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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 28)

State Dept. Investigator Fired by Trump Had Examined Weapons Sales to Saudis and Emiratis

WASHINGTON — The State Department inspector general fired by President Trump on Friday was in the final stages of an investigation into whether the administration had unlawfully declared an “emergency” last year to allow the resumption of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for their air war in Yemen.

Employees from the office of the inspector general, Steve A. Linick, presented preliminary findings to senior State Department officials in early March, before the coronavirus forced lockdowns across the United States. But it was not clear whether that investigation, or others that Mr. Linick had underway, led to his dismissal.

Mr. Trump, speaking about the latest in his series of firings of inspectors general around the government, said on Monday of Mr. Linick: “I don’t know him. Never heard of him. But I was asked by the State Department, by Mike” to terminate Mr. Linick. He apparently was referring to a recommendation he received from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“I have the absolute right as president to terminate,” Mr. Trump added. “I said, ‘Who appointed him?’ and they say, ‘President Obama.’ I said, ‘Look I’ll terminate him.’”

Video

transcript

‘Never Heard of Him,’ Trump Says of Inspector General He Fired

President Trump said he didn’t know why Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had asked him to terminate the official, who was investigating the administration.

“So, I don’t know him. Never heard of him, but they asked me to terminate him. I have the absolute right as president to terminate. I said, ‘Who appointed him?’ And they said, ‘President Obama.’ I said, ‘Look, I’ll terminate him.’ I don’t know what’s going on other than that. But you’d have to ask Mike Pompeo. But they did ask me to do it, and I did it. I have the right to terminate the inspector generals. Now, I don’t know anything about the investigation. But you’re just telling me about walking a dog, and what’d you say, doing dishes?” “Saudi arms deals, sir. Sales to Saudi Arabia over certain arms of concern over their use in the Yemeni crisis. So the question is whether Secretary Pompeo tried to subvert the deal with actions that he may have taken.” “I don’t think so. I mean, I think that when somebody pays us a fortune for, you know, arms, we should get the deal done. I will tell you that. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Westlake Legal Group 18vid-trump-pompeo-inspector-general1-videoSixteenByNine3000 State Dept. Investigator Fired by Trump Had Examined Weapons Sales to Saudis and Emiratis Yemen United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United Arab Emirates Trump, Donald J State Department Saudi Arabia Raytheon Company Pompeo, Mike Linick, Steve A Iran Inspectors General House Committee on Foreign Affairs Foreign Aid Engel, Eliot L Defense Contracts Appointments and Executive Changes
President Trump said he didn’t know why Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had asked him to terminate the official, who was investigating the administration.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The investigation into how Mr. Pompeo moved to end a congressional hold on arms sales to the Saudis was prompted in part by demands from the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, who said on Monday that the subsequent investigation might have been “another reason” for the firing of Mr. Linick. The White House announced the firing Friday night under a provision that requires 30 days’ notice to Congress before removing an inspector general.

Democratic leaders in Congress and several Republican lawmakers said on Monday that Mr. Trump had not given sufficient justification for the firing and that they wanted answers during the 30-day review period.

The inspector general’s office conducts multiple, simultaneous investigations into the activities of the State Department and its officials.

“We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted Mr. Linick pushed out before this work could be completed,” Mr. Engel said of the arms sale inquiry.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment. Mr. Pompeo said in a telephone interview with The Washington Post that he had recommended to Mr. Trump that Mr. Linick be fired because Mr. Linick was “undermining” the department’s mission. Mr. Pompeo did not give details.

He also said his recommendation to fire Mr. Linick could not have been an act of retaliation to end an investigation because he had not been briefed on any inquiries.

However, top department officials had clearly received briefings from Mr. Linick’s office and been asked to comply with investigations.

Mr. Linick is widely seen as competent, though sometimes reluctant to wade into the most politically charged issues.

Nonetheless, he issued a harsh report in 2016 on the use of a private email server by Hillary Clinton, who served as Mr. Obama’s secretary of state, and played a minor role in the impeachment inquiry against Mr. Trump last fall. He issued two reports last year that criticized political appointees at the State Department, some of whom work closely with Mr. Pompeo.

Mr. Trump has appointed Ambassador Stephen J. Akard, the director of the Office of Foreign Missions, for the role of acting inspector general. Mr. Akard, an associate of Vice President Mike Pence, failed to get congressional support for a top State Department job under Mr. Pompeo’s predecessor but was eventually confirmed for the lesser post at the foreign missions office.

The decision to resume lethal aid to the Saudis and Emiratis was a major initiative undertaken by Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Trump, who often discussed the importance of the weapons sales with officers of Raytheon, the Massachusetts-based defense contractor that lobbied heavily to get a 2017 suspension of sales lifted. Congress had imposed the suspension because of a political rift among Gulf Arab nations driven by the Saudis and because of discoveries that bomb fragments traced to Raytheon by investigators were linked to a series of Saudi bombings that killed civilians, including children.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172054212_974f6070-527a-4661-b3b2-1cc78fa5f5d0-articleLarge State Dept. Investigator Fired by Trump Had Examined Weapons Sales to Saudis and Emiratis Yemen United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United Arab Emirates Trump, Donald J State Department Saudi Arabia Raytheon Company Pompeo, Mike Linick, Steve A Iran Inspectors General House Committee on Foreign Affairs Foreign Aid Engel, Eliot L Defense Contracts Appointments and Executive Changes
Credit…Pool photo by Andrew Harnik

Mr. Trump had pushed to resume the sales in 2018, justifying it as a jobs issue.

“I want Boeing and I want Lockheed and I want Raytheon to take those orders and to hire lots of people to make that incredible equipment,” he said.

But the effort to restart the sales was delayed by the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident, Washington Post columnist and American resident. His death, and the suspected role of the Saudi leadership in ordering the killing, led to calls for a full end to military aid to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Mr. Pompeo broke the logjam a year ago, declaring an “emergency” over Iran’s activities in the Middle East that enabled him to sidestep the congressional ban and approve restarting the sales. That started the resumption of more normal exchanges with the Saudi government, as the Trump administration tried to move past Mr. Khashoggi’s killing. Saudi Arabia and Iran are archrivals in the region.

In June, after congressional hearings with State Department officials into the rationale for declaring an emergency over Iran, Mr. Engel sent a letter to Mr. Linick asking him to open an investigation. Mr. Engel’s office then tracked the investigation sporadically once it had begun, a Democratic aide said. The office learned by early spring that Mr. Linick had conveyed preliminary findings to the State Department.

This past weekend, after Mr. Trump notified Congress of the firing of Mr. Linick, Mr. Engel’s office learned more details of the circumstances around the arms sale investigation, leading Mr. Engel to ask whether the inquiry might have contributed to the sudden move against Mr. Linick by Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Trump.

The separate inquiry into the possible misuse of a political appointee to run personal errands was still a potential factor, and there might be other motivations for the firing that remain unknown, an aide said.

Aaron David Miller, a former American official on Middle East policy who is now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that a year ago, “there was no credible emergency nor any real urgency for invoking an Iran emergency declaration for lethal arms sales to the Saudis other than the administration’s desire to please Saudi Arabia.”

He added that American officials “don’t want anyone digging around in the triangular relationship between the administration, Raytheon and Saudi because somebody crossed the line.”

Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo were aware of the sensitivities around trying to bypass the congressional hold on the arms sales. Mr. Pompeo made the announcement of the “emergency” declaration over Iran on the Friday afternoon before Memorial Day weekend last year, a common move by government officials to avoid immediate questions from Congress and extensive news coverage. The administration also announced it was sending 1,500 more troops to the Middle East.

The move was aimed at allowing American companies to sell $8.1 billion worth of munitions in 22 pending transfers mainly to Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. At the time, a person briefed on the decision said, a part of the arrangement would involve a transfer of munitions from the U.A.E. to Jordan that had nothing to do with Iran.

Mr. Pompeo had pushed aggressively for the sales, over the objections of career Foreign Service officers and lawmakers.

After the announcement of the “emergency” on May 24, lawmakers pointedly asked why, if there was such a crisis, Mr. Pompeo and Patrick Shanahan, then the acting defense secretary, had not briefed them on the situation and on the need to push through arms sales in a closed-door discussion on Iran just three days earlier.

In June, lawmakers called top State Department officials to testify about the decision. Some of their questions focused on the roles played by Charles Faulkner, a former Raytheon lobbyist who worked in the State Department’s legislative affairs bureau, and Marik String, a former deputy assistant secretary in the political-military affairs bureau who became a top department legal adviser in late May.

In a contentious hearing on June 12, lawmakers pressed R. Clarke Cooper, the assistant secretary of state in the political-military affairs bureau, on the move. Mr. Cooper argued that a continued hold on the sales would cede commercial advantages to Russia and China. One lawmaker asked whether Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and a Middle East adviser with close ties to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, had weighed in on the decision. Mr. Cooper demurred at first, then said no.

Michael LaForgia contributed reporting.

