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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 20)

Gordon Sondland Elbowed His Way Into Ukraine Policy. It Could Cost Him.

WASHINGTON — To foreign policy experts, it is no mystery why President Trump’s national security adviser tried in May to block Gordon D. Sondland from becoming a player in United States diplomacy with Ukraine.

As the American envoy to the European Union, Mr. Sondland managed a portfolio unrelated to Ukrainian issues. And beyond that, he was so inexperienced as a diplomat — a wealthy Republican donor rewarded with an ambassadorship — that one top White House foreign policy adviser complained he was a national security risk.

But Mr. Sondland wedged his way into Ukraine policymaking anyway, attending the new president’s inauguration in Kiev in May and briefing Mr. Trump afterward, all over the objections of the national security adviser at the time, John R. Bolton. And now Mr. Sondland’s gambit appears to have placed him at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

In testimony scheduled for Thursday, Mr. Sondland was expected to say that during a meeting in May, Mr. Trump gave him and two other officials the impression that they should coordinate on Ukraine issues with his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. That command effectively created a foreign policy back channel that cut the State Department and National Security Council out of deliberations involving a pivotal ally against Russia.

Mr. Sondland was also expected to testify that he realized by midsummer that Mr. Trump had a condition for agreeing to an Oval Office meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky, the new president of Ukraine: an announcement by Ukrainian prosecutors that could benefit Mr. Trump’s political fortunes.

Initially hopeful that Mr. Sondland’s account would help Mr. Trump, congressional Republicans now fear it will add momentum to Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. His decision to testify is itself a sign of fissures in the support for Mr. Trump, evidence that even some defenders have balked at shouldering the legal and reputational costs of thwarting the impeachment inquiry.

Westlake Legal Group volker-ukraine-impeachment-document-promo-1570197638674-articleLarge Gordon Sondland Elbowed His Way Into Ukraine Policy. It Could Cost Him. Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Hill, Fiona (1965- ) European Union Europe Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Bolton, John R

Read the Text Messages Between U.S. and Ukrainian Officials

The messages reveal new details about President Trump’s efforts to use American foreign policy to benefit himself.

In a matter of weeks, Mr. Sondland has evolved from a neophyte diplomat known for his ambition and subservience to the president into a witness, however unwilling, in a proceeding against Mr. Trump.

In the process, Mr. Sondland’s own reputation took a hit. Fiona Hill, the former senior director for European and Russian affairs at the White House, described him to congressional investigators this week as a well-meaning but inexperienced liability.

He used his personal cellphone for official business and assured foreign officials they were welcome at the White House whenever they liked, she testified. On one occasion, she said, Romanian officials showed up at the White House gates with no appointment, citing Mr. Sondland.

As experts see it, his story is an object lesson in the pitfalls of handing influential foreign posts to diplomatic naïfs, while stripping oversight from the career officials at the State Department and the National Security Council.

“I told the Europeans, maybe this is the best you can expect” from the Trump administration, said Daniel Fried, a former longtime diplomat now with the Atlantic Council. No one imagined, he said, that Mr. Sondland would become a pivotal player “in this bottomless pit” of scandal.

Mr. Sondland, 62, tall and bald, is far from a typical diplomat. Foul-mouthed and unafraid to bruise egos, he craves the limelight, not policy papers and the politics of quiet persuasion that are the staples of diplomacy.

He nonetheless fits a certain mold of ambassadors: The founder of a boutique hotel chain, he landed his post after decades of work bankrolling Republican presidential candidates, including John McCain, Mitt Romney and George W. Bush and his brother Jeb Bush. In Bush family circles, he was particularly well liked.

“There aren’t many people who do it as well as he does,” David Nierenberg, an investment manager in Washington State who worked on Mr. Romney’s campaigns, said of Mr. Sondland’s fund-raising prowess. “He knew how to deliver.”

Friends said he loved the trappings of politics: ferrying presidential candidates around the northwest in his Lear jet and hosting their events at his 8,300-square-foot estate in Portland, Ore.

He had hoped to be rewarded, he told Mr. Nierenberg, with an ambassadorship in a German-speaking country. That would bring his life full circle, he explained: His parents fled Nazi Germany as teenagers in 1939.

But he was a latecomer to supporting Mr. Trump, first backing Jeb Bush, then Marco Rubio. During the 2016 campaign, after Mr. Trump disparaged the Muslim parents of an American soldier killed in Iraq, Mr. Sondland and his business partner backed out of a fund-raiser, saying they did not share Mr. Trump’s values.

Those reservations apparently vanished once Mr. Trump was elected. Mr. Sondland donated $1 million to his inaugural committee, joining a crush of once-reluctant donors anxious to make up for their previous lack of support. In spring 2017, he joined the Republican National Committee’s finance committee as a regional vice chairman.

Reince Priebus, Mr. Trump’s first chief of staff, was unwilling to grant Mr. Sondland an administration job. But after Mr. Priebus was fired, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who knew Mr. Sondland from the campaign, put forward his name for ambassador, according to people familiar with the situation. He was appointed in May 2018.

By then, the post had gone unfilled for more than a year. Some European officials suspected it was a deliberate sign of neglect of Western allies that Mr. Trump has accused of unfair trade practices.

European officials were struck Mr. Sondland’s self-confidence, bordering on arrogance. He quickly posted an introductory video on Twitter. Set to snappy string music, it described him as the son of immigrants and showed him brewing espresso, showing off his fine art collection and climbing into a private jet that he pilots.

His message to his European hosts was less friendly. At one dinner party, Mr. Sondland said his job was “to destroy the European Union,’’ one senior European official said.

He repeatedly told European officials that their countries had long taken advantage of the United States through trade, according to one person who heard him complain. And he seemed unaware of protocol, inviting the leaders of European countries to dinner without understanding that they do not typically dine with ambassadors.

A June 28 dinner in Brussels was a case study in his unapologetic style. The German Marshall Fund originally organized it for 18 former and current diplomats and academics to discuss trans-Atlantic relations. Once Mr. Sondland heard about it, two participants said, he insisted on hosting.

As the plates were cleared in a small ornate room in the American Embassy, he delivered what one guest described as “a first-year master’s student’s” account of the Marshall Plan, the United States’ multibillion-dollar effort to rebuild Europe after World War II.

“We paid all this money, but every room I go to in Europe, I get told no,” he told his stunned guests, according to two participants. “Why?”

“It felt like a shakedown,” said one of the guests.

European officials said that Mr. Sondland often bragged about his good relationship with Mr. Trump, and some said it was clear that he was looking for a higher-level administration post.

How he inserted himself into American relations with Ukraine, which is not part of the European Union, is not entirely clear. Ms. Hill has said he told her that Mr. Trump had put him in charge.

In a July interview with a Ukrainian television station, Mr. Sondland presented himself as an authority, dismissing the notion that Ukraine is torn between Europe and Russia. “It’s not a tug of war. They’re Western, and they’re going to stay Western,” he proclaimed.

With Mr. Trump’s blessing, he traveled to Kiev in May for Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration. Others in the delegation included the energy secretary, Rick Perry, and Kurt D. Volker, the American special envoy to Ukraine. They labeled themselves “the three amigos.”

Mr. Sondland’s subsequent White House meetings are a key focus of questioning for congressional investigators.

When he and his colleagues briefed Mr. Trump on May 23, the president complained that the Ukrainians were “all corrupt” and had tried to keep him from winning the White House. He left them with the impression that they were to talk to Mr. Giuliani in dealing with Ukraine.

By mid-July, Mr. Sondland was expected to testify, he had realized that Mr. Zelensky would be granted an Oval Office audience only if Ukraine publicly announced it would investigate Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company that had placed Hunter Biden, the younger son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., on its board. According to a person familiar with his account, Mr. Sondland did not then understand the relationship between Burisma and the Bidens.

In a July 10 White House meeting with Mr. Bolton, Ms. Hill and two top Ukrainian officials, Mr. Sondland cited an agreement with the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, that inviting Mr. Zelensky to the Oval Office depended on Ukraine opening criminal investigations, according to Ms. Hill’s testimony. She told congressional investigators that she subsequently heard Mr. Sondland mention Burisma to the Ukrainians.

Mr. Sondland was expected to testify that he has no firm recollection of that conversation. But the next month, he and Mr. Volker prepared a draft statement for the Ukrainians to issue, announcing an investigation of Burisma and any interference in the 2016 American presidential election. And in a subsequent text message, he wrote: “POTUS really wants the deliverable.”

Mr. Sondland now fears that he will be blamed for the scandal, while more powerful players will be protected, one person close to him said. He has expressed concern that he could end up, the person said, as “collateral damage.”

Reporting was contributed by Nicholas Fandos, Adam Goldman and Kenneth P. Vogel from Washington; Steven Erlanger from Brussels; and Maggie Haberman from New York. Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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Inside the Derailed White House Meeting

WASHINGTON — You know a White House meeting has gone off the rails when the president of the United States and the speaker of the House cannot agree over the precise insult one called the other.

