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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 32)

Hiring Slowed in September as Unemployment Rate Fell to a 50-Year Low

The cavalcade of payroll gains continued for the 108th month in September, pushing down the jobless rate to a half-century low and countering anxieties that had been piqued by slowing global growth, declining factory orders and a jittery stock market.

Employers kept hiring at a steady if unremarkable pace, adding 136,000 jobs, the Labor Department reported on Friday. And the unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent.

The report capped a week of otherwise disappointing economic news. Manufacturing activity in the United States fell for the second month in a row, while the World Trade Organization predicted that the growth in global trade would slacken significantly. A key measure of activity in the services sector — which accounts for two-thirds of the country’s output — also cooled.

“It’s great news to hit a record low on unemployment,” Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, said. The tightening labor market, though, failed to lift wages; the 12-month growth rate fell to 2.9 percent, from 3.2 percent in August.

Clearly, the economy’s employment engine has lost some of its spark. Last year, an average of 223,000 jobs were created each month, thanks in part to the temporary pick-me-up delivered by tax cuts and increased government spending. The average for the first nine months of this year is 161,000.

That falloff alone is not cause for alarm. A decline was expected now that the recovery has passed its 10-year anniversary, and there are more job postings than job seekers. The unemployment rate has been skimming along the baseboards. The jobless rates for Hispanics and for workers without a high-school diploma were the lowest on record. And many Americans who had dropped out of the labor force because they were too discouraged to look for work or couldn’t find sufficiently attractive offers, have now rejoined.

President Trump celebrated the report, while taking a swipe at critics who want Congress to impeach him.

Still, the government’s monthly roundup contained enough conflicting data that optimists and pessimists around the country and in Washington could find evidence to support their outlook.

Federal Reserve policymakers will be parsing its contents before their scheduled meeting at the end of October.

Central bank officials have been split about the need for a third cut in their benchmark interest rate. On Friday, Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, said, “While not everyone fully shares economic opportunities and the economy faces some risks, overall it is — as I like to say — in a good place.” He added: “Our job is to keep it there as long as possible.”

On Wall Street, expectations that the Fed would pare borrowing costs have been building this week as news about slowing growth rolled in.

[Analysis from The Upshot: Jobs numbers have something for everyone.]

Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust, described the latest report as reassuring. “All of us have been on edge a little bit with declines on readings in the service sector, fearing that the trade problems would jump the fence from heavy to lighter industries,” he said.

Friday’s report revised job figures for July and August, adding 45,000 to the totals. “We’re on a three-month track of over 150,000 jobs per month, and that says to me that the economy is still expanding well,” Mr. Tannenbaum said.

The report helped buoy investors, after the S&P 500 had fallen more than 2 percent in the first three days of October. The index was up 1.4 percent Friday afternoon.

Torsten Slok, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Securities, was unconvinced that the clipped pace of hiring was the natural byproduct of an economy at full capacity. “The problem with that story is that wage growth dropped quite significantly,” he said. “Trade uncertainty is why we’re seeing a jobs slowdown and why the wage numbers are slowing.”

Mr. Trump set off another retaliatory volley in his trade war last month when he increased tariffs on consumer goods from China and threatened to extend the import tax to even more products.

When Mr. Slok saw that new export orders had declined recently, he said: “I almost fell out of my chair. That can only be driven by trade.”

“The economy is still doing O.K.,” he said. “But the uncertainty from the trade war continues to be a cloud. Manufacturing is certainly is trouble.”

Mr. Trump has repeatedly placed manufacturing at the center of his economic strategy. Nonetheless, that sector is suffering the most from prolonged trade tensions. Companies in the business of making goods — as opposed to those that deliver services like hospitals and restaurants — are much more dependent on sales to other countries and supply chains that wend around the globe.

Last spring, manufacturers were adding as many as 25,000 jobs a month. In recent months, the average trickled to a few thousand, and in September, the sector lost 2,000 jobs. (The United Auto Workers’ strike against General Motors began after the government completed its survey of employers and is not reflected in this report.)

But Becky Frankiewicz, president of ManpowerGroup North America, a staffing firm, is not convinced that trade friction is responsible for the drop.

“The number of manufacturing jobs we have open outpaces the number of candidates,” she said. “It’s become more difficult to fill a job in the last four months.”

Banner Metals, a tool-and-die maker in Columbus, Ohio, plans to add three people to its 40-person staff next year. “Our business has not slowed down in any way,” said Bronson Jones, the chief executive and a part owner. “We’re actually growing.”

With a little less than 13 million workers, the manufacturing sector accounts for roughly 11 percent of the country’s output, but it tends to loom larger in policy debates.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161013891_742a81ae-4740-4568-afad-183152c2270e-articleLarge Hiring Slowed in September as Unemployment Rate Fell to a 50-Year Low Wages and Salaries United States Economy Unemployment Trump, Donald J Labor and Jobs International Trade and World Market Factories and Manufacturing

Applicants talked to recruiters last month at a job fair in Miami for people 50 or older. Monthly hiring has slowed this year, but the labor market remains tight.CreditLynne Sladky/Associated Press

The health and education sectors remain the economy’s most potent job creators.

Before this month’s stall, wage growth over all had been picking up, putting more money in consumers’ pockets. As long as Americans continue to spend, the economy will keep humming.

But economic confidence can be fickle. Worries about tariffs and the general direction of the economy are spooking those outside the manufacturing sector, according to the Institute for Supply Management, which conducted the survey of service businesses.

The dissonant economic cues are pulling some employers in different directions.

“What I’m hearing is different from what I’m seeing,” said Tom Gimbel, chief executive of LaSalle Network, a staffing firm in Chicago. With so much uncertainty, some chief executives say they are afraid of having too much capital invested in their business.

“But what I’m seeing is that people are still hiring,” he said. His firm’s revenue, he said, is up 15 percent from last year, and placements are up 8 percent.

Hiring in professional and business services has kept pumping jobs into the economy at a steady rate, averaging 35,000 a month since the start of the year.

The global accounting firm EY, formerly Ernst & Young, plans to hire 15,000 workers by the end of June, said Dan Black, global recruiting leader. “There’s a lot of signals of a slowdown,” he said, “but we continue to be very bullish on hiring here.”

“No matter what the economy is doing,” he added, “you still need your taxes done, and you still need your books audited.”

The retail trade sector, by contrast, continued to contract, losing 11,000 jobs.

The government’s monthly estimates, which are based on two separate surveys, one of households and the other of employers, will be revised twice more.

The president’s trade strategy has support from some sectors that embrace his get-tough approach — even if they are suffering from the fallout. But several industries and small businesses are worried.

Adam Briggs, vice president for sales and marketing for Trans-Matic, a precision metal stamper in Holland, Mich., said the family-owned firm is feeling the strains of the tariffs and a slowing economy. The company has had to raise prices because the cost of raw materials not available in the United States has gone up, Mr. Briggs said. At least one of his clients left to look for a supplier in Europe.

“We’re struggling, but our customers are struggling with it too,” he said.

