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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 24)

U.S. Moves to Take ‘High Value’ ISIS Detainees, Including Britons Who Abused Hostages

Westlake Legal Group 09dc-beatles-facebookJumbo U.S. Moves to Take ‘High Value’ ISIS Detainees, Including Britons Who Abused Hostages United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Torture Terrorism Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Kotey, Alexanda Kidnapping and Hostages Justice Department Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Iraq Foley, James (1973-2014) Emwazi, Mohammed Elsheikh, El Shafee Defense and Military Forces

The American military is moving to take as many as several dozen Islamic State detainees out of Kurdish-run wartime prisons in northern Syria, including two British men already in custody who are notorious for their roles in the torture and killing of Western hostages, according to United States officials.

The decision comes as the Turkish military moved into northern Syria after getting a green light from President Trump. Turkey is targeting the American-backed Kurds — known as the Syrian Democratic Forces — who were the primary allies of the United States in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. The Turkish invasion called into question the militia’s ability to continue securely holding some 11,000 captured ISIS fighters.

Mr. Trump has said that Islamic State detainees will become Turkey’s responsibility, and it is not clear what his administration’s long-term plan will be for those who would instead come into the American military’s custody.

For now, the military was taking at least some of the men to Iraq, where the United States has a base where it has held a handful of Islamic State detainees with American citizenship before transferring them to domestic soil — or, in one case, releasing a detainee in Bahrain.

But their home countries have resisted repatriating them, Iraq has been reluctant to take many ISIS members captured in Syria, and there are legal challenges to taking them to the American wartime prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

However, the government does have an eventual plan for the two British men, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey: The Justice Department wants to bring them to trial in Virginia. They were part of a four-member British cell that the Islamic State put in charge of Western hostages, who nicknamed them the “Beatles” because of their accents.

Among their victims was James Foley, the American journalist who was beheaded in August 2014 for an ISIS propaganda video. Another member of the cell, Mohammed Emwazi, or “Jihadi John,” is believed to have killed Mr. Foley. Mr. Emwazi was later killed in a drone strike.

But a court fight in Britain has delayed their transfer. The lawsuit is over whether the British government may share evidence with the United States without an assurance that American prosecutors will not seek the death penalty.

The British government has shown witness statements about the two men to the Justice Department, but testimony from British government officials would also probably be necessary at any trial. Mr. Elsheikh’s mother has filed a lawsuit seeking to block such cooperation because the United States government has not promised it will not seek to execute her son. Britain has abolished the death penalty.

The American military had been making contingency plans to get a list of about five dozen of the highest-priority detainees from that group out of northern Syria since December, when Mr. Trump first announced that he would withdraw troops from the country before his administration slowed down that plan, one official said.

Mr. Trump’s decision to let Turkey proceed prompted the military to start getting those prisoners out, lest they escape amid the chaos and as the Kurds pull guards out of the prisons to help fight. But the detainees were scattered among numerous makeshift prisons, and it was not clear how many on the list would ultimately be taken, the official said.

The Washington Post earlier reported on the move to transfer custody of detainees, including the two British men.

Mr. Trump’s decision to clear the way for Turkey to launch its operation into northern Syria is bringing to an abrupt crisis a long-simmering problem: About 50 countries have citizens in the Kurds’ prisons for ISIS fighters — and in the displaced persons camps where tens of thousands of ISIS women and children are held — and have been reluctant to repatriate them, instead leaving them in the Kurds’ hands indefinitely.

The male fighters the Kurds are holding include about 9,000 local Syrians and Iraqis, as well as 2,000 foreign fighters — including scores from Western Europe. Many European law enforcement officials fear that if they repatriate their extremist citizens, they would be unable to convict them or keep them locked up for a long time.

After Britain declined to bring Mr. Elsheikh and Mr. Kotey home for prosecution, instead stripping them of their citizenship, the United States government weighed various options for handling them itself before deciding to prosecute them in civilian court once it obtained all of the evidence it needed.

A person familiar with the exchange said that Attorney General William P. Barr has asked Mr. Trump to make keeping the two British men detained a priority so they could eventually face prosecution in the United States. The president agreed to do so, the person said.

The Trump administration had also toyed with sending the two British men to the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for a period of indefinite wartime detention without trial. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who is a close ally of Mr. Trump’s but has criticized his Syria policy, has advocated that step.

But the military opposes becoming more deeply involved in long-term detention operations, and there are steep legal obstacles to taking the men to Cuba.

Among those challenges, transfer restrictions Congress imposed to block President Barack Obama from carrying out his plan to close the Guantánamo prison would make it illegal to transfer the men, once at the base, to domestic American soil for an eventual trial before a civilian court, and the military commissions system at Guantánamo is widely seen as dysfunctional.

It is also not clear whether legal authority exists to hold Islamic State members — as opposed to members of Al Qaeda — in indefinite wartime detention. Once in Guantánamo, the detainees would have the right to file habeas corpus lawsuits challenging the legality of their detention, raising the risk of a ruling that the larger war effort against ISIS has been illegal.

Eric Schmitt and Katie Benner contributed reporting.

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Undeterred by White House Threat, Democrats Push Impeachment Inquiry Ahead

Westlake Legal Group merlin_162317847_19e0b54d-46be-41b2-a398-a1cefa307d64-facebookJumbo Undeterred by White House Threat, Democrats Push Impeachment Inquiry Ahead United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment House Committee on Intelligence Giuliani, Rudolph W Ethics and Official Misconduct Democratic Party Cipollone, Pat A Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — House Democrats prepared on Wednesday to force the Trump administration anew to answer questions in their impeachment investigation, one day after President Trump and the White House declared that they would defy Congress in one of the most extraordinary assertions of executive authority in modern times.

House chairmen leading the impeachment inquiry planned to issue additional subpoenas for witness testimony and records related to Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine as soon as Thursday, lawmakers and aides said, after a pause for the Jewish High Holy Days.

They want to force executive branch officials to answer to their demands, generating a detailed record of refusals that could shape an impeachment article charging Mr. Trump with obstructing Congress. Democrats also still see other meaningful avenues for gathering evidence that go around the Trump administration’s defiance, including questioning private citizens, career diplomats near retirement and the whistle-blowers whose revelations fueled the inquiry.

“There is more we want to do,” said Representative Jim Himes of Connecticut, the second-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. He called the White House’s stonewalling “a brazen political move to try to align what has been a fragmented and uncertain strategy to defend the president.”