According to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Trump called her a “third-grade” politician during a combative meeting with congressional leaders of both parties on Wednesday about the worsening situation in northern Syria. The White House and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said Mr. Trump actually called Ms. Pelosi “third-rate.”

At one particularly tense moment, Ms. Pelosi informed the president that “all roads with you lead to Putin,” referring to Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president.

And so, on Day 1,000 of his presidency, that is where things stand between Mr. Trump and Ms. Pelosi, who have a fraught history of derailing meetings shortly after pledging to work together, including one in January, when the president abruptly stood up, said “bye bye,” and stormed out. A meeting in May basically ended before it began.

The roughly 20-minute meeting on Wednesday, the first since Democrats began an impeachment inquiry of Mr. Trump, was a new low, according to the recollections of several Democratic officials who shared details of the meeting. The White House did not dispute their accounts.

Mr. Trump began the proceedings in the Cabinet Room by making it clear that he did not want to be there.

“They said you wanted this meeting,” Mr. Trump told the congressional leaders. “I didn’t want this meeting, but I’m doing it.”

Several lawmakers replied that the White House had reached out to them in efforts to brief them on the administration’s Syria policy.

Mr. Trump then began a speech about a “nasty” letter he had sent to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, which he said was proof that he had not given the Turkish leader a green light to advance Turkish forces into Syria. Mr. Trump then directed Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican minority leader, to pass copies of the letter around the table.

The letter to Mr. Erdogan, which began with the sentence “Let’s work out a good deal!” was dated Oct. 9, or three days after the two leaders discussed the departure of American forces from the area.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Inside the Derailed White House Meeting United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Syria Schumer, Charles E Pelosi, Nancy Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

Read Trump’s Letter to President Erdogan of Turkey

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

A short time later, Ms. Pelosi told the president that the House had passed a bipartisan resolution with overwhelming Republican support that condemned his acquiescence to a Turkish assault against the Kurds, who have been crucial American allies in the fight against ISIS.

Mr. Schumer, for his part, tried to appeal to Mr. Trump as a fellow New Yorker who lived through the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“I told the president, being from New York,” Mr. Schumer said to reporters shortly after the meeting, “we’re particularly aware of the problems that terrorism that an organization like ISIS can create. And the fact that someone no less than General Mattis has said that ISIS has been enhanced, that the danger of ISIS is so much greater, worries all of us.”

At Mr. Schumer’s mention of Gen. Jim Mattis — who quit last year as Mr. Trump’s secretary of defense to protest the president’s decision to pull American troops out of Syria — Mr. Trump began denigrating the retired four-star general’s approach to combating terrorism in the Middle East.

Mr. Mattis was “the world’s most overrated general,” Mr. Trump told the group. “You know why? He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

The conversation, several Democratic officials said, only devolved from there, and reached a fever pitch after Ms. Pelosi told the president that Russia, which has quickly stepped in to fill the void left by American troops in Syria, “has always wanted a foothold in the Middle East.” It was at this point that she told Mr. Trump that all roads with him led to Mr. Putin.

At another point, Mr. Trump told Ms. Pelosi that he cared more about defeating terrorism than she did.

“I hate ISIS more than you do,” the president declared.

“You don’t know that,” the speaker replied.

What happened next is now a matter of ammunition by both the Democrats and the White House.

“You’re just a politician,” Mr. Trump said to Ms. Pelosi.

“Sometimes I wish you were,” Ms. Pelosi shot back.

Mr. Schumer interjected, telling Mr. Trump that name-calling was not necessary.

“Is that a bad name, Chuck?” Mr. Trump asked, then turned to Ms. Pelosi. “You’re not a politician, you’re a third-grade politician.” (Or “third-rate,” depending on which politician was doing the retelling.)

Ms. Pelosi stood up to leave, but then sat back down. At this point Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House majority leader — who later said he was “deeply offended” by the president’s treatment of the speaker — said it was time to go.

“This is not useful,” Mr. Hoyer said as he and Ms. Pelosi made for the door.

“Goodbye,” the president responded. “We’ll see you at the polls.”

In the hours afterward, Democrats and the White House leapt to promote their side of the story and take shots at each other. Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said the president had been completely in control during the meeting with lawmakers.

“The president was measured, factual and decisive, while Speaker Pelosi’s decision to walk out was baffling, but not surprising,” Ms. Grisham said in a statement. “She had no intention of listening or contributing to an important meeting on national security issues. While democratic leadership chose to storm out and get in front of the cameras to whine, everyone else in the meeting chose to stay in the room and work on behalf of this country.’’

By early evening, Mr. Trump had posted on Twitter the official White House photos of the meeting. One showed Ms. Pelosi standing up to speak to him, which Mr. Trump characterized as an “unhinged meltdown.”

Ms. Pelosi used “meltdown” to describe Mr. Trump’s behavior as well.

Another photo of the session showed a close-up of Democratic lawmakers looking pained as the meeting went on.

“Do you think they like me?” Mr. Trump wrote.

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

Inside the White House Meeting ‘Meltdown’

WASHINGTON — You know a White House meeting has gone off the rails when the president of the United States and the speaker of the House cannot agree over the precise insult one called the other.

According to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Trump called her a “third-grade” politician during a combative meeting with congressional leaders of both parties on Wednesday about the worsening situation in northern Syria. The White House and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said Mr. Trump actually called Ms. Pelosi “third-rate.”

At one particularly tense moment, Ms. Pelosi informed the president that “all roads with you lead to Putin,” referring to Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president.

And so, on Day 1,000 of his presidency, that is where things stand between Mr. Trump and Ms. Pelosi, who have a fraught history of derailing meetings shortly after pledging to work together, including one in January, when the president abruptly stood up, said “bye bye,” and stormed out. A meeting in May basically ended before it began.

The roughly 20-minute meeting on Wednesday, the first since Democrats began an impeachment inquiry of Mr. Trump, was a new low, according to the recollections of several Democratic officials who shared details of the meeting. The White House did not dispute their accounts.

Mr. Trump began the proceedings in the Cabinet Room by making it clear that he did not want to be there.

“They said you wanted this meeting,” Mr. Trump told the congressional leaders. “I didn’t want this meeting, but I’m doing it.”

Several lawmakers replied that the White House had reached out to them in efforts to brief them on the administration’s Syria policy.

Mr. Trump then began a speech about a “nasty” letter he had sent to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, which he said was proof that he had not given the Turkish leader a green light to advance Turkish forces into Syria. Mr. Trump then directed Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican minority leader, to pass copies of the letter around the table.

The letter to Mr. Erdogan, which began with the sentence “Let’s work out a good deal!” was dated Oct. 9, or three days after the two leaders discussed the departure of American forces from the area.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Inside the White House Meeting ‘Meltdown’ United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Syria Schumer, Charles E Pelosi, Nancy Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

Read Trump’s Letter to President Erdogan of Turkey

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

A short time later, Ms. Pelosi told the president that the House had passed a bipartisan resolution with overwhelming Republican support that condemned his acquiescence to a Turkish assault against the Kurds, who have been crucial American allies in the fight against ISIS.

Mr. Schumer, for his part, tried to appeal to Mr. Trump as a fellow New Yorker who lived through the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“I told the president, being from New York,” Mr. Schumer said to reporters shortly after the meeting, “we’re particularly aware of the problems that terrorism that an organization like ISIS can create. And the fact that someone no less than General Mattis has said that ISIS has been enhanced, that the danger of ISIS is so much greater, worries all of us.”

At Mr. Schumer’s mention of Gen. Jim Mattis — who quit last year as Mr. Trump’s secretary of defense to protest the president’s decision to pull American troops out of Syria — Mr. Trump began denigrating the retired four-star general’s approach to combating terrorism in the Middle East.

Mr. Mattis was “the world’s most overrated general,” Mr. Trump told the group. “You know why? He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

The conversation, several Democratic officials said, only devolved from there, and reached a fever pitch after Ms. Pelosi told the president that Russia, which has quickly stepped in to fill the void left by American troops in Syria, “has always wanted a foothold in the Middle East.” It was at this point that she told Mr. Trump that all roads with him led to Mr. Putin.

At another point, Mr. Trump told Ms. Pelosi that he cared more about defeating terrorism than she did.

“I hate ISIS more than you do,” the president declared.

“You don’t know that,” the speaker replied.

What happened next is now a matter of ammunition by both the Democrats and the White House.

“You’re just a politician,” Mr. Trump said to Ms. Pelosi.

“Sometimes I wish you were,” Ms. Pelosi shot back.

Mr. Schumer interjected, telling Mr. Trump that name-calling was not necessary.

“Is that a bad name, Chuck?” Mr. Trump asked, then turned to Ms. Pelosi. “You’re not a politician, you’re a third-grade politician.” (Or “third-rate,” depending on which politician was doing the retelling.)

Ms. Pelosi stood up to leave, but then sat back down. At this point Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House majority leader — who later said he was “deeply offended” by the president’s treatment of the speaker — said it was time to go.

“This is not useful,” Mr. Hoyer said as he and Ms. Pelosi made for the door.

“Goodbye,” the president responded. “We’ll see you at the polls.”