Last year, the company employed more than 300 people in Holland. That number is down to 275, through a combination of attrition and voluntary separations, Mr. Briggs said.

Unpredictability disquiets business managers and markets. “Anything that relates to uncertainty is not good for business and household spending, said Ellen Zentner, chief United States economist at Morgan Stanley. And trade tensions — as well as the political turmoil surrounding Mr. Trump as congressional Democrats pursue an impeachment inquiry — fuel uncertainty, she said.

Politics is something that Chris Murphy, managing director of ThoughtWorks, a global software and digital transformation consultancy, rarely talks about with clients. The one exception? “The uncertainty created across industries by the trade war in China,” he said. “People are keen to see it resolved and go away sooner rather than later.”

Matt Phillips and Jeanna Smialek contributed reporting.

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Impeachment Investigators Question Intelligence Watchdog About Whistle-Blower

Westlake Legal Group 04dc-impeach-facebookJumbo Impeachment Investigators Question Intelligence Watchdog About Whistle-Blower Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Pelosi, Nancy Office of the Director of National Intelligence impeachment House Committee on Intelligence Giuliani, Rudolph W Biden, Joseph R Jr Atkinson, Michael K (1964- )

WASHINGTON — The House Intelligence Committee on Friday questioned the intelligence community watchdog who first fielded the whistle-blower complaint that has spurred a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump, as Democrats sought to uncover more evidence of a politically motivated White House pressure campaign on Ukraine.

Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general, had received the complaint and conducted his own preliminary investigation into its validity before seeking to deliver it to Congress. He arrived on Capitol Hill Friday morning for a briefing behind closed doors in the basement of the Capitol.

The meeting kicked off another day of fast-moving developments in the House impeachment investigation into allegations that Mr. Trump and his administration worked to bend America’s diplomatic apparatus for his own benefit, trying to pressure Ukraine’s government to help dig up dirt on his political rivals.

In addition to speaking with Mr. Atkinson, lawmakers were expected to subpoena the White House for a vast trove of documents related to the Ukraine matter, and hinted at other requests. A significant subpoena deadline for the State Department to hand over similar material in its possession was also scheduled to arrive by the end of the day.

Even as they worked, lawmakers from both parties continued Friday morning to try to make sense of a tranche of text messages between American diplomats and a top aide to the Ukrainian president. Those text messages were released late Thursday night, and called into question the truthfulness of Mr. Trump’s claim that there had been no quid pro quo attached to his pressing Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his son and other Democrats.

Democrats on Capitol Hill hoped Mr. Atkinson’s account would boost their efforts to build a fuller narrative of what transpired between the two countries.

A Trump appointee, Mr. Atkinson set off the present saga less than a month ago when he notified Congress’s intelligence committees that he had received an anonymous whistle-blower complaint that he deemed to be “urgent” and credible. The acting director of national intelligence intervened initially to block Mr. Atkinson from sharing the complaint with Congress, but ultimately the Trump administration relented and allowed its public release.

In the complaint, the whistle-blower wrote that multiple government officials had provided him information that “the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”

Specifically, he said that Mr. Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, had pressed Ukraine to conduct the investigations, potentially using the prospect of a meeting that the new Ukrainian president badly wanted with Mr. Trump and withholding $391 million in security aid earmarked for the country as leverage to secure the investigations. The White House tried to cover up aspects of the events, the complaint said.

Mr. Atkinson has already appeared once before the House Intelligence Committee, but he was barred then from speaking in detail about the complaint. Now, lawmakers expect him to detail what steps he took to verify elements of the complaint and conclude it was credible. He could possibly identify other government officials with knowledge of the events described in it.

Details of the complaint, including a July call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, have already been verified. The text messages released late Thursday also appeared to comport with elements of the complaint.

As they debriefed Mr. Atkinson, Democrats prepared to issue an unusually long and expansive subpoena to the White House for documents related to the Ukraine matter, any attempts to hide evidence related to it, as well as other conversations between Mr. Trump and foreign leaders that touched on similar topics.

Republicans accused Democrats of not giving them a chance to provide input on the subpoena.

How the White House and the State Department respond to their respective requests could significantly shape the impeachment investigation going forward. Many of the records the Democrats are requesting are highly sensitive and would typically be subject in almost any White House to claims of executive privilege.

Under normal circumstances, the White House could make such a claim and mount a competitive defense in court

But that may not help Mr. Trump’s case politically under the present circumstances. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the chairmen leading the inquiry have consistently warned the White House that noncompliance with their requests will be viewed as obstruction of Congress, a potentially impeachable offense in and of itself.

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Volker Gives New Details on Giuliani’s Role in Ukraine Policy

Westlake Legal Group 04dc-volker-facebookJumbo Volker Gives New Details on Giuliani’s Role in Ukraine Policy Volker, Kurt D Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Giuliani, Rudolph W Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

WASHINGTON — The former State Department special envoy for Ukraine told congressional investigators that Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney, insisted that Ukraine specifically commit to investigate involvement in the 2016 election and a firm tied to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

During testimony behind closed doors on Thursday, Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy, said Mr. Giuliani rejected a generic draft statement that Ukraine’s government had agreed to issue committing to fighting corruption generally. While Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to pressure Ukraine have been known, Mr. Volker’s account provides new details about how the president’s personal lawyer inserted himself into foreign policy to benefit Mr. Trump politically.

Mr. Giuliani “said that in his view, the statement should include specific reference to ‘Burisma’ and ‘2016,’” Mr. Volker told the investigators, according to a person who has seen the testimony. “There was no mention of Vice President Biden in these conversations.”

But Burisma was the Ukrainian energy company on whose board Mr. Biden’s son Hunter Biden served for $50,000 a month, and the Ukrainians clearly understood that Mr. Giuliani’s interest in an investigation into the firm was aimed at finding damaging information about the former vice president, who had led dealings with Ukraine while in office.

“I edited the draft statement by Mr. Yermak to include these points to see how it looked,” Mr. Volker testified, referring to Andrey Yermak, a top adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. “I then discussed further with Mr. Yermak. He said that for a number of reasons” that “they do not want to mention Burisma and 2016.”

“I agreed,” Mr. Volker added, “and further said that I believe it is essential that Ukraine do nothing that could be seen as interfering in 2020 elections. It is bad enough that accusations have been made about 2016 — it is essential that Ukraine not be involved in anything relating to 2020. He agreed and the idea of putting out a statement was shelved.”

Mr. Volker, a former ambassador to NATO under President George W. Bush who was serving as special envoy part time without pay, emphasized to the congressional investigators that he was kept out of the loop on the president’s efforts to prompt an investigation of Mr. Biden and not on Mr. Trump’s July 25 call with Mr. Zelensky that has sparked an impeachment inquiry.

Mr. Volker sought in his testimony to distance himself from the pressure campaign by the president and Mr. Giuliani. At no time was I aware of or took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden,” he told investigators.

“Moreover,” he added, “as I was aware of public accusations about the vice president, several times I cautioned the Ukrainians to distinguish between highlighting their own efforts to fight corruption domestically, including investigating Ukrainian individuals — something we support as a matter of U.S. policy — and doing anything that could be seen as impacting U.S. elections, which is in neither the United States’ nor Ukraine’s own interests.”