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U.S.-China Feud Over Coronavirus Erupts at World Health Assembly

Westlake Legal Group u-s-china-feud-over-coronavirus-erupts-at-world-health-assembly U.S.-China Feud Over Coronavirus Erupts at World Health Assembly Xi Jinping World Health Organization United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Trump, Donald J Speeches and Statements Epidemics Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) China

A meeting of the World Health Organization that was supposed to chart a path for the world to combat the coronavirus pandemic instead on Monday turned into a showcase for the escalating tensions between China and the United States over the virus.

President Xi Jinping of China announced at the start of the forum that Beijing would donate $2 billion toward fighting the coronavirus and dispatch doctors and medical supplies to Africa and other countries in the developing world.

The contribution, to be spent over two years, amounts to more than twice what the United States had been giving the global health agency before President Trump cut off American funding last month, and it could catapult China to the forefront of international efforts to contain a disease that has claimed at least 315,000 lives.

But it was also seen — particularly by American officials — as an attempt by China to forestall closer scrutiny of whether it hid information about the outbreak to the world.

Mr. Xi made his announcement by videoconference to the World Health Assembly, an annual decision-making meeting of the W.H.O. that is being conducted virtually this year because of safety considerations during the pandemic. Mr. Trump declined to address the two-day gathering, providing the Chinese president an opening to be one of the first world leaders to address the 194 member states.

“In China, after making painstaking efforts and sacrifice, we have turned the tide on the virus and protected lives,” Mr. Xi said. “We have done everything in our power to support and assist countries in need.”

In videotaped remarks to the assembly after Mr. Xi spoke, Alex M. Azar II, the U.S. secretary of health and human services, countered with sharp criticism of both the W.H.O. and China, saying their handling of the coronavirus outbreak led to unnecessary deaths.

“We must be frank about one of the primary reasons that this outbreak spun out of control,” Mr. Azar said. “There was a failure by this organization to obtain the information that the world needed, and that failure cost many lives.”

In an unmistakable reference to China, he said, “In an apparent attempt to conceal this outbreak, at least one member state made a mockery of their transparency obligations, with tremendous costs for the entire world.”

In their remarks to the assembly, other leaders criticized the lack of world unity in fighting the pandemic and, without naming any one country, urged nations to set aside their differences.

“No country can solve this problem alone,” Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said. “We must work together.”

But Trump administration officials swiftly denounced China’s aid announcement as an attempt to influence the W.H.O., which is facing pressure from member states to investigate whether it was complicit in Beijing’s lack of transparency in the early days of the outbreak in Wuhan.

China’s “commitment of $2 billion is a token to distract from calls from a growing number of nations demanding accountability for the Chinese government’s failure to meet its obligations under international health regulations to tell the truth and warn the world of what was coming,” John Ullyot, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a statement. “As the source of the outbreak, China has a special responsibility to pay more and to give more.”

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The director general of the W.H.O., Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, nodded to criticism of the organization’s own handling of the early weeks of the outbreak, saying the agency would review “lessons learned” about its global response.

But he did not address Mr. Trump’s insistence that the health agency investigate allegations widely dismissed by scientists that the coronavirus originated in a lab in China. Mr. Xi in his speech called for any examination to take place after the health crisis had subsided.

In recent weeks, Chinese leaders and citizens have become increasingly aware of the international criticism and open hostility over China’s initial handling of the outbreak. Top American officials have been scathing, but European leaders have also spoken of mysteries surrounding the outbreak in China that needed to be addressed.

China’s aggressive diplomacy and international anger over exports of Chinese-made medical equipment that turned out to be shoddy have also contributed to the rising tensions.

About 100 nations have called for an independent investigation into the origins of the pandemic.

Against that backdrop, and with the imminent start of the annual National People’s Congress in Beijing on Friday, Mr. Xi’s move appeared to be an effort to win over international support and calm the public anxieties in China.

“Certainly this is a very tricky moment for Xi,” said Dali L. Yang, a political scientist at the University of Chicago. “Clearly he doesn’t want this really to be hanging above him, given how many countries are engaged and have asked for an investigation into the origins of the virus.”

Mr. Trump’s retreat from the global stage has created openings for China, which has been seeking to reshape multilateral institutions long dominated by Washington.

Ryan Hass, a China scholar at the Brookings Institution, said a familiar pattern had emerged. “Whenever Trump withdraws the U.S. from international leadership, Xi announces that China will step forward,” said Mr. Hass, who was a senior Asia director on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council. “Xi has been ruthlessly opportunistic about seeking to exploit America’s withdrawal from global leadership for China’s advantage.”

Washington’s weak diplomatic hand was apparent on Monday when its efforts to lead a coalition of countries seeking to win Taiwan admission to the assembly as an observer failed. The self-governed island, which Beijing claims as its own territory, had observer status until 2016. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top American officials had recently called on the W.H.O. and its members to re-establish Taiwan’s admission over Beijing’s objections.

Mr. Trump’s fury at the W.H.O., and his decision last month to freeze financial contributions to the group in the middle of a global pandemic, came as critics pointed to his own administration’s slow and bungled response to a pandemic that has sickened nearly 1.5 million people in the United States and killed nearly 90,000.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172612236_032d10c5-7c0a-4c32-9d79-d091a2b4678d-articleLarge U.S.-China Feud Over Coronavirus Erupts at World Health Assembly Xi Jinping World Health Organization United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Trump, Donald J Speeches and Statements Epidemics Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) China
Credit…Christopher Black/World Health Organization, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

To many of the president’s supporters, the W.H.O. and other international organizations are to blame for lost jobs, low wages and economic uncertainty in the United States. But Mr. Trump will need to convince a broad part of the electorate that he was not responsible for the deaths and massive economic calamity caused by the virus. Casting the W.H.O. and the Chinese government as enemies could be an effective way, at least in the eyes of his supporters, for Mr. Trump to blunt fierce criticism from Democrats over his failures on the pandemic.

“Why is it that China, for decades, and with a population much bigger than ours, is paying a tiny fraction of $’s to The World Health Organization, The United Nations and, worst of all, The World Trade Organization, where they are considered a so-called ‘developing country’ and are therefore given massive advantages over The United States, and everyone else?” Mr. Trump tweeted over the weekend.

Mr. Trump also tweeted that instead of cutting off all funding to the W.H.O., he was considering making payments of “10% of what we have been paying over many years, matching much lower China payments. Have not made final decision. All funds are frozen.”

White House officials on Monday declined to say whether the 10 percent plan might move forward in the days ahead.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

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Passed By for Decades, Clarence Thomas Is a New Symbol of the Trump Era

Among certain conservatives, an idea has started to take hold: Could Justice Clarence Thomas ever be the kind of pop-culture icon to his followers that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become to hers?

Justice Ginsburg, 87, has a book to her name, a touring museum exhibition and a surprise box-office hit in a 2018 documentary about her life. She is tattooed on her fans. Her personal trainer has his own book out. She was appointed to the bench in 1993 but came to realize and embrace this level of celebrity in recent years when her dissents became liberal rallying calls, leading to the nickname homage — and then best-selling book on her life — “The Notorious R.B.G.

Justice Thomas, the Supreme Court’s most conservative member, is catching up in his own way at age 71.

He was the subject of a recent book, “The Enigma of Clarence Thomas,” which led to a flurry of articles and book reviews on his life and legal thought. A new biographical documentary, made by the conservative filmmaker Michael Pack, airs Monday on PBS. For the project, the justice spoke to filmmakers for 30 hours — an astounding feat for a jurist who once went 10 years without asking a question from the bench.

“He would have never said, ‘Gee whiz, I should be an icon,’” said Helgi Walker, a lawyer at the firm Gibson Dunn who clerked for Justice Thomas in 1995 and 1996. “But life is long, and it’s amazing how things can turn out sometimes.”

Since his confirmation hearings in 1991, which included sexual harassment allegations, Justice Thomas has largely been out of the public eye. And for decades, his legal thinking was considered too extreme even for the court’s conservative members, who often declined to join his dissents and concurrences.

Justice Thomas hasn’t changed, nor has his bitterness about the way his confirmation hearings unfolded. But the political moment has. Renewed interest in his life, work and philosophy may be coming from the same place as that in Justice Ginsburg: the Trump era.

Justice Thomas, currently the longest-serving justice, is known as Mr. Trump’s favorite on the court, with many in the legal world citing the numerous former Thomas clerks who have been tapped for the federal bench.

As Justice Ginsburg has become the flag bearer of the Supreme Court’s diminished judicial left, Justice Thomas, who spent years dissenting on the fringes, is a potent symbol for an ascendant conservative wing.

“He’s the most right-wing member of the court, and we are in a right-wing moment,” said Randall Kennedy, a professor at Harvard Law School and critic of the justice. In a piece in The Nation last fall, he criticized those who he said had recently “been solicitous of Thomas” in terms of his biography and his legal thinking, writing that he’d once been the same himself.

