated effort for a deal could lead to a surge of violence before the Sept. 28 election. The Taliban have opposed holding the election, which President Ashraf Ghani is seen as a front-runner.

Despite a series of car bombings and attacks, there has been a sense that the Taliban have been hanging back, hoping a deal would delay the election. Now, the Taliban have more of an incentive to disrupt the election, and make clear that after an 18-year war they remain a potent political and military player.

Mr. Trump’s aides said they were mystified about whether the president had a new strategy for fulfilling his promise to withdraw American troops or preventing escalating violence.

There were also questions about the accuracy of his assertion that the Taliban had accepted his invitation to Camp David on Sunday, and that he was the one calling off the meeting.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160419840_17e888ce-f72a-40ea-a2cd-b45ae3d46026-articleLarge After Trump Calls Off Talks, Afghanistan Braces for Violence Trump, Donald J Taliban September 11 (2001) Pompeo, Mike Khalilzad, Zalmay Ghani, Ashraf Afghanistan War (2001- ) Afghanistan

The remains of the American soldier killed in the Taliban attack, Sgt. First Class Elis Barreto Ortiz, at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Saturday.CreditCliff Owen/Associated Press

Taliban negotiators said Sunday that they had agreed to come to the United States only after a deal was announced and only to meet with the American side, suggesting that Mr. Trump may have canceled a meeting that the key participants were not planning to attend.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo cited the Taliban attack that killed an American soldier on Thursday as the reason for calling off the talks.

But the death of the soldier, Sgt. First Class Elis Barreto Ortiz, was the 16th this year, one of many since talks with the Taliban began nearly a year ago. And Mr. Pompeo undercut the argument by acknowledging that the United States, too, has continued to fight, claiming “over a thousand Taliban killed in just the last 10 days alone.”

On Sunday, some of Mr. Trump’s fellow Republicans expressed outrage at the thought of the Taliban coming to Camp David, where President George W. Bush gathered his war cabinet days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to plan a military campaign against Afghanistan to wipe out Al Qaeda and kill its leader, Osama bin Laden.

Representative Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, said “no member of the Taliban should set foot’’ in the presidential retreat. “The Taliban still harbors Al Qaeda,” she said on Twitter. “The President is right to end the talks.”

Representative Adam Kinzinger, another Republican and a former Air Force officer who served in Afghanistan, said that “never should leaders of a terrorist organization that hasn’t renounced 9/11 and continues in evil be allowed in our great country. NEVER.”

Several pointed to a tweet Mr. Trump himself had written in 2012, criticizing President Barack Obama for “negotiating with our sworn enemy, the Taliban, who facilitated 9/11.”

Mr. Pompeo and other officials offered the same argument on Sunday that Mr. Obama offered seven years ago: To achieve peace, you have to talk with your enemies.

That is a view, though, that has encountered resistance by some in the administration, including John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, who opposed the emerging pact and argued internally that Mr. Trump could keep his campaign pledge to draw down forces without a signing a deal with the Taliban, a group he said could not be trusted.

Mr. Pompeo said that the president had not yet decided whether to go ahead with a reduction in the forces now in Afghanistan.

President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan during Independence Day celebrations in Kabul last month.CreditAfghan Presidential Palace

Mr. Trump has vowed to reduce the number of American forces there, saying two weeks ago that their numbers would come down to 8,600, from a current level of about 14,000. That is far below the 100,000 troops that were based there during the height of the war.

Mr. Trump has never set conditions on his decision to withdraw — a step many experts see as a mistake, since it has encouraged the Taliban to simply wait out the Americans, guessing they might begin a withdrawal with no agreement.

But Mr. Pompeo laid out two conditions for a withdrawal on Sunday: that violence be reduced and that another terrorist attack on the United States from Afghanistan never be permitted. “We’re not going to withdraw our forces without making sure we achieve President Trump’s twin objectives,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The attempt to broker a deal came at one of the most precarious moments in Afghanistan since 2001.

Many of the hopes that President Bush once had for a transformation of Afghanistan have long since been abandoned; with the resurgence of the Taliban, the early efforts to assure the education of girls, protect the rights of women and transform villages with agricultural technology and American aid have faded.

But Afghans saw in the negotiations a chance to regain some sense of control, by engineering some kind of political accommodation between Mr. Ghani’s government and the Taliban, a form of power-sharing that a decade ago would have been unthinkable.