In the hours afterward, Democrats and the White House leapt to promote their side of the story and take shots at each other. Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said the president had been completely in control during the meeting with lawmakers.

“The president was measured, factual and decisive, while Speaker Pelosi’s decision to walk out was baffling, but not surprising,” Ms. Grisham said in a statement. “She had no intention of listening or contributing to an important meeting on national security issues. While democratic leadership chose to storm out and get in front of the cameras to whine, everyone else in the meeting chose to stay in the room and work on behalf of this country.’’

By early evening, Mr. Trump had posted on Twitter the official White House photos of the meeting. One showed Ms. Pelosi standing up to speak to him, which Mr. Trump characterized as an “unhinged meltdown.”

Ms. Pelosi used “meltdown” to describe Mr. Trump’s behavior as well.

Another photo of the session showed a close-up of Democratic lawmakers looking pained as the meeting went on.

“Do you think they like me?” Mr. Trump wrote.

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

Trump’s Impeachment Blockade Crumbles as Witnesses Agree to Talk

Westlake Legal Group 16dc-strategy1-facebookJumbo Trump’s Impeachment Blockade Crumbles as Witnesses Agree to Talk Yovanovitch, Marie L Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) impeachment House of Representatives House Committee on Intelligence Hill, Fiona (1965- ) Democratic Party

WASHINGTON — The White House’s trenchant declaration to House impeachment investigators last week was unequivocal: No more witnesses or documents for a “totally compromised kangaroo court.”

But just a week later, it has become clear that President Trump’s attempts to stonewall the Democrat-led inquiry that has imperiled his presidency and ensnared much of his inner circle are crumbling.

One by one, a parade of Trump administration career diplomats and senior officials has offered a cascade of revelations. Those accounts have corroborated and expanded upon key aspects of the whistle-blower complaint that spawned the impeachment inquiry into whether the president abused his power to enlist Ukraine to help him in the 2020 presidential election.

The latest disclosures came on Wednesday, when a former top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered an inside account of what he said was a demoralized State Department, where career diplomats were sidelined and others apparently were pressed to use their posts “to advance domestic political objectives.” In six hours of voluntary testimony, the former aide, Michael McKinley, told impeachment investigators that he quit his post as Mr. Pompeo’s senior adviser amid mounting frustrations over the Trump administration’s treatment of diplomats and its failure to support them in the face of the impeachment inquiry, according to a copy of his opening remarks.

On Thursday, Democrats are set to hear from Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, a central figure in the president’s pressure campaign on Ukraine. He is expected to testify that he learned that Mr. Trump did not intend to invite President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to a meeting in the Oval Office until Mr. Zelensky opened an investigation that could benefit Mr. Trump’s political fortunes — bolstering a central allegation in the inquiry that the president steered foreign policy for political gain.

And Democratic lawmakers have directed William B. Taylor Jr., one of the top American diplomats in Ukraine, to appear before their committees next Tuesday, according to an official familiar with the investigation. Text messages produced as part of the inquiry suggest that Mr. Taylor was deeply uneasy about what he saw as an effort by Trump aides to use a $391 million package of security assistance as leverage over Ukraine for political favors, calling the notion “crazy.”

All three are examples of what can happen when Congress secures cooperation from government witnesses in a rapidly moving investigation aimed at the president.

The White House has had more success blocking the release of documents tied to the case. But the president and his lawyers had hoped to use the power of his office to muzzle current and former diplomats and White House aides, arguing in presidential tweets and a lengthy letter to Democratic lawmakers on Oct. 8 that their subpoenas are invalid and unenforceable.

“President Trump cannot permit his administration to participate in this partisan inquiry under these circumstances,” wrote Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel.

And yet the president has been unable to prevent it.

Just since Mr. Trump declared war on the impeachment effort, three current and former senior State Department officials and a former top White House aide have testified for nearly 36 total hours, delivering to lawmakers a consistent narrative of how they were effectively pushed aside by allies of the president operating outside America’s usual foreign policy channels.

“It’s partly because this shadow foreign policy that the president was running was so deeply offensive to people in his own administration who took pride in overseeing a professionally run and arguably exemplary policy in support of Ukraine,” said Representative Tom Malinowski, Democrat of New Jersey and a former State Department official involved in the inquiry. Referring to Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, he added, “And then to see the official policy undermined by this clownishly corrupt effort led by Rudy Giuliani on behalf of the president was just more than many people apparently could bear.”

Republicans who control the Senate view the fast-building case as serious enough to begin preparing for the trial in their chamber that would follow impeachment by the House. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, briefed fellow lawmakers over lunch on Wednesday about how a trial would work, expressing his hope of conducting it speedily and completing it by the end of the year, people familiar with his remarks said.

Facing accusations of secrecy from Republicans, Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, informed colleagues on Wednesday that he planned to open the inquiry to the public soon. He wrote that he planned to release transcripts of all the interviews as the investigation proceeded and pledged to soon hold public hearings “so that the full Congress and the American people can hear their testimony firsthand.”

For Mr. Trump, who is famous for demanding fierce loyalty from those around him, the daily — or even hourly — crush of damaging headlines is an infuriating departure from previous successes in controlling disclosures to Congress from people in his orbit.

During the congressional investigation into Russia’s election meddling, Mr. Trump blocked a deposition of Donald F. McGahn II, his former White House counsel, and dramatically limited testimony from some of his closest aides, including Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director, and Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager.

But this is different. Many administration officials targeted for depositions by Democrats are diplomatic veterans who have expressed anger and frustration about what they described as the hijacking of American foreign policy. They have no particular loyalty to Mr. Trump, nor are they subject to the same presidential powers to block them from testifying.

So they have turned up at the secure suite of the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, disappearing behind doors with a red “RESTRICTED AREA” sign to tell their stories.

Under alternating hourlong question-and-answer sessions by Democratic and Republican staff lawyers, Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, said she had been ousted at Mr. Trump’s direction on the basis of “unfounded and false claims.” Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council aide, said John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, was so alarmed by the activities of Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Sondland and others that he instructed her to alert White House lawyers. She said she reported Mr. Sondland to intelligence officials as a possible national security risk as well.

The decision by Ms. Yovanovitch, Ms. Hill and others to testify is a demonstration of the limits of presidential power and the legal constraints Mr. Trump is under as he and his lawyers try to devise a strategy for keeping him in office.

Although the White House has struggled to keep former officials from agreeing to testify, Mr. Trump has more leverage with current administration employees, who may fear for their jobs if they defy the blockade. But it is not clear what the political repercussions would be if the president retaliated against them in the middle of a political scandal.

Mr. McKinley told investigators on Wednesday that State Department officials were discouraging people from testifying, and were not supporting diplomats who had received subpoenas and requests to appear before the House, according to a person familiar with his testimony.

Mr. Trump’s allies on Capitol Hill expressed frustration this week about the depositions, saying White House lawyers should be present and accusing Democrats of selectively leaking from the testimony. Others were simply baffled by the cooperation of the witnesses.

“I really don’t understand it,” said Representative Chris Stewart, Republican of Utah and a member of the Intelligence Committee. “I can’t wrap my head around why some and why not others.”

Veterans of past legal struggles between the White House and Congress said Mr. Trump was confronting the reality that he had limited ability to force former or even current government employees to ignore a legally binding subpoena. It is even difficult — though not impossible — to shield top White House aides from appearing, they said.

“Particularly if there’s a subpoena, everybody has to appear or risk being held in contempt,” said W. Neil Eggleston, who served as President Barack Obama’s White House counsel. “It is just not easy to simply refuse to appear.”

Mr. Eggleston said that defying a subpoena was sometimes possible for high-profile figures, but was especially difficult for functionaries and other career employees.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have had more success in blocking access to emails, text messages, memos and other documents in the government’s possession.

The administration has rejected Democratic subpoenas or requests for documents at the Office of Management and Budget, the State Department, the Defense Department and the office of Vice President Mike Pence. Mr. Giuliani has also said he will ignore a subpoena for his records, citing the White House’s stance.

Democrats have said the refusal to hand over documents will be considered obstruction of Congress and may be added to the impeachment charges brought against the president.

The White House has also attempted to limit the questions witnesses can answer.

In the case of Ms. Hill, White House lawyers conceded early Monday that they could not stop her from arriving on Capitol Hill for a deposition by the committee later that day, but they demanded that she refrain from speaking about classified material, conversations with the president and other matters.

Even that proved difficult to enforce, as Ms. Hill vividly described a dramatic confrontation inside the White House between Mr. Bolton and Mr. Sondland.

Mr. Schiff, the Intelligence Committee chairman, said Tuesday that the sessions with witnesses have been fruitful despite the efforts to block them.

“It’s a way of trying to chill them from cooperating,” Mr. Schiff said. “It’s not working, but I think that’s the goal.”

“It goes to show the legally insupportable position of the White House,” he added.

Julian E. Barnes, Sharon LaFraniere and Michael S. Schmidt contributed reporting.

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Someone Had a ‘Meltdown’ at the White House. Pelosi and Trump Just Disagree on Who.