The Democrats’ investigation earned a prominent endorsement as former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading presidential candidate, said in a speech on Wednesday in New Hampshire that Mr. Trump should be impeached for “shooting holes in the Constitution.” Mr. Biden set aside months of restraint complicated by the president’s unsubstantiated allegations about Mr. Biden’s own dealings with Ukraine.

But the White House’s promise to put a “full halt” on cooperating with the impeachment inquiry was likely to force Democrats to more quickly confront questions about how long and how extensively to investigate Mr. Trump when ample evidence of his actions is already in the open.

So far, the Democrats have secured public support for their inquiry. Polls show that a majority of the public backs it, but if the White House successfully stanches the flow of evidence and lawmakers extend their investigation without delivering significant new findings, that support could erode.

“Every new piece of information has corroborated the basic facts, which are devastating for the president,” said Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, Democrat of New York and a member of the Intelligence Committee. “How many smoking guns are we going to get? The president’s own words incriminate him. Every supporting document we have seen further supports the devastating facts we are learning more about every day.”

But moving too quickly toward drafting articles of impeachment could expose Democrats to charges that their inquiry was a rush to tarnish the Trump presidency rather than a pursuit of the truth.

Mr. Trump and other top administration officials, as well as his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, embarked in recent months on a campaign to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to open investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump politically. A whistle-blower complaint helped bring the scandal more fully into public view and prompted the impeachment inquiry, and Democrats say they want to ensure that they are fully scrutinizing the facts before they move forward.

“There is another risk, which is you don’t get to the bottom of the story,” Mr. Himes said. “Was Rudy Giuliani running his own State Department? What other people were pressured to go along with this?”

The White House’s charged assertion late Tuesday that it would try to stymie the inquiry came in a letter from Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, but the document read more like a political argument than a legal one.

“Put simply, you seek to overturn the results of the 2016 election and deprive the American people of the president they have freely chosen,” Mr. Cipollone wrote. “Many Democrats now apparently view impeachment not only as a means to undo the democratic results of the last election, but as a strategy to influence the next election, which is barely more than a year away.”

[As the White House counsel, Mr. Cipollone is building a case for defiance on impeachment.]

Mr. Trump said on Wednesday that he was ready for a long fight with the Democrats but implied that he might reconsider if the House were to hold a vote authorizing the inquiry and granting Republicans and the White House new powers to call and cross-examine witnesses in the inquiry.

“We would if they give us our rights,” he said of Democrats.

And Mr. Trump’s congressional allies continued to try to undercut the impeachment case. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he would invite Kurt D. Volker, the former United States special envoy to Ukraine, to testify in public if the House did not release of a transcript of its private interview with him.

Mr. Volker helped try to secure commitments from Mr. Zelensky’s government to investigate corruption, serving as an intermediary between the Ukrainians, Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani.

House Democrats released damaging text messages that Mr. Volker shared showing his conversations with other American diplomats and a top Ukrainian aide. But Republicans argued that Democrats were trying to cover up the fact that he told investigators behind closed doors that he saw nothing untoward between the Trump administration and the Ukrainian government.

Democratic leaders have made clear that they view Mr. Cipollone’s letter as an invalid legal document and warned Mr. Trump and other potential witnesses that ignoring subpoenas would carry consequences. Speaker Nancy Pelosi retorted to Mr. Trump late Tuesday that he was not “above the law” and hinted that any efforts to undercut Congress’s investigation would only fuel her impeachment case.

“The White House should be warned that continued efforts to hide the truth of the president’s abuse of power from the American people will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction,” she said.

Other Democrats more explicitly pointed to one of the three articles of impeachment the House Judiciary Committee approved in 1974 charging Richard M. Nixon with failing to provide information to House inquirers.

House leaders have signaled that they are highly unlikely to take any of the Ukraine-related disputes over information into court, as they did when the White House blocked earlier requests from congressional Democrats seeking to conduct oversight. Though the House continues to litigate those earlier cases in the courts, new lawsuits would take far longer to resolve than the amount of time that Democrats believe they have to decide on impeachment.

Two key State Department figures will face choices in the coming days about whether to step down and testify to Congress or remain in the administration and keep quiet, according to current and former diplomats.

William B. Taylor Jr., America’s top diplomat in Ukraine, has already retired twice from the State Department and was called back into service most recently to go to Kiev. He has already threatened to quit once in protest over Mr. Trump’s Ukraine policy, according to the text messages that Mr. Volker shared with congressional investigators.

Marie L. Yovanovitch, who was forced out by the Trump administration as ambassador to Ukraine, is teaching at Georgetown University and nearing the end of her foreign service career. If she wants to tell her story to Congress, she will have no choice but to quit, the current and former officials said.

But even if they do resign, both Mr. Taylor and Ms. Yovanovitch could face hurdles to testifying in the impeachment inquiry. Mr. Trump could seek to tie up both officials’ eyewitness accounts in court by threatening legal action.

Congressional investigators also believe they can glean important information from private citizens whom the White House cannot claim executive privilege over and would also have a more difficult time evading subpoenas.

Most prominent among them is Mr. Giuliani, who appears to have orchestrated the monthslong effort to secure Ukrainian government support for investigations into Mr. Biden and his son and another unfounded theory about Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election. Investigators have subpoenaed Mr. Giuliani for a vast set of records, to be delivered early next week.

The House is prepared to issue subpoenas to two associates of Mr. Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who helped him try to stir up investigations in Ukraine, if they do not show up for scheduled depositions this week.

The men worked to gather information in Kiev about the Bidens and matters related to the 2016 election. Mr. Parnas also helped connect Mr. Giuliani and Ukrainian prosecutors.

And then there are the whistle-blowers whose accounts have provided a road map to investigators. Lawmakers are finalizing arrangements to talk to the first whistle-blower, who may be able to provide additional information or investigative leads.

The whistle-blower’s lawyers have confirmed that they are also representing a second official who had more direct knowledge of the effort to pressure Ukraine. Lawmakers are also likely to want to speak to that official.

Julian E. Barnes contributed reporting.

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U.S. Takes Custody of British ISIS Detainees Who Abused Hostages

Westlake Legal Group 09dc-beatles-facebookJumbo U.S. Takes Custody of British ISIS Detainees Who Abused Hostages United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Torture Terrorism Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Kotey, Alexanda Kidnapping and Hostages Justice Department Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Iraq Foley, James (1973-2014) Emwazi, Mohammed Elsheikh, El Shafee Defense and Military Forces

The American military has taken custody of two British detainees notorious for their roles in an Islamic State cell that tortured and killed Western hostages, removing them from a wartime prison in northern Syria run by a Kurdish-led militia, according to United States officials.