In an interview on Thursday at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, the departing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, argued that it had been clear for years that the only lasting peace would come from some kind of political process between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

He said that his idea of a successful negotiation would be one that “reduces the level of violence” and sets up an intra-Afghan dialogue.

That was the goal of the negotiations that Zalmay Khalilzad, the special envoy for Afghanistan, had been painstakingly negotiating in Doha, Qatar, for nearly a year, and seemed on the verge of achieving. On Thursday, Mr. Khalilzad was in Doha again with Gen. Austin Miller, the commander of the United States forces in Afghanistan, who has also said that he believes the battle between the Afghan government and the Taliban would never be resolved militarily.

“The fight will go until a political settlement,’’ he said.

At the core of the tentative agreement between the United States and the Taliban were assurances from the group that it would not support international terrorist groups, and that Afghan soil would not be used for attacks against the West.

“We had the Taliban’s commitment to do that,” Mr. Pompeo said on Fox News on Sunday. “We had their commitment to break from Al Qaeda, publicly. And they would obviously have to deliver on that commitment. So we’ve made real progress, but in the end the Taliban overreached.”

Soldiers near the United States Embassy in Kabul on Thursday after a Taliban attack that killed 12 people, including an American soldier.CreditJim Huylebroek for The New York Times

American and Western officials said that until Mr. Trump’s announcement on Saturday, they expected direct talks would start between the Taliban and other Afghans, including the government. In return, Mr. Trump would announce a withdrawal schedule for American troops.

With the negotiations overshadowing electoral politics, the country had two national processes — peace talks and presidential elections — in a race with each other, each casting doubt over the prospects for the other.

Mr. Ghani, a 70-year-old former anthropologist and World Bank official who returned to Afghanistan after the American-led invasion that ousted the Taliban government, has been insistent that the election go ahead at any cost. He believes that his re-election would give him leverage with the Taliban, who have threatened violence if they do not regain significant political power.

Yet the Afghan government was not a party to the talks, and only recently did the United States government start briefing Mr. Ghani about the details, his aides said. Even then, American officials would not leave him a copy of the draft agreement governing the fate of his country.

Mr. Ghani has reached out to the Taliban at various moments, offering passports to Taliban negotiators and urging them to engage in peace talks. But the Taliban has refused to recognize his government as legitimate, and Mr. Ghani has questioned whether, even if the United States announced a peace deal, the Taliban would negotiate an acceptable accord with any elected government.

But he was apparently willing to travel to Washington, at Mr. Trump’s behest, and attend the Camp David talks. And he was planning to do so, his aides said, though wary of not knowing what would transpire there.

He was also deeply worried about Mr. Trump’s insistence on reducing American forces, fearing a rushed process that could bring about a repeat of the chaos that gripped the country a generation ago when Soviet troops left Afghanistan, paving the way for the Taliban and, ultimately, Al Qaeda.

Mr. Pompeo did little on Sunday to alleviate his concern. Asked by Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation” if 14,000 American troops in Afghanistan was “where it stays for the foreseeable future,” Mr. Pompeo hedged.

“I can’t answer that question,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s the president’s decision.”

Military and intelligence officials say that the American forces are chiefly there to provide intelligence to the Afghans, who are shouldering most of the fighting. General Dunford said Thursday that the planned reduction to 8,600 troops was based on a Pentagon estimate of how many it would take to assure that terrorist groups were not exploiting the power vacuum in the country.

Mr. Trump, like Mr. Obama before him, has made no secret of his desire to bring American troops home from the country’s longest war. But some experts believe Mr. Trump was rushing the diplomatic process for his own political purposes, to make good on a 2016 campaign promise.

“In the short term, the disruption is beneficial — we were demoralized by the process, we were in complete uncertainty,” said Abdul Waheed Wafa, the director of Afghanistan Center at Kabul University.

“The Taliban were on the one hand blowing things up here and on the other hand gaining advantage in the talks in Doha,’’ he said. “I don’t think either side has shut the door completely. Until they resume again, the Taliban will throw everything they have — with explosions, and with even more pressure on cities under siege. And the U.S. military can pressure back too.”

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Taliban Failed to Live Up to ‘Commitments’ in Peace Talks, Pompeo Says

Westlake Legal Group 08diplo-promo-facebookJumbo-v2 Taliban Failed to Live Up to ‘Commitments’ in Peace Talks, Pompeo Says Trump, Donald J Taliban September 11 (2001) Pompeo, Mike Khalilzad, Zalmay Ghani, Ashraf Afghanistan War (2001- ) Afghanistan

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that President Trump ended peace negotiations with the Taliban because the group had “failed to live up to a series of commitments they had made,” but he left open the possibility that American troops could be withdrawn from Afghanistan even in the absence of a deal.