Last November in Washington, when gathering in a group was festive and not contested, a largely libertarian crowd convened at the Cato Institute to watch the documentary about Justice Thomas, “Created Equal: Clarence in His Own Words,” in which Justice Thomas laid out again his side of the confirmation showdown. Archival footage showed a younger Mr. Thomas in a red-and-grey tie.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 17thomas-legacy-articleLarge Passed By for Decades, Clarence Thomas Is a New Symbol of the Trump Era Voting Rights Act (1965) United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Thomas, Clarence Supreme Court (US) Pack, Michael Ginsburg, Ruth Bader Documentary Films and Programs Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words (Movie) Conservatism (US Politics) Biden, Joseph R Jr
Credit…Lee Corkran/Sygma, via Getty Images

“As far as I am concerned, it is a high-tech lynching,” the younger Mr. Thomas said of the hearing as the film’s audience nodded approvingly.

The camera then flipped to another man who has re-emerged into the political debate lately: Joe Biden, who was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time. There were guffaws until the camera turned elsewhere. Justice Thomas then appeared on the screen years later, in a dark suit and with white hair.

“I mean, come on, we know what this is all about,” he says to the camera. “This is the wrong black guy. He has to be destroyed, just say it.”

The line had an impact on Carol M. Swain, a former law professor and conservative political commentator who recently watched the film and said she saw the 1991 hearings in the context of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s in 2018. “It’s not just an agenda to derail a nomination, it’s an effort to destroy a person,” she said.

Many conservatives also now see vindication in the way the court has recently begun to adopt Justice Thomas’s thinking. His legal views spent the 1990s and the early 2000s bottled up as dissents and concurrences that his colleagues often did not sign onto. Now, many are becoming the law of the land.

A little-noticed case in 2009 involving an Austin, Texas, utility district offers a telling example. The district sought to be exempted from the 1965 Voting Rights Act “preclearance” requirements, under which states with a history of discrimination must get federal approval to change the ways in which people can cast votes. The court ruled unanimously that the requirement, a response to Jim Crow efforts to stop African-Americans from electing representatives, shouldn’t apply to a utility district.

Justice Thomas, however, went further: In a concurrence, he agreed with an argument the district had made that the preclearance requirement was itself unconstitutional.

Four years later, a higher-profile case, Shelby County v. Holder, reached the Supreme Court. This time, a five-to-four conservative majority overturned the portion of the Voting Rights Act used to determine which states had a history of discrimination and required preclearance. The decision lifted much of its reasoning from Justice Thomas’s earlier concurrence.

“It was a testament to his influence,” said Jennifer Mascott, a former clerk for Justice Thomas who now teaches law at George Mason University. “It’s a testament to how his thinking is moving the ball forward.”

Justice Ginsburg saw it in different terms. Her dissent said the ruling would effectively gut the Voting Rights Act and was tantamount to “throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” An estimated 1,700 polling places have been closed, mainly in the South, since the court ruling, and voter suppression is already shaping up to be a battleground in the 2020 election.

Those gathered at the Cato Institute last fall were talking less about Justice Thomas’s jurisprudence than they were about his biography. The story of his life and the intellectual home he found among American conservatives is one that, his supporters note, runs contrary to the notion that the Trumpist version of the Republican Party is sympathetic to white nationalist influences.

Justice Thomas grew up impoverished in a Gullah-speaking community in Georgia and spent his youth as a black nationalist radical in the mold of Malcolm X before reluctantly accepting a job with a Republican attorney general in Missouri, the only job offer he was given, he explains in the film. He voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980, in what he called “a giant step for a black man.”

“It really isn’t just about correcting the record about him: I think it’s an important story, a great American story, the classic American story that I think should be told,” Mr. Pack, the film’s director, said during a question-and-answer period.

That came to light after Mr. Pack went on Fox News’s “The Ingraham Angle” on Monday to promote his latest film and note, with some amazement, a different confluence of events: Joe Biden, presidential candidate, now facing a sexual-assault allegation that he has vehemently denied, is the man who presided over Justice Thomas’s confirmation hearings, which featured a harassment allegation that Justice Thomas vehemently denied.

“It’s amazing that Justice Thomas saw — and this was even before Kavanaugh that we interviewed him — that sooner or later you’ll be the next one in the Tower of London,” Mr. Pack said. “And now Joe Biden is in the Tower of London.”

Credit…Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Last week, as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the question of whether Congress may subpoena Mr. Trump’s financial records, Justice Thomas ended one line of questioning by saying, “I think we all know it’s about the president.”

And in many ways, Justice Thomas’s higher public profile is about the president, too. Mr. Trump rose to power with help of Christian evangelicals, who have long sought to change the makeup of the court, and they have largely been supportive of the judges he has appointed.

“There is a sense that no president has given them as much as Trump has,” said Daniel K. Williams, a history professor at the University of West Georgia who focuses on religion.

Justice Thomas’s vote is crucial if conservatives wish to attain their longest-held ambitions, from rolling back abortion rights to ending affirmative action.

Yet black conservatives like Ken Blackwell realize that the rehabilitation of Justice Thomas’s legacy may have it its limits. Mr. Blackwell, a former mayor of Cincinnati, said that while the justice might be experiencing a renaissance among conservatives, making the sale to the black community, which votes overwhelmingly Democratic, would be more of a challenge.

Mr. Blackwell said he regretted that the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington did not have a permanent exhibition on Justice Thomas, even though he is the only black member of the court. African-American conservatives deserve their place in history as well, Mr. Blackwell said.

But he did not rule out the possibility, with the rekindled interest in Justice Thomas.

“If by some accident of history, he had passed away at 65, I’m not sure the full appreciation of Clarence Thomas would have happened,” Mr. Blackwell said. “But the fact that he has lived this long means he may well outlive the mischaracterizations, and maybe it’s just long enough that his story finally gets heard.”

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Inspector General’s Firing Puts Pompeo’s Use of Taxpayer Funds Under Scrutiny

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo swatted away questions about his use of government resources again and again last year.

In January, news reports cited unnamed diplomats complaining about his wife, Susan, traveling with him across the Middle East during a partial government shutdown.

In the summer, members of Congress began examining a whistle-blower complaint accusing Mr. Pompeo of asking diplomatic security agents to run errands like picking up restaurant takeout meals and retrieving the family dog, Sherman, from a groomer.

And in October, a Democratic senator called for a special counsel to investigate his use of State Department aircraft and funds for frequent visits to Kansas, where he was reported to be considering a Senate run.

In each case, Mr. Pompeo or other department officials denied wrongdoing, and the secretary moved on unscathed. But his record is now coming under fresh scrutiny after President Trump told Congress on Friday night that he was firing the State Department inspector general — at Mr. Pompeo’s private urging, a White House official said.

The inspector general, Steve A. Linick, who leads hundreds of employees in investigating fraud and waste at the State Department, had begun an inquiry into Mr. Pompeo’s possible misuse of a political appointee to perform personal tasks for him and his wife, according to Democratic aides. That included walking the dog, picking up dry-cleaning and making restaurant reservations, one said — an echo of the whistle-blower complaint from last year.

The details of Mr. Linick’s investigation are not clear, and it may be unrelated to the previous allegations. But Democrats and other critics of Mr. Pompeo say the cloud of accusations shows a pattern of abuse of taxpayer money — one that may mean lawmakers will be less willing to give the administration the benefit of the doubt as congressional Democrats begin an investigation into Mr. Linick’s dismissal.

The investigation is aimed at determining whether the act was one of illegal retaliation intended to shield Mr. Pompeo from accountability — which “would undermine the foundation of our democratic institutions,” Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York and Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, leading Democrats on foreign policy committees, said in a joint statement.

Mr. Engel stressed on Sunday that Mr. Pompeo must turn over all requested records, and said, “What I’ve learned about Inspector General Stephen Linick’s removal is deeply troubling.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162011826_8a8c5901-a331-4ea2-a0f3-bb74e95b9501-articleLarge Inspector General’s Firing Puts Pompeo’s Use of Taxpayer Funds Under Scrutiny United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J State Department Pompeo, Mike Linick, Steve A House of Representatives
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Mr. Linick is the fourth inspector general to fall in a purge this spring by Mr. Trump of officials he has deemed insufficiently loyal, but the dismissal is the first to prompt a formal inquiry in Congress, and it has also drawn criticism from a few Republicans.

“The president has the right to fire any federal employee,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “But the fact is, if it looks like it is in retaliation for something that the I.G., the inspector general, is doing, that could be unlawful.”

She called the move “unsavory” — “when you take out someone who is there to stop waste, fraud, abuse or other violations of the law that they believe to be happening.”

Aides to Mr. Pompeo did not reply to repeated requests for comment. The White House did not respond to questions about whether it knew of Mr. Linick’s investigation into Mr. Pompeo when it moved to dismiss him.

Mr. Linick’s office has not commented on that inquiry or on Mr. Trump’s announcement, which started a 30-day clock on the inspector general’s departure. Employees under Mr. Linick generally view him as competent and nonpartisan. Mr. Linick began his current job in 2013, and he held senior posts in the Justice Department starting in the administration of President George W. Bush.

In May 2016, Mr. Linick issued a report sharply criticizing Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, for her use of a private email server, and last fall he played a minor role during the impeachment hearings against Mr. Trump.

A few Republican senators, notably Mitt Romney and Charles E. Grassley, have expressed varying degrees of disapproval of Mr. Trump’s move. But on Sunday, Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, said: “I understand it. I don’t disagree with it.”