The abrupt move came as the Turkish military moved into northern Syria after getting a green light from President Trump. Turkey is targeting the American-backed Kurds — known as the Syrian Democratic Forces — who were the primary allies of the United States in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. The Turkish invasion called into question the militia’s ability to continue securely holding some 11,000 captured ISIS fighters.

The two British men, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, were part of a four-member British cell that the Islamic State put in charge of Western hostages, who nicknamed them the “Beatles” because of their accents. Among their victims was James Foley, the American journalist who was beheaded in August 2014 for an ISIS propaganda video.

Another member of the cell, Mohammed Emwazi, or “Jihadi John,” is believed to have killed Mr. Foley. Mr. Emwazi was later killed in a drone strike.

The Justice Department has intended to eventually bring Mr. Elsheikh and Mr. Kotey to the United States for trial in Virginia, but a court fight in Britain has delayed that transfer. The lawsuit is over whether the British government may share evidence with the United States without an assurance that American prosecutors will not seek the death penalty.

The American military was taking the men to Iraq, where the United States has a base where it has held Islamic State detainees with American citizenship before transferring them to domestic soil — or, in one case, releasing a detainee in Bahrain.

It is not clear how long the two British men will stay at that base. The Justice Department has been reluctant to take custody of them and enter them into the criminal justice system — where, among other things, they will have a right to a speedy trial — until it secures the evidence still in British hands that can help support their eventual prosecution.

The British government has shared witness statements about the two men with the Justice Department, but testimony from British government officials would also probably be necessary at any trial. Mr. Elsheikh’s mother has filed a lawsuit seeking to block such cooperation because the United States government has not promised it will not seek to execute her son. Britain has abolished the death penalty.

Because of their role in abusing Americans, the two British men were at the top of a list of ISIS detainees of concern for the American government, officials said. But that list has more than five dozen names on it, including a dozen or so other Islamic State prisoners in Kurdish hands who are considered particularly dangerous.

It remains unclear whether the Trump administration will seek to take any additional detainees from the Syrian Democratic Forces as the situation in northern Syria continues to rapidly deteriorate after Mr. Trump’s decision to clear the way for Turkey to launch its operation into northern Syria.

The move is bringing to an abrupt crisis a long-simmering problem: About 50 countries have citizens in the Kurds’ prisons for ISIS fighters — and in the displaced persons camps where tens of thousands of ISIS women and children are held — and have been reluctant to repatriate them, instead leaving them in the Kurds’ hands indefinitely.

The male fighters the Kurds are holding include about 9,000 local Syrians and Iraqis, as well as 2,000 foreign fighters — including scores from Western Europe. Many European law enforcement officials fear that if they repatriate their extremist citizens, they would be unable to convict them or keep them locked up for a long time.

After Britain declined to bring Mr. Elsheikh and Mr. Kotey home for prosecution, instead stripping them of their citizenship, the United States government weighed various options for handling them itself before deciding to prosecute them in civilian court once it obtained all of the evidence it needed.

The Trump administration also weighed sending the two British men to the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for a period of indefinite wartime detention without trial. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who is a close ally of Mr. Trump’s but has criticized his Syria policy, has advocated that step.

But the military opposes getting more deeply involved in long-term detention operations, and there are steep legal obstacles to bringing the men to Cuba.

Among those challenges, transfer restrictions Congress imposed to block President Barack Obama from carrying out his plan to close the Guantánamo prison would make it illegal to transfer the men, once at the base, to domestic American soil for an eventual trial before a civilian court, and the military commissions system at Guantánamo is widely seen as too dysfunctional.

It is also not clear whether legal authority exists to hold Islamic State members — as opposed to members of Al Qaeda — in indefinite wartime detention. Once in Guantánamo, the two men would have the right to file habeas corpus lawsuits challenging the legality of their detention, raising the prospect of a ruling that the larger war effort against ISIS has been illegal.

The Washington Post earlier reported on the transfer of the detainees’ custody.

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.

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As White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone Builds Case for Defiance on Impeachment

WASHINGTON — As a lawyer in private practice, Pat A. Cipollone, now President Trump’s White House counsel, told colleagues that there were two approaches to legal fights.

One, he said, was like the Department of State, when the two sides would try to work out a deal to avoid painful and expensive litigation. The other, when the first failed, was the Department of War.

As of this week, Mr. Cipollone has put himself squarely in the war camp when it comes to Mr. Trump’s defense against the House impeachment inquiry. After earlier advocating that the president adopt a policy of transparency by releasing the document at the heart of the impeachment debate — the reconstructed transcript of Mr. Trump’s call with his Ukrainian counterpart — Mr. Cipollone has shifted course and is now leading a no-cooperation strategy that holds substantial political risks but also seems to suit his combative client in the Oval Office.

It is a role that has pushed Mr. Cipollone, 53, to the center of a battle that could determine the course of Mr. Trump’s presidency and potentially lead to a constitutional battle with far-reaching ramifications. In building an argument that Mr. Trump has no obligation to respond to demands for information from Congress, Mr. Cipollone, in a letter sent Tuesday to House Democratic leaders, laid out an extraordinarily broad view of executive authority that, if maintained, seems likely to be viewed skeptically by the courts.

“Pat’s taking a leading role in this proceeding because of the institutional interests that are at stake,” said Jay Sekulow, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer. “He’s the right man for the task. He has the right temperament and disposition.”

Rudolph W. Giuliani, another of Mr. Trump’s lawyers and a key player in the Ukraine affair, heaped praise on Mr. Cipollone. “From a lawyer’s point of view, the letter is close to brilliant,” he said.

But to critics of Mr. Trump, Mr. Cipollone is seeking to twist the law and stonewall an entirely legitimate inquiry from a coequal branch of government and undercut the ability of Congress to pursue its constitutionally mandated remedy of impeachment.

“I cannot fathom how any self-respecting member of the bar could affix his name to this letter,” George Conway, a constitutional lawyer and the husband of Kellyanne Conway, a top aide to Mr. Trump, said on Twitter. “It’s pure hackery, and it disgraces the profession.”

Mr. Cipollone’s defiant posture toward Congress, Democrats said, was more about political positioning than a serious effort to articulate a legal and constitutional defense for Mr. Trump.

“They’re taking a position that seems to me to be quite frivolous: that Congress doesn’t have any power to investigate most of what they’re investigating,” said Neil Eggleston, who was the White House counsel in the Clinton and Obama administrations. “It’s sort of a last refuge.”