“The Taliban overreached,” he said, apparently referring to the escalation of car bombings and other violence around Kabul as negotiators closed in on an agreement. Mr. Trump said a peace deal was supposed to have been sealed at a meeting at Camp David attended by Taliban leaders and then, separately, with Ashraf Ghani, the president of Afghanistan.

A car bombing on Thursday killed one American soldier, which Mr. Trump said in a series of tweets Saturday night had led to his decision. “President Trump said, ‘Enough,’” Mr. Pompeo said on ABC’s “This Week.” The lead American negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, had been recalled to the United States, Mr. Pompeo added.

Despite Mr. Trump’s tweet, it was not clear that the Taliban leadership had ever agreed to come to the president’s official Camp David retreat in Maryland for the meeting, a hastily organized effort by Mr. Trump to replicate past peace deals and declare that America’s longest war was being ended. The timing certainly would have been awkward — it was scheduled to take place just days before the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, which were planned on Afghan soil by terrorists under Taliban protection.

Comments Mr. Pompeo made in a separate appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” made it clear that even if the Taliban had shown up, the outcome was not certain. The deal would have committed the Taliban to reducing violence, but not ending violence. And it would have incorporated an agreement for the Taliban to then negotiate with Mr. Ghani’s government over the political future of the country.

[Taliban talks hit a wall over deeper disagreements, officials say.]

The attempt to broker a deal came at what may be among the most precarious moments in Afghanistan since 2001. Mr. Trump has vowed to reduce the number of American forces there, saying two weeks ago that their numbers would come down to 8,600, from a current level of about 14,000. That is far below the 100,000 troops that were based there during the height of the war. But Mr. Trump has never set conditions on his decision to withdraw — a step many experts see as a mistake, since it has encouraged the Taliban to simply wait out the Americans, guessing they might begin a withdrawal with no agreement.

It remains unclear why Mr. Trump canceled the meeting; while he linked it to the death of the American serviceman in a car bombing, other Americans have died in similar attacks while negotiations were underway in Doha, Qatar.

But it is possible that Mr. Trump began to fear the negative reviews of the agreement, which came even from many of his Republican colleagues. The agreement called for a reduction in violence but not a complete cease-fire. It left unclear what role the Taliban would play in future politics.

And the Afghan government has objected both to the terms of a possible agreement and to how it was negotiated with the Taliban.

Only recently did the United States government brief Mr. Ghani about the details of the negotiations, and even then would not leave him with a copy of the agreement about the fate of his country. Mr. Ghani has met several times with Mr. Khalilzad, the American envoy who is in charge of the peace negotiations. The two men have known each other for years.

Mr. Ghani fundamentally does not believe that the Taliban will reach an acceptable accord with the elected government, and it appears he was not willing to travel to Washington if he felt he would be cornered into signing an agreement that would be hard to enforce. Mr. Ghani’s concerns are deeply rooted in history, as the withdrawal of the Soviet Union resulted in the Afghan state collapsing into anarchy. Mr. Ghani is cautioning against a rushed process that could bring about a repeat of that chaos.

The United States’ deal with the Taliban was to include a schedule for the withdrawal of the remaining American and NATO troops in the country, who number more than 20,000 all together. In return, the Taliban would provide assurances that they would not support international terrorist groups, so that Afghan soil would not be used for attacks against the West, and they would open direct talks with Afghan officials.

American and Western officials say they had prepared for an immediate start to direct talks between the Taliban and other Afghans, including the government, once the withdrawal schedule was announced. Before the cancellation, some officials said they hoped momentum in the talks would result in the elections being delayed.

That hope is now dashed, and it seems likely the election will go forward. But American officials fear it could be deeply marred by violence if the Taliban believe the negotiations are over.

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Democrats to Broaden Impeachment Inquiry Into Trump to Corruption Accusations

WASHINGTON — House Democrats return to Washington this week poised to significantly broaden their nascent impeachment inquiry into President Trump beyond the findings of the Russia investigation, but they will confront a fast-dwindling political clock.

Undeterred by lackluster public support for impeachment, Democratic lawmakers and aides have sketched out a robust four-month itinerary of hearings and court arguments that they hope will provide the evidence they need to credibly portray Mr. Trump as corrupt and abusing his power.