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Ukraine to Review Criminal Case on Owner of Firm Linked to Biden’s Son

Westlake Legal Group 04ukraine-sub-facebookJumbo-v2 Ukraine to Review Criminal Case on Owner of Firm Linked to Biden’s Son Zelensky, Volodymyr United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Corruption (Institutional) Burisma Holdings Ltd Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s top prosecutor said on Friday that he would review several important cases previously handled by his predecessors, including a criminal case involving the owner of a natural gas company that employed a son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The development came amid an impeachment inquiry against President Trump connected to a request he made to the Ukrainian president asking him to investigate Mr. Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate, and his son’s work in Ukraine.

The timing raised questions about whether Ukraine was, in effect, bowing to public and private pressure from the president of the United States, on which it has depended on for millions of dollars in aid.

The prosecutor general, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, who took office in August, said he intended to review 15 cases in all, including high-profile investigations of wealthy Ukrainians, among them the owner of the natural gas company Burisma Holdings, where Mr. Biden’s son Hunter served on the board until earlier this year.

The prosecutor did not say how long his audit would last. In initiating the audit, Mr. Ryaboshapka said at a news conference in Kiev, “The key words were not Biden and not Burisma.”

“The key was those proceedings which were closed or investigated by the previous leadership,” he said, but allowed, “In this large number of cases, there may be ones with these two words.”

Ukrainian officials have for months been threading a needle in discussing the case related to the older Mr. Biden, a leading contender in next year’s presidential election. They have tried to signal to Mr. Trump and his allies that the issues will be investigated, even as they tried to telegraph to Democrats that they were not bending to Mr. Trump’s pressure.

But Mr. Trump’s repeated public requests that the Ukrainian government investigate a case touching on a likely opponent in next year’s election — what he described in a phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in July as a “favor” — is central to the formal House committee impeachment inquiry called by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The inquiry is examining whether Mr. Trump betrayed his oath of office and the nation’s security by seeking to enlist the aid of a foreign power to tarnish a political rival. Mr. Trump has vigorously denied doing anything wrong, calling his phone call with Mr. Zelensky “perfect.”

Allies of Mr. Trump said that a reconstructed transcript of the call showed no quid pro quo, making the impeachment inquiry baseless. But Democrats said that Mr. Trump’s request for a favor, and the fact that he had already withheld millions in aid from Ukraine before the call, raised serious questions that must be examined.

On the call, Mr. Zelensky suggested that he would assist with an investigation of Burisma, according to White House notes of the call. The Ukrainian president said that a new prosecutor general would soon be appointed who would be “100 percent my person” and would “look into the situation.”

The Ukrainian president said his country was also almost ready to purchase anti-tank missiles, made by Raytheon, to be used to better repel armored assaults by Russian-supported fighters. Mr. Trump responded, “I’d like you to do us a favor, though.”

Mr. Ryaboshapka, who once worked for the clean-government group Transparency International, will steer the Ukrainian prosecutor office’s handling of the issues raised by Mr. Trump in the phone call with the Ukrainian president.

At the news briefing, Mr. Ryaboshapka said he had not received any phone calls about the cases or come under undue pressure on other matters. “No foreign or domestic politicians, officials or people who are not officials called me and tried to influence my decisions on specific criminal proceedings,” he said.

Mr. Ryaboshapka added: “The prosecution service is beyond politics. We are conducting an audit of all cases, including those which were investigated by the previous leadership of the prosecutor’s office.”

If laws were violated, he added, “we will react accordingly.” Asked whether he had any evidence of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden, he told reporters, “I have no such information.”

No evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Biden or his son has emerged, and the elder Mr. Biden has denied the accusations. But Mr. Trump has doubled down, urging China to investigate the Bidens and charging that the country lavished $1.5 billion on Hunter Biden in order to influence his father and win favorable trade deals with the United States.

Mr. Ryaboshapka’s comments on Friday were the first indication of how Ukrainian criminal justice officials were handling one of the two investigations that Mr. Trump raised in the call.

On Thursday, the State Department gave initial approval to the $39.2 million sale of 150 Javelin missiles and related equipment to Ukraine. The sale of the javelins to Ukraine must still go through Congress. Ukraine has been fighting Russia for five years in eastern Ukraine since Moscow’s seizure of Crimea.

Mr. Ryaboshapka’s announcement that the case was now bogged down in an internal audit of unclear duration in the prosecutor general’s office muddies any clear signal to either side in the American political debate.

Mr. Zelensky has faced criticism at home for telling the American president that the nakedly political criminal investigations would be looked into, perpetuating the country’s long post-Soviet struggle with politicized prosecutions.

Over the summer, a top aide to Mr. Zelensky said that in meetings and phone calls with Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, he had refrained from any specific commitment to investigating the cases. Once Ukraine’s new president appointed a new prosecutor, he said, the investigations would be taken up on their merits.

The mismatch between the private assurance that Ukraine would help Mr. Trump and his allies find dirt on a leading challenger in the United States election and the far more carefully worded public statements continued on Friday.

The previous prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, met several times with Mr. Giuliani to discuss pursuing an investigation in Ukraine into the natural gas company where Hunter Biden served on the board.

Mr. Lutsenko also said Ukrainian supporters of Hillary Clinton had helped set up the chairman of Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, Paul Manafort, a claim that has not been substantiated.

In an interview with a conservative American political commentator published in The Hill in April, Mr. Lutsenko said one of his prosecutors was pursuing an investigation into the gas company that had paid Hunter Biden for sitting on the board.

In March, Mr. Lutsenko’s subordinate in the prosecutor’s office, Kostiantyn H. Kulyk, identified the owner of Burisma as a suspect in a criminal proceeding.

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Trump Denies Quid Pro Quo for Ukraine, but Envoys Had Their Doubts

Westlake Legal Group 04dc-prexy1-facebookJumbo Trump Denies Quid Pro Quo for Ukraine, but Envoys Had Their Doubts Zelensky, Volodymyr Volker, Kurt D United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment House Committee on Intelligence

WASHINGTON — President Trump has repeatedly denied that there was any quid pro quo attached to his pressure on Ukraine to investigate his political enemies, but a new batch of text messages released late Thursday night indicated that his own representatives saw it differently.

Envoys representing Mr. Trump sought to leverage the power of his office to prod Ukraine into opening investigations that would damage his Democratic opponents at home. They made clear to Ukrainian officials that the White House invitation their newly inaugurated leader coveted depended on his commitment to the investigations.

And the senior American diplomat posted in Ukraine suspected it went even further than a trade of an Oval Office visit, telling colleagues that it appeared to him that unfreezing $391 million in American aid that Mr. Trump had blocked was contingent on the former Soviet republic following through on the politically charged investigations sought by the president and his personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani.

The text messages, provided to three Democratic-led House committees by the former special envoy for Ukraine, Kurt D. Volker, may shape the impeachment inquiry now threatening the future of Mr. Trump’s presidency. They provide new pieces of a timeline of events in recent months and a road map for further investigation by House Democrats.