A well-known figure in Washington’s community of Catholic conservatives and anti-abortion activists, Mr. Cipollone came to the White House late last year after earlier having helped prepare Mr. Trump for the presidential debates in 2016 and advised his legal team during the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the campaign.

But Mr. Cipollone generally keeps such a low public profile that even those who have known him for years differ on how to pronounce his last name (it is sip-uh-LOAN-ee). He drives a pickup truck and a Honda Pilot, into which he loaded a beloved desk chair for the move to the White House after his appointment last December.

He has contributed substantially to Catholic charities and causes, but his political work has been largely behind the scenes, including his former law firm’s defense of former Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin in a campaign finance case.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-letter-impeachment-promo-1570570699708-articleLarge As White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone Builds Case for Defiance on Impeachment United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sekulow, Jay Alan Legal Profession Law and Legislation Ingraham, Laura A Cipollone, Pat A Bronx (NYC) Barr, William P

Read the White House Letter in Response to the Impeachment Inquiry

In a letter to House Democratic leaders, the White House counsel called the House’s impeachment inquiry illegitimate.

The son of an Italian-born factory worker and homemaker, Mr. Cipollone spent much of his childhood in the Bronx. After his father was transferred to Kentucky, Mr. Cipollone attended Covington Catholic High School before returning to New York to attend Fordham University.

A debate champion and intramural athlete, he worked days in Fordham’s computer center and summers in construction, factory and clerical jobs. He was the class of 1988’s valedictorian, graduating first in a class of 650 with a degree in economics and political philosophy. Already interested in constitutional law, he wrote a senior thesis on “Substantive Due Process and the 14th Amendment.”

Mr. Cipollone won a full academic scholarship to attend the University of Chicago Law School. There, he sank deep conservative roots, helping lead a student chapter of the Federalist Society.

Mr. Cipollone served a clerkship with Judge Danny Julian Boggs, a Reagan appointee, on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

As part of the interview process, Mr. Cipollone took the judge’s famously difficult “general knowledge” quiz, which he used to gauge knowledge beyond the law. In Mr. Cipollone’s year, potential clerks had to answer 64 questions, including, “What was the Trail of Tears?” “What did the battles of Actius, Lepanto and Salamis have in common?” and “When and what was the Edict of Nantes?” (Judge Boggs said he had looked back in his files and could not find Mr. Cipollone’s score.)

Judge Boggs recently had lunch with Mr. Cipollone in the White House mess. “I complimented him on not seeing his name in the paper,” the judge said, “which means he’s doing a good job.”

Mr. Cipollone went from Judge Boggs’s chambers in Louisville to Washington, and a speechwriting job with William P. Barr, who was attorney general in the George Bush administration and was named attorney general by Mr. Trump a few months after Mr. Cipollone arrived at the White House.

A fellow clerk, Jennifer Hall, recalled sitting in Judge Boggs’s bookshelf-lined chambers between Mr. Cipollone and another clerk, Stephen Vaughn, now a trade lawyer in Washington. “They would yell at each other over me,” she recalled, “listening to Rush Limbaugh.”

Mr. Cipollone and his wife, Rebecca Cipollone, have 10 children. The youngest is a 10-year-old son and the oldest a 26-year-old daughter, who works at Fox News for Laura Ingraham, the conservative commentator, who was introduced to Catholicism by Mr. Cipollone.

Mr. Cipollone is a founder of the National Prayer Breakfast, participates in the anti-abortion March for Life, and events that draw Washington’s Catholic elite, like the Red Mass, celebrated each year at St. Matthew’s Cathedral on the Sunday before the Supreme Court session begins. (Mr. Cipollone was absent when the event was held this past weekend.)

After his stint with Mr. Barr, Mr. Cipollone joined the law firm Kirkland & Ellis in Washington. In the mid-1990s, he moved his family to Connecticut and took a job as general counsel for a Kirkland & Ellis client, the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization and multibillion dollar insurance company. He later rejoined the firm, then left for a partnership at Stein, Mitchell, Cipollone, Beato & Missner, where he worked on Mr. Walker’s case, among others.

Melanie Sloan, a law school classmate who works with the liberal watchdog organization American Oversight, said she called Mr. Cipollone for help in a complicated legal matter after classmates recommended him. “He was kind and happy to help me,” she said. “I don’t feel like too many people in Washington would take a call from somebody they haven’t been in touch with 20 years and be right there to help. And I never got a bill.”

Mr. Cipollone earned nearly $7 million at Stein Mitchell in 2017 and 2018, according to his White House financial disclosure report.

“With every client, with everybody he sat in front of, he used the term ‘off ramps,’” says Jonathan Missner, a partner of Mr. Cipollone’s at the firm. “That’s Pat. He looks for off ramps, and he’s good at it.”

It is also true, he said, that Mr. Cipollone “can be a pit bull — and that’s the Department of War.”

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Turkey Launches Offensive Against U.S.-Backed Syrian Militia

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Turkey launched a ground and air assault on Wednesday against a Syrian militia that has been a crucial American ally in the fight against ISIS, days after President Trump agreed to let the operation proceed.

As Turkish warplanes bombed Syrian towns and troops crossed the border, the chaos in Washington continued, with President Trump issuing seemingly contradictory policy statements in the face of strident opposition from his Republican allies in Congress.

Mr. Trump acquiesced to the Turkish operation in a call with Turkey’s president on Sunday, agreeing to move American troops out of Turkey’s way despite opposition from his own State Department and military.

On Wednesday, hours after the operation began, he condemned it, calling it “a bad idea.”

By that time, Turkish fighter jets were streaking through the sky over Syrian towns, while artillery shells boomed overhead. Traffic was jammed with terrified civilians fleeing south in trucks piled high with possessions and children.

After about six hours of airstrikes, Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel allies crossed the border, opening a ground offensive.

At least seven people were killed in the Turkish attacks on Wednesday, according to the Rojava Information Center, an activist group in northeastern Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a conflict monitor based in Britain, put the toll at eight.

Where Turkish forces struck Kurdish-held areas

Westlake Legal Group syria-zoom-map-600 Turkey Launches Offensive Against U.S.-Backed Syrian Militia United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Kurds Kobani, Mazlum Kobani (Syria) Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Graham, Lindsey Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

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Westlake Legal Group syria-zoom-map-335 Turkey Launches Offensive Against U.S.-Backed Syrian Militia United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Kurds Kobani, Mazlum Kobani (Syria) Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Graham, Lindsey Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

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Westlake Legal Group syria-zoom-map-300 Turkey Launches Offensive Against U.S.-Backed Syrian Militia United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Kurds Kobani, Mazlum Kobani (Syria) Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Graham, Lindsey Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

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Sources: Times reporting; Control areas via Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit | By Sarah Almukhtar, Allison McCann and Anjali Singhvi

Turkey’s long-planned move to root out American-allied Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria could open a dangerous new front in Syria’s eight-year-old war, pitting two United States allies against each other and raising the specter of sectarian bloodletting. Even before it began, it had set off fierce debates in Washington, with members of Congress accusing Mr. Trump of betraying the militia that fought beside the United States to defeat ISIS.