He told CNN that he had spoken with White House and State Department officials about the matter. “I’m not crying big crocodile tears over this termination, let’s put it that way,” he said.

Since Mr. Pompeo took up his current post in April 2018, and for more than one year before that as the C.I.A. director, he has been peerless in his navigation of Mr. Trump’s inner world of loyal advisers and domestic politics around foreign policy. While sticking close to Mr. Trump, he has weathered the impeachment process involving Ukraine, questions over the decision to kill a top Iranian general and the fraught diplomacy between the president and Kim Jong-un, the unpredictable leader of North Korea.

But the maelstrom of questions that began over the weekend could present a formidable challenge to Mr. Pompeo’s political instincts and career ambitions. People close to him say he is thinking of running for president in 2024. And more immediately, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, has repeatedly urged him to run for an open Senate seat in Kansas — an important race given that the Republicans are at risk of losing control of the Senate in the November elections.

Mr. Pompeo knows the potential effect of a congressional investigation on a politician’s career: As a Republican congressman, he helped lead the charge against Mrs. Clinton, then the secretary of state, over the deaths of four Americans at a mission in Benghazi, Libya, an issue that hounded her during the 2016 presidential campaign.

For Mr. Pompeo, the spotlight now falls on much more personal matters, including the role of his wife. Other secretaries of state have occasionally traveled with spouses, but some officials in the State Department say Mrs. Pompeo, a former bank executive, has played an unusually active role in running meetings and accompanying her husband on official business.

“She has this quasi-official role, where my friends are called to meetings she is leading at the department,” said Brett Bruen, a former career diplomat and director of global engagement on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council. “They know that’s not supposed to happen, because she isn’t in their chain of command. But what can they do?”

Credit…Pool photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds

Mrs. Pompeo has accompanied Mr. Pompeo on several long trips overseas. In January 2019, she went with him on an eight-day journey across the Middle East — which raised questions among some officials because most State Department employees, including those supporting the trip, were working without pay during a partial government shutdown. Mrs. Pompeo has also flown with her husband on multinight trips to Switzerland and Italy, which included a visit to the secretary’s ancestral home region of Abruzzo.

Mrs. Pompeo, who is not paid by the State Department, has met with embassy families and local figures on some of the trips, and Mr. Pompeo has called her a “force multiplier.”

Mrs. Pompeo also played an unusually prominent volunteer role at the C.I.A. when Mr. Pompeo was the director there; she traveled with her husband, used an office space in C.I.A. headquarters and asked employees to assist her — actions that an agency spokesman defended at the time. Their son used a C.I.A. shooting range recreationally, according to CNN.

Mr. Pompeo’s frequent trips to Kansas last year also drew intense scrutiny. He went four times, three on the auspices of official business and flying in and out on State Department aircraft. To many, the trips appeared to be part of a shadow Senate campaign for 2020 and had little to do with foreign policy, despite Mr. Pompeo’s denials and his refusal so far to agree to run for the seat.

On the last trip, in October, Mr. Pompeo took part in a student event with Ivanka Trump, Mr. Trump’s daughter. And he discussed the Senate race with Charles Koch, the billionaire who is a longtime supporter of Mr. Pompeo, and Dave Robertson, the president and chief operating officer of Koch Industries, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Kansas City Star ran a blistering editorial denouncing Mr. Pompeo’s frequent trips to his adopted home state, telling him he should quit and run for Senate or “by all means focus on U.S. diplomacy — remember diplomacy? — and stop hanging out here every chance he gets.”

Four days later, Mr. Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel asking it to investigate Mr. Pompeo for potential violations of the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from using their official positions to engage in partisan political activities.

Separately, Democratic lawmakers on a House committee last year began looking at a whistle-blower complaint that Mr. Pompeo, his wife and adult son were asking diplomatic security agents to run personal errands, including picking up Chinese food and the family dog from a groomer. The whistle-blower said agents had complained they were “UberEats with guns,” according to CNN, which first reported on the accusations.

Lon Fairchild, the agent in charge of the Diplomatic Security Service, told CNN that he had seen no wrongdoing. The Democratic lawmakers did not open a formal inquiry.

More broadly, Mr. Pompeo has wrestled with managing the State Department, though he was initially hailed by many employees as a welcome change from Rex W. Tillerson, Mr. Trump’s first secretary of state, who was perceived as aloof and dismissive.

Last fall, current and former State Department officials criticized Mr. Pompeo for not vocally defending diplomats who were testifying in the impeachment inquiry and coming under attack from Mr. Trump, and for his own role in the earlier ouster of Marie L. Yovanovitch, a respected career diplomat, from the ambassadorship to Ukraine.

Since the winter, Mr. Pompeo has also found himself on unsteady ground on policy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Usually outspoken on policy matters, he seemed to play a more subdued role early in the crisis. Then he chose to pull back from diplomacy with China, where the outbreak began, and relentlessly criticized the Chinese Communist Party for its actions. He pushed spy agencies to look for evidence to support an unsubstantiated theory that the outbreak began in a virology laboratory in the city of Wuhan, and later said there was “enormous” and “significant” evidence behind the theory even when many scientists and intelligence analysts argued otherwise.

On Sunday, Mr. Pompeo warned China in a statement that he was aware “the Chinese government has threatened to interfere with the work of American journalists in Hong Kong,” which has semi-autonomy. He did not give details, but said that “these journalists are members of a free press, not propaganda cadres, and their valuable reporting informs Chinese citizens and the world.”

David E. Sanger and Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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Trump Ousted State Dept. Watchdog at Pompeo’s Urging; Democrats Open Inquiry

Westlake Legal Group 16dc-investigate-facebookJumbo Trump Ousted State Dept. Watchdog at Pompeo’s Urging; Democrats Open Inquiry United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J State Department Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Pompeo, Mike Linick, Steve A Inspectors General House Committee on Foreign Affairs Democratic Party

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged President Trump to fire the official responsible for fighting waste and fraud in his department, a White House official said Saturday, a recommendation certain to come under scrutiny after congressional Democrats opened an investigation into what they said “may be an act of illegal retaliation.”

Mr. Trump told Speaker Nancy Pelosi late Friday night that he was ousting Steve A. Linick, who led the office of the inspector general at the State Department, and replacing him with an ambassador with close ties to Vice President Mike Pence.

Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, immediately called the decision to remove Mr. Linick an “outrageous act” meant to protect Mr. Pompeo from accountability.

By Saturday, Mr. Engel and Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had opened an investigation into Mr. Linick’s removal, citing a pattern of “politically motivated firing of inspectors general.”

In letters to the White House, the State Department and Mr. Linick, the two Democrats wrote that they believed Mr. Linick had opened an investigation into wrongdoing by Mr. Pompeo and that Mr. Pompeo had responded by recommending that Mr. Linick be fired. The lawmakers did not provide any more details, but a Democratic aide said that Mr. Linick had been looking into whether Mr. Pompeo improperly used a political appointee at the State Department to perform personal tasks for him and his wife.

A White House official, speaking on the condition on anonymity, confirmed on Saturday that Mr. Pompeo had recommended Mr. Linick’s removal and said that Mr. Trump had agreed. A spokeswoman for Mr. Pompeo did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

“Such an action, transparently designed to protect Secretary Pompeo from personal accountability, would undermine the foundation of our democratic institutions and may be an illegal act of retaliation,” the lawmakers wrote.

Since starting his current job in April 2018, Mr. Pompeo has come under growing public scrutiny for what critics say is his use of the State Department’s resources for personal endeavors. Mr. Menendez has called for Mr. Pompeo to explain how he can justify frequent trips to Kansas, his adopted home state, using State Department funds and aircraft. He has brought his wife, Susan Pompeo, on many trips abroad, telling others she is a “force multiplier” for him. And CNN reported last year that congressional officials were looking at potential misuse of diplomatic security personnel for personal errands. That did not result in the opening of a formal inquiry.

In their letters, Mr. Engel and Mr. Menendez requested that the administration turn over records and information related to the firing of Mr. Linick as well as “records of all I.G. investigations involving the Office of the Secretary that were open, pending, or incomplete at the time of Mr. Linick’s firing.”

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, one of the few congressional Republicans who have been publicly critical of the president, denounced Mr. Linick’s dismissal Saturday evening.

“The firings of multiple Inspectors General is unprecedented; doing so without good cause chills the independence essential to their purpose,” Mr. Romney said on Twitter. “It is a threat to accountable democracy and a fissure in the constitutional balance of power.”

Few Republicans have commented on the move. Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, who in the past has made a point of defending inspectors general, said in a statement that “a general lack of confidence simply is not sufficient detail to satisfy Congress.”

Mr. Trump’s decision to remove Mr. Linick is the latest in a series of ousters aimed at inspectors general who the president and his allies believe are opposed to his agenda, upending the traditional independence of the internal watchdog agencies.

A month earlier, the president ousted Michael K. Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community, who had infuriated the president by insisting on telling lawmakers about a whistle-blower complaint that ultimately prompted impeachment proceedings.

The president also took steps to remove Glenn A. Fine, who has been the acting inspector general for the Defense Department since before Mr. Trump took office, so that he could not be installed as the leader of an oversight panel intended to keep tabs on how the Trump administration spends trillions of dollars in pandemic relief approved by Congress.

