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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 52)

A Look at Who Is Affected by Trump’s Shift in Syria

Westlake Legal Group 07kurds-explainer1-facebookJumbo A Look at Who Is Affected by Trump’s Shift in Syria United States International Relations Turkey Trump, Donald J Syria Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces

BEIRUT, Lebanon — President Trump’s decision on Sunday to step aside and let Turkish forces come into northern Syria instantly cast into doubt the fate of ethnic Kurds there who have been the United States’ closest allies in the fight against the Islamic State, and who had worked to achieve a degree of self-rule in that stretch of Syria.

[Details on the sudden U.S. announcement and what it could mean for the region.]

Now, the question of who could provide a long-term deterrent to Iranian and Russian interests in the area — and help ensure that ISIS does not rebound in Syria — is suddenly very much in play again.

The prospect of a Turkish military push into northern Syria has caused deep fear in Kurdish areas there, as well as a burning sense that the Kurds have been betrayed by the United States after years of partnership on the battlefield.

The Syrian Democratic Forces — a loose coalition of militias that is led by Syrian Kurdish fighters and came together expressly to fight ISIS with American backing, training and air support — accused the United States on Monday of failing to fulfill its obligations, paving the way for Turkey to invade.

The S.D.F. also warned that a Turkish incursion could undo the gains made against the Islamic State.

“This military operation in northeast Syria will have a great negative effect on our war against the ISIS organization and will destroy all that has been achieved in terms of stability over the past years,” the group said in a statement.

It said it would “not hesitate for one instant to defend ourselves,” and called on the area’s people to “defend our homeland from Turkish aggression.”

It was unclear on Monday when and where Turkish forces would cross into Syria, but the sense of betrayal by the United States among Syrian Kurds was clear.

“U.S. forces on the ground showed us that this is not how they value friendship and alliance,” Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the S.D.F., wrote on Twitter on Monday, adding that Mr. Trump’s decision was “about to ruin the trust and cooperation between the S.D.F. and U.S.”

Still, the Syrian Kurds have few other supporters to turn to.

Inside Syria, most of what remains of the country’s rebel movement is backed by Turkey and opposes the S.D.F., and its relations with the government of President Bashar al-Assad are chilly.

Some analysts speculate that the Kurds will be forced to court Mr. Assad’s government for protection.

The Kurds are the driver within the Syrian Democratic Forces, which came together to help the United States fight the jihadists of the Islamic State.

Its fighters received air support and training from the United States and fought together on the ground with American Special Operations forces against the jihadists, losing thousands of fighters.

That has won the group praise from a range of top United States officials, and after eight years of war in Syria, the S.D.F. remains the only significant armed group still aligned with Washington.

While many of the group’s fighters and most of its leaders are ethnic Kurds, the S.D.F. also includes Arabs and members of Syria’s other religious and ethnic minorities. Its ideology is secular, and it promotes a form of democracy characterized by rule at the community level.

The United States has given the S.D.F. generous military support, but it has not endorsed the group’s political project, in part to keep from alienating Turkey even more.

Since the official destruction of the ISIS caliphate early this year, the S.D.F. has continued to pursue Islamic State remnants in cooperation with United States forces while seeking to strengthen the network of local councils that have been established to govern areas liberated from the jihadists.

The Kurdish forces have also become the de facto guardians of tens of thousands of former Islamic State residents and jailed fighters in northern Syria, and they receive limited aid to do so.

If a new conflict breaks out in the area, the question of what happens to those ISIS prisoners and their family members will become urgent.

The United States’ close cooperation with the S.D.F. has angered Turkey, a United States ally in NATO. Turkey accuses the Kurdish fighters of being terrorists and closely to the P.K.K., a guerrilla organization that has fought a bloody, decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

Both Turkey and the United States consider the P.K.K. a terrorist organization. But American officials have publicly tried to play down the links between that group and the S.D.F. while privately acknowledging that they exist.

While there are few clear examples of militant attacks on Turkey originating from S.D.F.-controlled territory, Turkey has watched the growth of Kurdish autonomy across its southern border with a rising sense of alarm, fearing that it could pose a national security threat.

Turkey has often raised these concerns with the United States, and in recent weeks American officials had sought to bring down tensions by brokering security arrangements near the Syrian-Turkish border with both sides.

But those measures failed to satisfy Turkish officials, prompting the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to inform Mr. Trump in a phone call on Sunday that he planned to send his forces into Syria to root out the Kurdish forces.