WASHINGTON — You know a White House meeting has gone off the rails when the president of the United States and the speaker of the House cannot agree over the precise insult one called the other.

According to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Trump called her a “third-grade” politician during a combative meeting with congressional leaders of both parties on Wednesday about the worsening situation in northern Syria. The White House and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said Mr. Trump actually called Ms. Pelosi “third-rate.”

At one particularly tense moment, Ms. Pelosi informed the president that “all roads with you lead to Putin,” referring to Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president.

And so, on Day 1,000 of his presidency, that is where things stand between Mr. Trump and Ms. Pelosi, who have a fraught history of derailing meetings shortly after pledging to work together, including one in January, when the president abruptly stood up, said “bye bye,” and stormed out. A meeting in May basically ended before it began.

The roughly 20-minute meeting on Wednesday, the first since Democrats began an impeachment inquiry of Mr. Trump, was a new low, according to the recollections of several Democratic officials who shared details of the meeting. The White House did not dispute their accounts.

Mr. Trump began the proceedings in the Cabinet Room by making it clear that he did not want to be there.

“They said you wanted this meeting,” Mr. Trump told the congressional leaders. “I didn’t want this meeting, but I’m doing it.”

Several lawmakers replied that the White House had reached out to them in efforts to brief them on the administration’s Syria policy.

Mr. Trump then began a speech about a “nasty” letter he had sent to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, which he said was proof that he had not given the Turkish leader a green light to advance Turkish forces into Syria. Mr. Trump then directed Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican minority leader, to pass copies of the letter around the table.

The letter to Mr. Erdogan, which began with the sentence “Let’s work out a good deal!” was dated Oct. 9, or three days after the two leaders discussed the departure of American forces from the area.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Someone Had a ‘Meltdown’ at the White House. Pelosi and Trump Just Disagree on Who. United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Syria Schumer, Charles E Pelosi, Nancy Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

A short time later, Ms. Pelosi told the president that the House had passed a bipartisan resolution with overwhelming Republican support that condemned his acquiescence to a Turkish assault against the Kurds, who have been crucial American allies in the fight against ISIS.

Mr. Schumer, for his part, tried to appeal to Mr. Trump as a fellow New Yorker who lived through the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“I told the president, being from New York,” Mr. Schumer said to reporters shortly after the meeting, “we’re particularly aware of the problems that terrorism that an organization like ISIS can create. And the fact that someone no less than General Mattis has said that ISIS has been enhanced, that the danger of ISIS is so much greater, worries all of us.”

At Mr. Schumer’s mention of Gen. Jim Mattis — who quit last year as Mr. Trump’s secretary of defense to protest the president’s decision to pull American troops out of Syria — Mr. Trump began denigrating the retired four-star general’s approach to combating terrorism in the Middle East.

Mr. Mattis was “the world’s most overrated general,” Mr. Trump told the group. “You know why? He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

The conversation, several Democratic officials said, only devolved from there, and reached a fever pitch after Ms. Pelosi told the president that Russia, which has quickly stepped in to fill the void left by American troops in Syria, “has always wanted a foothold in the Middle East.” It was at this point that she told Mr. Trump that all roads with him led to Mr. Putin.

At another point, Mr. Trump told Ms. Pelosi that he cared more about defeating terrorism than she did.

“I hate ISIS more than you do,” the president declared.

“You don’t know that,” the speaker replied.

What happened next is now a matter of ammunition by both the Democrats and the White House.

“You’re just a politician,” Mr. Trump said to Ms. Pelosi.

“Sometimes I wish you were,” Ms. Pelosi shot back.

Mr. Schumer interjected, telling Mr. Trump that name-calling was not necessary.

“Is that a bad name, Chuck?” Mr. Trump asked, then turned to Ms. Pelosi. “You’re not a politician, you’re a third-grade politician.” (Or “third-rate,” depending on which politician was doing the retelling.)

Ms. Pelosi stood up to leave, but then sat back down. At this point Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House majority leader — who later said he was “deeply offended” by the president’s treatment of the speaker — said it was time to go.

“This is not useful,” Mr. Hoyer said as he and Ms. Pelosi made for the door.

“Goodbye,” the president responded. “We’ll see you at the polls.”

In the hours afterward, Democrats and the White House leapt to promote their side of the story and take shots at each other. Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said the president had been completely in control during the meeting with lawmakers.

“The president was measured, factual and decisive, while Speaker Pelosi’s decision to walk out was baffling, but not surprising,” Ms. Grisham said in a statement. “She had no intention of listening or contributing to an important meeting on national security issues. While democratic leadership chose to storm out and get in front of the cameras to whine, everyone else in the meeting chose to stay in the room and work on behalf of this country.’’

By early evening, Mr. Trump had posted on Twitter the official White House photos of the meeting. One showed Ms. Pelosi standing up to speak to him, which Mr. Trump characterized as an “unhinged meltdown.”

Ms. Pelosi used “meltdown” to describe Mr. Trump’s behavior as well.

Another photo of the session showed a close-up of Democratic lawmakers looking pained as the meeting went on.

“Do you think they like me?” Mr. Trump wrote.

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Someone Had a ‘Meltdown’ at the White House. Pelosi and Trump Just Disagree on Who.

WASHINGTON — You know a White House meeting has gone off the rails when the president of the United States and the speaker of the House cannot agree over the precise insult one called the other.

According to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Trump called her a “third-grade” politician during a combative meeting with congressional leaders of both parties on Wednesday about the worsening situation in northern Syria. The White House and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said Mr. Trump actually called Ms. Pelosi “third-rate.”

At one particularly tense moment, Ms. Pelosi informed the president that “all roads with you lead to Putin,” referring to Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president.

And so, on Day 1,000 of his presidency, that is where things stand between Mr. Trump and Ms. Pelosi, who have a fraught history of derailing meetings shortly after pledging to work together, including one in January, when the president abruptly stood up, said “bye bye,” and stormed out. A meeting in May basically ended before it began.

The roughly 20-minute meeting on Wednesday, the first since Democrats began an impeachment inquiry of Mr. Trump, was a new low, according to the recollections of several Democratic officials who shared details of the meeting. The White House did not dispute their accounts.

Mr. Trump began the proceedings in the Cabinet Room by making it clear that he did not want to be there.

“They said you wanted this meeting,” Mr. Trump told the congressional leaders. “I didn’t want this meeting, but I’m doing it.”

Several lawmakers replied that the White House had reached out to them in efforts to brief them on the administration’s Syria policy.

Mr. Trump then began a speech about a “nasty” letter he had sent to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, which he said was proof that he had not given the Turkish leader a green light to advance Turkish forces into Syria. Mr. Trump then directed Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican minority leader, to pass copies of the letter around the table.

The letter to Mr. Erdogan, which began with the sentence “Let’s work out a good deal!” was dated Oct. 9, or three days after the two leaders discussed the departure of American forces from the area.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Someone Had a ‘Meltdown’ at the White House. Pelosi and Trump Just Disagree on Who. United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Syria Schumer, Charles E Pelosi, Nancy Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

A short time later, Ms. Pelosi told the president that the House had passed a bipartisan resolution with overwhelming Republican support that condemned his acquiescence to a Turkish assault against the Kurds, who have been crucial American allies in the fight against ISIS.

Mr. Schumer, for his part, tried to appeal to Mr. Trump as a fellow New Yorker who lived through the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“I told the president, being from New York,” Mr. Schumer said to reporters shortly after the meeting, “we’re particularly aware of the problems that terrorism that an organization like ISIS can create. And the fact that someone no less than General Mattis has said that ISIS has been enhanced, that the danger of ISIS is so much greater, worries all of us.”

At Mr. Schumer’s mention of Gen. Jim Mattis — who quit last year as Mr. Trump’s secretary of defense to protest the president’s decision to pull American troops out of Syria — Mr. Trump began denigrating the retired four-star general’s approach to combating terrorism in the Middle East.

Mr. Mattis was “the world’s most overrated general,” Mr. Trump told the group. “You know why? He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

The conversation, several Democratic officials said, only devolved from there, and reached a fever pitch after Ms. Pelosi told the president that Russia, which has quickly stepped in to fill the void left by American troops in Syria, “has always wanted a foothold in the Middle East.” It was at this point that she told Mr. Trump that all roads with him led to Mr. Putin.

At another point, Mr. Trump told Ms. Pelosi that he cared more about defeating terrorism than she did.

“I hate ISIS more than you do,” the president declared.

“You don’t know that,” the speaker replied.

What happened next is now a matter of ammunition by both the Democrats and the White House.

“You’re just a politician,” Mr. Trump said to Ms. Pelosi.

“Sometimes I wish you were,” Ms. Pelosi shot back.

Mr. Schumer interjected, telling Mr. Trump that name-calling was not necessary.

“Is that a bad name, Chuck?” Mr. Trump asked, then turned to Ms. Pelosi. “You’re not a politician, you’re a third-grade politician.” (Or “third-rate,” depending on which politician was doing the retelling.)