There were also concerns that the militia, the Syrian Democratic Forces, would shift its forces to the north to fight Turkey, creating a power vacuum elsewhere that could benefit President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, his Russian and Iranian allies, or the Islamic State.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, usually a staunch Trump ally, accused him of having “shamelessly abandoned” America’s Kurdish allies, a move that “ensures the re-emergence of ISIS.”

Mr. Trump has insisted that “in no way have we abandoned the Kurds,” and on Wednesday said he firmly opposed the operation.

“The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea,” he said in a statement.

“Turkey,” he added, “has committed to protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place — and we will hold them to this commitment.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162421074_9fe2c115-9fad-43cc-ba8c-0272e68e73e6-articleLarge Turkey Launches Offensive Against U.S.-Backed Syrian Militia United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Kurds Kobani, Mazlum Kobani (Syria) Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Graham, Lindsey Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Smoke billowing after a Turkish bombardment in Ras al Ain, Syria, on Wednesday.CreditDelil Souleiman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed back against the idea that Mr. Trump had given Turkey a green light.

American forces pulled back from the border after “it became very clear that there were American soldiers that were going to be at risk,” he said in an interview on “PBS News Hour.”

“The president,” Mr. Pompeo added, “made a decision to put them in a place where they were out of harm’s way.”

The United States withdrew 50 to 100 troops from the border area in advance of the operation, and American military officials said that the United States was not providing assistance to either side. However, the United States was providing intelligence to Turkey until Monday, which may have helped it target Kurdish forces.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said the operation intended to “prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border.” Turkey considers the militia a terrorist organization linked to a Kurdish guerrilla movement.

He did not say how far into Syria that Turkish forces would go, but he has previously called for a Turkish-controlled buffer zone 20 miles deep into Syria extending for hundreds of miles along the border.

“Turkey has no ambition in northeastern Syria except to neutralize a longstanding threat against Turkish citizens and to liberate the local population from the yoke of armed thugs,” a government spokesman, Fahrettin Altun, wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post.

The attacks on Wednesday were broad, with strikes hitting in or near at least five towns along a stretch of more than 150 miles of the Syrian-Turkish border.

The most intensive strikes were near Tel Abyad and Ras al Ain, two towns that United States forces withdrew from on Monday. But they also targeted the larger towns of Kobani and Qamishli, where one strike left a building in flames and a dead body on the sidewalk, according to a video shot by a local journalist.

“There is a state of fear and terror among the people here, and the women and children are leaving the town,” said Akrem Saleh, a local journalist reached by phone in Ras al Ain. Many men were staying home because they feared that the Syrian rebels who accompanied the Turks would loot them if they were found empty.

The sound of bombardment shook the town of Akcakale, Turkey, just yards across the border from Tel Abyad. Schools were closed and children played in the streets, waving flags and cheering a convoy of armored personnel carriers heading to the border.

Loudspeakers blared Ottoman martial music interspersed with stern announcements urging people not to gather in large groups and to stay away from houses facing the border.

“All day they were announcing,” said Fehima Kirboga, 46, as she sat with a relative on the sidewalk in the cool of the evening. “We are very anxious but where can we go?”

The Syrian Democratic Forces warned of a “possible humanitarian catastrophe” because of the Turkish incursion. The Kurdish-led administration that governs the area issued a call for “general mobilization” to fight the Turks.

“We call upon our people, of all ethnic groups, to move toward areas close to the border with Turkey to carry out acts of resistance during this sensitive historical time,” it said.

Michael Maldonado, 31, a former Marine lance corporal from California who was among a handful of American volunteers fighting with the Kurds, said it did not matter to him that Turkey was a NATO ally.

“Ally or not, we are going to fight,” he said in a phone interview from his position less than 20 miles from the Turkish border in eastern Syria. “We see a strong country coming to massacre people who are just trying to live their lives, and we are going to try stop this. We feel we have no choice.”

The United States military, which had been working with the Syrian Democratic Forces to fight remnants of the Islamic State in Syria, has cut off all support to the militia, two American military officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential military assessments.

But for the last few weeks, as Turkish military officials planned the assault, they received American surveillance video and information from reconnaissance aircraft that may have helped them track Kurdish forces.

Because of an American counterterrorism partnership with Turkey, Turkish aircraft were given access to a suite of American battlefield intelligence in northeast Syria. Turkey was removed from the intelligence-sharing program only on Monday, a Defense Department official said.

One official said that United States warplanes and surveillance aircraft remained in the area to defend the remaining American ground forces in northeast Syria, but said they would not contest Turkish warplanes attacking Kurdish positions.

The commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazlum Kobani, told The New York Times on Tuesday that a fight with Turkey could pull his forces out of areas where the Islamic State remains a threat, opening a void that could benefit President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and his Russian and Iranian backers, or the jihadists.

American officials said Tuesday that the militia was already beginning to leave some of their counterterrorism missions against ISIS.

In addition to that concern, there are worries about the prisons and camps the militia oversees in northeastern Syria that hold tens of thousands of captured Islamic State fighters and their families.

Mr. Trump said Wednesday that Turkey should take control of the detainees.

“Turkey is now responsible for ensuring all ISIS fighters being held captive remain in prison and that ISIS does not reconstitute in any way, shape, or form,” he said in his statement.

But leaders of the Syrian Democratic Forces say there have been no discussions with the United States about handing over the facilities, and the Turkish forces are more than 70 miles away.

Turkey made efforts to win diplomatic support for its operation, informing the United States, Russia, Britain, NATO and the secretary general of the United Nations, according to the Turkish Defense Ministry.

The NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, urged Turkey “to act with restraint” and to ensure that “the gains we have made in the fight against ISIS are not jeopardized.”

Amélie de Montchalin, the French junior minister for European affairs, said that France, Germany and Britain were drafting a joint statement condemning the Turkish offensive.

A number of countries, including Russia and Iran, both allies of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, called for talks to calm the situation.

The United Nations Security Council was to discuss the issue on Thursday after requests by European members. Mr. Stoltenberg said he planned to meet with Mr. Erdogan on Friday.

