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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 44)

House Barrels Toward Impeachment Decisions as Democratic Resistance Crumbles

WASHINGTON — House Democrats hurtled on Tuesday toward a consequential set of decisions about the potential impeachment of President Trump, weighing a course that could reshape his presidency amid startling allegations that he sought to enlist a foreign power to aid him politically.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, who has stubbornly resisted a rush to impeachment, appeared to be rapidly changing course, as lawmakers from every corner of her caucus lined up in favor of filing formal charges against Mr. Trump if the allegations are proven true, or if his administration continues to stonewall attempts by Congress to investigate them.

“We will be making announcements later,” she told reporters in the Capitol, declining to discuss her views on impeachment.

One possibility was the formation of a special committee — reminiscent of the one created in 1973 to investigate the Watergate scandal — to look into the president’s dealings with Ukraine and to potentially lay the groundwork for articles of impeachment based on the findings.

Ms. Pelosi planned a meeting Tuesday afternoon to coordinate strategy with the six committee chairmen who have led the investigations of Mr. Trump, followed by a broader closed-door meeting of all of the chamber’s Democrats to brief them and gauge their mood in light of the changed circumstances.

Calls for impeachment have mounted, with a growing list of vulnerable moderates — until now the chief skeptics of the move — stating that they believed articles of impeachment would be the only recourse if reports about attempts by Mr. Trump and his personal lawyer to push Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son were true.

Westlake Legal Group trump-impeachment-congress-promo-1559334647091-articleLarge-v27 House Barrels Toward Impeachment Decisions as Democratic Resistance Crumbles Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Pelosi, Nancy Office of the Director of National Intelligence impeachment House of Representatives Espionage and Intelligence Services Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr

Full List: Who Supports an Impeachment Inquiry Against Trump?

More than two-thirds of House Democrats and one Independent have said they now support impeachment proceedings.

“The first responsibility of the president of the United States is to keep our country safe, but it has become clear that our president has placed his personal interests above the national security of our nation,” Representative Antonio Delgado, Democrat of New York and one of the party’s most politically vulnerable freshman moderates, wrote on Tuesday. “I believe articles of impeachment are warranted.”

Progressives, including Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a leading Democratic candidate for president, demanded even faster action. “It must start today,” she said of impeachment.

Mr. Trump, in New York for his second day of diplomatic meetings at the United Nations, dismissed the effort as a desperate political ploy by Democrats, and continued to maintain he had done nothing wrong.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “It’s a witch hunt. I’m leading in the polls. They have no idea how they stop me. The only way they can try is through impeachment. This has never happened to a president before.”

House Republicans’ campaign arm blasted out a statement predicting Democrats would be ensuring the end of their House majority if they followed through.

The shift in outlook among Democratic lawmakers has been rapid, and could yet still turn away from impeachment if exculpatory evidence comes to light. The developments that have turned the tide began less that two weeks ago, when Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the Intelligence Committee chairman, first revealed the existence of a secretive whistle-blower complaint that the intelligence community’s internal watchdog had deemed “urgent” and credible but that the Trump administration had refused to share with Congress.

That complaint remains secret, and lawmakers are fighting to see it, but news reports have established that the complaint was related, at least in part, to a July call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in which Mr. Trump pressed the foreign leader to investigate Mr. Biden and his son Hunter, for corruption.

Just days earlier, Mr. Trump had ordered his staff to freeze more than $391 million in aid to Ukraine. While Mr. Trump denies having explicitly linked the two issues, lawmakers believe they are connected and have demanded documentation that could clarify the situation. And whether or not the military funding factored in, the documents could shed light on whether and how the president tried to pressure a foreign leader to help him tarnish a political rival, actions that many Democrats argued on Tuesday would be impeachable on their own.

The campaign of Mr. Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, announced he would make a midafternoon statement from Wilmington, Del. on the whistle-blower complaint and what it called “President Trump’s ongoing abuse of power.”

The House Judiciary Committee has been conducting its own impeachment investigation focused on the findings of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as well as on allegations that Mr. Trump may be illegally profiting from spending by state and foreign governments, and other matters. But that inquiry has never gotten the imprimatur of a full House vote or the full rhetorical backing of the speaker, as Democrats remained divided about the wisdom and political implications of impeaching a president without broader public support.

What exactly a full impeachment process might look like, if it does go forward, remained unclear early on Tuesday. It may hinge significantly on what comes of a pair of deadlines on Thursday. Democrats have given Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, until then to turn over the whistle-blower complaint or risk reprisal. And they have threatened to subpoena the Trump administration for a copy of the transcript of the president’s call with Mr. Zelensky and other relevant documents after Thursday if they are not shared voluntarily.

A select committee would not necessarily grant lawmakers any new fact-finding power. Existing standing committees of the House already have the power to issue subpoenas and set rules of procedure as they see fit. A senior Democratic aide said late Monday that no decision had been made about setting up such a committee. But at least some of Ms. Pelosi’s advisers where pushing for one, arguing that the process would benefit from a small, staff-driven panel that could make a messy political investigation as professional-looking as possible, one of the advisers said on Tuesday.

Creating a special committee would allow Ms. Pelosi to handpick its Democratic members — a potentially attractive prospect to a speaker who has second-guessed the work of the Judiciary Committee, where impeachment proceedings typically play out. Lawmakers who have discussed the idea routinely raise Mr. Schiff, a close ally of the speaker, as a potential chairman.

Whatever Ms. Pelosi and her leadership team decide, it appeared increasingly likely she would face little internal resistance from her caucus, as moderates and progressives, first-term lawmakers and seasoned veterans and others agreed the time had come to move toward impeachment.

Representative Haley Stevens, Democrat of Michigan and another freshman who flipped a Republican seat last fall, said early Monday that “if investigations confirm recent reports, these actions represent impeachable offenses that threaten to undermine the integrity of our elections and jeopardize the balance of power within the federal government.” Representative Lizzie Fletcher, Democrat of Texas, who defeated a Republican last year to win her Houston-area district, said just the facts that Mr. Trump has already confirmed represent “a gross abuse of power.”

“The House of Representatives should act swiftly to investigate and should be prepared to use the remedy exclusively in its power: impeachment,” Ms. Fletcher said.

In a sign of where Ms. Pelosi may be headed herself, some of her closest allies who had been previously reluctant to back impeachment are shifting their positions, including Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, who said late Monday that impeachment “may be the only recourse Congress has if the president is enlisting foreign assistance in the 2020 election.”

In the Senate, where Republicans hold a majority, Democrats said they would try to bring up a nonbinding resolution directing the administration to turn over the whistle-blower complaint to the congressional intelligence committees. It was an effort to force Republicans to either break with the Trump administration and join them in calling for the release of the material, or go on the record in favor of blocking its disclosure.

Jonathan Martin contributed reporting from Los Angeles.

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Trump Pressed Ukraine’s Leader on Inquiry Into Biden’s Son

Sept. 20, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 20dc-whistleblower-sub-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v3 House Barrels Toward Impeachment Decisions as Democratic Resistance Crumbles Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Pelosi, Nancy Office of the Director of National Intelligence impeachment House of Representatives Espionage and Intelligence Services Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr

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

Trump, at U.N., Blames Europe for His Delay of Ukraine Aid

Westlake Legal Group 24dc-prexy-promo-facebookJumbo-v3 Trump, at U.N., Blames Europe for His Delay of Ukraine Aid United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment General Assembly (UN)

President Trump said Tuesday that he held up American aid to Ukraine that has become the subject of furious controversy because European countries have not paid their fair share to support the country, and pointed to the fact that the money was eventually released as evidence that he had done nothing wrong.

The funds were frozen before Mr. Trump pressed the new Ukrainian president to investigate a leading Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

He also said that a groundswell for his impeachment among Democratic lawmakers amounted to a new “witch hunt.”