Ms. Pelosi stood up to leave, but then sat back down. At this point Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House majority leader — who later said he was “deeply offended” by the president’s treatment of the speaker — said it was time to go.

“This is not useful,” Mr. Hoyer said as he and Ms. Pelosi made for the door.

“Goodbye,” the president responded. “We’ll see you at the polls.”

In the hours afterward, Democrats and the White House leapt to promote their side of the story and take shots at each other. Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said the president had been completely in control during the meeting with lawmakers.

“The president was measured, factual and decisive, while Speaker Pelosi’s decision to walk out was baffling, but not surprising,” Ms. Grisham said in a statement. “She had no intention of listening or contributing to an important meeting on national security issues. While democratic leadership chose to storm out and get in front of the cameras to whine, everyone else in the meeting chose to stay in the room and work on behalf of this country.’’

By early evening, Mr. Trump had posted on Twitter the official White House photos of the meeting. One showed Ms. Pelosi standing up to speak to him, which Mr. Trump characterized as an “unhinged meltdown.”

Ms. Pelosi used “meltdown” to describe Mr. Trump’s behavior as well.

Another photo of the session showed a close-up of Democratic lawmakers looking pained as the meeting went on.

“Do you think they like me?” Mr. Trump wrote.

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In Bipartisan Rebuke, House Majority Condemns Trump for Syria Withdrawal

WASHINGTON — The House on Wednesday dealt a stinging bipartisan rebuke to President Trump for his decision to withdraw American forces just inside Syria’s border, registering overwhelming opposition in Congress to a move that has thrown the region into bloody chaos and unraveled Middle East policy.

In a rare break with a president they are normally unwilling to criticize, two-thirds of House Republicans, including all of the party’s elected leaders, joined Democrats in approving a resolution that opposed Mr. Trump’s acquiescence to the Turkish assault against the Kurds, who have been crucial American allies in the fight against the Islamic State. The measure passed, 354 to 60, in the most significant bipartisan repudiation of Mr. Trump since he took office.

It enraged the president, who lashed out at Democratic congressional leaders at the White House shortly afterward at a meeting called to discuss the incursion, which devolved into a bitter confrontation in which he hurled insults at Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she pointedly mentioned the devastating vote tally.

“He was shaken up by it,” Ms. Pelosi said of the resounding support, including by Republicans, for the resolution.

The vote unfolded only hours before Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were to travel to Ankara, Turkey, to call for a cease-fire in a battle the president appears to have greenlit.

“At President Trump’s hands, American leadership has been laid low, and American foreign policy has become nothing more than a tool to advance his own interests,” said Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, who introduced the measure. “Today we make clear that the Congress is a coequal branch of government and we want nothing to do with this disastrous policy.”

The measure, which was largely symbolic, upbraided the withdrawal as “beneficial to adversaries of the United States government” including Russia, Syria and Iran, and called on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to immediately end unilateral military action in northern Syria. A companion measure in the Senate, sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Todd Young, Republican of Indiana, was introduced on Tuesday.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge In Bipartisan Rebuke, House Majority Condemns Trump for Syria Withdrawal Van Hollen, Christopher Jr United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Terrorism Syria Paul, Rand Kurds Graham, Lindsey Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Cheney, Liz

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

Even as Mr. Trump defended his decision to pull American troops out of northern Syria, telling reporters at the White House that the battle there had “nothing to do with us,” Republicans and Democrats lined up on the House floor to denounce his action.

“Because of this decision and inaction that led up to this decision, we have let our friends down, we have hurt our national security and we have ceded leadership in the region to Russia and Iran,” said Representative Will Hurd, Republican of Texas and a former C.I.A. officer who is retiring. “I hope we can change our course, but I fear it may be too late.”

The resolution drew support from 129 Republicans including all three of the party’s House leaders, while 60 opposed it and three — Representatives Chip Roy of Texas, Jody B. Hice of Georgia and Bob Gibbs of Ohio — voted present. Representative Justin Amash, independent of Michigan, also voted present.

The resolution was not the first bipartisan rebuke by Congress of Mr. Trump’s mercurial approach to foreign policy. The president’s allies on Capitol Hill have shown they are most comfortable criticizing him on matters of international affairs, and have previously joined Democrats to denounce his administration’s unflagging support of Saudi Arabia after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist. And they declared their disapproval this year of attempts to withdraw American forces from Syria in a bipartisan effort led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader.

But Mr. Trump’s decision last week to essentially clear the way for a Turkish military operation against America’s Kurdish allies in northern Syria has provoked the strongest response yet from Republicans, including many of the president’s most reliable allies.

Mr. McConnell opened his weekly news conference on Wednesday by expressing his “gratitude to the Kurds,” and added, “I’m sorry that we are where we are.”

After Mr. Trump said Wednesday that Turkey’s invasion into Syria had nothing to do with us” and that the Kurds “are no angels,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, called it “an astonishing statement which I completely and totally reject.”

Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican, wrote on Twitter that it is “Impossible to understand why @realDonaldTrump is leaving America’s allies to be slaughtered and enabling the return of ISIS.”

Hawkish lawmakers like Ms. Cheney and Mr. Graham, as well as Democratic leaders in the House, are preparing additional legislative action to punish the Turks’ incursion. Mr. Graham introduced a sanctions package with Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, last week, that would impose harsher sanctions on Turkey than the White House has enacted, including the prohibition of American military assistance and the freezing of the American assets of Mr. Erdogan and other Turkish leaders.

Westlake Legal Group syria-turkey-promo-1571094797315-articleLarge-v3 In Bipartisan Rebuke, House Majority Condemns Trump for Syria Withdrawal Van Hollen, Christopher Jr United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Terrorism Syria Paul, Rand Kurds Graham, Lindsey Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Cheney, Liz

4 Big Questions About Syria’s Future

The surprise American withdrawal from parts of northern Syria reshuffled old alliances and touched off a new stage of the eight-year war.

A small handful of libertarian-minded Republicans on Capitol Hill, including Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, have defended Mr. Trump’s decision as being consistent with the president’s campaign promise to end America’s intractable military conflicts.

“If we can save one American soldier from losing their life or limbs in another senseless middle eastern war, it is worthwhile,” Mr. Paul wrote on Twitter. “@realDonaldTrump knows this.”

It is unclear exactly how far congressional Republicans will go in their objections to Mr. Trump’s latest decision. Some of the president’s defenders who immediately vented their ire at the Syria withdrawal, including Mr. Graham, have since cooled their tone.

Mr. Graham, for example, released a long statement on Monday after meeting with Mr. Trump at the White House and joining a call with Mr. Erdogan.

“The president’s team has a plan and I intend to support them as strongly as possible, and to give them reasonable time and space to achieve our mutual goals,” Mr. Graham said.

Representative Michael Waltz, Republican of Florida, who had sharply criticized the withdrawal, emerged from a meeting with the White House on Tuesday sounding reassured.

“It was useful to see a lot of the promises that Erdogan made the president and to understand how forcefully the president, Secretary Esper, told the Turks across the board not to do this,” Mr. Waltz said in a brief interview, referring to Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper. Mr. Waltz added that the White House was “livid” with Mr. Erdogan.

Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo are to meet on Thursday with the Turkish president to relay Mr. Trump’s demand that Mr. Erdogan negotiate a cease-fire, and to reiterate the president’s threat to impose economic sanctions if he does not.

Mr. Trump is also set to meet with Mr. Erdogan in November at the White House. But lawmakers on Wednesday called for the president to cancel the talks.

“Erdogan’s attack on our Kurdish partners has served to liberate ISIS prisoners, bolster the Assad regime, and strengthen Russia,” said Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee. “His invitation to the White House should be revoked.”

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote

WASHINGTON — President Trump seemed to wash his hands of the conflict between Turkey and America’s Kurdish allies in Syria on Wednesday, generating withering criticism from Republican allies, who rebuked him in a House vote. The day ended with a heated confrontation between Mr. Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump told reporters that the Turkish assault on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria that began after he pulled out American troops “has nothing to do with us.” He declared that the Kurds who battled the Islamic State alongside United States forces for years were “not angels,” but instead essentially self-interested mercenaries who fought because they were paid to.

The president’s comments triggered a strong rebuttal from fellow Republicans who accused him of abandoning friends of the United States and jeopardizing America’s leadership in the region. Mr. Trump then engaged in a sharp exchange at the White House with Democratic congressional leaders, who walked out of a meeting, complaining that he had been more offensive to them than any president in modern times.

During the meeting, according to Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Trump berated her as “a third-grade politician” and suggesting that she would be happy if communists gained influence in the Middle East. Ms. Pelosi told reporters on the White House driveway afterward that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”

Mr. Trump also dismissed his own former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who resigned last year when the president first tried to withdraw troops from Syria. When Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, began to cite Mr. Mattis, a retired Marine general, the president interjected, calling him “the world’s most overrated general,” according to a Democrat briefed on the meeting.