Beyond the president’s efforts to impede the special counsel’s investigation, Democrats also plan to scrutinize his role in hush payments to two women who said they had affairs with him and reports that he dangled pardons to officials willing to break the law to implement his immigration policies. Democrats also demanded documents last week related to whether his resort properties illegally profited from government business.

“The central oversight perspective so far has been focused on the Mueller report,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a former constitutional law professor who sits on the Judiciary Committee. “We need to broaden out the oversight work to get a complete picture of the lawlessness of the administration. That is the imperative for the fall season.”

Whether Democrats’ agenda will result in a House vote to impeach a president for only the third time in American history remains the most significant unanswered question of Mr. Trump’s presidency, one that could shape his bid for re-election and his prospects of notching any additional legislative accomplishments in his first term.

But even the most ardent supporters of impeachment conceded that time might already be short, with only around 40 days in session left before the end of the year and a slew of issues on Capitol Hill that could sap additional time and energy. Congress must fund the government in the coming weeks, and lawmakers in both parties want meaningful legislative debates over Mr. Trump’s trade deal with Mexico and Canada, gun safety legislation and bolstering election security.

Most House Democrats now privately agree that Mr. Trump’s behavior clears the bar for an impeachment vote — some reached the conclusion over the six-week recess that just ended — but the politics of doing so are more complicated and their leaders appear no closer to a decision on whether to proceed.

The Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, has indicated that the panel will most likely determine late this year whether to advance impeachment articles, and aides have privately argued that they cannot wait much longer to leave enough time to vote and try a case in the Senate before the 2020 election more forcefully diverts attention.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158490405_24c32988-8059-4774-b34a-8cde871d3b03-articleLarge Democrats to Broaden Impeachment Inquiry Into Trump to Corruption Accusations United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Nadler, Jerrold Mueller, Robert S III McGahn, Donald F II Lewandowski, Corey (1975- ) impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Corruption (Institutional) Constitution (US) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- ) Campaign Finance Amnesties, Commutations and Pardons

Speaker Nancy Pelosi told colleagues during a private call last month that the public still “isn’t there on impeachment.”CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times

Just as consequentially, court cases have hamstrung Democrats’ ability to stage potentially powerful public hearings — in part as a result of Mr. Trump’s stonewalling of congressional oversight efforts. Rulings in two cases — one on unsealing grand jury secrets from Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, and the other to enforce a subpoena for the former White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II — are expected this fall. They could determine whether lawmakers will be able to blunt the White House’s attempts to run out the clock by slow-walking document production and ordering major witnesses not to appear before lawmakers without a court order.

For now, Democratic congressional investigators agree they should push ahead, even if impeachment ultimately remains beyond their grasp.

“If we aren’t able to collect the evidence that we need to present a credible case before the election, well, at least maybe we will have put enough evidence out there that the public can exercise another form of regime change that is in the Constitution and vote,” said Representative Mary Gay Scanlon, a Pennsylvania Democrat on the committee.

The Judiciary Committee will take a substantial step to organize its effort this week. Lawmakers are expected to vote to establish rules and procedures governing the inquiry, including allowing staff lawyers to question witnesses and the president’s lawyers to more formally offer a defense, according to an official familiar with the committee’s plans.

Democrats began examining the hush payments and other areas of scrutiny in the spring, requesting documents and taking other early steps. But they have focused mostly on Mr. Mueller’s investigation and his account of Mr. Trump’s repeated attempts to thwart his team.

Several high-profile witnesses were subpoenaed to appear before Congress in September to discuss potential obstruction acts, including Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and Rob Porter, a onetime White House aide. But Democratic leaders are hoping that their review of Mr. Trump’s properties, the hush payments and pardon dangling might resonate more with the public and allow lawmakers to sidestep the wall the White House has erected around witnesses related to Mr. Mueller’s inquiry.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan investigated the payments to the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels and to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, and charged Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, with violating campaign finance laws by arranging the payments. Though Mr. Trump was not named in the indictment, prosecutors referred to him as “Individual-1” and said he directed the illegal payments. Mr. Trump has acknowledged the payments, insisting they were legal. He has denied the affairs themselves.

By calling witnesses involved in the payments, Democrats believe they can make the case that Mr. Trump broke the law in his pursuit of the presidency, even through prosecutors closed the investigation without additional charges. It is not clear whether prosecutors concluded that they were bound by the Justice Department’s view that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

Westlake Legal Group mueller-report-citations-promo-1555718437298-articleLarge-v3 Democrats to Broaden Impeachment Inquiry Into Trump to Corruption Accusations United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Nadler, Jerrold Mueller, Robert S III McGahn, Donald F II Lewandowski, Corey (1975- ) impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Corruption (Institutional) Constitution (US) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- ) Campaign Finance Amnesties, Commutations and Pardons

See Which Witnesses the Mueller Report Relied on Most

A partially redacted report of the special counsel’s findings released on April 18 cited interviews with 43 individuals at least 10 times.