“I’m leading in the polls and they have no idea how to stop me,” Mr. Trump said, though the president trails the leading Democratic candidates in most polls. “The only way they can try is through impeachment.”

The $391 million aid package in question was provided to Ukraine for its defense against a Russian-backed separatist insurgency in its east which has left more than 13,000 people dead over the past five years.

Mr. Trump also noted that the funds allocated for Ukraine “were fully paid,” although he did not mention the fact that his administration acted only after the delay became public through news media leaks, and under bipartisan pressure from Congress.

And he suggested that a transcript of his July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, whose release many Democrats have insisted on, would become public. Mr. Trump repeated his assertion that the transcript would exonerate him.

“When you see the call, when you see the readout of the call, which I assume you’ll see at some point, you’ll understand that call was perfect,” he said.

Mr. Trump addressed reporters minutes before his annual address to the United Nations General Assembly, where he is expected to focus on Iran at a moment of crisis in the Persian Gulf, that has escalated in the wake of drone and missile strikes on key Saudi oil facilities earlier this month. Iran has denied responsibility for the attack, and Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are supplied by Iran, have taken credit. But Trump officials say they are certain that Iran was responsible.

In the days since that attack, which shook global energy markets, Mr. Trump has alternated between threats of fierce military action and calls for patience and restraint. An American military response could escalate the conflict with potentially devastating consequences for the global economy, which is powered by a Middle Eastern oil flow that Iran can easily disrupt. Mr. Trump is considering a range of retaliatory options, including cyberattacks. Mr. Trump projected confidence about the standoff with Tehran, telling reporters that “Iran is coming along very well. We’re in very good shape with respect to Iran.”

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

Trump Blames Europe for His Delay of Ukraine Aid

Westlake Legal Group 24dc-prexy-promo-facebookJumbo-v3 Trump Blames Europe for His Delay of Ukraine Aid United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment General Assembly (UN)

President Trump said Tuesday that he held up American aid to Ukraine that has become the subject of furious controversy because European countries have not paid their fair share to support the country, and pointed to the fact that the money was eventually released as evidence that he had done nothing wrong.

The funds were frozen before Mr. Trump pressed the new Ukrainian president to investigate a leading Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

He also said that a groundswell for his impeachment among Democratic lawmakers amounted to a new “witch hunt.”

“I’m leading in the polls and they have no idea how to stop me,” Mr. Trump said, though the president trails the leading Democratic candidates in most polls. “The only way they can try is through impeachment.”

The $391 million aid package in question was provided to Ukraine for its defense against a Russian-backed separatist insurgency in its east which has left more than 13,000 people dead over the past five years.

Mr. Trump also noted that the funds allocated for Ukraine “were fully paid,” although he did not mention the fact that his administration acted only after the delay became public through news media leaks, and under bipartisan pressure from Congress.

And he suggested that a transcript of his July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, whose release many Democrats have insisted on, would become public. Mr. Trump repeated his assertion that the transcript would exonerate him.

“When you see the call, when you see the readout of the call, which I assume you’ll see at some point, you’ll understand that call was perfect,” he said.

Mr. Trump addressed reporters minutes before his annual address to the United Nations General Assembly, where he is expected to focus on Iran at a moment of crisis in the Persian Gulf, that has escalated in the wake of drone and missile strikes on key Saudi oil facilities earlier this month. Iran has denied responsibility for the attack, and Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are supplied by Iran, have taken credit. But Trump officials say they are certain that Iran was responsible.

In the days since that attack, which shook global energy markets, Mr. Trump has alternated between threats of fierce military action and calls for patience and restraint. An American military response could escalate the conflict with potentially devastating consequences for the global economy, which is powered by a Middle Eastern oil flow that Iran can easily disrupt. Mr. Trump is considering a range of retaliatory options, including cyberattacks. Mr. Trump projected confidence about the standoff with Tehran, telling reporters that “Iran is coming along very well. We’re in very good shape with respect to Iran.”

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

Trump Said to Have Frozen Aid to Ukraine Before Call With Its Leader

President Trump personally ordered his staff to freeze more than $391 million in aid to Ukraine in the days before he pressed the new Ukrainian president to investigate the Democrats’ leading presidential candidate, two senior administration officials said Monday.

Mr. Trump issued his directive to Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, who conveyed it through the budget office to the Pentagon and the State Department, which were told only that the administration was looking at whether the spending was necessary, the officials said.

The timing of the decision to block the aid and Mr. Trump’s personal involvement, which were first reported by The Washington Post, add vital new elements to the raging debate over the president’s effort to persuade Ukraine to examine unsubstantiated corruption allegations involving former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son.

The revelation came as leading congressional Democrats demanded that the administration turn over documentation about the matter, as a flood of their colleagues said, before news of Mr. Trump’s involvement in freezing the aid, that the president’s actions could warrant impeachment.

Several House Democrats from more moderate districts who had long resisted such a move added their voices on Monday to calls for an inquiry that could lead to charges of high crimes and misdemeanors against the president.

Mr. Trump, buffeted by questions about his conduct on a day of international diplomacy at the United Nations, denied that he withheld the aid from Ukraine in an attempt to press President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to dig up dirt on Mr. Biden.

“No, I didn’t — I didn’t do it,” Mr. Trump told reporters. But just moments before, he suggested that there would be nothing wrong with linking American funding for Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that is fighting Russian-backed separatists, to a corruption inquiry about Mr. Biden and his family.

“Why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?” Mr. Trump said.

It was one of a series of whipsawing declarations Mr. Trump made throughout the day on Monday as he defended himself, vilified the Bidens and appeared by turns eager and reluctant to reveal the facts at the root of the allegations. Mr. Trump first said he hoped that the transcript of a July 25 phone call he had with Mr. Zelensky would be released, claiming that it would exonerate him, only to angrily deny moments later that he had committed to doing so.

“I hope you get to see it soon,” Mr. Trump said, before arguing that making the transcript public would set a bad precedent — a position that one person familiar with White House deliberations said was being advanced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Mr. Biden chimed in via the president’s favorite platform, Twitter, responding to Mr. Trump’s dismissal of charges of misconduct by writing, “So release the transcript of the call then.”

Mr. Trump has acknowledged raising Mr. Biden and the corruption questions with Mr. Zelensky in the July 25 telephone call. People familiar with the conversation said Mr. Trump repeatedly urged his counterpart to speak with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, who has been pushing Ukraine aggressively to look into the Bidens and any contacts that the previous government in Kiev had with Democrats during the 2016 campaign.

Mr. Trump did not discuss the delay in the military assistance on the July 25 call with Mr. Zelensky, according to people familiar with the conversation. A Ukrainian official said Mr. Zelensky’s government did not learn of the delay until about one month after the call.

Congressional Democrats have said that if the president really pressured Ukraine for dirt on a domestic political rival, it could be an impeachable offense whether or not he tied the demand to American aid. But if evidence emerges that the president linked the two, it would likely bolster the case of critics who call that an abuse of power.

The decision to hold back the aid, which had been approved by Congress, came at a time when the president was looking for ways to curb a variety of foreign assistance programs and some aides at least initially saw it in that broader context. But Mr. Trump singled out Ukraine as a place he considered corrupt and railed about wasting money there, according to people who heard him discuss the matter, and he questioned the aid package for weeks.

The president asked advisers how to think about Mr. Zelensky, a former comedian outside the Ukrainian establishment who was largely unknown to American policymakers and had shown little interest in Mr. Giuliani’s calls for investigations related to American politics.

It soon became clear that the Ukraine aid freeze was different from the hold placed on other programs. Even after other foreign aid was restored, the money for Ukraine remained blocked.