A military coalition led by the United States partnered with a Kurdish militia beginning in 2015 to fight Islamic State extremists who had seized a territory that was the size of Britain and spanned the Syrian-Iraqi border. That militia grew into the Syrian Democratic Forces, which led the fight against the Islamic State and eventually took control of the areas it liberated.

Since then it has held the territory with the aid of about 1,000 American troops. Mr. Trump has repeatedly sought to withdraw them from Syria as part of his longstanding promise to extricate the United States from what he deems “endless wars.”

But he has faced fierce pushback from others in Washington, including from Republican lawmakers, who vocally opposed the Turkish operation on Wednesday.

The night before the operation, Senator Graham warned Turkey not to proceed.

“To the Turkish Government: You do NOT have a green light to enter into northern Syria,” he wrote. “There is massive bipartisan opposition in Congress, which you should see as a red line you should not cross.”

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Trump Calls Turkey’s Syrian Offensive a ‘Bad Idea,’ But Opposes ‘Senseless Wars’

Westlake Legal Group merlin_162427434_6b81aae3-41d9-41c2-aa05-075aabae67e0-facebookJumbo Trump Calls Turkey’s Syrian Offensive a ‘Bad Idea,’ But Opposes ‘Senseless Wars’ United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syria Graham, Lindsey Cheney, Liz

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday called a Turkish military operation along the border with Syria “a bad idea” but reiterated his opposition to “endless, senseless wars,” striking a far milder tone than outraged members of Congress, foreign allies and officials in his own administration, who said the incursion must be stopped.

In a statement issued by the White House, Mr. Trump asserted that “Turkey has committed to protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place.”

He said he was holding the country responsible for preventing the release of Islamic State fighters who are being held captive in the area and for ensuring “that ISIS does not reconstitute in any way, shape or form.”

But Mr. Trump limited his criticism of Turkey, making no mention of taking punitive action, while Republicans on Capitol Hill were sharply critical of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for following through with a plan he disclosed to Mr. Trump in a phone call on Sunday. And Pentagon officials privately expressed their anger over Mr. Trump’s sudden and unplanned shift in what had been American policy for years to oppose Turkey’s longtime desire to seize territory across its border with Syria.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close ally of Mr. Trump’s who often speaks and plays golf with the president, said in an interview that he had reached an agreement with Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, to offer “severe” sanctions legislation against Turkey, which Mr. Graham predicted would have “widespread bipartisan support.”

“What you’ll be seeing in the coming days is Congress filling in the vacuum,” Mr. Graham said, likening Mr. Trump’s posture to President Barack Obama’s deep-seated aversion to engagement in Syria. “Obama basically took a pass on Syria and the rest is history. We can’t afford to make that same mistake twice.”

In a joint statement, Mr. Graham and Mr. Van Hollen said their bill would punish senior Turkish government officials and ban American military transactions with Turkey. The measure would also impose sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of a sophisticated Russian-made missile defense system. Mr. Trump has avoided enforcing those sanctions, which members of Congress insist are mandatory under a 2017 law meant to penalize countries for doing business with Russia’s military.

“This invasion will ensure the resurgence of ISIS in Syria, embolden America’s enemies including Al Qaeda, Iran and Russia, and launch yet another endless conflict in what had been, until today, one of the most safe and stable areas of Syria and a region experimenting with the best model of local governance currently available in that war-torn country,” the senators said in their statement.

“Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump administration,” Mr. Graham wrote on Twitter earlier in the day.

Echoing Mr. Graham, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming tweeted that news of the Turkish action was “sickening.” She accused the president of “leaving America’s allies to be slaughtered and enabling the return of ISIS.”

But Mr. Trump was not without his defenders in Congress. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a Republican who often speaks with the president and has repeatedly pushed him to avoid foreign conflicts, wrote on Twitter that Mr. Trump “is stopping the endless wars and we will be stronger as a result. The Cheney/Graham Neocon War Caucus has cost us too much fighting endless wars.”

Prominent Democrats also denounced the Turkish move, and criticized Mr. Trump for failing to coordinate his decision to pull back American troops from the area — in effect clearing the way for Turkey to attack — with American generals and allies.

But at the Pentagon, where more than five years of fighting alongside Kurdish troops in Iraq and Syria has now given way to standing aside as those same allies are attacked, some officials said there was more anger than they had seen at any point in Mr. Trump’s presidency.

As recently as last week, Defense Department officials had been assured by Turkish military officials that they were not seeking to launch an invasion of Syria. Nor were officials expecting Mr. Trump, in his Sunday call with Mr. Erdogan, to open the door for a Turkish offensive by deciding to remove the 50 to 100 American troops in the northeastern portion of Syria, where Mr. Erdogan wants to create a “safe zone.”

A person briefed about the call said the discussion between Mr. Trump and Mr. Erdogan was wide-ranging, until Mr. Erdogan, in the second half of the call, complained that the United States was not fully complying with an agreement struck with Turkey in September to jointly create a safe zone in northeastern Syria. Mr. Erdogan said he intended to unilaterally establish one immediately.

Mr. Trump demurred, evidently believing that Mr. Erdogan would not be willing to risk the president’s ire. But Mr. Erdogan effectively “called the president’s bluff,” the person said. What followed was a scramble to move American personnel from harm’s way in northern Syria.

In the days since, Mr. Trump has made repeated references to his desire to withdraw from Syria and avoid the “stupid endless wars” against which he campaigned in 2016. But that has furthered the impression — both in the United States but, perhaps more important, in Turkey — that Mr. Trump had blessed Mr. Erdogan’s proposed incursion.

A Kurdish-led militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces has fought alongside the United States in the campaign against the Islamic State over the past five years. Mr. Erdogan sees Syria’s Kurdish fighters as an enemy, and wants to flush them out of a safe zone along his country’s southern border with Syria, which has been devastated by a civil war of more than eight years. The conflict has produced an exodus of roughly one million Syrian refugees into Turkey whom Ankara wants to relocate into a secured zone across the border.

The long-term reverberations in Washington will depend on the extent of the Turkish operation, which remains unclear.

On Monday, Mr. Trump warned that if Turkey did anything that he considered “off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey.” Mr. Trump has not clearly defined those limits, although asked by reporters on Wednesday what he would do if Mr. Erdogan wiped out the Kurds in Syria, Mr. Trump replied: “I will wipe out his economy if he does that.”

That supports the view of analysts who say the real red line for Mr. Trump and many members of Congress is not a matter of territory but rather the killing of Kurdish fighters.