By broadcasting the details of Mr. Trump’s repeated efforts to drive government business to his family’s hotels, clubs and resorts, Democrats hope they can convince Americans that Mr. Trump is trying to profit off the presidency, a potential violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clauses. Mr. Trump has repeatedly rejected that accusation and turned over management of his company, the Trump Organization, to his oldest sons and an executive through a trust, though he is its sole beneficiary.

Democrats have also framed Mr. Trump’s reported offers to pardon aides willing to break the law to carry out his immigration policies as part of a pattern that also includes his efforts to impede Mr. Mueller’s investigators. The committee ordered Department of Homeland Security officials last week to hand over records related to the overtures, which Mr. Trump has denied and White House aides have said were jokes.

Democrats are largely united in their approach to casting Mr. Trump as abusing his power and plan to advance legislation to fight foreign election interference and misinformation campaigns, according to the speaker’s office.

But their stance has only loosely papered over internal differences about any impeachment vote, and party leaders could be forced to confront a messier intraparty conflict in the coming months based on how they decide to proceed.

Some of the House’s most liberal lawmakers appear to be growing tired of the methodical pace laid out by leadership and are prepared to argue more forcefully that allowing Mr. Trump to skirt punishment for his actions could free future presidents from congressional constraints on their powers.

Representative Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee and a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, said he spent August updating his own articles of impeachment accusing the president of emoluments violations, obstruction of justice, welcoming Russia’s election interference and unconstitutional attacks on the courts and the news media.

“I’m going to try to find out how many people are willing to stand up and vote for impeachment,” he said. “I understand the speaker and the chairman’s attitude about wanting to bring out all this proof. The proof is already there.”

Liberal advocacy groups had hoped to push the party during the August recess toward an impeachment vote by stirring up a groundswell of grass-roots support. But many moderate lawmakers opposed to impeachment emerged from August further convinced that their reticence was justified by voters’ lack of interest in impeachment and that the president was best voted out of office instead of removed.

That split may force impeachment advocates toward a compromise. With the Republican-controlled Senate highly likely to acquit Mr. Trump even if the House’s case were put to trial, some Democrats have begun raising another possibility: that the Judiciary Committee could draft articles of impeachment, vote them out of the panel but never bring them to the floor of the House — offering the public an election-year indictment of sorts without ever bringing the president to trial.

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Taliban Talks Hit a Wall Over Deeper Disagreements, Officials Say

KABUL, Afghanistan — Even as President Trump blamed a recent Taliban attack for his decision to call off nearly year-long negotiations with the insurgents, officials suggested on Sunday it had more to do with the Taliban’s resistance to the American terms for a peace deal.

Talks that once seemed on the verge of a breakthrough had hit a wall over how the deal should be finalized and announced, they said.

With the president himself showing more engagement in the talks in recent weeks, the Trump administration had set in motion a daring gambit: Fly the insurgents’ leaders and the Afghan leader, Ashraf Ghani, to American soil.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160407435_15b4b0ed-468d-464d-b9ce-c5342720e289-articleLarge Taliban Talks Hit a Wall Over Deeper Disagreements, Officials Say United States International Relations United States Trump, Donald J Terrorism Taliban Khalilzad, Zalmay Ghani, Ashraf Afghanistan War (2001- ) Afghanistan

Afghan security forces in Herat, Afghanistan, on Sunday.CreditJalil Rezayee/EPA, via Shutterstock

At Camp David, the traditional retreat of many presidents, separate meetings with each side would then lead to a grand announcement by Mr. Trump, according to Afghan, Western and Taliban officials with knowledge of the peace talks.

The Taliban leaders, however, having refused to negotiate directly with the Afghan government until after the group had an agreement with the United States, had compared the proposal to the Americans’ tricking them into political suicide. The Americans were also rushing to finalize outstanding issues, including disagreements over prisoner release, before the meeting at Camp David.

“We promised there would be intra-Afghan talks once we finalized our agreement with the Americans,” a senior Taliban leader said. “If Trump and his administration think they would solve the confrontation between the government and the Taliban somewhere in Washington in a meeting, that’s not possible because we do not recognize the stooge government.”