The suspension of the aid caused confusion and frustration in both Washington and Kiev for months. Mr. Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials were mystified and complained to visiting American lawmakers. For five years, Russia has sponsored separatists in eastern Ukraine and the government in Kiev had relied on American and European security aid.

American government officials were left in the dark as well. When staff members at the State Department and Defense Department who work on issues related to Ukraine learned of the holds in July, they were puzzled and alarmed, according to current and former government officials familiar with the situation.

The assistance came in two pots overseen by different agencies — $250 million from the Defense Department’s Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and $141 from the State Department’s foreign military financing program. The funds were intended to help train and equip Ukrainian forces in their fight to stave off Russian incursion.

Congressional committees had approved the defense assistance to the Ukrainian military in two separate tranches — the first in early April and the second in early June, shortly after the Pentagon submitted the spending for approval, according to the officials.

That cleared the way for the administration to finalize the release of the assistance. The Defense Department had already begun processing some of those funds and officials worried that if the White House did not release the funding before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 it would be lost.

Defense and State Department staff were frustrated when they sought explanations or resolution from the White House Office of Management and Budget and contacted the offices of members of Congress considered sympathetic to the cause.

The administration initially explained that the assistance was being reviewed to determine whether it was in the best interest of American foreign policy. Some officials maintained that position on Monday.

But Vice President Mike Pence later said that the review was based on concerns from the White House about “issues of corruption.” Without detailing those concerns, Mr. Pence, after a meeting with Mr. Zelensky in Warsaw on the sidelines of a commemoration of the outbreak of World War II, told reporters that “to invest additional taxpayer in Ukraine, the president wants to be assured that those resources are truly making their way to the kind of investments that will contribute to security and stability in Ukraine.”

A handful of Republican and Democratic senators who belong to a bipartisan Ukraine caucus wrote a letter to Mr. Mulvaney early this month expressing “deep concerns” over the delay in releasing the funding. The funding is “vital to the long term viability of the Ukrainian military,” helping it “fend off the Kremlin’s continued onslaughts within its territory,” the senators wrote.

Pressure on the White House from Republican senators intensified. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio spoke to Mr. Trump about the funds, and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina informed the White House that he planned to support an amendment by Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, that would block Pentagon spending to ensure that the Ukraine funds were released. On Sept 11, the administration told lawmakers it would release the funds.

Two days before, Representative Adam B. Schiff, the California Democrat who leads the House Intelligence Committee had released a letter he had sent to the acting director of national intelligence revealing the existence of a whistle-blower case that might involve the president — touching of a series of disclosures in the press that brought the controversy over the Ukraine aid to a full crisis.

House Democrats on Monday moved to try to force Mr. Trump’s hand, even as they weighed voting on a resolution this week condemning his actions. At the same time, the chorus of lawmakers demanding impeachment grew louder, underscoring how the latest revelations about the president have touched off a seismic shift under Democrats’ feet.

Seven freshman House Democrats with military and national security experience — most of whom have been reluctant to call for impeachment — spoke out Monday night in a strongly worded opinion article in The Washington Post.

“If these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense,” the lawmakers wrote.

The authors were Representatives Gil Cisneros of California, Jason Crow of Colorado, Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, Elaine Luria of Virginia, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia.

The chairmen of three House committees investigating the matter threatened to issue subpoenas in the coming days if the administration did not hand over a transcript of the call and documents related to the decision to withhold the aid money. A failure to do so — or to disclose to Congress a secretive whistle-blower complaint said to be related to the Ukraine matter — would be considered obstruction, they said, an indication that they could consider it grounds for impeachment.

“If press reports are accurate, such corrupt use of presidential power for the president’s personal political interest — and not for the national interest — is a betrayal of the president’s oath of office and cannot go unchecked,” the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Reform Committees wrote on Monday in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

They added, “By withholding these documents and refusing to engage with the committees, the Trump administration is obstructing Congress’s oversight duty under the Constitution to protect our nation’s democratic process.”

It appeared increasingly likely that the brewing conflict would come to a head on Thursday, when the House Intelligence Committee was already scheduled to question Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, who has withheld the whistle-blower complaint under advisement from the Justice Department and the White House. The panel has demanded that Mr. Maguire bring with him a copy of it.

Now, lawmakers also want a decision by Mr. Pompeo — and by extension, Mr. Trump — by that day on whether he will furnish a transcript of the presidential conversation, as well as other materials they have requested.

Mindful that Democrats may have only a brief window to decide their course, Speaker Nancy Pelosi summoned the leaders of six House committees involved in investigations of the president to meet on Tuesday, telling the lawmakers to come without aides. Afterward, she planned to convene a special meeting of the Democratic caucus to discuss impeachment.

Their decisions could have grave implications for Mr. Trump’s presidency.

A growing number of House Democrats said on Monday that the new revelations all but demanded the move. They warned that a decision by the Trump administration not to hand over documents about a matter of urgent national security would leave the House with no choice but to initiate full-bore impeachment proceedings. At the same time, they said, any material that corroborated news reports about Mr. Trump’s actions could lead to the same outcome.

“It is clear that the sitting president of the United States placed his own personal interests above the national security interests of the United States,” said Representative Angie Craig of Minnesota, who flipped a Republican seat last fall. She called for impeachment proceedings to begin “immediately, fairly and impartially.”

Ms. Craig’s announcement came alongside that of another Minnesota freshman, Dean Phillips, who warned, “If the reports are corroborated, we must pursue articles of impeachment and report them to the full House of Representatives for immediate consideration.”

Ms. Slotkin, a former C.I.A. officer who participated in briefings with Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and who advocated whistle-blower protections while working for Mr. Bush’s director of national intelligence, said the issue was “personal” for her.

“As national security professionals, this was too much,” she said. “While we had always been judicious in thinking about impeachment before, this just crossed a line.”

Other, more veteran lawmakers, issued similar statements.

Veteran Democrats close to Ms. Pelosi, who has stubbornly resisted impeachment, joined the chorus as well. “An impeachment inquiry may be the only recourse Congress has if the president is enlisting foreign assistance in the 2020 election,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut. “Congress must meet this pivotal moment in our nation’s history with decisive action.”

There were also indications of more movement to come. Other moderate freshmen who have shied away from impeachment spent the day furiously calling one another in efforts to calibrate their responses. Several said privately that they were on the brink of supporting an impeachment process, but that they wanted to first see what transpired Thursday.

Privately, some Democrats and their aides were more cautious, fretting that the transcript of the July call would not be as damning as billed. They worried that the anticipation of its disclosure was replicating the dynamic that surrounded the release of the report by Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel who investigated Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, in which Democrats had expected a set of clear-cut revelations that would all but demand Mr. Trump’s impeachment, but ended up instead with a document that did not move public opinion against the president.

Democrats got some backup in the Senate from Republicans, who have generally split over whether Mr. Trump is obliged to share either the transcript or the whistle-blower complaint with Congress.

“I believe the most helpful report would be a transcript of the president’s conversation with President Zelensky,” Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the 2012 Republican nominee for president, told reporters. “That, I think, would be the most instructive. But I certainly believe that the whistle-blower report should also be available to Congress.”

Speaking on the Senate floor on Monday afternoon, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, accused Democrats of trying to exploit a serious issue for political gain. He said he had confidence that the Senate’s intelligence panel, working quietly on a bipartisan basis, would handle it appropriately.

Reporting was contributed by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Catie Edmondson, Emily Cochrane, Jonathan Martin, Peter Baker and Julian E. Barnes.

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Trump Ordered Aid to Ukraine Frozen Days Before Call With Its Leader

President Trump directed the acting White House chief of staff to freeze more than $391 million in aid to Ukraine in the days before Mr. Trump was scheduled to speak by phone with the new Ukrainian president, two senior administration officials said Monday.