“You know why?” Mr. Trump said. “He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162822540_19578b24-5e6b-48ea-9341-e331f3a2bb59-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Representative Steny H. Hoyer, left and Senator Chuck Schumer at the White House on Wednesday. Ms. Pelosi told reporters that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The confrontation with the Democrats followed a series of public appearances where the president attempted to justify his decision to withdraw a small number of American troops from the border who had been serving as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkey from attacking Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The decision to pull out the troops was seen as an implicit green light to Turkey, which then launched a powerful offensive against the Kurds.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office alongside the visiting president of Italy, Mr. Trump said that the American soldiers he had ordered to pull back were no longer in harm’s way and that “they shouldn’t be as two countries fight over land.”

“That has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said, all but dismissing the Kurdish fighters. “The Kurds know how to fight, and, as I said, they’re not angels, they’re not angels,” he said.

But the president denied that he gave a green light to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey during a phone call last week, citing a letter that he wrote a few days afterward.

“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Mr. Trump said in the letter, which was dated Oct. 9 and obtained by Fox News on Wednesday and confirmed by a White House official. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.”

The president’s comments in the Oval Office and again during a later news conference in the East Room came as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, the president’s new national security adviser, were preparing to fly to Turkey in a bid to persuade Mr. Erdogan to pull back his offensive.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

Republicans and Democrats alike have denounced the president for abandoning the Kurds, who now are fighting Turkish forces in a chaotic battlefield that also has put at risk American troops pulling back from the Syrian border with Turkey. Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the small American force from the border, where they had served as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkish aggression, has been widely criticized as a signal permitting Turkey to launch its offensive.

Mr. Trump insisted his handling of the matter had been “strategically brilliant” and minimized concerns for the Kurds, implying that they allied with the United States only out of their own self-interest. “We paid a lot of money for them to fight with us,” he said. Echoing Mr. Erdogan’s talking points, Mr. Trump compared one faction of the Kurds to the Islamic State and he asserted that Kurds intentionally freed some Islamic State prisoners to create a backlash for him. “Probably the Kurds let go to make a little bit stronger political impact,” he said.

Turkey has been upset about the Kurdish presence across the border in Syria for years because the American-backed militia has ties to a Kurdish guerrilla group known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., that has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. Both Turkey and the United States consider it to be a terrorist organization. Turkey fears the Kurdish-controlled part of northern Syria could be used as a base of operations against its territory.

Mr. Trump dismissed concerns that his decision to pull back had opened the way for Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State to move into the abandoned territory and reassert their influence in the area. “I wish them all a lot of luck,” Mr. Trump said of the Russians and Syrians. Warning of a repeat of the disastrous decade-long Soviet war in Afghanistan, he added, “If Russia wants to get involved in Syria, that’s really up to them.”

Critics in both parties condemned the president’s approach. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, opened his weekly news conference by expressing his “gratitude to the Kurds,” adding, “I’m sorry that we are where we are.”

Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said that by sending Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo to Turkey, Mr. Trump was trying to fix a problem of his own creation, but too late.

“It’s very hard to understand why it is the vice president and secretary of state and others are going to talk with Erdogan and Turkey,” Mr. Romney told reporters. “It’s like the farmer who lost all his horses and goes to now shut the barn door.”

Mr. Trump got into an extended back and forth with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who has been one of the president’s closest allies but emerged as one of the sharpest opponent of his Syria decision After Mr. Trump said the Turkish-Kurdish conflict was of no interest to the United States, Mr. Graham took to Twitter to castigate the president.

“I hope President Trump is right in his belief that Turkeys invasion of Syria is of no concern to us, abandoning the Kurds won’t come back to haunt us, ISIS won’t reemerge, and Iran will not fill the vacuum created by this decision,” Mr. Graham wrote.

“However,” he added, “I firmly believe that if President Trump continues to make such statements this will be a disaster worse than President Obama’s decision to leave Iraq.”

Mr. Trump pushed back on Mr. Graham during his second meeting with reporters, saying that the South Carolina senator should be focusing on investigating the president’s Democratic opponents, including former President Barack Obama. “The people of South Carolina don’t want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, or with Syria,” Mr. Trump said. “Let them fight their own wars.”

Mr. Graham then rebutted Mr. Trump again. “With all due respect for the president, I think I’m elected to have a say about our national security that in my view,” he told reporters who relayed Mr. Trump’s remarks. “I will not ever be quiet about matters of national security.”

“And here’s what I would tell the president,” he added. “You’re doing this against sound military advice. Forget about me. Listen to your own. You’re not.”

The president’s isolation on the issue was on display in the East Room when his guest, President Sergio Mattarella of Italy, was far more critical of Turkey’s incursion than Mr. Trump was. While the president said it had nothing to do with the United States, Mr. Mattarella emphasized that “Italy, aligned with the E.U.’s position, condemns the Turkish operations.”

Even as the president washed his hands of the conflict, his vice president and secretary of state prepared to head to the region to try to stop them from fighting their own wars. Mr. Pompeo said the main goal of meeting with Mr. Erdogan was to secure a cease-fire between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

Amid reports that Turkish forces were moving near the Syrian town of Kobani, which has a large Kurdish population, Mr. Pompeo said he was given a commitment by the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that troops would not enter the town.

“We need them to stand down, we need a cease-fire, at which point we can begin to put this all back together again,” Mr. Pompeo said on Fox Business Network.

Military positions in northern Syria as of Oct. 16

Turkish Army and Syrian opposition Syrian Army deployed U.S. military bases and outposts Russian bases

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Sources: Times reporting; Control areas as of Oct. 16 via Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit; Military positions for Russia are from the Institute for the Study of War. | By Allison McCann, Sarah Almukhtar, Anjali Singhvi and Jin Wu

“Our goal isn’t to break the relationship,” Mr. Pompeo said. “It is to deny Turkey the capacity to continue to engage in this behavior. The president said this was a bad deal, it was a bad thing; we’re working to stop it.”

Mr. Pence, who has been spending most of his time on domestic travel promoting policies like the revised trade agreement with Mexico and Canada in states being targeted by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, had scratched all foreign trips from his schedule through the end of the year. The trip to Turkey was unplanned, added at the last minute.

Mr. Pence also has a tense relationship with Mr. Erdogan. He was one of the administration’s leading advocates for the freedom of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who had been detained in Turkey for two years but was freed last fall.

“The president is seeking a cease-fire because he feels that from a humanitarian perspective, this is not good,” said Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff.

Mr. Short said that Mr. Pence had no personal relationship with Mr. Erdogan to lean on, although they had met when Mr. Erdogan visited Washington. Mr. Pence’s trip to Ankara to meet with Mr. Erdogan, he said, was “one in which the imprimatur of the vice president is important.”

Former officials described the trip as all risk for Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo and all reward for Mr. Trump. The vice president and secretary of state are now in an awkward position of being sent to stop an invasion after Mr. Trump described it as “not our problem,” while the president looks like he sent a delegation to conduct talks but will ultimately do whatever he wants.

Robert Ford, who was the last American ambassador to serve in Syria before the civil war forced the closing of the United States Embassy in 2012, said it would be counterproductive to punish Turkey to the point of driving it “further into the arms of Russia.”

He also said the United States should not be beholden to long-term interests of Kurdish fighters to carve out a state in eastern Syria, and that the Trump administration “is right to stop the mission creep in U.S. strategy in Syria.”

But given Mr. Erdogan’s widely known interests in invading the Kurdish territory, Mr. Ford said the Trump administration mishandled the delicate diplomacy. He noted that the very day that Mr. Erdogan announced the invasion, Mr. Pompeo was in the region — and could have attempted to head off the military campaign hours earlier with a quick visit to Turkey to meet officials there instead of flying back to Washington.

“The Trump administration is correct to limit our commitment in eastern Syria, but it is very clumsy in managing the policy and the rollout,” said Mr. Ford, now a fellow at the Middle East Institute and Yale University. The mission by Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo comes a full week after the invasion began. “At this late stage,” Mr. Ford said, “it is not clear what the administration can hope to salvage.”

Eileen Sullivan, Katie Rogers and Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

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

Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote

WASHINGTON — President Trump seemed to wash his hands of the conflict between Turkey and America’s Kurdish allies in Syria on Wednesday, generating withering criticism from Republican allies, who rebuked him in a House vote. The day ended with a heated confrontation between Mr. Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump told reporters that the Turkish assault on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria that began after he pulled out American troops “has nothing to do with us.” He declared that the Kurds who battled the Islamic State alongside United States forces for years were “not angels,” but instead essentially self-interested mercenaries who fought because they were paid to.

The president’s comments triggered a strong rebuttal from fellow Republicans who accused him of abandoning friends of the United States and jeopardizing America’s leadership in the region. Mr. Trump then engaged in a sharp exchange at the White House with Democratic congressional leaders, who walked out of a meeting, complaining that he had been more offensive to them than any president in modern times.

During the meeting, according to Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Trump berated her as “a third-grade politician” and suggesting that she would be happy if communists gained influence in the Middle East. Ms. Pelosi told reporters on the White House driveway afterward that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”

Mr. Trump also dismissed his own former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who resigned last year when the president first tried to withdraw troops from Syria. When Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, began to cite Mr. Mattis, a retired Marine general, the president interjected, calling him “the world’s most overrated general,” according to a Democrat briefed on the meeting.