In his letter informing Ms. Pelosi about Mr. Linick’s removal, which was obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Trump wrote that “it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General.”

“That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General,” the president added.

Under law, the administration must notify Congress 30 days before formally terminating an inspector general. Mr. Linick is expected to leave his post after that period.

Mr. Linick was spotlighted during the impeachment inquiry when he requested an urgent meeting with congressional staff members to give them copies of documents related to the State Department and Ukraine, signaling that the documents could be relevant to the House inquiry into whether President Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden. The documents — a record of contacts between Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and Ukrainian prosecutors, as well as accounts of Ukrainian law enforcement proceedings — turned out to be largely inconsequential.

Two other investigations spearheaded by Mr. Linick’s office created friction among senior political appointees at the State Department. The office said in November that it had found that appointees at the agency, when it was led by Rex W. Tillerson, had retaliated against a career civil servant, Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, because of her Iranian-American ethnicity and a perception that she held political views different from those of top Trump officials. Brian H. Hook, then the head of the office of policy planning, where Ms. Nowrouzzadeh worked, was scrutinized in that inquiry. Mr. Hook is now the special representative for Iran and works closely with Mr. Pompeo.

Mr. Linick’s office also found in August that two political appointees in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs had harassed career employees based on claims that the employees were “disloyal” based on their perceived political views.

His ouster came hours after the Democratic-led House had passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief measure that included a provision designed to provide additional legal protections for inspectors general. The overall proposal has no chance of becoming law, with near-unanimous Republican opposition.

Edward Wong contributed reporting.

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Sorry, Abe Lincoln Is Not on the Ballot

Westlake Legal Group 16lincoln-memo-facebookJumbo Sorry, Abe Lincoln Is Not on the Ballot United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Presidents and Presidency (US) Presidential Election of 2020 Lincoln, Abraham Cuomo, Andrew M Biden, Joseph R Jr

Abraham Lincoln may have died 155 years ago, but everyone still wants his endorsement.

He is the star of a new campaign ad for Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee, that juxtaposes classic Lincoln phrases (“a house divided against itself cannot stand”) with clips of a peevish President Trump doing things like directing his vice president to ignore governors of virus-ravaged states “if they don’t treat you right.”

He is the namesake for The Lincoln Project, a venture from a group of dismayed Republicans who are seeking to ensure Mr. Trump’s defeat in November. (“We look to Lincoln as our guide and inspiration,” they wrote of their effort.)

And from the other side of the argument, there was Mr. Trump himself earlier this month at the magisterial Lincoln Memorial, that great secular temple to American unity and hope, musing to a Fox News audience about how he sees Lincoln in himself.

“Look, I am greeted with a hostile press the likes of which no president has ever seen,” Mr. Trump said, gesturing to the towering figure looming behind him. “The closest would be that gentleman right up there. They always said Lincoln — nobody got treated worse than Lincoln. I believe I am treated worse.”

Abraham Lincoln does not approve this message. He has not approved of anything for some time.

But if Mr. Trump’s assessment is a matter of debate, especially when you consider what ultimately happened to Lincoln, the president is also not the first politician to promote himself as a Lincoln-esque figure, whatever that means.

“This has been going on since Woodrow Wilson and FDR decided that both Democrats and Republicans could fight for the mantle of Lincoln,” said Harold Holzer, a Lincoln scholar and the director of Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College. “He is the universal totem for presidents.”

In an age where even facts are subject to dispute, the superiority of Lincoln is a near-universal truth, a natural law of the land. Because he was the first Republican president, Republicans have always considered him a party standard-bearer. But in 1929, Franklin D. Roosevelt, then the governor of New York, declared that the time had come for “us Democrats to claim Lincoln as one of our own,” and since then virtually every president, and many would-be presidents, have looked to the 16th president for guidance, inspiration and cover, trying to out-Lincoln their rivals.

“Part of it is that he is considered the greatest president ever,” said the presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” speaking to his enduring appeal. “And the thing about Lincoln is that, even during his presidency, he was able to understand all sides of an issue.”

Presidents have expressed their admiration for Lincoln in various ways over the years. Theodore Roosevelt wore to his first inauguration a ring enclosing a lock of Lincoln’s hair. Woodrow Wilson wrote glowingly of Lincoln’s judicious temperament, his search for common ground, his desire to emphasize the “community of interests” between people at odds with each other.

Barack Obama announced his campaign for president on the steps of the Old State Capitol building in Springfield, Ill., where Lincoln delivered his “House Divided” speech, and was sworn in as president using the Lincoln Bible.

Bill Clinton revered Lincoln and quoted him all the time. Ronald Reagan misquoted him at the Republican National Convention in 1992. George H.W. Bush’s official portrait shows him standing in front of “The Peacemakers,” the White House painting of Lincoln and his generals in the waning days of the Civil War.

In recent weeks, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York has repeatedly invoked Lincoln at his daily coronavirus briefings, suggesting that the former president would appreciate the governor’s pledge to level with his constituents, despite the grim news. “Lincoln, big believer in the American people,” Mr. Cuomo noted this month.

Mr. Cuomo’s father, Mario M. Cuomo, another three-term New York governor, was also a Lincoln fan, producing a book in 2004, with Mr. Holzer’s historical guidance, about his continuing relevance (“Why Lincoln Matters: Today More Than Ever”).

“Lincoln is always available for everyone’s use, and there’s a long history of that,” said David W. Blight, a professor of history at Yale. “Do you want a healer? There’s the healer Lincoln, which is the one Barack Obama appropriated. Or you could have Lincoln who is a military commander in chief, who would do anything to win that war, who would twist civil liberties inside out. There’s also the ambiguous Lincoln, part of what makes him so usable by everyone.”

Though Mr. Trump has long been criticized for having little sense of (or interest in) history, he and his team have at times spoken admiringly of presidents who would not necessarily figure on everyone’s Top 10 list.

He has hung a portrait of Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office, aligning himself with Jacksonian populism and declaring him “an amazing figure” in American history — looking beyond such episodes as the infamously brutal forced relocation of Native Americans.

As Mr. Trump confronted an impeachment trial in January, Vice President Mike Pence wrote in The Wall Street Journal about the “partisan impeachment” of Andrew Johnson, widely considered one of the worst American presidents ever but, in Mr. Pence’s account, a victim of unfair political persecution.

And most recently, discussing the Russia investigation, Mr. Trump suggested he was a student of Richard Nixon (and of history). “I learned a lot from Richard Nixon — don’t fire people,” Mr. Trump said this month. “I learned a lot. I study history.”

The president conceded “one big difference” between them, then offered two: “No. 1, he may have been guilty. And No. 2, he had tapes all over the place.” Mr. Trump declared himself an innocent and tapeless man.

Many supporters apparently agree with Mr. Trump’s self-analysis that he is “more presidential” than anyone except for “the late, great Abraham Lincoln.” At a White House event in February to promote Mr. Trump’s work with African-Americans, two guests called him the best president since Lincoln. Last year, so did the actor Jon Voight. “Let us stand up for this truth,” he said in a video posted on Twitter, “that President Trump is the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln.”

This is not a universal view. Mr. Blight, the Lincoln scholar, said he watched Mr. Trump at the Fox event at the Lincoln Memorial with increasing despair. The low point came, he said, when Bret Baier from Fox asked the president how he, like Lincoln, could heal a divided nation.

Mr. Trump didn’t hesitate. “We’re winning bigger than we’ve ever won before, Bret,” he said. “And I think that winning, ultimately, is going to bring this country together.” (Then he segued into a verbal assault on the Democrats and the impeachment “hoax.”)

Mr. Blight could not help thinking of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, delivered soon before the end of the Civil War and steeped in melancholy. In the address, Lincoln emphasized unity rather than division and spoke of going forward with “malice toward none” and “charity for all.”

“Lincoln could have stood up and gloated,” Mr. Blight said. “He could have said, ‘Hey, we won this war, look at us, isn’t it amazing.’ But there isn’t a moment of boasting in it.”

Steve Schmidt, a longtime Republican strategist behind the Lincoln Project, said he and his colleagues had chosen the name because Mr. Trump is Mr. Lincoln’s “antithesis.”

“He’s mean, he’s cruel, he’s vile, he lacks foresight, he lacks vision, he lacks a capacity for forgiveness and decency,” Mr. Schmidt said of the sitting president.

Mr. Trump has been, well, unforgiving toward the Republican rebels.

Appraising the Lincoln Project as a team of “LOSERS” in a recent post-midnight tweet, the president insisted that he has an admirer from the beyond:

“Abe Lincoln, Republican, is all smiles!”

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How Washington Learned to Embrace the Budget Deficit

Westlake Legal Group merlin_172205091_d211d5b6-2646-470b-aaef-84a810e6a0be-facebookJumbo How Washington Learned to Embrace the Budget Deficit United States Economy United States Trump, Donald J Recession and Depression National Debt (US) Kelton, Stephanie Interest Rates Federal Budget (US) Economic Conditions and Trends Credit and Debt Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (2020)

WASHINGTON — This month, the federal government said it would borrow a record-breaking $3 trillion from April to June to help businesses and workers get through the coronavirus-induced recession. In April alone, the United States recorded a larger budget deficit in a single month than it did for all of the 2017 fiscal year, a total of $738 billion.