Mr. Trump’s directive was communicated to the Pentagon and the State Department, which were told only that the administration was looking at whether the spending was necessary, the officials said.

The revelation that Mr. Trump ordered the aid package blocked, which was first reported by The Washington Post, adds a vital new element to the raging debate over pressure being put on Ukraine by Mr. Trump to investigate unsubstantiated allegations that former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden had engaged in corrupt activities in dealing with Ukraine.

It came on a day when leading congressional Democrats demanded that the Trump administration turn over documentation about the allegations against the president, and a flood of their colleagues said his actions could warrant impeachment.

Mr. Trump has acknowledged that he mentioned the Bidens in a call on July 25 with the new Ukrainian leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, and people familiar with the call have said Mr. Trump repeatedly urged Mr. Zelensky to speak with one of his personal lawyers, Rudolph W. Giuliani. Mr. Giuliani has been pushing Ukraine aggressively to look into the Bidens and the origins of material that implicated Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, in 2016.

Mr. Trump, buffeted by questions about his conduct on a day of international diplomacy at the United Nations, denied the accusations that he had withheld the aid from Ukraine in an attempt to press Mr. Zelensky to do his bidding. The president also continued to insist he had acted appropriately.

“No, I didn’t — I didn’t do it,” Mr. Trump told reporters, when asked whether he had conditioned the aid on the promise of an investigation of unsubstantiated corruption charges against the former vice president and his son. But not long before, the president had suggested that there would be nothing wrong with his linking funding for Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that is fighting Russian-backed separatists, to a corruption inquiry about Mr. Biden and his family.

“Why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?” Mr. Trump said.

It was one of a series of whipsawing declarations Mr. Trump made throughout the day on Monday as he defended himself, vilified the Bidens and appeared by turns eager and reluctant to reveal the facts at the root of the allegations. Mr. Trump first said he hoped that the transcript of the July 25 phone call with Mr. Zelensky would be released, claiming that it would exonerate him, only to angrily deny moments later that he had committed to doing so.

“I hope you get to see it soon,” Mr. Trump said, before arguing that making the transcript public would set a bad precedent.

Mr. Biden chimed in via the president’s favorite platform, Twitter, responding to Mr. Trump’s dismissal of charges of misconduct by writing, “So release the transcript of the call then.”

House Democrats were doing everything they could to try to force Mr. Trump’s hand, even as they weighed voting on a resolution this week condemning his actions. At the same time, the chorus of lawmakers demanding impeachment grew louder, underscoring how the latest revelations about the president have touched off a seismic shift under Democrats’ feet.

Seven freshman House Democrats with military and national security experience — most of whom have been reluctant to call for impeachment — spoke out Monday night in a strongly worded opinion article in The Washington Post, saying the House should begin impeachment hearings if necessary to get the information lawmakers need to evaluate the allegations.

“If these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense,” the lawmakers wrote.

The authors were Representatives Gil Cisneros of California, Jason Crow of Colorado, Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, Elaine Luria of Virginia, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia. Mr. Crow had previously called for an impeachment investigation, but others, including Ms. Slotkin, have been reluctant.

The chairmen of three House committees investigating the matter threatened to issue subpoenas in the coming days if the administration did not hand over a transcript of the call and documents related to the decision to withhold the aid money. A failure to do so — or to disclose to Congress a secretive whistle-blower complaint said to be related to the Ukraine matter — would be considered obstruction, they said, an indication that they could consider it grounds for impeachment.

“If press reports are accurate, such corrupt use of presidential power for the president’s personal political interest — and not for the national interest — is a betrayal of the president’s oath of office and cannot go unchecked,” the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Reform Committees wrote on Monday in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

They added, “By withholding these documents and refusing to engage with the committees, the Trump administration is obstructing Congress’s oversight duty under the Constitution to protect our nation’s democratic process.”

It appeared increasingly likely that the brewing conflict would come to a head on Thursday, when the House Intelligence Committee was already scheduled to question Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, who has withheld the whistle-blower complaint under advisement from the Justice Department and the White House. The panel has demanded that Mr. Maguire bring with him a copy of it. Now, lawmakers also want a decision by Mr. Pompeo — and by extension, Mr. Trump — by that day on whether he will furnish a transcript of the presidential conversation, as well as other materials they have requested.

Mindful that Democrats may have only a brief window to decide their course, Speaker Nancy Pelosi summoned the leaders of six House committees involved in investigations of the president to meet on Tuesday, telling the lawmakers to come without aides. Afterward, she planned to convene a special meeting of the Democratic caucus to discuss impeachment.

Their decisions could have grave implications for Mr. Trump’s presidency.

A growing number of House Democrats said on Monday that the new revelations all but demanded the move. They warned that a decision by the Trump administration not to hand over documents about a matter of urgent national security would leave the House with no choice but to initiate full-bore impeachment proceedings. At the same time, they said, any material that corroborated news reports about Mr. Trump’s actions could lead to the same outcome.

“It is clear that the sitting president of the United States placed his own personal interests above the national security interests of the United States,” said Representative Angie Craig of Minnesota, who flipped a Republican seat last fall. She called for impeachment proceedings to begin “immediately, fairly and impartially.”

Ms. Craig’s announcement came alongside that of another Minnesota freshman, Dean Phillips, who warned, “If the reports are corroborated, we must pursue articles of impeachment and report them to the full House of Representatives for immediate consideration.”

Ms. Slotkin, a former C.I.A. officer who participated in briefings with Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and who advocated whistle-blower protections while working for Mr. Bush’s director of national intelligence, said the issue was “personal” for her.

“As national security professionals, this was too much,” she said. “While we had always been judicious in thinking about impeachment before, this just crossed a line.”

Other, more veteran lawmakers, issued similar statements.

Veteran Democrats close to Ms. Pelosi, who has stubbornly resisted impeachment, joined the chorus as well. “An impeachment inquiry may be the only recourse Congress has if the president is enlisting foreign assistance in the 2020 election,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut. “Congress must meet this pivotal moment in our nation’s history with decisive action.”

There were also indications of more movement to come. Other moderate freshmen who have shied away from impeachment spent the day furiously calling one another in efforts to calibrate their responses. Several said privately that they were on the brink of supporting an impeachment process, but that they wanted to first see what transpired Thursday.

Privately, some Democrats and their aides were more cautious, fretting that the transcript of the July call would not be as damning as billed. They worried that the anticipation of its disclosure was replicating the dynamic that surrounded the release of the report by Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel who investigated Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, in which Democrats had expected a set of clear-cut revelations that would all but demand Mr. Trump’s impeachment, but ended up instead with a document that did not move public opinion against the president. They cautioned quietly that Democrats needed to see the evidence before getting too far down the impeachment path.

Democrats got some backup in the Senate from Republicans, who have generally split over whether Mr. Trump is obliged to share either the transcript or the whistle-blower complaint with Congress.

“I believe the most helpful report would be a transcript of the president’s conversation with President Zelensky,” Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the 2012 Republican nominee for president, told reporters. “That, I think, would be the most instructive. But I certainly believe that the whistle-blower report should also be available to Congress.”

Speaking on the Senate floor on Monday afternoon, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, accused Democrats of trying to exploit a serious issue for political gain. He said he had confidence that the Senate’s intelligence panel, working quietly on a bipartisan basis, would handle it appropriately.

He called it “regrettable” that Representative Adam B. Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, and Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, “have chosen to politicize this issue, circumventing the established procedures and protocols that exist so the committees can pursue sensitive matters in the appropriate, deliberate, bipartisan manner.”