Among other things, the messages demonstrated that the president’s team had made clear to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine before the now-famous July 25 call with Mr. Trump that he would have to agree to the investigations to confirm a promised visit to the White House that had been held up for two months.

“Heard from White House – assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington,” Mr. Volker wrote to Andrey Yermak, a top Ukrainian presidential adviser at 8:36 a.m. the morning of the phone call.

During the call that followed, Mr. Trump did press Mr. Zelensky to “do us a favor” and investigate supposed Ukrainian efforts to help Democrats in the 2016 presidential election, pursuing a conspiracy theory that even the president’s own homeland security adviser had told him was “completely debunked.” The president also pressed Mr. Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

Mr. Zelensky assured the president he would, according to a reconstructed transcript released by the White House. The text messages indicate that the Ukrainians were quickly given possible dates for a White House visit by Mr. Zelensky.

“Phone call went well,” Mr. Yermak wrote Mr. Volker afterward. “President Trump proposed to choose any convenient dates. President Zelenskiy chose 20,21,22 September for the White House Visit. Thank you again for your help!”

The text messages underscore the danger to Mr. Trump as the House Democratic impeachment inquiry gains steam. So far, the House committees have interviewed just a single witness, Mr. Volker, and already uncovered information damaging to the president’s case.

The Democratic chairmen of the committees said in a letter to colleagues late Thursday night that the texts were “only a subset of the full body of materials” that Mr. Volker turned over and that others would be released in time.

Mr. Trump has asserted he did nothing wrong and was only trying to uncover corruption by Democrats. Undaunted, he doubled down on Thursday, publicly calling on Mr. Zelensky to investigate Mr. Biden and adding a call to China to do the same.

“As the President of the United States, I have an absolute right, perhaps even a duty, to investigate, or have investigated, CORRUPTION, and that would include asking, or suggesting, other Countries to help us out!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Thursday night, and he repeated the sentiments on Friday morning.

Republican lawmakers said that Mr. Volker’s testimony, taken behind closed doors on Thursday by House investigators, did not support the nefarious interpretation of Mr. Trump’s actions advanced by Democrats like Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

“The facts we learned today undercut the salacious narrative that Adam Schiff is using to sell his impeachment ambitions,” Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Devin Nunes of California, the ranking Republican members on two of the committees, wrote in a letter. “We hope the American people get to read the transcript of today’s testimony and see the truth.”

Mr. Volker, a former ambassador to NATO who served unpaid and part-time as Ukraine special envoy before abruptly resigning last week, was not a hostile witness who went into the testimony intending to make accusations against the president. Instead, he told investigators that he was devoted to helping Ukraine resolve its grinding five-year-old conflict with Russian-armed separatists and tried to satisfy the president’s suspicions about Ukraine but was never fully kept in the loop.

Nonetheless, his account, as related by a person familiar with his testimony and the documents released by the committee, raises significant questions for the president as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others.

Mr. Volker told the House investigators that he was eager to help the newly elected Mr. Zelensky build a relationship with Mr. Trump that would bolster Ukraine but found last May that Mr. Giuliani’s efforts were convincing the president that Ukraine was full of “terrible people” who “tried to take me down” in 2016.

The new Ukrainian government sought Mr. Volker’s help in managing Mr. Giuliani. In July, Mr. Yermak asked Mr. Volker to connect him with the former New York mayor, which Mr. Volker agreed to do. Mr. Volker met with Mr. Giuliani for breakfast on July 19 and, he told the committee investigators, warned the former mayor that his theory about corruption involving Mr. Biden was unfounded and implausible and that his sources about it were not credible.

The Ukrainians were wary of being dragged into American domestic politics. “President Zelenskyy is sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument in Washington domestic, reelection politics,” William B. Taylor, the top American diplomat in Kiev, wrote in a text message a couple days after the breakfast.

Mr. Giuliani talked with Mr. Yermak the next day and then advocated a phone call between the two presidents. At the same time Mr. Trump had ordered his aides to hold up the $391 million in congressionally approved aid to Ukraine, with no explanation provided to the agencies involved. Then he got on the phone with Mr. Zelensky to ask for “a favor.”

A week after the phone call, on Aug. 2, Mr. Giuliani met in Madrid with Mr. Yermak and then said the Ukrainian president should issue a statement committing to fighting corruption. A week later, Mr. Volker talked with Mr. Yermak and then reached out to Mr. Giuliani.

“Had a good chat with Yermak last night,” Mr. Volker wrote. “He was pleased with your phone call. Mentioned Z making a statement. Can we all get on the phone to make sure I advise Z correctly as to what he should be saying? Want to make sure we get this done right.”

Later the same day, Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union and a Trump supporter who had actively involved himself in Ukraine, reported that the president was ready to schedule the White House visit that Mr. Zelensky had been seeking.

Mr. Volker asked Mr. Sondland how he swayed the White House. “Not sure i did,” Mr. Sondland replied by text, using the acronym for president of the United States. “I think potus really wants the deliverable.”

Mr. Sondland then raised the proposed statement by Mr. Zelensky. “To avoid misunderstandings, might be helpful to ask Andrey for a draft statement (embargoed) so that we can see exactly what they propose to cover,” he wrote.

“Agree!” Mr. Volker replied.

The next day, Mr. Yermak pressed for a date for the White House visit, clearly seeing it as linked to the statement. “I think it’s possible to make this declaration and mention all these things. Which we discussed yesterday,” he wrote. “But it will be logic to do after we receive a confirmation of date.”

In other words, the Ukrainians would issue their statement committing to the investigations Mr. Trump wanted only after the White House visit was officially scheduled. “Once we have a date, will call for a press briefing, announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of US-UKRAINE relationship, including among other things Burisma and election meddling in investigations,” Mr. Yermak wrote.

Mr. Yermak’s first draft of the statement did not mention Burisma, the company that Hunter Biden worked for, or the 2016 election. Mr. Giuliani insisted the statement had to explicitly mention both of those otherwise there was no point, Mr. Volker told investigators.

Mr. Volker drafted language that would satisfy Mr. Giuliani and sent it to Mr. Yermak.

“Special attention should be paid to the problem of interference in the political processes of the United States especially with the alleged involvement of some Ukrainian politicians,” it would say. “I want to declare that this is unacceptable. We intend to initiate and complete a transparent and unbiased investigation of all available facts and episodes, including those involving Burisma and the 2016 U.S. elections, which in turn will prevent the recurrence of this problem in the future.

But Mr. Yermak ultimately objected to specifically citing Burisma or 2016 in the statement, Mr. Volker told the committee. Then on Aug. 28, Politico reported the Ukrainian aid freeze and a couple days later, Mr. Trump canceled a trip to Poland, where he was to meet with Mr. Zelensky.

Mr. Taylor, the diplomat in Kiev, saw a connection. “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” he asked Mr. Sondland in a text message on Sept. 1.

“Call me,” Mr. Sondland replied.

Mr. Taylor clearly was not convinced. A week later, he expressed fear that the Ukrainians would go ahead with the statement Mr. Giuliani wanted and Mr. Trump would still not release the aid.