Soner Cagaptay, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said he believed that Mr. Erdogan would calibrate any offensive to limit casualties that would prompt a major response from Congress and potentially humiliate Mr. Trump. He also said Turkey appeared to be moving on Arab-majority areas where its military would be more welcome than in heavily Kurdish areas nearby.

“I would say this is a war that is not a war,” Mr. Cagaptay said. “We’re not going to see fighting of epic proportions. It’s coordinated and pre-orchestrated.”

But national security officials are especially worried about how a Turkish offensive could affect the continuing fight against the Islamic State, which — thanks in large measure to the Kurdish-led forces now under attack — has lost its territorial holdings in Syria but which officials say has been gaining new momentum in both Syria and Iraq.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Democrat of New Hampshire and a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, noted that Mr. Erdogan had not publicly committed to Mr. Trump’s demands that his country take responsibility for any freed Islamic State captives in the area, or a local resurgence of the terrorist group.

“We know that terrorism in Syria does not stay in Syria,” Ms. Shaheen said in a statement. “President Erdogan, despite his claims, does not have the support of the international community for this operation and he refuses to assure the U.S. that he will guard ISIS detention facilities in the area and prevent ISIS from once again gaining a foothold in the region. I’m afraid we are dangerously close to the point of no return.”

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U.S. Takes Custody of British ISIS Detainees Who Abused Hostages

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WASHINGTON — The American military has taken custody of two British detainees notorious for their roles in an Islamic State cell that tortured and killed Western hostages, removing them from a wartime prison in northern Syria run by a Kurdish-led militia, according to United States officials.

The abrupt move came as the Turkish military moved into northern Syria after getting a green light from President Trump. Turkey is targeting the American-backed Kurds — known as the Syrian Democratic Forces — who were the primary allies of the United States in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. The Turkish invasion called into question the militia’s ability to continue securely holding some 11,000 captured ISIS fighters.

The two British men, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, were part of a four-member British cell that ISIS put in charge of Western hostages, who nicknamed them the “Beatles” because of their accents. Among their victims was James Foley, the American journalist who was beheaded in August 2014 for an ISIS propaganda video.

Another member of the cell, Mohammed Emwazi, or “Jihadi John,” is believed to have killed Mr. Foley. Mr. Emwazi was later killed in a drone strike.

The Justice Department has intended to eventually bring Mr. Elsheikh and Mr. Kotay to the United States for trial in Virginia, but a court fight in Britain has delayed that transfer. The lawsuit is over whether the British government may share evidence with the United States without an assurance that American prosecutors will not seek the death penalty.

The American military was taking the men to Iraq, where the United States has a base where it has held Islamic State detainees with American citizenship before transferring them to domestic soil — or, in one case, releasing him in Bahrain.

Because of their role in abusing Americans, the two British men were at the top of a list of ISIS detainees of concern for the American government, officials said. But that list has more than five dozen names on it, including a dozen or so other ISIS prisoners in Kurdish hands who are considered particularly dangerous.

It remains unclear whether the Trump administration will seek to take any additional detainees out of the Syrian Democratic Forces’ hands as the situation in northern Syria continues to rapidly deteriorate after Mr. Trump’s decision to clear the way for Turkey to launch its operation into northern Syria.

The Washington Post first reported on the transfer of the detainees’ custody.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.

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Tech Giants Shift Profits to Avoid Taxes. There’s a Plan to Stop Them.

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Digital tax dodgers, take heed: International leaders have advanced a plan to prevent large multinational companies like Apple, Facebook and Amazon from avoiding taxes by shifting profits between countries.

It’s an effort to de-escalate a global battle over how to tax the digital economy.

The framework proposal, released Wednesday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, would allow countries to tax large multinationals even if they did not operate inside their borders. If international negotiators can now reach agreement on its key details, the plan will pave the way for new taxes not just on tech companies but on automakers and any other large multinational firms that operate online.

Political and corporate leaders have clashed in recent years over how — and where — to tax companies that operate across national borders, particularly those that sell goods and services online.

Traditionally, companies have paid taxes in the countries where their economic activity is generated. But in the digital economy, firms can “move” the source of their profits, like patents and other intellectual property, to countries where tax rates are extremely low. That allows them to pay lower rates than companies that operate only in a single country like the United States.

Many countries, particularly those in Europe, have moved to curb that practice by approving new taxes on large multinational companies that sell to their citizens but pay little or no tax to their countries. France approved a new digital tax this year that would hit large American tech companies like Google. The Trump administration responded by threatening tariffs on imported French goods, like wine, before the countries agreed to pause their plans in hopes of finding a multilateral agreement through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Wednesday’s release brought an 18-page framework plan that officials hope will form the basis of an international agreement on digital taxation as early as next year. That framework would fundamentally alter how and where companies that operated across national borders were taxed, though it leaves the details of those tax rates to future negotiators. It suggests new rules on where companies should pay taxes — largely based on where their sales occur — and on which profits are subject to taxation.

“In a digital age, the allocation of taxing rights can no longer be exclusively circumscribed by reference to physical presence,” the framework states. “The current rules dating back to the 1920s are no longer sufficient to ensure a fair allocation of taxing rights in an increasingly globalized world.”

The framework applies only to multinationals with annual revenues of about $825 million or higher. It excludes manufacturing suppliers and resource extraction companies, like oil companies.

As it stands, the framework appears to be a victory for large, consumption-heavy countries like the United States, China and much of Western Europe, and a loss for so-called tax havens, like Ireland. Advancing the negotiating process is a win for large multinationals, even though a final deal could put them on the hook to pay more in taxes, because the alternative appears to be a series of country-by-country digital taxes that could be expensive to comply with.

“Amazon welcomes the publication of these proposals by the O.E.C.D., which are an important step forward,” a spokeswoman said Wednesday in an email. “Reaching broad international agreement on changes to fundamental international tax principles is critical to limit the risk of double taxation and distortive unilateral measures and to provide an environment that fosters growth in global trade, which is vital for the millions of customers and sellers that Amazon supports around the globe.”

A Treasury Department spokesman said on Wednesday that the United States “is studying the O.E.C.D. Secretariat’s proposal and is actively engaged in the process aimed at forging a consensus on international tax issues,” before reiterating the administration’s opposition “to unilateral digital services taxes.”

The framework will be taken up for discussion by finance ministers from large countries, who are due to meet in Washington next week.

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Biden Calls for Trump Impeachment for First Time

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ROCHESTER, N.H. — Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday called for President Trump’s impeachment for the first time, blistering Mr. Trump as a threat to American democracy and accusing him of “shooting holes in the Constitution.”