Questions about Ukraine came to dominate a day at the United Nations that was otherwise packed with meetings with foreign leaders and the president’s foreign policy abroad.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 23dc-prexy-hunter-articleLarge Trump Ordered Aid to Ukraine Frozen Days Before Call With Its Leader Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United Nations Trump, Donald J impeachment Burisma Holdings Ltd Biden, Joseph R Jr

Hunter Biden in April 2016.CreditPaul Morigi/Getty Images for World Food Program USA

During a meeting with President Andrzej Duda of Poland, Mr. Trump suggested that his main complaint about the American aid to Ukraine — which he temporarily suspended this summer before releasing it last month amid bipartisan pressure from Congress — involved a lack of European assistance to the country. “Why isn’t Europe helping Ukraine more?” Mr. Trump said. “Why is it always the United States?”

The American aid package included about $250 million from the Defense Department and $141 million from the State Department.

In multiple comments to reporters, Mr. Trump sought to deflect attention from his actions and tarnish Mr. Biden, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

“What Biden did is a disgrace. What his son did is a disgrace,” Mr. Trump said. He later added, “If a Republican ever did what Joe Biden did, if a Republican ever said what Joe Biden said, they’d be getting the electric chair right now.”

The meetings were the first of more than a dozen sit-downs Mr. Trump had scheduled with world leaders here — including with Mr. Zelensky of Ukraine, whom he will see Wednesday.

Between events at the United Nations complex, Mr. Trump also tweeted an attack against his accusers as “stone cold Crooked.” And he implied that the unnamed intelligence community whistle-blower might be a traitor: “Is he on our Country’s side,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Where does he come from.”

Without offering proof, Mr. Trump also insisted that Hunter Biden, an international business consultant during his father’s time in office, “took money” from China, and suggested that the former vice president would strike a softer line toward Beijing as a result. China, Mr. Trump said, “can think of nothing they’d rather see than Biden get in.”

There is no evidence that the younger Mr. Biden’s business dealings have had any effect on his father’s public policy positions. Mr. Trump has seized on the elder Mr. Biden’s insistence in 2016 that Ukraine fire its top prosecutor at a time when a Ukrainian company on whose board Hunter Biden sat was suspected of criminal activity. But that prosecutor was widely seen as corrupt himself, and was not aggressively pursuing a case against the company, Burisma Holdings.

Trump, Biden and Ukraine: Sorting Out the Accusations

Sept. 22, 2019

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Vice President Mike Pence, right, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, center right, both evangelical Christians, have emphasized the cause of religious freedom in American foreign policy.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Nicholas Fandos reported from Washington, and Michael Crowley from New York. Reporting was contributed by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Catie Edmondson and Emily Cochrane from Washington, and Jonathan Martin from Los Angeles.

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Democrats Demand Disclosures on Trump’s Ukraine Talks as Impeachment Calls Mount

WASHINGTON — Leading congressional Democrats demanded on Monday that the Trump administration turn over documentation about allegations that President Trump sought to pressure the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on a leading political rival, as a growing number of their colleagues said his actions could warrant impeachment.

Mr. Trump, buffeted by questions about his conduct on a day of international diplomacy at the United Nations, denied accusations that he had withheld $391 million in security aid from Ukraine in an attempt to press President Volodymyr Zelensky to do his bidding. The president also continued to insist he had acted appropriately.

“No, I didn’t — I didn’t do it,” Mr. Trump told reporters, when asked whether he had conditioned the aid on the promise of an investigation of unsubstantiated corruption charges against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden. But not long before, the president had suggested that there would be nothing wrong with his linking funding for Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that is fighting Russian-backed separatists, to a corruption inquiry about Mr. Biden and his family.

“Why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?” Mr. Trump said.

It was one of a series of whipsawing declarations Mr. Trump made throughout the day on Monday as he defended himself, vilified the Bidens and appeared by turns eager and reluctant to reveal the facts at the root of the allegations. Mr. Trump first said he hoped that the transcript of a July 25 phone call he had with Mr. Zelensky would be released, claiming that it would exonerate him, only to angrily deny moments later that he had committed to doing so.

“I hope you get to see it soon,” Mr. Trump said, before arguing that making the transcript public would set a bad precedent.

Mr. Biden chimed in via the president’s favorite platform, Twitter, responding to Mr. Trump’s dismissal of charges of misconduct by writing, “So release the transcript of the call then.”

House Democrats were doing everything they could to try to force Mr. Trump’s hand, even as they weighed voting on a resolution this week condemning Mr. Trump’s actions and the chorus of lawmakers demanding impeachment grew louder.

The chairmen of three House committees investigating the matter threatened to issue subpoenas in the coming days if the administration did not hand over a transcript of the call and documents related to the decision to withhold the aid money. A failure to do so — or to disclose to Congress a secretive whistle-blower complaint said to be related to the Ukraine matter — would be considered obstruction, they said, an indication that they could consider it grounds for impeachment.

“If press reports are accurate, such corrupt use of presidential power for the president’s personal political interest — and not for the national interest — is a betrayal of the president’s oath of office and cannot go unchecked,” the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Reform Committees wrote on Monday in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

They added, “By withholding these documents and refusing to engage with the committees, the Trump administration is obstructing Congress’s oversight duty under the Constitution to protect our nation’s democratic process.”

It appeared increasingly likely that the brewing conflict would come to a head on Thursday, when the House Intelligence Committee was already scheduled to question Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, who has withheld the whistle-blower complaint under advisement from the Justice Department and the White House. The panel has demanded that Mr. Maguire bring with him a copy of it. Now, lawmakers also want a decision by Mr. Pompeo — and by extension, Mr. Trump — by that day on whether he will furnish a transcript of the presidential conversation, as well as other materials they have requested.

Mindful that Democrats may have only a brief window to decide their course, Speaker Nancy Pelosi summoned the leaders of six House committees involved in investigations of the president to meet on Tuesday, telling the lawmakers to come without aides. Afterward, she planned to convene a special meeting of the Democratic caucus to discuss impeachment.

Their decisions could have grave implications for Mr. Trump’s presidency.

A growing number of House Democrats — including some previously reluctant to back impeachment — said on Monday that the new revelations all but demanded the move. They warned that a decision by the Trump administration not to hand over documents about a matter of urgent national security would leave the House with no choice but to initiate full-bore impeachment proceedings. At the same time, they said, any material that corroborated news reports about Mr. Trump’s actions could lead to the same outcome.

“It is clear that the sitting president of the United States placed his own personal interests above the national security interests of the United States,” said Representative Angie Craig of Minnesota, who flipped a Republican seat last fall. She called for impeachment proceedings to begin “immediately, fairly and impartially.”

Ms. Craig did not act alone. Her announcement came alongside that of another Minnesota freshman, Dean Phillips, who warned, “If the reports are corroborated, we must pursue articles of impeachment and report them to the full House of Representatives for immediate consideration.” Other, more veteran lawmakers, issued similar statements.

Veteran Democrats close to Ms. Pelosi, who has stubbornly resisted impeachment, joined the chorus as well. “An impeachment inquiry may be the only recourse Congress has if the president is enlisting foreign assistance in the 2020 election,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut. “Congress must meet this pivotal moment in our nation’s history with decisive action.”

There were also indications of more movement to come. Other moderate freshmen who have shied away from impeachment spent the day furiously calling one another in efforts to calibrate their responses. Several said privately that they were on the brink of supporting an impeachment process, but that they wanted to first see what transpired Thursday.

Privately, some Democrats and their aides were more cautious, fretting that the transcript of the July call would not be as damning as billed. They worried that the anticipation of its disclosure was replicating the dynamic that surrounded the release of the report by Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel who investigated Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, in which Democrats had expected a set of clear-cut revelations that would all but demand Mr. Trump’s impeachment, but ended up instead with a document that did not move public opinion against the president. They cautioned quietly that Democrats needed to see the evidence before getting too far down the impeachment path.