“The nightmare is they give the interview and don’t get the security assistance,” he wrote. “The Russians love it. (And I quit.)”

The next day, Mr. Taylor again made clear that he believed the aid freeze and the investigations were linked. “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” he wrote Mr. Sondland.

“Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions,” Mr. Sondland replied. “The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign.”

If Mr. Taylor still had concerns, Mr. Sondland added curtly, he should give Mr. Pompeo “a call to discuss them directly.”

It is not clear whether he did.

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Trump Saw No Quid Pro Quo for Ukraine, but Envoys Had Their Doubts

Westlake Legal Group 04dc-prexy1-facebookJumbo Trump Saw No Quid Pro Quo for Ukraine, but Envoys Had Their Doubts Zelensky, Volodymyr Volker, Kurt D United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment House Committee on Intelligence

WASHINGTON — President Trump has repeatedly denied that there was any quid pro quo attached to his pressure on Ukraine to investigate his political enemies, but a new batch of text messages released late Thursday night indicated that his own representatives saw it differently.

Envoys representing Mr. Trump sought to leverage the power of his office to prod Ukraine into opening investigations that would damage his Democratic opponents at home. They made clear to Ukrainian officials that the White House invitation their newly inaugurated leader coveted depended on his commitment to the investigations.

And the senior American diplomat posted in Ukraine suspected it went even further than a trade of an Oval Office visit, telling colleagues that it appeared to him that unfreezing $391 million in American aid that Mr. Trump had blocked was contingent on the former Soviet republic following through on the politically charged investigations sought by the president and his personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani.

The text messages, provided to three Democratic-led House committees by the former special envoy for Ukraine, Kurt D. Volker, may shape the impeachment inquiry now threatening the future of Mr. Trump’s presidency. They provide new pieces of a timeline of events in recent months and a road map for further investigation by House Democrats.

Among other things, the messages demonstrated that the president’s team had made clear to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine before the now-famous July 25 call with Mr. Trump that he would have to agree to the investigations to confirm a promised visit to the White House that had been held up for two months.

“Heard from White House – assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington,” Mr. Volker wrote to Andrey Yermak, a top Ukrainian presidential adviser at 8:36 a.m. the morning of the phone call.

During the call that followed, Mr. Trump did press Mr. Zelensky to “do us a favor” and investigate supposed Ukrainian efforts to help Democrats in the 2016 presidential election, pursuing a conspiracy theory that even the president’s own homeland security adviser had told him was “completely debunked.” The president also pressed Mr. Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

Mr. Zelensky assured the president he would, according to a reconstructed transcript released by the White House. The text messages indicate that the Ukrainians were quickly given possible dates for a White House visit by Mr. Zelensky.

“Phone call went well,” Mr. Yermak wrote Mr. Volker afterward. “President Trump proposed to choose any convenient dates. President Zelenskiy chose 20,21,22 September for the White House Visit. Thank you again for your help!”

The text messages underscore the danger to Mr. Trump as the House Democratic impeachment inquiry gains steam. So far, the House committees have interviewed just a single witness, Mr. Volker, and already uncovered information damaging to the president’s case.

The Democratic chairmen of the committees said in a letter to colleagues late Thursday night that the texts were “only a subset of the full body of materials” that Mr. Volker turned over and that others would be released in time.

Mr. Trump has asserted he did nothing wrong and was only trying to uncover corruption by Democrats. Undaunted, he doubled down on Thursday, publicly calling on Mr. Zelensky to investigate Mr. Biden and adding a call to China to do the same.

“As the President of the United States, I have an absolute right, perhaps even a duty, to investigate, or have investigated, CORRUPTION, and that would include asking, or suggesting, other Countries to help us out!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Thursday night, and he repeated the sentiments on Friday morning.

Republican lawmakers said that Mr. Volker’s testimony, taken behind closed doors on Thursday by House investigators, did not support the nefarious interpretation of Mr. Trump’s actions advanced by Democrats like Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

“The facts we learned today undercut the salacious narrative that Adam Schiff is using to sell his impeachment ambitions,” Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Devin Nunes of California, the ranking Republican members on two of the committees, wrote in a letter. “We hope the American people get to read the transcript of today’s testimony and see the truth.”

Mr. Volker, a former ambassador to NATO who served unpaid and part-time as Ukraine special envoy before abruptly resigning last week, was not a hostile witness who went into the testimony intending to make accusations against the president. Instead, he told investigators that he was devoted to helping Ukraine resolve its grinding five-year-old conflict with Russian-armed separatists and tried to satisfy the president’s suspicions about Ukraine but was never fully kept in the loop.

Nonetheless, his account, as related by a person familiar with his testimony and the documents released by the committee, raises significant questions for the president as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others.

Mr. Volker told the House investigators that he was eager to help the newly elected Mr. Zelensky build a relationship with Mr. Trump that would bolster Ukraine but found last May that Mr. Giuliani’s efforts were convincing the president that Ukraine was full of “terrible people” who “tried to take me down” in 2016.

The new Ukrainian government sought Mr. Volker’s help in managing Mr. Giuliani. In July, Mr. Yermak asked Mr. Volker to connect him with the former New York mayor, which Mr. Volker agreed to do. Mr. Volker met with Mr. Giuliani for breakfast on July 19 and, he told the committee investigators, warned the former mayor that his theory about corruption involving Mr. Biden was unfounded and implausible and that his sources about it were not credible.

The Ukrainians were wary of being dragged into American domestic politics. “President Zelenskyy is sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument in Washington domestic, reelection politics,” William B. Taylor, the top American diplomat in Kiev, wrote in a text message a couple days after the breakfast.

Mr. Giuliani talked with Mr. Yermak the next day and then advocated a phone call between the two presidents. At the same time Mr. Trump had ordered his aides to hold up the $391 million in congressionally approved aid to Ukraine, with no explanation provided to the agencies involved. Then he got on the phone with Mr. Zelensky to ask for “a favor.”

A week after the phone call, on Aug. 2, Mr. Giuliani met in Madrid with Mr. Yermak and then said the Ukrainian president should issue a statement committing to fighting corruption. A week later, Mr. Volker talked with Mr. Yermak and then reached out to Mr. Giuliani.

“Had a good chat with Yermak last night,” Mr. Volker wrote. “He was pleased with your phone call. Mentioned Z making a statement. Can we all get on the phone to make sure I advise Z correctly as to what he should be saying? Want to make sure we get this done right.”

Later the same day, Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union and a Trump supporter who had actively involved himself in Ukraine, reported that the president was ready to schedule the White House visit that Mr. Zelensky had been seeking.

Mr. Volker asked Mr. Sondland how he swayed the White House. “Not sure i did,” Mr. Sondland replied by text, using the acronym for president of the United States. “I think potus really wants the deliverable.”

Mr. Sondland then raised the proposed statement by Mr. Zelensky. “To avoid misunderstandings, might be helpful to ask Andrey for a draft statement (embargoed) so that we can see exactly what they propose to cover,” he wrote.

“Agree!” Mr. Volker replied.