Running such a large deficit would have been politically untenable just a year ago; since the end of World War II, economists have often warned that doing so would risk runaway inflation and possibly unsustainable tax hikes on future generations. But now, even some of the country’s most ardent deficit hawks have watched the debt pile up and said: More, please.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought a new sort of deficit scolding to Capitol Hill, with economists and lawmakers warning the United States is not borrowing enough to carry the nation through a debilitating recession that could turn into a second Great Depression.

A legion of economists, Federal Reserve officials and even some of the most outspoken proponents of deficit reduction in recent years are now urging Congress and President Trump to continue spending trillions of dollars to prevent a long-term collapse in business activity and prolonged joblessness.

Behind those calls is a confluence of events that have enhanced the economic case for rising deficits — a combination of rock-bottom interest rates, falling consumer prices and a deep plunge in consumer and business activity.

Many economists said in the past that large public deficits and debt would bog down the economy, by pushing up borrowing costs for businesses and sending consumer prices soaring. Now, the Federal Reserve has made clear that low interest rates, which have been slashed to near zero, are here to stay, making it cheaper for the United States to borrow money. Inflation, which struggled to get out of the gate during an 11-year expansion, seems confined to the woodshed.

In order for America to survive the recession and minimize the damage, many economists are now urging lawmakers to spend more. They want additional aid to small businesses, continued enhanced unemployment benefits for workers and more assistance for state and local governments that have seen a steep falloff in tax revenue and have already laid off 1 million workers. Such spending, economists argue, would hasten a rebound in economic growth and help save businesses that might otherwise fail, generating a return to the economy that exceeds the relatively low future interest costs incurred by prolific borrowing.

“I think we’re still in the early innings of dealing with this crisis, and we’re probably in the early innings of throwing out trillions of dollars to help us get by,” said Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard University economist whose work on government debt and economic growth was frequently cited by lawmakers pushing rapid deficit reduction under President Barack Obama.

“Any sensible policy is going to have us racking up the deficit for a long time, if you can,” Mr. Rogoff said. “If we go up another $10 trillion, I wouldn’t even blink at that now.”

Deficit critics still exist, at least in sound bites. Republican leaders in the Senate have cited debt concerns as a reason to move slowly on a new package of economic assistance amid the pandemic. Democratic leaders in the House crafted and passed a $3 trillion opening bid for a new rescue package this week, but they pared it back and dropped some members’ top priorities from the bill out of deficit concerns.

Mr. Trump’s advisers and top Republican leaders, citing the enormous sums of money already out the door, have said they would prefer to wait and see whether the existing support provided by Congress will suffice now that states are beginning to lift economic restrictions that were imposed to slow the spread of the virus.

“I don’t believe we can spend ourselves into prosperity,” the head of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, told reporters on Friday.

Even as Republicans point to the deficit in resisting more support for workers and businesses, they continue to push for tax cuts, which would also grow the deficit but represents spending that they argue would be more effective for the economic recovery.

“There’s a huge fiscal problem growing,” said Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio. “We don’t know what the impact of that is economically, but we know that it’s bad for our future economy and for future generations. So we’ve got to take that into account. But we also know that we have to provide a rescue package.”

There is little argument among either conservative or liberal economists that the deficit needs to grow, as tax revenues fall and spending needs rise amid a pandemic that has shuttered business activity and already thrown at least 20 million people out of work.

Federal deficits typically grow during recessions and many economists note that the deficit was going to rise this year whether lawmakers took action or stood pat and allowed the economic damage to mount, forcing more workers to utilize government benefits like food stamps and unemployment.

“The deficit will move on its own,” said Stephanie Kelton, an economist at Stony Brook University who has advised Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and is a leading champion of the theory that the federal government’s spending levels should be limited not by tax collections or debt levels, but by how much the economy can actually produce.

“We can move it proactively, and we can direct that deficit spending in ways that are strategic and thoughtful,” Ms. Kelton said, “or we can not do that, and it can move the ugly way.”

Lawmakers’ decision to dive quickly into additional deficit spending has been cheered by those who previously preached fiscal restraint, including the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, who urged Congress and Mr. Trump to “go big” on fiscal support for the economy.

Mr. Powell, who had been a longtime fiscal hawk, repeated his call this week, saying in a speech that “additional fiscal support could be costly, but worth it if it helps avoid long-term economic damage and leaves us with a stronger recovery.” He and the Fed have lent considerable support to that effort, by promising to keep interest rates near zero for as long as the economy remains in crisis and buying vast sums of the Treasury bonds that support government borrowing.

Polls show Americans worry about the nation’s deficit and debt, but that those worries have declined in recent years. Many economists’ worries have declined, too, in an era of persistently low interest rates and inflation that has remained lower than the Fed’s target rate of 2 percent, and receding fears of the government “crowding out” private borrowers — which is to say, government borrowing pushing up interest rates to such a degree that private companies find it harder to get access to capital.

“Interest rates are lower than they’ve ever been when we’ve done fiscal stimulus,” said Jason Furman, a former top economist under Mr. Obama who is now a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. “Inflation is lower than it’s ever been when we’ve done fiscal stimulus. There’s not a business in the country that is constrained from borrowing by the general level of interest rates.”

Yet some economists caution that, as deficits rise quickly, lawmakers need to make sure they target the dollars effectively.

Michael J. Boskin, a Stanford University economist, warned in a paper posted in February that rising debt as a share of nation’s economy risks higher taxes, lower future incomes and a reduced ability for children to climb past their parents on the economic ladder, because large debt loads reduce savings and crowd out private-sector investment. Mr. Boskin, in an interview, said that he supported many of the government’s deficit-financed efforts in this crisis thus far, but that lawmakers should target future spending on getting people back to work and helping businesses reopen, in order to best help the economy recover.

“We owe that to ourselves,” Mr. Boskin said, “but especially to future generations, who at some point are going to be paying for this.”

Other economists who have long championed deficit reduction have, in this moment of crisis, called for higher and effectively targeted spending. They include R. Glenn Hubbard, a Columbia University economist who was a top adviser to President George W. Bush, and Maya MacGuineas, the president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, who has spent years advocating deficit reduction.

“There are times you should be borrowing and times you shouldn’t be borrowing,” Ms. MacGuineas said. “This is exactly the moment that we should be borrowing.”

Republicans have grown more tolerant of deficits under Mr. Trump, who famously said as a presidential candidate that he would eliminate the national debt within eight years, but has instead swelled borrowing. Mr. Trump’s sweeping package of tax cuts in 2017 did not pay for itself as promised, and he has signed bipartisan agreements to boost federal spending. That helped to push the deficit above $1 trillion in 2019, well before the current health emergency.

The crisis sharply accelerated the deficit. It will hit $3.7 trillion for the fiscal year, the Congressional Budget Office projects and, by the end of September, the budget office says, the amount of debt held by the public will be larger than a full year of economic output in the United States.

Fiscal hawks had warned that growing deficits under Mr. Trump, which came despite an unemployment rate that fell to 50-year lows, could hamstring the federal response to an economic crisis. Now that such a crisis has arrived, and deficit fears have begun to surface in Congress, many of those hawks say they feel vindicated.

Emily Cochrane, Neil Irwin and Jeanna Smialek contributed reporting.

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Trump Removes State Dept. Inspector General

Westlake Legal Group trump-removes-state-dept-inspector-general Trump Removes State Dept. Inspector General United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Linick, Steve A Inspectors General Grimm, Christi A Fine, Glenn A Atkinson, Michael K (1964- ) Appointments and Executive Changes
Westlake Legal Group merlin_162011829_5d6d8ede-1721-4bfd-84e6-f08a2b281a98-facebookJumbo Trump Removes State Dept. Inspector General United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Linick, Steve A Inspectors General Grimm, Christi A Fine, Glenn A Atkinson, Michael K (1964- ) Appointments and Executive Changes

WASHINGTON — President Trump continued his purge of inspectors general late Friday, moving to oust Steve A. Linick, who had served in that post at the State Department since 2013, and replacing him with an ambassador with close ties to Vice President Mike Pence.

Mr. Linick, who was named by President Barack Obama to lead the office of the inspector general at the State Department, will be replaced by Ambassador Stephen J. Akard, the director of the Office of Foreign Missions, the State Department said in a statement on Friday night.

In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi that was obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Trump wrote that “it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General.”

“That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General,” the president added.

The decision to remove Mr. Linick, first reported Friday night by Politico, is the latest in a purge of inspectors general whom Mr. Trump has deemed insufficiently loyal to his administration, upending the traditional independence of the internal watchdog agencies whose missions are to conduct oversight of the nation’s sprawling bureaucracy.

A month earlier, the president ousted Michael K. Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community, telling the leaders of two congressional committees that he had lost confidence in him. Mr. Atkinson had infuriated the president by insisting on telling Congress about the whistle-blower complaint that prompted the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

The president also took steps to remove Glenn A. Fine, who has been the acting inspector general for the Defense Department since before Mr. Trump took office, so that he could not be installed as the leader of an oversight panel intended to keep tabs on how the Trump administration spends trillions of dollars in pandemic relief approved by Congress.