Democrats got some backup in the Senate from Republicans, who have generally split over whether Mr. Trump is obliged to share either the transcript or the whistle-blower complaint with Congress.

“I believe the most helpful report would be a transcript of the president’s conversation with President Zelensky,” Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the 2012 Republican nominee for president, told reporters. “That, I think, would be the most instructive. But I certainly believe that the whistle-blower report should also be available to Congress.”

Speaking on the Senate floor on Monday afternoon, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, accused Democrats of trying to exploit a serious issue for political gain. He said he had confidence that the Senate’s intelligence panel, working quietly on a bipartisan basis, would handle it appropriately.

He called it “regrettable” that Representative Adam B. Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, and Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, “have chosen to politicize this issue, circumventing the established procedures and protocols that exist so the committees can pursue sensitive matters in the appropriate, deliberate, bipartisan manner.”

Questions about Ukraine came to dominate a day at the United Nations that was otherwise packed with meetings with foreign leaders and the president’s foreign policy abroad.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 23dc-prexy-hunter-articleLarge Democrats Demand Disclosures on Trump’s Ukraine Talks as Impeachment Calls Mount Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United Nations Trump, Donald J impeachment Burisma Holdings Ltd Biden, Joseph R Jr

Hunter Biden in April 2016.CreditPaul Morigi/Getty Images for World Food Program USA

During a meeting with President Andrzej Duda of Poland, Mr. Trump suggested that his main complaint about the American aid to Ukraine — which he temporarily suspended this summer before releasing it last month amid bipartisan pressure from Congress — involved a lack of European assistance to the country. “Why isn’t Europe helping Ukraine more?” Mr. Trump said. “Why is it always the United States?”

The American aid package included about $250 million from the Defense Department and $141 million from the State Department.

In multiple comments to reporters, Mr. Trump sought to deflect attention from his actions and tarnish Mr. Biden, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

“What Biden did is a disgrace. What his son did is a disgrace,” Mr. Trump said. He later added, “If a Republican ever did what Joe Biden did, if a Republican ever said what Joe Biden said, they’d be getting the electric chair right now.”

The meetings were the first of more than a dozen sit-downs Mr. Trump had scheduled with world leaders here — including with Mr. Zelensky of Ukraine, whom he will see Wednesday.

Between events at the United Nations complex, Mr. Trump also tweeted an attack against his accusers as “stone cold Crooked.” And he implied that the unnamed intelligence community whistle-blower might be a traitor: “Is he on our Country’s side,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Where does he come from.”

Without offering proof, Mr. Trump also insisted that Hunter Biden, an international business consultant during his father’s time in office, “took money” from China, and suggested that the former vice president would strike a softer line toward Beijing as a result. China, Mr. Trump said, “can think of nothing they’d rather see than Biden get in.”

There is no evidence that the younger Mr. Biden’s business dealings have had any effect on his father’s public policy positions. Mr. Trump has seized on the elder Mr. Biden’s insistence in 2016 that Ukraine fire its top prosecutor at a time when a Ukrainian company on whose board Hunter Biden sat was suspected of criminal activity. But that prosecutor was widely seen as corrupt himself, and was not aggressively pursuing a case against the company, Burisma Holdings.

Trump, Biden and Ukraine: Sorting Out the Accusations

Sept. 22, 2019

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Vice President Mike Pence, right, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, center right, both evangelical Christians, have emphasized the cause of religious freedom in American foreign policy.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Nicholas Fandos reported from Washington and Michael Crowley from New York. Reporting was contributed by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Catie Edmondson and Emily Cochrane from Washington and Jonathan Martin from Los Angeles.

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Instead of ‘No Collusion!’ Trump Now Seems to Be Saying, So What if I Did?

WASHINGTON — The last time he was accused of collaborating with a foreign power to influence an election, he denied it and traveled the country practically chanting, “No collusion!” This time, he is saying, in effect, so what if I did?

Even for a leader who has audaciously disregarded many of the boundaries that restrained his predecessors, President Trump’s appeal to a foreign power for dirt on former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is an astonishing breach of the norms governing the American presidency.

That his phone call with Ukraine’s leader took place literally the day after the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III testified to Congress about Russian interference in the 2016 election demonstrated that Mr. Trump took no lessons from that episode about the perils and propriety of mixing his own political interests with international relations.

If anything, the president has grown even more defiant since Mr. Mueller found insufficient evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, almost as if having avoided charges, he is daring the establishment to come after him again. The man who once said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan without consequence seems to be testing whether he can do the political equivalent.

“What he’s learned is you can get away with just about anything if you’re willing to gamble and you have zero shame,” said Gwenda Blair, a biographer of the Trump family. “He had just outbluffed the old-school way of holding people to account, so what the heck, why not go for it in the phone call to the new, young and vulnerable Ukrainian president?”

Mr. Trump has openly acknowledged raising Mr. Biden during a July 25 phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in which he urged the newly inaugurated government to crack down on corruption. While Mr. Trump denied applying pressure to investigate Mr. Biden, he said it would “have been O.K. if I did.”

Likewise, he said that he did not threaten during the call to cut off $250 million in security aid if Ukraine failed to investigate Mr. Biden. But he also did not explain why he blocked the aid, and he quickly added that “we’re giving a lot of money away to Ukraine” and it was legitimate to want to ensure that an aid recipient was “going completely to be not corrupt.”

In speaking with reporters while in New York for the annual United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Trump was in a combative mood on Monday, brimming with hyperbole and invective, at one point even casually saying that if Republicans had done what Mr. Biden had done, “they’d be getting the electric chair right now.”

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Mr. Trump has openly acknowledged raising Mr. Biden during a July 25 phone call with the leader of Ukraine.CreditHilary Swift for The New York Times

Mr. Trump scored his lawyer’s rambling and confusing appearance on a CNN show on last week night like a boxing match. “Rudy Giuliani took Fredo to the cleaners,” he said, using a derogatory nickname for the show’s host, Chris Cuomo. And the president excoriated reporters in the room with him. “You are crooked as hell,” he charged.

Mr. Giuliani has been Mr. Trump’s point person in pushing Ukraine for an investigation, and in recent days, he has thrown out a dizzying series of allegations and conspiracy theories about the country involving Hillary Clinton, George Soros and others plotting to take down Mr. Trump in 2016.

But now it is Mr. Trump whose intervention with Ukraine is at issue, and whether it constitutes an abuse of power will fall to Congress to decide. After bulldozing past so many other controversies, Mr. Trump has now exposed himself to a greater risk of impeachment in the House than ever before, even if conviction in the Senate remains a remote possibility.

“I do regard this as a transgression by the president even more egregious and dangerous, and even more clearly calling for impeachment, than the many that have come before it,” said Laurence H. Tribe, the Harvard law professor and an author of “To End a Presidency,” a book on impeachment.

“It’s difficult to imagine a purer example, even on the president’s own account of his conduct, of why the Constitution’s framers thought it essential to include the impeachment power,” he added.

Richard Ben-Veniste, a former Watergate prosecutor, said that if reports about the president’s actions were accurate, it would be “the latest and perhaps most disturbing example in a series of actions that display a profound disregard for presidential norms by this president.”

Plenty of questions remain unanswered, and Congress will now press for more information, particularly the release of a transcript of the call with Mr. Zelensky as well as the complaint filed by an American government whistle-blower raising alarms. A clear focus of the inquiry will be the blocked aid.

Some critics said it did not even matter if Mr. Trump explicitly linked the two issues in the call; simply using the power and prestige of his office to lean on a foreign leader for help in a domestic political contest by itself could justify impeachment, they said. And suspending the aid, they said, appeared to be a corrupt exercise of presidential power to benefit himself, whether he mentioned it to Mr. Zelensky or not.