“You know why?” Mr. Trump said. “He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162822540_19578b24-5e6b-48ea-9341-e331f3a2bb59-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Representative Steny H. Hoyer, left and Senator Chuck Schumer at the White House on Wednesday. Ms. Pelosi told reporters that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The confrontation with the Democrats followed a series of public appearances where the president attempted to justify his decision to withdraw a small number of American troops from the border who had been serving as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkey from attacking Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The decision to pull out the troops was seen as an implicit green light to Turkey, which then launched a powerful offensive against the Kurds.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office alongside the visiting president of Italy, Mr. Trump said that the American soldiers he had ordered to pull back were no longer in harm’s way and that “they shouldn’t be as two countries fight over land.”

“That has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said, all but dismissing the Kurdish fighters. “The Kurds know how to fight, and, as I said, they’re not angels, they’re not angels,” he said.

But the president denied that he gave a green light to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey during a phone call last week, citing a letter that he wrote a few days afterward.

“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Mr. Trump said in the letter, which was dated Oct. 9 and obtained by Fox News on Wednesday and confirmed by a White House official. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.”

The president’s comments in the Oval Office and again during a later news conference in the East Room came as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, the president’s new national security adviser, were preparing to fly to Turkey in a bid to persuade Mr. Erdogan to pull back his offensive.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

Republicans and Democrats alike have denounced the president for abandoning the Kurds, who now are fighting Turkish forces in a chaotic battlefield that also has put at risk American troops pulling back from the Syrian border with Turkey. Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the small American force from the border, where they had served as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkish aggression, has been widely criticized as a signal permitting Turkey to launch its offensive.

Mr. Trump insisted his handling of the matter had been “strategically brilliant” and minimized concerns for the Kurds, implying that they allied with the United States only out of their own self-interest. “We paid a lot of money for them to fight with us,” he said. Echoing Mr. Erdogan’s talking points, Mr. Trump compared one faction of the Kurds to the Islamic State and he asserted that Kurds intentionally freed some Islamic State prisoners to create a backlash for him. “Probably the Kurds let go to make a little bit stronger political impact,” he said.

Turkey has been upset about the Kurdish presence across the border in Syria for years because the American-backed militia has ties to a Kurdish guerrilla group known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., that has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. Both Turkey and the United States consider it to be a terrorist organization. Turkey fears the Kurdish-controlled part of northern Syria could be used as a base of operations against its territory.

Mr. Trump dismissed concerns that his decision to pull back had opened the way for Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State to move into the abandoned territory and reassert their influence in the area. “I wish them all a lot of luck,” Mr. Trump said of the Russians and Syrians. Warning of a repeat of the disastrous decade-long Soviet war in Afghanistan, he added, “If Russia wants to get involved in Syria, that’s really up to them.”

Critics in both parties condemned the president’s approach. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, opened his weekly news conference by expressing his “gratitude to the Kurds,” adding, “I’m sorry that we are where we are.”

Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said that by sending Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo to Turkey, Mr. Trump was trying to fix a problem of his own creation, but too late.

“It’s very hard to understand why it is the vice president and secretary of state and others are going to talk with Erdogan and Turkey,” Mr. Romney told reporters. “It’s like the farmer who lost all his horses and goes to now shut the barn door.”

Mr. Trump got into an extended back and forth with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who has been one of the president’s closest allies but emerged as one of the sharpest opponent of his Syria decision After Mr. Trump said the Turkish-Kurdish conflict was of no interest to the United States, Mr. Graham took to Twitter to castigate the president.

“I hope President Trump is right in his belief that Turkeys invasion of Syria is of no concern to us, abandoning the Kurds won’t come back to haunt us, ISIS won’t reemerge, and Iran will not fill the vacuum created by this decision,” Mr. Graham wrote.

“However,” he added, “I firmly believe that if President Trump continues to make such statements this will be a disaster worse than President Obama’s decision to leave Iraq.”

Mr. Trump pushed back on Mr. Graham during his second meeting with reporters, saying that the South Carolina senator should be focusing on investigating the president’s Democratic opponents, including former President Barack Obama. “The people of South Carolina don’t want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, or with Syria,” Mr. Trump said. “Let them fight their own wars.”

Mr. Graham then rebutted Mr. Trump again. “With all due respect for the president, I think I’m elected to have a say about our national security that in my view,” he told reporters who relayed Mr. Trump’s remarks. “I will not ever be quiet about matters of national security.”

“And here’s what I would tell the president,” he added. “You’re doing this against sound military advice. Forget about me. Listen to your own. You’re not.”

The president’s isolation on the issue was on display in the East Room when his guest, President Sergio Mattarella of Italy, was far more critical of Turkey’s incursion than Mr. Trump was. While the president said it had nothing to do with the United States, Mr. Mattarella emphasized that “Italy, aligned with the E.U.’s position, condemns the Turkish operations.”

Even as the president washed his hands of the conflict, his vice president and secretary of state prepared to head to the region to try to stop them from fighting their own wars. Mr. Pompeo said the main goal of meeting with Mr. Erdogan was to secure a cease-fire between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

Amid reports that Turkish forces were moving near the Syrian town of Kobani, which has a large Kurdish population, Mr. Pompeo said he was given a commitment by the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that troops would not enter the town.

“We need them to stand down, we need a cease-fire, at which point we can begin to put this all back together again,” Mr. Pompeo said on Fox Business Network.

Military positions in northern Syria as of Oct. 16

Turkish Army and Syrian opposition Syrian Army deployed U.S. military bases and outposts Russian bases

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-900 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-600 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-335 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

KURDISH

Control

Gov’t

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer

zone

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Sources: Times reporting; Control areas as of Oct. 16 via Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit; Military positions for Russia are from the Institute for the Study of War. | By Allison McCann, Sarah Almukhtar, Anjali Singhvi and Jin Wu

“Our goal isn’t to break the relationship,” Mr. Pompeo said. “It is to deny Turkey the capacity to continue to engage in this behavior. The president said this was a bad deal, it was a bad thing; we’re working to stop it.”

Mr. Pence, who has been spending most of his time on domestic travel promoting policies like the revised trade agreement with Mexico and Canada in states being targeted by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, had scratched all foreign trips from his schedule through the end of the year. The trip to Turkey was unplanned, added at the last minute.

Mr. Pence also has a tense relationship with Mr. Erdogan. He was one of the administration’s leading advocates for the freedom of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who had been detained in Turkey for two years but was freed last fall.

“The president is seeking a cease-fire because he feels that from a humanitarian perspective, this is not good,” said Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff.

Mr. Short said that Mr. Pence had no personal relationship with Mr. Erdogan to lean on, although they had met when Mr. Erdogan visited Washington. Mr. Pence’s trip to Ankara to meet with Mr. Erdogan, he said, was “one in which the imprimatur of the vice president is important.”

Former officials described the trip as all risk for Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo and all reward for Mr. Trump. The vice president and secretary of state are now in an awkward position of being sent to stop an invasion after Mr. Trump described it as “not our problem,” while the president looks like he sent a delegation to conduct talks but will ultimately do whatever he wants.

Robert Ford, who was the last American ambassador to serve in Syria before the civil war forced the closing of the United States Embassy in 2012, said it would be counterproductive to punish Turkey to the point of driving it “further into the arms of Russia.”

He also said the United States should not be beholden to long-term interests of Kurdish fighters to carve out a state in eastern Syria, and that the Trump administration “is right to stop the mission creep in U.S. strategy in Syria.”

But given Mr. Erdogan’s widely known interests in invading the Kurdish territory, Mr. Ford said the Trump administration mishandled the delicate diplomacy. He noted that the very day that Mr. Erdogan announced the invasion, Mr. Pompeo was in the region — and could have attempted to head off the military campaign hours earlier with a quick visit to Turkey to meet officials there instead of flying back to Washington.

“The Trump administration is correct to limit our commitment in eastern Syria, but it is very clumsy in managing the policy and the rollout,” said Mr. Ford, now a fellow at the Middle East Institute and Yale University. The mission by Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo comes a full week after the invasion began. “At this late stage,” Mr. Ford said, “it is not clear what the administration can hope to salvage.”

Eileen Sullivan, Katie Rogers and Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

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

Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote

WASHINGTON — President Trump seemed to wash his hands of the conflict between Turkey and America’s Kurdish allies in Syria on Wednesday, generating withering criticism from Republican allies, who rebuked him in a House vote. The day ended with a heated confrontation between Mr. Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump told reporters that the Turkish assault on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria that began after he pulled out American troops “has nothing to do with us.” He declared that the Kurds who battled the Islamic State alongside United States forces for years were “not angels,” but instead essentially self-interested mercenaries who fought because they were paid to.

The president’s comments triggered a strong rebuttal from fellow Republicans who accused him of abandoning friends of the United States and jeopardizing America’s leadership in the region. Mr. Trump then engaged in a sharp exchange at the White House with Democratic congressional leaders, who walked out of a meeting, complaining that he had been more offensive to them than any president in modern times.