Under law, the administration must notify Congress 30 days before formally terminating an inspector general. Mr. Linick is expected to leave his post then.

The removals of the inspectors general — and their replacements by allies of the president’s — are part of an aggressive move by Mr. Trump and his top aides against who he considers to be “deep state” officials in many key agencies and who he believes are opposed to his agenda.

That effort accelerated in the weeks after the president was acquitted in a Senate impeachment trial. Mr. Trump viewed the inquiry into his actions related to Ukraine as a “coup” orchestrated by career officials and Democratic politicians determined to bring his presidency to an early conclusion.

Ms. Pelosi, who led the impeachment effort in the House, condemned the move late Friday to replace Mr. Linick.

“The late-night, weekend firing of State Department IG Steve Linick is an acceleration of the President’s dangerous pattern of retaliation against the patriotic public servants charged with conducting oversight on behalf of the American people,” she said in a statement on Twitter.

Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, called the decision to remove Mr. Linick an “outrageous act” meant to protect Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from accountability.

Representative Joaquin Castro, Democrat of Texas and the chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Twitter that the move by the White House was a “potential cover up” by Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo, and that it could result in a congressional inquiry.

“Congress & @HouseForeign Oversight Subcommittee will hold the Trump admin accountable for any illegal actions and corrupt conduct,” Mr. Castro tweeted.

In his statement, Mr. Engel said that he had learned that Mr. Linick’s office had opened an investigation into Mr. Pompeo. Mr. Engel said that “Mr. Linick’s firing amid such a probe strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation.”

Mr. Engel did not offer any more details, but a Democratic aide said that Mr. Linick was looking into whether Mr. Pompeo had misused a political appointee at the State Department to perform personal tasks for himself and his wife.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Pompeo did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment about the accusation.

Mr. Linick was a bit player in the impeachment inquiry, briefly drawing attention to himself at the height of the investigation into Mr. Trump’s actions. In October, he hand-delivered a packet of information to congressional investigators, saying he thought it might help answer whether the president pressured Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden.

At least two investigations by Mr. Linick’s office have caused friction with senior political appointees at the State Department.

In November, the office said it had found that appointees at the agency, when it was led by Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, had retaliated against an Iranian-American career civil servant because of her ethnicity and a perception that she held political views different from those of top Trump officials. Brian H. Hook, then the head of the office of policy planning, where the career official, Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, worked, was scrutinized in that inquiry. Mr. Hook is now the special representative for Iran and works closely with Mr. Pompeo.

In August, Mr. Linick’s office found that two political appointees in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs — the assistant secretary Kevin Moley and his senior adviser Mari Stull — had harassed career employees. Mr. Pompeo did not fire Mr. Moley, who announced in October he would retire later that year.

Employees of the State Department’s inspector general’s office, including career foreign service officers, have viewed Mr. Linick as a competent, nonpartisan leader.

Mr. Akard, by contrast, has been a controversial figure since his nomination for a senior State Department job when Mr. Tillerson was secretary. The White House had pushed Mr. Akard for the job of director general of the Foreign Service, a top management position that has traditionally gone to a respected career official with decades of experience.

A close associate of Mr. Pence’s, Mr. Akard had served as the director of international development at the Indiana Economic Development Corp., in the state where Mr. Pence once was governor. Members of Congress heard the intense grumblings of longtime State Department employees and signaled to the White House in 2018 that he would not be confirmed; even senior Republicans had opposed the nomination.

In 2019, Mr. Akard was confirmed as the department’s director of the office of foreign missions, a job with the rank of ambassador that top career officials do not consider meaningful compared with the director general post.

Michael D. Shear reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York. Edward Wong and Catie Edmondson contributed reporting from Washington.

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A Sitting President, Riling the Nation During a Crisis

​​Even by President Trump’s standards, it was a rampage: He attacked a government whistle-blower who was telling Congress that the coronavirus pandemic had been mismanaged. He criticized the governor of Pennsylvania, who has resisted reopening businesses. He railed against former President Barack Obama, linking him to a conspiracy theory and demanding he answer questions before the Senate about the federal investigation of Michael T. Flynn.

And Mr. Trump lashed out at Joseph R. Biden Jr., his Democratic challenger. In an interview with a sympathetic columnist, Mr. Trump smeared him as a doddering candidate who “doesn’t know he’s alive.” The caustic attack coincided with a barrage of digital ads from Mr. Trump’s campaign mocking Mr. Biden for verbal miscues and implying that he is in mental decline.

That was all on Thursday.

Far from a one-day onslaught, it was a climactic moment in a weeklong lurch by Mr. Tru​mp back to ​​the darkest tactics that defined his rise to political power​. Even those who have grown used to Mr. Trump’s conduct in office may have found themselves newly alarmed by the grim spectacle of a sitting president deliberately stoking the country’s divisions and pursuing personal vendettas in the midst of a crisis that has Americans fearing for their lives and livelihoods.

Since well before he became president, Mr. Trump’s appetite for conflict has defined him as a public figure. But in recent days he has practiced that approach with new intensity, signaling both the depths of his election-year distress and his determination to blast open a path to a second term, even at the cost of further riling a country in deep anguish.

His electoral path has narrowed rapidly since the onset of the pandemic, as the growth-and-prosperity theme of his campaign disintegrated. In private, Mr. Trump has been plainly aggrieved at the loss of his central argument for re-election. “They wiped out my economy!” he has said to aides, according to people briefed on the remarks.

It is unclear whether he has been referring to China, where the virus originated, or health experts who have urged widespread lockdowns, but his frustration and determination to place blame elsewhere have been emphatic.

Ken Goldstein, a professor of politics at the University of San Francisco, said that Mr. Trump and his campaign were going on the offensive in nasty ways in an attempt to shift the attention of the public away from him and onto other targets, and ultimately onto Mr. Biden.

“If this election is about Trump, he probably loses,” Mr. Goldstein said. “Trump’s only hope is to make the election about Biden.”

A number of Republican operatives believe Mr. Biden’s advantage is soft and that his penchant for gaffes will at least make the race more competitive than it would otherwise be amid a pandemic and an incipient economic depression.

“We have a very good story to tell on him and we’ve got to do it,” said Corry Bliss, a Republican strategist, of the negative narrative his party aims to generate about Mr. Biden.

Still, Mr. Trump’s behavior has rattled even some supportive Republicans, who believe it is likely to backfire and possibly cost them the Senate as well as the White House. It has also further alarmed Democrats, who have long warned that Mr. Trump would be willing to use every lever of presidential power and deploy even the most unscrupulous campaign tactics to capture a second term.

In many respects Mr. Trump’s approach to the 2020 election looks like a crude approximation of the way he waged the 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton, attacking her personal ethics, often in false or exaggerated terms; taking Mrs. Clinton’s admitted errors and distorting them with the help of online disinformation merchants; and making wild claims about her physical health and mental capacity for the job. Given that the 2016 campaign — the only one Mr. Trump has ever run — ended in a razor-thin victory for him, it is perhaps not surprising that the president would attempt a kind of sequel in 2020.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_109677331_58a264c7-ba07-467e-9668-33c7b23cee6b-articleLarge A Sitting President, Riling the Nation During a Crisis Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Biden, Joseph R Jr
Credit…Ty Wright for The New York Times

He is running against an opponent in Mr. Biden who, despite his vulnerabilities, has not faced decades of personal vilification as Mrs. Clinton did before running for president. And unlike 2016, Mr. Trump has a governing record to defend — one that currently involves presiding over a pandemic that has claimed more than 80,000 American lives — and he may not find it easy to change the subject with incendiary distractions.

Yet with the responsibility to govern also comes great power, and Mr. Trump has instruments available to him in 2020 that he did not have as a candidate four years ago — tools like a politically supportive attorney general, a Republican-controlled Senate determined to defend him and a vastly better financed campaign apparatus that has been constructed with the defining purpose of destroying his opponent’s reputation.

His attacks over the last week on Mr. Obama have showcased Mr. Trump’s persistent determination to weaponize those tools to bolster a favorite political narrative, one that distorts the facts about Mr. Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser, in order to spin sinister implications about the previous administration.

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But Mr. Trump also appears to genuinely believe many of the conspiratorial claims he makes, people close to him say, and his anger at Mr. Obama is informed less by political strategy than by an unbending — and unsubstantiated — belief that the former president was personally involved in a plot against him.

This weekend, Mr. Trump will huddle with some of his conservative allies in the House at Camp David, where they are expected to discuss the efforts — entirely fruitless up to this point — to prove Mr. Obama was involved in a conspiracy.

Of all Mr. Trump’s efforts, this one may be among the least concerning to Democrats, given Mr. Obama’s strong popularity and the degree to which Mr. Trump’s claims of an “Obamagate” scandal have been confined so far to the usual echo chambers of Fox News and right-wing social media. As he did in 2016, Mr. Trump is trying to force other outlets to cover the matter through repetition on his Twitter feed.