But Mr. Trump’s defenders said he was being targeted for partisan and political reasons, his every move interpreted in the most cynical light and distorted to tarnish his reputation, while adversaries like Mr. Biden are given a free pass.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine this month in Kiev.CreditSergei Supinsky/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The United States “routinely pushes foreign countries to launch broad anti-corruption initiatives as well to undertake criminal investigations or prosecutions of specific persons, both Americans and foreigners,” David B. Rivkin Jr., a lawyer in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush.

“And we routinely back up such requests with threats and blandishments,” he added. “So, political issues aside, there is nothing inherently unusual about Trump’s request to Zelensky.”

Mr. Trump and his allies argue that Mr. Biden is the one who abused his power when he was vice president by threatening to hold up $1 billion in American loan guarantees to Ukraine unless it fired its chief prosecutor. At the time, his younger son, Hunter Biden, worked for a Ukrainian oligarch who had come under scrutiny by the prosecutor.

The ouster of the Ukrainian prosecutor, who was widely believed to be turning a blind eye to rampant corruption, was the consensus position of the Obama administration as well as European governments and international institutions at the time. No evidence has emerged to indicate that Mr. Biden acted to protect his son. However unseemly it might be for a family member to appear to cash in on the vice president’s name, no authorities in either country have alleged illegality by either Biden.

Anthony Scaramucci, who served briefly as White House communications director but has now broken with the president, said Mr. Trump was not interested in corruption but re-election. “He is going after Biden hard because he knows Biden destroys him in a general election, and so he will do and say anything to anybody to knock him out now,” Mr. Scaramucci said.

The furor that has developed in recent days will force the White House, Congress, the Justice Department, the intelligence agencies and perhaps even the courts to confront once again the question of where the lines of political standards are drawn and whether Mr. Trump crossed over them.

In more than two years in office, Mr. Trump has kept his properties, which do business with the federal government and foreign officials, and has even proposed hosting next year’s Group of 7 summit at his Doral resort in Florida. He has repeatedly called on the Justice Department to investigate his political rivals, and he fired an attorney general who he complained did not protect him from Mr. Mueller. The president has even sought the repudiation of weather forecasters who contradicted his hurricane prediction.

In recent days, his lawyers have asserted that not only can Mr. Trump not be indicted while serving as president, he cannot even be criminally investigated, a far more sweeping claim of immunity than ever found by courts. And Mr. Trump has made clear he sees no problem in accepting derogatory information from foreign governments, saying, “I’d take it,” even after the Mueller report.

That leaves the impression with allies and adversaries alike that Mr. Trump is focused on his own interests. “The president will say and do anything for his own personal pursuits and not for the benefit of the country,” said Heather A. Conley, the director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

All of which, she said, has damaged the notion of America as a “shining city on a hill,” as Mr. Reagan put it, the country that would stand for principle, even if it did not always live up to that aspiration. Now, she said, millions of people around the world “have now learned that the city is for sale, not unlike other kleptocratic regimes.”

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Apple Keeps Making Computer in Texas After Tariff Waivers

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SAN FRANCISCO — Apple will make its new Mac Pro computer in Texas after the Trump administration agreed to waive tariffs on some of its Chinese-made parts, the company said on Monday.

The United States on Friday granted Apple’s requests for tariff exemptions for 10 Chinese parts in its new $6,000 Mac Pro.

The announcement on Monday ended a monthslong public dance between the White House and Apple over tariffs and the company’s ability to build products in the United States.

Apple has for years made the Mac Pro in Texas, an experiment in American manufacturing that has created some headaches. In June, shortly after Apple unveiled a new version of the Mac Pro, reports surfaced that Apple would shift the production to China.

Apple then asked the White House to waive tariffs on some components, suggesting it still wanted to make the Mac Pro in the United States. President Trump responded on Twitter that Apple “will not be given Tariff waiver, or relief, for Mac Pro parts that are made in China” and that the company should “Make them in the USA, no Tariffs!”

Days later, Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said Apple wanted to make the Mac Pro in America but suggested it needed tariff exemptions to do so. Weeks later, Mr. Trump tweeted that he was dining with Mr. Cook and that Apple “will be spending vast sums of money in the U.S. Great!”

The Mac Pro is Apple’s most expensive computer, starting at $6,000, and is targeted at professional customers such as photographers and film editors. It is among Apple’s lowest-volume products.

Mr. Trump for years has pressured Apple and other companies to shift manufacturing to the United States. Apple has been able to make a specialized product like the Mac Pro in the United States, but high-volume products like the iPhone would be difficult to manufacture outside China because no country can match China’s number of trained workers and its supply-chain infrastructure, according to analysts and former Apple employees.

Still, to reduce its dependence on China, where it assembles most of its products, Apple is investigating ways to increase manufacturing in Vietnam and India, even urging some suppliers to open new plants there, according to a former Apple executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements with Apple.

In July, Mr. Cook said he “wouldn’t put a lot of stock into” discussion that Apple was seeking to diversify its manufacturing from China. “The vast majority of our products are kind of made everywhere,” he added. “There’s a significant level of content from the United States and a lot from Japan to Korea to China and the European Union.”

Apple’s position in China has emerged as one of the company’s biggest risks. In addition to its dependence on China for manufacturing, the region including mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan is Apple’s No. 3 sales market, accounting for about 17 percent of its overall revenue. A slowdown in Chinese sales has hurt the company’s overall growth this year.

Apple is perhaps the most prominent American company in China, and is among the biggest American manufacturers there, putting it at the center of the trade war between the United States and China. Some Apple products have been subject to tariffs — costs that the company has absorbed so far — while others like the Apple Watch have been granted exemptions.

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Democrats Pressure White House and Republican Senate on the Ukraine Inquiry

WASHINGTON — Democrats moved assertively on Monday to increase political pressure on the White House and congressional Republicans to furnish documentation about explosive allegations that President Trump sought to pressure the Ukrainian president to help produce damaging information on a leading political rival.

In the House, where the revelations about a conversation between Mr. Trump and the Ukrainian leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, were fueling new calls for impeachment, the chairmen of three committees investigating the matter threatened to issue subpoenas in the coming days if the administration did not hand over a transcript of the call and a related whistle-blower complaint.

Mr. Trump acknowledged on Sunday that he had leveled allegations of corruption against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. with Mr. Zelensky, but on Monday, he denied that he had pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate and used a package of hundreds of millions of dollars in security aid as leverage. Mr. Trump has defended the conversation as entirely appropriate.

Still, Democrats are demanding to see evidence. On Monday, they said a failure by the administration to disclose a complaint about Mr. Trump’s interactions with Mr. Zelensky would be considered obstruction, an indication that they could consider it as grounds for impeachment.

“If press reports are accurate, such corrupt use of presidential power for the president’s personal political interest — and not for the national interest — is a betrayal of the president’s oath of office and cannot go unchecked,” the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Reform Committees wrote on Monday in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

They added, “By withholding these documents and refusing to engage with the committees, the Trump administration is obstructing Congress’ oversight duty under the Constitution to protect our nation’s democratic process.”

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, meanwhile, warned that Republicans would be complicit in Mr. Trump’s actions if they failed to join in those requests and issue a subpoena from their chamber for a secretive whistle-blower complaint that is said to be related, at least in part, to the call between the two leaders.

“This is a whistle-blower complaint that has been labeled ‘urgent’ and ‘credible’ not by Democrats, but by a senior-level Trump appointee,” Mr. Schumer wrote. “It is the Senate’s duty to take this national security matter seriously and to take action now.”