Escalating his language in an effort to rebut Mr. Trump’s unfounded claims about his actions with Ukraine, Mr. Biden set aside months of restraint to demand Congress move against the president.

“To preserve our Constitution, our democracy, our basic integrity, he should be impeached,” the former vice president told supporters here, accusing Mr. Trump of having “betrayed this nation.”

Mr. Biden linked Mr. Trump’s false claims to the so-called Big Lie idea promulgated by the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. “You say it long enough, often enough, people may believe it,” he said, invoking Goebbels by name.

While Mr. Biden stopped short of calling for Mr. Trump’s removal from office, his new aggressiveness marked an acknowledgment that he must do more to both confront a president who is attacking him daily and to halt his slide in the polls in the Democratic primary.

Mr. Trump is facing an impeachment inquiry in the House because of his request to the Ukrainian government that it look into what Mr. Biden did with the country when his son, Hunter Biden, was working for a gas company there. Mr. Biden again denied that he did anything improper as vice president. And he accused Mr. Trump, who has accused Mr. Biden of corruption and whose campaign is airing ads repeating the same claim, of acting entirely out of a desire to damage his candidacy.

“We’re not going to let Donald Trump pick the Democratic nominee for president, period,” said Mr. Biden, who has fallen behind Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in a series of national and early nominating state polls. “He’s picked a fight with the wrong guy.”

The president apparently watched the speech, or was told of it, because even before it was over he noted on Twitter that Mr. Biden had called for his impeachment and claimed the Bidens had “ripped off at least two countries for millions of dollars.”

“Joe’s Failing Campaign gave him no other choice!” wrote Mr. Trump.

There is no evidence that Hunter Biden made millions of dollars from his overseas work or that his father intervened inappropriately with Ukraine or China, the other country Mr. Trump was alluding to in his tweet. The president has also urged China to look into the Bidens.

Mr. Biden again denied that he did anything improper as vice president. He noted that his 2016 call to fire Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, was a part of United States government policy under President Barack Obama. It also reflected the wishes of a group of Republican senators at the time, who sought Mr. Shokin’s ouster because he was seen as unwilling to target corruption, Mr. Biden said.

A longtime senator before he became vice president, Mr. Biden is deferential to congressional prerogatives and has resisted calling for impeachment, even as Ms. Warren and many of his other Democratic rivals have been outspoken in demanding it. But as Mr. Trump and his allies wage political warfare against Mr. Biden, he has recently sought to mount a counteroffensive.

He began his rebuttal in a speech last week in Reno, Nev., but on Wednesday he went even further. Speaking from a teleprompter and dressed formally in suit and tie, he used his first trip back to New Hampshire since the impeachment investigation got underway to both taunt and condemn Mr. Trump in remarkably stark language.

“He’s afraid about just how badly I will beat him next November,” said Mr. Biden, attempting to frame the general election as a contest between him and the president, and appealing to Democratic voters here and elsewhere who are consumed with finding a nominee who can oust Mr. Trump.

But he also used his speech, which lasted just under 30 minutes, to warn of the damage he claimed Mr. Trump was doing to the country.

“We all laughed when he said could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and get away with it,” said Mr. Biden. “It’s no joke. He’s shooting holes in the Constitution, and we cannot let him get away with it.”

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Fed Officials Voice Concern About Slowdown’s Effect on Hiring

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WASHINGTON — Several Federal Reserve policymakers, at their most recent meeting, voiced concern that weaker business activity and investment could lead to slower hiring and consumer spending, according to minutes of the meeting published on Wednesday.

The Fed cut interest rates for a second time this year at that meeting, in mid-September, after a reduction in July that was its first since the Great Recession. The moves are meant to insulate the economy from major fallout as trade tensions stoke uncertainty and a global slowdown bleeds into American factories.

Policymakers at the September meeting expected the economy to continue growing steadily with the help of their rate cuts, the minutes showed. But they were increasingly worried about risks to that outlook from President Trump’s trade war, the threat of a chaotic British exit from the European Union, and protests in Hong Kong.

“Participants generally had become more concerned about risks associated with trade tensions and adverse developments in the geopolitical and global economic spheres,” according to the minutes. “Several participants mentioned that uncertainties in the business outlook and sustained weak investment could eventually lead to slower hiring, which, in turn, could damp the growth of income and consumption.”

The Federal Reserve has two main tasks: promoting maximum employment and maintaining stable inflation, which it defines as 2 percent annual price gains. To achieve those goals, policymakers adjust interest rates to try to keep the economy growing at a steady and sustainable pace.

The policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee has become increasingly divided over how to achieve those objectives. That is because the economy’s prospects have been clouded by the trade war and other uncertainties even as consumer spending and job growth have held up.

Some policymakers favor lowering borrowing costs now to insulate the economy against potential shocks, arguing that changes in monetary policy affect the economy with a big lag. But others want to wait for a more pronounced weakening in the economic data, or worry that lowering rates could fuel financial bubbles.

Three people voted against the decision to cut rates in September, the most dissents since Jerome H. Powell became chair last year. Esther George, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, and Eric Rosengren, president of the Boston Fed, did not want to lower rates, while James Bullard, president of the St. Louis Fed, backed a bigger rate cut.

Little has changed since the central bank’s September meeting, and while key officials including Mr. Powell and Richard Clarida, the Fed’s vice chair, have avoided signaling whether or when they will seek to lower borrowing costs again, many investors expect another rate cut when policymakers meet at the end of this month.

Speaking in Denver on Tuesday, Mr. Powell said that “policy is never on a preset course and will change as appropriate in response to incoming information.” He noted that while the job market was strong and inflation was rising toward the Fed’s 2 percent target, “there are risks to this favorable outlook, principally from global developments.”

Despite their positive assessment of the current economy, Fed policymakers were attuned to risks other than the trade war when they met last month, the minutes showed.

Several noted that some statistical models suggested that the likelihood of a coming recession “had increased notably in recent months.” But a couple of officials stressed that such models were difficult to interpret.

Some were concerned that a prolonged inversion of the yield curve — a common recession signal in which interest rates on longer-dated bonds fall below those on short-term debt — could “be a matter of concern.” And “several” were concerned about financial stability, citing a buildup of corporate debt, stock buybacks financed with low-cost debt, and rapid lending in the commercial real estate market.

Despite the mounting risks, “a few” Fed officials felt that markets were expecting too many Fed interest rate cuts going forward, “and that it might become necessary for the committee to seek a better alignment.”

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