During the meeting, according to Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Trump berated her as “a third-grade politician” and suggesting that she would be happy if communists gained influence in the Middle East. Ms. Pelosi told reporters on the White House driveway afterward that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”

Mr. Trump also dismissed his own former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who resigned last year when the president first tried to withdraw troops from Syria. When Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, began to cite Mr. Mattis, a retired Marine general, the president interjected, calling him “the world’s most overrated general,” according to a Democrat briefed on the meeting.

“You know why?” Mr. Trump said. “He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162822540_19578b24-5e6b-48ea-9341-e331f3a2bb59-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Representative Steny H. Hoyer, left and Senator Chuck Schumer at the White House on Wednesday. Ms. Pelosi told reporters that the president seemed “very shaken up” and was having “a meltdown.”CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The confrontation with the Democrats followed a series of public appearances where the president attempted to justify his decision to withdraw a small number of American troops from the border who had been serving as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkey from attacking Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The decision to pull out the troops was seen as an implicit green light to Turkey, which then launched a powerful offensive against the Kurds.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office alongside the visiting president of Italy, Mr. Trump said that the American soldiers he had ordered to pull back were no longer in harm’s way and that “they shouldn’t be as two countries fight over land.”

“That has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said, all but dismissing the Kurdish fighters. “The Kurds know how to fight, and, as I said, they’re not angels, they’re not angels,” he said.

But the president denied that he gave a green light to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey during a phone call last week, citing a letter that he wrote a few days afterward.

“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Mr. Trump said in the letter, which was dated Oct. 9 and obtained by Fox News on Wednesday and confirmed by a White House official. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.”

The president’s comments in the Oval Office and again during a later news conference in the East Room came as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, the president’s new national security adviser, were preparing to fly to Turkey in a bid to persuade Mr. Erdogan to pull back his offensive.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-trump-letter-promo-1571261887115-articleLarge Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Read Trump’s Letter to Turkey’s President

Trump said he’d written the “very powerful” letter to warn the Turkish leader.

Republicans and Democrats alike have denounced the president for abandoning the Kurds, who now are fighting Turkish forces in a chaotic battlefield that also has put at risk American troops pulling back from the Syrian border with Turkey. Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the small American force from the border, where they had served as a kind of trip wire deterring Turkish aggression, has been widely criticized as a signal permitting Turkey to launch its offensive.

Mr. Trump insisted his handling of the matter had been “strategically brilliant” and minimized concerns for the Kurds, implying that they allied with the United States only out of their own self-interest. “We paid a lot of money for them to fight with us,” he said. Echoing Mr. Erdogan’s talking points, Mr. Trump compared one faction of the Kurds to the Islamic State and he asserted that Kurds intentionally freed some Islamic State prisoners to create a backlash for him. “Probably the Kurds let go to make a little bit stronger political impact,” he said.

Turkey has been upset about the Kurdish presence across the border in Syria for years because the American-backed militia has ties to a Kurdish guerrilla group known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., that has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. Both Turkey and the United States consider it to be a terrorist organization. Turkey fears the Kurdish-controlled part of northern Syria could be used as a base of operations against its territory.

Mr. Trump dismissed concerns that his decision to pull back had opened the way for Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State to move into the abandoned territory and reassert their influence in the area. “I wish them all a lot of luck,” Mr. Trump said of the Russians and Syrians. Warning of a repeat of the disastrous decade-long Soviet war in Afghanistan, he added, “If Russia wants to get involved in Syria, that’s really up to them.”

Critics in both parties condemned the president’s approach. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, opened his weekly news conference by expressing his “gratitude to the Kurds,” adding, “I’m sorry that we are where we are.”

Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said that by sending Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo to Turkey, Mr. Trump was trying to fix a problem of his own creation, but too late.

“It’s very hard to understand why it is the vice president and secretary of state and others are going to talk with Erdogan and Turkey,” Mr. Romney told reporters. “It’s like the farmer who lost all his horses and goes to now shut the barn door.”

Mr. Trump got into an extended back and forth with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who has been one of the president’s closest allies but emerged as one of the sharpest opponent of his Syria decision After Mr. Trump said the Turkish-Kurdish conflict was of no interest to the United States, Mr. Graham took to Twitter to castigate the president.

“I hope President Trump is right in his belief that Turkeys invasion of Syria is of no concern to us, abandoning the Kurds won’t come back to haunt us, ISIS won’t reemerge, and Iran will not fill the vacuum created by this decision,” Mr. Graham wrote.

“However,” he added, “I firmly believe that if President Trump continues to make such statements this will be a disaster worse than President Obama’s decision to leave Iraq.”

Mr. Trump pushed back on Mr. Graham during his second meeting with reporters, saying that the South Carolina senator should be focusing on investigating the president’s Democratic opponents, including former President Barack Obama. “The people of South Carolina don’t want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, or with Syria,” Mr. Trump said. “Let them fight their own wars.”

Mr. Graham then rebutted Mr. Trump again. “With all due respect for the president, I think I’m elected to have a say about our national security that in my view,” he told reporters who relayed Mr. Trump’s remarks. “I will not ever be quiet about matters of national security.”

“And here’s what I would tell the president,” he added. “You’re doing this against sound military advice. Forget about me. Listen to your own. You’re not.”

The president’s isolation on the issue was on display in the East Room when his guest, President Sergio Mattarella of Italy, was far more critical of Turkey’s incursion than Mr. Trump was. While the president said it had nothing to do with the United States, Mr. Mattarella emphasized that “Italy, aligned with the E.U.’s position, condemns the Turkish operations.”

Even as the president washed his hands of the conflict, his vice president and secretary of state prepared to head to the region to try to stop them from fighting their own wars. Mr. Pompeo said the main goal of meeting with Mr. Erdogan was to secure a cease-fire between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

Amid reports that Turkish forces were moving near the Syrian town of Kobani, which has a large Kurdish population, Mr. Pompeo said he was given a commitment by the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that troops would not enter the town.

“We need them to stand down, we need a cease-fire, at which point we can begin to put this all back together again,” Mr. Pompeo said on Fox Business Network.

Military positions in northern Syria as of Oct. 16

Turkish Army and Syrian opposition Syrian Army deployed U.S. military bases and outposts Russian bases

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-900 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-600 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

Russian troops are

positioned outside

the city.

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer zone

Other

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Mediterranean

Sea

Westlake Legal Group map-detailed-335 Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

KURDISH

Control

Gov’t

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Turkey’s

proposed

buffer

zone

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Deir al-Zour

Government

Control

Sources: Times reporting; Control areas as of Oct. 16 via Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit; Military positions for Russia are from the Institute for the Study of War. | By Allison McCann, Sarah Almukhtar, Anjali Singhvi and Jin Wu

“Our goal isn’t to break the relationship,” Mr. Pompeo said. “It is to deny Turkey the capacity to continue to engage in this behavior. The president said this was a bad deal, it was a bad thing; we’re working to stop it.”

Mr. Pence, who has been spending most of his time on domestic travel promoting policies like the revised trade agreement with Mexico and Canada in states being targeted by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, had scratched all foreign trips from his schedule through the end of the year. The trip to Turkey was unplanned, added at the last minute.

Mr. Pence also has a tense relationship with Mr. Erdogan. He was one of the administration’s leading advocates for the freedom of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who had been detained in Turkey for two years but was freed last fall.

“The president is seeking a cease-fire because he feels that from a humanitarian perspective, this is not good,” said Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff.

Mr. Short said that Mr. Pence had no personal relationship with Mr. Erdogan to lean on, although they had met when Mr. Erdogan visited Washington. Mr. Pence’s trip to Ankara to meet with Mr. Erdogan, he said, was “one in which the imprimatur of the vice president is important.”

Former officials described the trip as all risk for Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo and all reward for Mr. Trump. The vice president and secretary of state are now in an awkward position of being sent to stop an invasion after Mr. Trump described it as “not our problem,” while the president looks like he sent a delegation to conduct talks but will ultimately do whatever he wants.

Robert Ford, who was the last American ambassador to serve in Syria before the civil war forced the closing of the United States Embassy in 2012, said it would be counterproductive to punish Turkey to the point of driving it “further into the arms of Russia.”

He also said the United States should not be beholden to long-term interests of Kurdish fighters to carve out a state in eastern Syria, and that the Trump administration “is right to stop the mission creep in U.S. strategy in Syria.”

But given Mr. Erdogan’s widely known interests in invading the Kurdish territory, Mr. Ford said the Trump administration mishandled the delicate diplomacy. He noted that the very day that Mr. Erdogan announced the invasion, Mr. Pompeo was in the region — and could have attempted to head off the military campaign hours earlier with a quick visit to Turkey to meet officials there instead of flying back to Washington.

“The Trump administration is correct to limit our commitment in eastern Syria, but it is very clumsy in managing the policy and the rollout,” said Mr. Ford, now a fellow at the Middle East Institute and Yale University. The mission by Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo comes a full week after the invasion began. “At this late stage,” Mr. Ford said, “it is not clear what the administration can hope to salvage.”

Eileen Sullivan, Katie Rogers and Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

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