The next day, Mr. Yermak pressed for a date for the White House visit, clearly seeing it as linked to the statement. “I think it’s possible to make this declaration and mention all these things. Which we discussed yesterday,” he wrote. “But it will be logic to do after we receive a confirmation of date.”

In other words, the Ukrainians would issue their statement committing to the investigations Mr. Trump wanted only after the White House visit was officially scheduled. “Once we have a date, will call for a press briefing, announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of US-UKRAINE relationship, including among other things Burisma and election meddling in investigations,” Mr. Yermak wrote.

Mr. Yermak’s first draft of the statement did not mention Burisma, the company that Hunter Biden worked for, or the 2016 election. Mr. Giuliani insisted the statement had to explicitly mention both of those otherwise there was no point, Mr. Volker told investigators.

Mr. Volker drafted language that would satisfy Mr. Giuliani and sent it to Mr. Yermak.

“Special attention should be paid to the problem of interference in the political processes of the United States especially with the alleged involvement of some Ukrainian politicians,” it would say. “I want to declare that this is unacceptable. We intend to initiate and complete a transparent and unbiased investigation of all available facts and episodes, including those involving Burisma and the 2016 U.S. elections, which in turn will prevent the recurrence of this problem in the future.

But Mr. Yermak ultimately objected to specifically citing Burisma or 2016 in the statement, Mr. Volker told the committee. Then on Aug. 28, Politico reported the Ukrainian aid freeze and a couple days later, Mr. Trump canceled a trip to Poland, where he was to meet with Mr. Zelensky.

Mr. Taylor, the diplomat in Kiev, saw a connection. “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” he asked Mr. Sondland in a text message on Sept. 1.

“Call me,” Mr. Sondland replied.

Mr. Taylor clearly was not convinced. A week later, he expressed fear that the Ukrainians would go ahead with the statement Mr. Giuliani wanted and Mr. Trump would still not release the aid.

“The nightmare is they give the interview and don’t get the security assistance,” he wrote. “The Russians love it. (And I quit.)”

The next day, Mr. Taylor again made clear that he believed the aid freeze and the investigations were linked. “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” he wrote Mr. Sondland.

“Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions,” Mr. Sondland replied. “The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign.”

If Mr. Taylor still had concerns, Mr. Sondland added curtly, he should give Mr. Pompeo “a call to discuss them directly.”

It is not clear whether he did.

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U.S. Added 136,000 Jobs in September; Unemployment Rate at 3.5%

Westlake Legal Group 04jobs1-facebookJumbo U.S. Added 136,000 Jobs in September; Unemployment Rate at 3.5% Wages and Salaries United States Economy Unemployment Trump, Donald J Labor and Jobs International Trade and World Market Factories and Manufacturing

The Labor Department will release the latest hiring and unemployment figures for September at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time. The monthly report provides one of the better snapshots of the state of the American economy. Here’s what to watch for:

  • Wall Street analysts expect the report to show that job creation picked up last month, with employers creating 147,000 jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics initially reported that 130,000 jobs were created in August, a figure likely to be revised Friday.

  • Unemployment is expected to be unchanged at 3.7 percent.

  • Average hourly earnings are expected to show a rise by 0.2 percent, after moving up 0.4 percent in August. That would bring the year-over-year increase to 3.2 percent.

The Labor Department’s monthly report has taken on added significance after a week of disappointing economic news and stock market skids.

Last year, an average of 223,000 jobs were created each month, thanks in part to the temporary pick-me-up delivered by tax cuts and increased government spending. This year, the monthly average through August has been 159,000. That falloff was expected now that the recovery has passed its 10-year anniversary and there are more job postings than job seekers. The unemployment rate has remained below 4 percent for the last seven months. And many Americans who had dropped out of the labor force — because they were too discouraged to look, or couldn’t find sufficiently attractive offers — have rejoined.

Job growth of less than 100,000 would set off some alarms. But unusually meager payroll gains one month can be reversed by a blockbuster increase the next. What matters is the longer-run pattern.

“Numbers below 100,000 on a sustained basis would worry me,” said Ben Herzon, an executive director at Macroeconomic Advisers, “but numbers in the low 100,000s would not be cause for concern.”

The September reading from the Labor Department is the last monthly report to be released before Federal Reserve officials meet on Oct. 29 and 30.

Because policymakers have split on the need for another rate cut, the employment report could be more pivotal in the decision than usual. Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, has noted that the labor market and consumer spending are the two of the strongest parts of the economy.

On Wall Street, expectations that the central bank would pare borrowing costs for a third time this month has been building this week as news about slowing growth rolled in. A weak report would encourage policymakers who favor lowering benchmark interest rates again.

The United Auto Workers’ strike against General Motors has shut down 34 factories in the United States for more than two weeks. But the walkout by 49,000 workers will not be reflected in the government’s monthly report because the strike started after the government surveyed employers.

In August, the job totals were elevated by the hiring of 25,000 temporary census workers. Mr. Herzon estimates that Census Bureau hires in September were half that number. And those gains will be reversed after a few months.

President Trump has repeatedly placed the manufacturing sector at the center of his economic strategy. Nonetheless, that sector is suffering the most from prolonged trade tensions. Companies in the business of making goods — as opposed to those that deliver services, like hospitals and restaurants — are much more dependent on sales to other countries and supply chains that wend around the globe.

Last spring, manufacturers were adding as many as 25,000 jobs a month. In recent months, the average had been closer to 3,000.

News this week that manufacturing activity in the United States fell for the second month in a row set off a stock-market tumble.

With 11.6 million workers, the sector accounts for about 11 percent of the country’s output, but it tends to loom larger in policy debates. Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust, noted that a key measure of manufacturing activity reflected in a survey by the Institute for Supply Management “has a better track record of being a leading indicator of downturns, so I do think there is something to the hold that it has on confidence.”

A decline in manufacturing hires is likely to fuel anxieties about the economy.

Mr. Powell’s pride in the labor market’s performance is well grounded. The jobless rate has skimmed along near half-century lows. Sidelined workers have been lured from living rooms and classrooms back into the workplace. New applications for unemployment insurance have not risen noticeably in recent months.

“One of the best stories about labor market in the last two years is that the job market has done so well, it is now reaching into further corners and providing opportunities to those who had not enjoyed them,” Mr. Tannenbaum said. “This is the way the economy is supposed to work.”

The tight labor market as well as minimum wage increases in several states and cities have helped bulk up paychecks for workers at the lowest end of the salary spectrum. And it means that when some workers, say, in retail lose a job, they have an easier time finding another.

The most highly sought after workers, though, are often the most highly skilled and the most highly paid — a phenomenon that tends to exacerbate income inequality. So keep an eye on not just the total number of payroll gains, but also on what kinds of jobs are being created.

Keep an eye on whether restaurateurs are hiring. A drop in leisure and hospitality job gains could indicate that consumers are not feeling as free to spend.

“Dining out is the single most highly discretionary category,” said Ellen Zentner, chief United States economist for Morgan Stanley. “It responds in kneejerk fashion when people are uncertain about job security and income.”