Democratic anxiety about the president’s attacks on Mr. Biden runs higher. But in general Mr. Biden’s advisers have professed confidence that the severity of the country’s problems will make it difficult for Mr. Trump to retake control of the campaign, and that Mr. Biden’s fundamental political strengths make him well positioned to survive a campaign of attempted character assassination.

On a conference call with reporters on Friday, Mike Donilon, one of Mr. Biden’s closest advisers, said Mr. Trump was transparently engaged in “an all-out effort to take people away from what they’re living through.”

“I think that’s going to be real hard to do, because the country has really been rocked,” Mr. Donilon said. “And where the president has succeeded in the past, in terms of throwing up lots of distractions and smoke screens and trying to move the debate to other questions, I don’t think he’s going to succeed here.”

The president has been grumbling about his own campaign and this week complained to allies that he had not significantly outraised Mr. Biden in April, according to a Republican who spoke with Mr. Trump.

Still, Mr. Trump’s political operation has moved over the last month to devise a plan for tearing down Mr. Biden, who does not inspire great enthusiasm in voters but is held in higher esteem by most than the incumbent president. The result has been a blizzard of negative digital and television ads, battering Mr. Biden on a range of subjects in a way that suggests Mr. Trump’s advisers have not yet settled on a primary line of attack.

The campaign’s ads on Facebook are as relentless as they are varied, as if plucked from a vintage Trump rally rant: Some make unfounded inferences about Mr. Biden’s mental state, saying “geriatric health is no laughing matter.” Others paint the presumptive Democratic nominee as “China’s puppet” by highlighting statements that Mr. Biden made when he was vice president, like “China is not our enemy.” Still others stick to traditional themes of illegal immigration.

Credit…Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Over the last week, the Trump campaign has spent at least $880,000 on Facebook ads attacking Mr. Biden.

Yet there are persistent doubts even within Mr. Trump’s political circle that an overwhelmingly negative campaign can be successful in 2020, particularly when many voters are likely to be looking for a combination of optimism, empathy and steady leadership at a moment of crisis unlike any in living memory. And the more Mr. Trump lashes out — at Mr. Biden and others — the more he may cement in place the reservations of voters who are accustomed to seeing presidents react with resolute calm in difficult situations.

Private Republican polling has shown Mr. Trump slipping well behind Mr. Biden in a number of key states. Perhaps just as troubling for Mr. Trump, it has raised questions about whether his efforts to tar Mr. Biden are making any headway.

Last month, a poll commissioned by the Republican National Committee tested roughly 20 lines of attack against Mr. Biden, ranging from the private business activities of his son, Hunter Biden, to whether Mr. Biden has “lost” a step, a reference to mental acuity. None of the lines of attack significantly moved voter sentiment, according to two people briefed on the results. There were some lines of attack that had potential, one of the people briefed on the results said, but they were more traditional Republican broadsides about issues like taxes.

Mr. Trump has also been warned by Republican veterans that his efforts to define Mr. Biden in negative terms so far have been slow or ineffective. At a meeting with political advisers this week that included Karl Rove, the top strategist for former President George W. Bush, Mr. Rove warned Mr. Trump that he had fallen behind in the task of damaging Mr. Biden, people familiar with the meeting said.

Part of the challenge, though, is that Mr. Trump constantly undermines his own team’s strategy, in ways big and small. While he finally stopped doing his daily press briefings, after weeks of pleading from his allies, he still makes comments on Twitter or to reporters nearly every day that hand Democrats fodder and make Republicans squirm.

In addition to his attacks against Mr. Obama, he separated himself from the highly popular Dr. Anthony Fauci, downplayed the importance of testing and has refused to wear a mask. And Mr. Trump’s appetite for conspiracy theories is often embarrassing to his party: Several times in recent weeks, he has falsely accused a prominent television host of murder and called for a “cold case” investigation.

The president also routinely misses even the political opportunities his advisers deliberately tee up for him.

When Mr. Trump was visiting Pennsylvania this week, for instance, his team scheduled a friendly interview in the hope that he would make the case that Mr. Biden would undermine fracking, an important industry in Pennsylvania. But Mr. Trump made no mention of fracking and instead attacked Mr. Biden’s mental condition and called wind power a “disaster” that “kills all the birds.”

“He’s come back down because that’s where his natural state is,” said Terry Nelson, a Republican strategist, referring to Mr. Trump’s slide in the polls after a short-lived bump in March. “Because he’s not in position to rally the country in a way a president traditionally would in a situation like this.”

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House Passes $3 Trillion Aid Bill Over Republican Opposition

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WASHINGTON — A divided House narrowly passed a $3 trillion pandemic relief package on Friday to send aid to struggling state and local governments and another round of direct $1,200 payments to taxpayers, advancing a proposal with no chance of becoming law over near-unanimous Republican opposition.

Democratic leaders characterized the measure, which President Trump has promised to veto, as their opening offer in future negotiations over the next round of coronavirus aid, forging ahead in passing it even amid rifts within their own ranks.

With nearly $1 trillion in aid to battered states, cities and Native American tribes, and another round of bolstered jobless benefits and direct government payments to Americans, the measure was an expansive sequel to the $2.2 trillion stimulus enacted in March, reflecting Democrats’ desire to push for a quick and aggressive new round of help.

“It’s always interesting to me to see how much patience some people have with the pain and suffering of other people,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said as she argued for the bill on the House floor. “This is a very strategically planned piece of legislation that is tailored strictly to meet the needs of the American people regarding the coronavirus pandemic.”

The bill passed on a tight margin, 208 to 199, as some moderate Democrats from conservative-leaning districts rejected it as a costly overreach that included provisions unrelated to the pandemic. In a statement that blasted the bill as “bloated,” Representative Cindy Axne of Iowa declared that she “could not in good conscience vote to accept this Washington gamesmanship, or vote to approve unrelated wastes of taxpayer dollars.”

Even though the bill was more a messaging document than a viable piece of legislation, its fate was in doubt in the final hours before its passage. Republicans forced a vote to bar undocumented immigrants from receiving $1,200 coronavirus aid payments, hoping to garner the support of enough centrist Democrats to prevail.

If that happened, progressives were privately threatening to band together with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to sink the bill, according to people familiar with their conversations who detailed them on the condition of anonymity.

Ms. Pelosi furiously worked the House floor into the evening, intercepting lawmakers as they came and went in efforts to discourage them from backing the Republicans’ proposal. She prevailed and the proposal fell short, although 13 Democrats joined Republicans in supporting it.

Republicans, for their part, denounced the bill as partisan and pointless.

“Not only is this bill premature, it was crafted behind closed doors and without any Republican input at all,” said Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

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“Instead of going big,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, “you went crazy.”

Only one Republican, Representative Peter T. King of New York, joined Democrats to support the bill, while 14 Democrats broke with their party to oppose it.

The package contained a number of Democratic priorities, including $100 billion for rental assistance and $75 billion in mortgage relief. It would allocate $3.6 billion to bolster election security, and would provide a $25 billion bailout for the Postal Service, a lifeline that the agency has said is critical to its survival, but that Mr. Trump opposes.

It would also temporarily suspend a limit on the deduction of state and local taxes from federal income taxes — which Democrats have repeatedly pushed for — and would disproportionately benefit high-income taxpayers in high-tax areas. It would substantially expand eligibility and increase the value of some tax credits, like the earned-income tax credit, that are targeted to the poorest Americans.

Senate Republicans, led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have called for the chamber to wait to evaluate the implementation of the nearly $2.8 trillion in legislation that Congress has already approved and Mr. Trump has signed into law. But senators have quietly begun to work on legislation that would toughen liability protections for businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies and health care workers against medical malpractice lawsuits, as well as ways to expand the ability of states to spend the state and local aid already allocated.

In a message to the House on Thursday, White House officials called the legislation insupportable and said it was “more concerned with delivering on longstanding partisan and ideological wish lists than with enhancing the ability of our nation to deal with the public health and economic challenges we face.”

Top Democrats had warned lawmakers that a vote against the legislation would carry grave political repercussions.

“If you vote against this and all this funding for your state, then you have to go home and defend it,” Ms. Pelosi told House Democrats in a private call on Thursday evening, according to multiple people familiar with her remarks, who described them on the condition of anonymity. “And if you can defend that ‘no’ vote, then you’re a better politician than me.”

But by Friday morning, multiple moderate Democrats had announced their intention to do just that.

In an interview, Representative Kendra Horn, Democrat of Oklahoma, said she supported parts of the package, but could not back it in its current form.

“This is a vote saying we need to do the work to get this bill where it needs to be,” she said.

The progressive flank of the caucus was also rankled by the bill, contending it did not go far enough to support workers in need of health care and regular paychecks. But the Congressional Progressive Caucus ultimately stopped short of encouraging its members to vote against the bill, even as one of its leaders, Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, announced that she would vote no.

“This is a crisis. People are really trying to figure out what they want to do, and I just want to respect that,” Ms. Jayapal said on Friday. “But at the same time, there’s a lot of frustration, both with the process and the content.”

“It’s hard to argue insufficiency in a small bill,” she added. “But this is supposed to be our vision.”

Catie Edmondson and Michael D. Shear contributed reporting.

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