It appeared increasingly likely that the brewing conflict would come to a head on Thursday, when the House Intelligence Committee was already scheduled to question the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, who has withheld the whistle-blower complaint. The panel has demanded Mr. Maguire bring with him a copy of it. Now, lawmakers also want a decision by Mr. Pompeo by that day on whether he will furnish a transcript of the presidential conversation, as well as other materials they have requested.

A growing number of House Democrats said on Monday that their willingness to support impeachment would most likely hinge on whether those demands were met.

After months of debate over impeachment, the latest allegations against Mr. Trump appeared to be shifting the political ground for Democrats, persuading some lawmakers to drop their reluctance to pursue formal charges against the president.

“This is a game-changer,” said Representative Katie Hill, Democrat of California, who won a Republican seat last fall, adding that if Democrats can obtain a transcript or testimony that confirms Mr. Trump’s own account of his conversation with Mr. Zelensky, “then I don’t see any choice but to impeach.”

“It has moved things up, and this has also made it that it’s an imminent national security danger, and it demonstrates very clearly in and of itself enough to move straight to impeachment,” Ms. Hill said. “I don’t think we need to wait for anything else. This alone should be impeachable.”

Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota, another freshman Democrat, laid down a similar line. “If the reports are corroborated,” he said Monday in a statement, “we must pursue articles of impeachment and report them to the full House of Representatives for immediate consideration.”

Other more moderate freshmen who have been reluctant to embrace the idea of impeachment spent the day furiously placing calls to calibrate the right response. Several of them said privately that they were on the brink of supporting an impeachment process, but that they wanted to first see what transpired on Thursday.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160968984_97eaed30-6037-405d-8672-c4a74a929836-articleLarge Democrats Pressure White House and Republican Senate on the Ukraine Inquiry United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2020 Ethics and Official Misconduct Biden, Joseph R Jr

Senator Chuck Schumer warned that Republicans would be complicit in Mr. Trump’s actions if they failed to demand the release of the transcript of a call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Republicans, for their part, have been mostly unmoved by the new allegations, with Mr. Trump’s closest allies actively maintaining his innocence.

Speaking on the Senate floor on Monday afternoon, Mr. McConnell accused Democrats of trying to exploit a serious issue for political gain and said he had confidence that the Senate’s intelligence panel, working quietly on a bipartisan basis, would handle it appropriately.

“It is regrettable that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Schiff and Senator Schumer have chosen to politicize this issue, circumventing the established procedures and protocols that exist so the committees can pursue sensitive matters in the appropriate, deliberate, bipartisan manner,” he said.

Though he did not discuss possible reasons for it being withheld, Mr. McConnell also made clear that he had opposed the White House’s initial decision not to release the aid money for Ukraine and worked to get it reinstated.

Over the weekend, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said it would be “good for the country” if the president could share more information about his interactions with Ukraine. Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, was harsher.

“If the president asked or pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival, either directly or through his personal attorney, it would be troubling in the extreme,” he said.

Despite Mr. Schumer’s demands, most attention on Monday remained on the House, where Democrats hold the majority and the power to impeach Mr. Trump, and are already pursuing an investigation to determine whether they should do so over his attempts to obstruct the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. A crucial element of any potential case against the president, lawmakers have said, would be his stonewalling of congressional attempts to investigate him and his administration.

In the short term, even the House has relatively few options if the administration maintains its refusal to share information with Congress.

The hearing by the House Intelligence Committee, which first learned of and publicized the existence of the whistle-blower complaint, will provide lawmakers with a chance to press Mr. Maguire on why he declined to share it, despite a request to do so from the intelligence agencies’ internal watchdog. But Mr. Maguire has been instructed by the Justice Department and the White House not to produce the material.

The House could sue to try to force disclosure under its interpretation of the whistle-blower law, but as with other legal challenges to the White House’s stonewalling, the courts could take more than a year to sort the case out, a nonstarter for Democrats who fear there may be an ongoing threat to national security.

Additional pressure from the Republican Senate could conceivably lead the White House to reconsider and share more information on the complaint or the president’s interactions with Ukrainian leaders. And some strategists believe that Democrats must do more to force Republicans to weigh in on the latest allegations against Mr. Trump, potentially angering their constituents by appearing to condone a brazen attempt to enlist foreign help to sway the election in his own favor.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Jonathan Martin contributed reporting.

Impeachment
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U.S.-Japan Trade Deal May Be Delayed Over Car Tariffs

Westlake Legal Group 23dc-japantrade-facebookJumbo U.S.-Japan Trade Deal May Be Delayed Over Car Tariffs United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Japan International Trade and World Market Abe, Shinzo

WASHINGTON — The United States and Japan may fall short of signing a trade deal this week, as negotiators from both countries grapple with how to resolve President Trump’s threat to place tariffs on cars from Japan.

The two countries had been working toward signing a limited trade deal this week, as Mr. Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan prepare to appear side by side at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York. Instead, the two sides may issue a joint statement, and keep working toward completing an agreement in the coming weeks, several people familiar with the negotiations said.

A main sticking point is Mr. Trump’s threat to put a tax on cars that are imported into the United States from Japan. The levies would be similar to those he has already placed on steel and aluminum imported from Japan, Europe and other nations. Mr. Trump has long seen his threat to tax cars, which make up more than one-third of the goods Japan shipped to the United States last year, as a source of leverage that has brought Japan to the trade negotiating table.

But that threat — and Mr. Trump’s mercurial negotiating strategy — has also become an obstacle to the deal’s resolution, according to people familiar with the discussions. Japan is seeking a firm commitment from the administration not to tax Japanese cars and is pushing to include a “sunset clause” in the pact that would cause the deal — and any benefits it has delivered to American agricultural producers — to expire if Mr. Trump follows through on his car tax threat, these people said.

The Trump administration has pushed back on such a provision.

Both sides are also carrying out a “legal scrub” of their agreement to ensure the agreed-upon provisions have no unintended effects.

The impasse raises questions about whether the United States and Japan will be able to finish the deal in the coming weeks, in time for the Japanese legislature to consider the agreement when it convenes next month. The prospective deal with Japan would drop some barriers to American exports of beef, pork and wheat, helping to shore up political support for Mr. Trump among American farmers who have been badly hurt by his trade war with China. In return, the United States would drop its barriers to Japanese machinery and chemicals, and both sides would sign onto new standards for e-commerce and other digital trade.

After meeting with Mr. Abe at a summit of global leaders in France in August, Mr. Trump said that the United States and Japan had reached an agreement “in principle.” Last week, his administration sent a notification to Congress that it intended to enter into an agreement in the coming weeks.

Unlike a traditional trade pact, which covers nearly all sectors of the economy, the Japan deal would be confined to a few sectors and products. But it would be an important political talking point for the president, who has struggled to make progress in trade talks with China and has not persuaded congressional Democrats to pass the revised North American trade deal.

It could also help mollify American farmers and ranchers, who have complained about Mr. Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multicountry trade deal that included Japan. Mr. Trump said he could secure better trade terms for American farmers through bilateral talks.

While Japan initially resisted Mr. Trump’s requests for one-on-one negotiations on a trade deal, the threat of auto tariffs brought Japan to the negotiating table to discuss a more limited trade agreement.

The Trump administration determined this year that imports of automobiles posed a threat to America’s national security, by eroding an industrial base that also supplies the United States military. The decision cleared the way for the president to impose tariffs on foreign cars and car parts, as he has done on imports of steel and aluminum, including from Japan.

But in May, the administration said it would postpone that decision an additional six months as it continued to negotiate for trade agreements with both Japan and the European Union, two major importers of cars to the United States. One of Japan’s main priorities in its negotiations has been securing a guarantee that its cars will not be hit by such a tax.

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