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Ukraine to Review Criminal Case of Firm Linked to Biden’s Son

Westlake Legal Group 04ukraine-sub-facebookJumbo Ukraine to Review Criminal Case of Firm Linked to Biden’s Son Zelensky, Volodymyr United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Corruption (Institutional) Burisma Holdings Ltd Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s top prosecutor said on Friday that he would review several important cases previously handled by his predecessors, including a criminal case involving a natural gas company that employed a son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The development came amid an impeachment inquiry against President Trump connected to a request he made to the Ukrainian president asking him to investigate Mr. Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate, and his son’s work in Ukraine.

It raises questions of whether Ukraine was, in effect, bowing to public and private pressure from the president of the United States, on which it has depended on for millions of dollars in aid.

The prosecutor general, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, said he intended to review 15 cases in all, and mentioned several high-profile investigations of wealthy Ukrainians, including the owner of the natural gas company, Burisma Holdings, where Mr. Biden’s son Hunter served on the board until earlier this year.

He denied being pressured over the Bidens or the Burisma case.

Mr. Ryaboshapka told journalists at a briefing in Kiev on Friday: “The prosecution service is beyond politics. We are conducting an audit of all cases, including those which were investigated by the previous leadership of the prosecutor’s office.”

If laws were violated, he added, “we will react accordingly.”

Mr. Trump’s repeated public requests that the Ukrainian government investigate a case touching on a likely opponent in next year’s election — what he described in a phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in July as a “favor” — is central to the formal House committee impeachment inquiry called by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The inquiry is examining whether Mr. Trump betrayed his oath of office and the nation’s security by seeking to enlist the aid of a foreign power to tarnish a political rival. Mr. Trump has vigorously denied doing anything wrong, calling his phone call with Mr. Zelensky “perfect.”

No evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Biden or his son has emerged, and the elder Mr. Biden has denied the accusations. But Mr. Trump has doubled down, urging China to investigate the Bidens and charging that the country lavished $1.5 billion on Hunter Biden in order to influence his father and win favorable trade deals with the United States.

Mr. Ryaboshapka’s comments on Friday were the first indication of how Ukrainian criminal justice officials were handling one of the two investigations that Mr. Trump raised in the call.

On the call, Mr. Zelensky of Ukraine suggested that he would assist with an investigation of the firm, according to White House reconstructed notes of the phone call. The Ukrainian president said that a new prosecutor general would soon be appointed who would be “100 percent my person” and would “look into the situation.”

Mr. Ryaboshapka did not say how long his audit of those cases would last. His review is needed before a decision on any further action could be taken.

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Texts From Top Diplomat Described ‘Crazy’ Plan to Keep Aid From Ukraine

Westlake Legal Group 03dc-impeachment-facebookJumbo Texts From Top Diplomat Described ‘Crazy’ Plan to Keep Aid From Ukraine Yovanovitch, Marie L Volker, Kurt D United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Pompeo, Mike Pelosi, Nancy impeachment

WASHINGTON — A top American diplomat in Ukraine repeatedly raised concerns with colleagues about the White House’s decision to withhold $391 million in security aid from Ukraine, describing it as a “crazy” plan to withhold security assistance “for help with a political campaign,” according to texts released Thursday as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

The texts, which were turned over to Congress by Kurt D. Volker, the State Department’s former special envoy for Ukraine, come from a series of early September exchanges. They appear to show a dispute among American diplomats over whether the president was trying to use security aid or a White House meeting with the country’s new leader as leverage to pressure Ukraine to dig up dirt on a leading political rival — a charge at the heart of the impeachment investigation.

One message, written by William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, suggested that Mr. Trump was holding back the package of military aid to Ukraine as a bargaining chip to influence the country’s president to do his political bidding.

“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Mr. Taylor wrote on Sept. 9 to Mr. Volker and Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union.

Mr. Sondland replied that he believed he had “identified the best path forward” for unfreezing the assistance. But he also took issue that there is any sort of direct agreement, writing in response, “The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind.” He then suggested the conversation move to phone rather than text.

That exchange and others emerged as congressional investigators met privately for more than nine hours on Capitol Hill with Mr. Volker, who is the first witness in their growing impeachment inquiry into whether Mr. Trump tried to bend American policy for his own political benefit by pressuring President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

While the president has openly admitted that he wanted Mr. Zelensky to investigate Mr. Biden and his son Hunter Biden, a crucial question has been whether Mr. Trump tried to use the security aid or a meeting at the White House as leverage. The money was delayed until the Trump administration released it last month amid a bipartisan outcry from lawmakers.

In his text, Mr. Sondland added, “The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign.”

It was not immediately clear what led Mr. Taylor to conclude that Mr. Trump was withholding aid as leverage over Ukraine. When the texts were sent, news reports about the delay in releasing the aid, and about attempts by Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to pressure Ukraine into investigating Mr. Biden and other Democrats, had already prompted public speculation that Mr. Trump was engaging in a quid pro quo.

But his concerns persisted. Roughly a week earlier, on Sept. 1, Mr. Taylor had asked Mr. Sondland, “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?”

Mr. Sondland replied simply, “Call me.”

The next day, Mr. Taylor described a “nightmare” situation in which the Ukrainians announced they would conduct the investigations Mr. Trump wanted and still not receive the security assistance. “The Russians love it,” he wrote of that potential outcome. “(And I quit.)”

Mr. Taylor could not be reached for comment on Thursday. The texts thrust him into the center of the blossoming controversy, and he is now almost certain to be called to testify by lawmakers.

Democrats leading the investigation said the messages “reflect serious concerns raised by a State Department official about the detrimental effects of withholding critical military assistance from Ukraine, and the importance of setting up a meeting between President Trump and the Ukrainian president without further delay.”

Republicans demanded a full transcript of Mr. Volker’s interview be released. “The facts we learned today undercut the salacious narrative that Adam Schiff is using to sell his impeachment ambitions,” wrote Representatives Jim Jordan and Devin Nunes, the top Republicans on the Oversight and Reform and Intelligence committees, referring to the chairman of the intelligence panel.

When the Trump administration forced out Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador, before her term was up, Mr. Taylor was sent to be the chargé d’affaires, the No. 2 post in an embassy, and acting ambassador. Mr. Taylor was a former ambassador in Ukraine, serving from 2006 to 2009.

The texts among Mr. Volker, Mr. Sondland and Mr. Taylor portray Mr. Taylor as a diplomat deeply skeptical of the Trump administration’s approach to Ukraine, flabbergasted that the military assistance had been cut off — and firmly believing that the White House was asking for Ukraine to begin political investigations in return for the aid being released.

In one text, he worried about how the hold would affect Ukrainians’ view of the United States and if it would have “shaken their faith in us.”

The texts also suggest that Mr. Volker, a former ambassador to NATO, was deeply intertwined in efforts by the president and Mr. Giuliani to press the Ukrainians into action.