For his part, Mr. Ghani, a skeptic of the American negotiations that left out his government, had agreed to the risky Camp David visit in the hopes of finding a way to end a period of great uncertainty for his country.

President Ashraf Ghani, center, had agreed to the risky Camp David visit in the hopes of finding a way out of a period of great uncertainty.CreditOmar Sobhani/Reuters

The Afghan president was signing up for nothing less than a gamble, with the details of what might transpire at Camp David vague even to his closest circle of advisers. But stuck in a difficult position, he didn’t have much to lose, a senior official said.

After the talks were called off, the Afghan government blamed the Taliban, saying that the violence was making the peace process difficult. Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for Mr. Ghani, lashed out at the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, saying that the group had shown no commitment to peace despite having protection in the Gulf country and freedom of movement.

“The Taliban’s honeymoon in Qatar needs to be ended,” Mr. Sediqqi said.

It recent weeks, it had been increasingly clear that the United States and the Taliban, after nine rounds of painstaking negotiations over nearly a year, had ironed out most of the issues between them. The chief American envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, declared that the agreement document had been finalized “in principle.”

That deal, criticized by Afghan officials for lacking measures that would ensure stability, would include a timeline of about 16 months for a gradual withdrawal of the remaining 14,000 American troops, with about 5,000 of them leaving in 135 days after its signing. In return, the Taliban would provide counterterrorism assurances to ease American fears of repeat of attacks on home soil — such as the attacks by Al Qaedaon Sept. 11, 2001, that precipitated the war in Afghanistan.

Members of the Afghan delegations in Doha, Qatar, in July during the peace talks.CreditKarim Jaafar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The final rounds of negotiations — and even Mr. Trump’s invitation for a summit meeting at Camp David — had occurred during a period of intensifying violence, including the killing of American soldiers. In response to the Taliban attacks, the American negotiators had made clear that they were prioritizing the finalization of the agreement, not a boycott of the talks. Their negotiations were also undergirded by increasing battlefield pressure by the American military on the Taliban.

But just how the deal would be announced remained unclear, and competing demands made it even more complicated. Those demands included Mr. Trump’s election promise of ending the Afghan war, the Taliban’s sensitivity about not fracturing their forces, the Afghan government’s need to be seen as having the support of its main ally and sponsor, and Qatar’s wish to get credit for hosting the long-running talks at a time when neighboring countries have ganged up on it in by a blockade.

At the end of August, just as the ninth round of talks was winding down in Doha, the American ambassador arrived at the Afghan presidential palace with the proposal of a Camp David meeting, Afghan officials said. The visit would take place soon after a national security meeting led by Mr. Trump.

Details of the trip to the United States were sorted out between the Afghan president and the American side, when Mr. Khalilzad arrived from Doha and held four rounds of talks with Mr. Ghani. A plane would arrive to take Mr. Ghani and his delegation of about a half-dozen senior officials to the United States.

Zalmay Khalilzad, left, the special representative for Afghan peace and reconciliation, had declared the agreement document was finalized “in principle.”CreditWakil Kohsar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Ghani’s ministers knew they would be meeting with their American counterparts and that a Taliban delegation would most likely be arriving, too. But they were unclear on the details of how it would all come together. They had to be prepared on all three issues that were their government’s priority: the presidential elections scheduled for Sept. 28, how the peace talks would move forward to include them and how they would continue to bolster their security forces in a way that would reduce the cost for the United States.

As a sign of how important the event was for the United States, Mr. Ghani got the Americans to agree to include on the trip his national security adviser, Hamdullah Mohib, who had essentially been kept out of the American meetings for months after lashing out at the peace process.

For months, the Americans had essentially held Mr. Ghani’s re-election campaign hostage to a deal that they projected was imminent. Mr. Ghani was reduced to pretending that the September elections were still on by holding a couple of daily “virtual rallies” at which he addressed small gatherings around the country via video chat. If the American-Taliban deal were finalized, it would most likely push the elections back.

If Mr. Ghani had refused the Camp David meeting, he would have been called a spoiler of peace. So he took his chances; it was to be hosted by an ally on friendly turf, and it could help clarify whether there would be a peace deal, and whether the elections would proceed.

One senior Afghan official said the government had been in a difficult place for months: fighting a war while trying to find a way into peace talks and preparing for an election both as a government that holds it and as a candidate that contests it.

Now, the official said, two things were clear: The violence would intensify, and the elections would go ahead.

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