Mr. Volker’s name appears several times in an anonymous C.I.A. whistle-blower complaint that set off the impeachment inquiry, and Mr. Giuliani has said publicly he briefed Mr. Volker on his efforts. The complaint centers on a July call Mr. Trump had with Mr. Zelensky, in which he pressed him to investigate Mr. Biden, and asserts that Mr. Volker advised the Ukrainians on how to “navigate” Mr. Trump’s demands.

In his session with investigators, Mr. Volker presented himself as a diplomat caught in the middle “trying to solve a problem” and help Ukraine, but as someone who was not “fully in the loop” on the president’s campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate his rivals, according to a person briefed on his testimony.

Mr. Volker told investigators that even as he agreed to set up a meeting between Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Zelensky’s top aide, he warned Mr. Giuliani that he believed the conspiracy theories Mr. Giuliani was pursuing were unfounded. While there may have been Ukrainians interested in influencing the United States government, Mr. Volker told investigators that he thought it was implausible that Mr. Biden or the Hillary Clinton campaign did anything wrong.

Mr. Volker told the committee staff that he was never informed that Mr. Trump raised Mr. Biden or the 2016 election during the July 25 phone call, nor was he shown the rough transcript afterward. He was in Ukraine at the time and met the next day with Mr. Zelensky, who he said raised no concerns about the call with him.

In his testimony, Mr. Volker told investigators he believed Mr. Taylor was a diplomat of high integrity. But he also said he did not see the freezing of the assistance as directly linked to Mr. Trump’s interest in beginning a new Ukraine investigation as Mr. Taylor did, according to a person familiar with the testimony.

Mr. Taylor concluded that the assistance was linked to Mr. Trump’s desire for new investigations in Ukraine based on news reports, Mr. Volker testified, according to the person. While Mr. Taylor feared the aid would never come, Mr. Volker told House investigators he was sure that Congress or the Pentagon would force the administration to release the assistance and the issue would be resolved. Mr. Volker believed if he could persuade Mr. Trump that Mr. Zelensky was trustworthy, he could push the relationship to a better place, he said in his testimony.

Mr. Volker told the committee that he did not act at Mr. Pompeo’s behest but briefed the secretary of state who approved of his actions. He also said he kept John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, informed.

The interview, which Mr. Volker participated in voluntarily, took place out of public view. The text exchange was part of a trove of more than 60 pages of documents, many of them texts, that Mr. Volker provided before he arrived.

Mr. Volker resigned on Friday from his part-time, unpaid State Department post without public explanation. A person familiar with his thinking said the longtime diplomat concluded he could no longer be effective in the post in light of the unfolding scandal. But the resignation also freed him to appear before the House investigators without restrictions, according to people familiar with his account.

Democrats are pushing their impeachment investigation forward with haste, issuing near-daily requests or subpoenas for documentary evidence and witness testimony.

The session with Mr. Volker was the first in what is expected to be a fast-paced series of interviews in the coming weeks, when Democrats aim to bring a parade of witnesses behind closed doors for questioning. Ms. Yovanovitch is expected to appear next week.

Other State Department diplomats, including Mr. Sondland, and associates of Mr. Giuliani’s are scheduled to participate, as well, but it remains to be seen whether they will appear voluntarily. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the committee this week that its requests were inappropriately aggressive and untenable.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting from New York, and Lara Jakes from Washington.

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September Jobs Report: What to Watch For

Westlake Legal Group 04jobs1-facebookJumbo September Jobs Report: What to Watch For Wages and Salaries United States Economy Unemployment Trump, Donald J Labor and Jobs International Trade and World Market Factories and Manufacturing

The Labor Department will release the latest hiring and unemployment figures for September at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time. The monthly report provides one of the better snapshots of the state of the American economy. Here’s what to watch for:

  • Wall Street analysts expect the report to show that job creation picked up last month, with employers creating 147,000 jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics initially reported that 130,000 jobs were created in August, a figure likely to be revised Friday.

  • Unemployment is expected to be unchanged at 3.7 percent.

  • Average hourly earnings are expected to show a rise by 0.2 percent, after moving up 0.4 percent in August. That would bring the year-over-year increase to 3.2 percent.

The Labor Department’s monthly report has taken on added significance after a week of disappointing economic news and stock market skids.

Last year, an average of 223,000 jobs were created each month, thanks in part to the temporary pick-me-up delivered by tax cuts and increased government spending. This year, the monthly average through August has been 159,000. That falloff was expected now that the recovery has passed its 10-year anniversary and there are more job postings than job seekers. The unemployment rate has remained below 4 percent for the last seven months. And many Americans who had dropped out of the labor force — because they were too discouraged to look, or couldn’t find sufficiently attractive offers — have rejoined.

Job growth of less than 100,000 would set off some alarms. But unusually meager payroll gains one month can be reversed by a blockbuster increase the next. What matters is the longer-run pattern.

“Numbers below 100,000 on a sustained basis would worry me,” said Ben Herzon, an executive director at Macroeconomic Advisers, “but numbers in the low 100,000s would not be cause for concern.”

The September reading from the Labor Department is the last monthly report to be released before Federal Reserve officials meet on Oct. 29 and 30.

Because policymakers have split on the need for another rate cut, the employment report could be more pivotal in the decision than usual. Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, has noted that the labor market and consumer spending are the two of the strongest parts of the economy.

On Wall Street, expectations that the central bank would pare borrowing costs for a third time this month has been building this week as news about slowing growth rolled in. A weak report would encourage policymakers who favor lowering benchmark interest rates again.

President Trump has repeatedly placed the manufacturing sector at the center of his economic strategy. Nonetheless, that sector is suffering the most from prolonged trade tensions. Companies in the business of making goods — as opposed to those that deliver services, like hospitals and restaurants — are much more dependent on sales to other countries and supply chains that wend around the globe.

Last spring, manufacturers were adding as many as 25,000 jobs a month. In recent months, the average had been closer to 3,000.

News this week that manufacturing activity in the United States fell for the second month in a row set off a stock-market tumble.

With 11.6 million workers, the sector accounts for about 11 percent of the country’s output, but it tends to loom larger in policy debates. Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust, noted that a key measure of manufacturing activity reflected in a survey by the Institute for Supply Management “has a better track record of being a leading indicator of downturns, so I do think there is something to the hold that it has on confidence.”

A decline in manufacturing hires is likely to fuel anxieties about the economy.

Mr. Powell’s pride in the labor market’s performance is well grounded. The jobless rate has skimmed along near half-century lows. Sidelined workers have been lured from living rooms and classrooms back into the workplace. New applications for unemployment insurance have not risen noticeably in recent months.

“One of the best stories about labor market in the last two years is that the job market has done so well, it is now reaching into further corners and providing opportunities to those who had not enjoyed them,” Mr. Tannenbaum said. “This is the way the economy is supposed to work.”

The tight labor market as well as minimum wage increases in several states and cities have helped bulk up paychecks for workers at the lowest end of the salary spectrum. And it means that when some workers, say, in retail lose a job, they have an easier time finding another.

The most highly sought after workers, though, are often the most highly skilled and the most highly paid — a phenomenon that tends to exacerbate income inequality. So keep an eye on not just the total number of payroll gains, but also on what kinds of jobs are being created.

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