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President Endorses Turkish Military Operation in Syria, Shifting U.S. Policy

Westlake Legal Group 06dc-military-new-facebookJumbo President Endorses Turkish Military Operation in Syria, Shifting U.S. Policy United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Terrorism Syria Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense Department Defense and Military Forces

WASHINGTON — In a major shift in United States military policy in Syria, the White House said on Sunday that President Trump had given his endorsement for a Turkish military operation that would sweep away American-backed Kurdish forces near the border in Syria.

Turkey considers the Kurdish forces to be a terrorist insurgency, and has long sought to end American support for the group. But the Kurdish fighters, which are part of the Syrian Democratic Forces, or S.D.F., have been the United States’ most reliable partner in fighting the Islamic State in a strategic corner of northern Syria.

Now, Mr. Trump’s decision goes against the recommendations of top officials in the Pentagon and the State Department who have sought to keep a small troop presence in northeast Syria to continue operations against the Islamic State, or ISIS, and to act as a critical counterweight to Iran and Russia.

Administration officials said that Mr. Trump spoke directly with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on the issue on Sunday. And the officials indicated that the 100 to 150 United States military personnel deployed to that area would be pulled back in advance of any Turkish operation but that they would not be completely withdrawn from Syria.

On Monday, witnesses in Syria saw United States forces withdrawing from two positions in northeastern Syria: observation posts in Tel Abyad and Ein Eissa.

“Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,” the White House said in a statement released just before 11 p.m. in Washington. “The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”

It was unclear how extensive the Turkish operation would be, or whether Turkish forces would clash with the American-backed Kurds, a development that could jeopardize many of the counterterrorism gains achieved by the American military in the fight against ISIS.

Last December, Mr. Trump called for a complete United States withdrawal from Syria, but ultimately reversed himself after a backlash from Pentagon, diplomatic and intelligence officials, as well as important allies in Europe and the Middle East.

Soner Cagaptay, the director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and author of “Erdogan’s Empire: Turkey and the Politics of the Middle East,” said in a telephone interview that a Turkish incursion uncontested by the United States would allow Turkey to cut another swath into Kurdish-controlled territory in Syria. That would give Mr. Erdogan a ready place to send hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and prove yet again his influence with Mr. Trump on Syria policy.

“It’s quite a significant development,” Mr. Cagaptay said.

Many Syria experts criticized the White House decision and cautioned that American abandonment of its Kurdish allies could widen the eight-year Syrian conflict and prompt the Kurds to ally with the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad to combat the much larger and more technologically advanced Turkish army.

“Allowing Turkey to move into northern Syria is one of the most destabilizing moves we can do in the Middle East,” Representative Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat and former Marine who served in the Iraq war, said on Twitter on Sunday night. “The Kurds will never trust America again. They will look for new alliances or independence to protect themselves.”

The announcement by the White House came as a shock to the S.D.F., Kurdish officials said on Monday. In a statement, the S.D.F. said that it had fulfilled its obligations in the efforts to reduce tensions with the Turks but that the United States had not.

The statement warned that a Turkish incursion could endanger the progress made to establish security in the wake of the battle against the Islamic State. It also called on Kurdish forces to “defend our homeland from the Turkish aggression.”

Mr. Erdogan has demanded a “safe zone” for his nation to run 20 miles deep and 300 miles along the Turkish-Syrian border east of the Euphrates. That area, he has said, would be reserved for the return of at least a million Syrian refugees now inside Turkey. Mr. Erdogan has threatened to send a wave of Syrian migrants to Europe instead if the international community does not support the initiative to send them back to Syria.

Since early August, the American and Turkish militaries have been working together on a series of confidence-building measures — including joint reconnaissance flights and ground patrols — in a 75-mile-long strip of that 300-mile border area.

American-backed Kurdish forces have pulled back several miles and destroyed fortifications in that area.

The pace of these operations has not been fast enough for Mr. Erdogan, and last week he began indicating that he planned to launch an incursion across the border. He did the same thing over the summer, prompting a flurry of American diplomatic activity bolstered by the military confidence-building measures.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both called their Turkish counterparts last week to try and reduce tensions. But unresolved threats from Turkey apparently resulted in the decision by Mr. Trump on Sunday.

American officials contacted late Sunday would not say how far back from the Turkish border American troops would redeploy, or whether this signals the beginning of a larger overall withdrawal of the 1,000 American troops now in northeast Syria conducting and supporting counterterrorism operations. Those troops rely on their partnership with the S.D.F. which has 60,000 total fighters, including both Kurdish and Arab militias.

One official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe a fluid military situation, said that American forces were pulling back from northeast Syria to “get out of the way.”

Officials described a military and political tension as the American military is pulled between two important allies in the civil war in Syria. Turkey is a major NATO ally, but the Kurdish S.D.F. forces have been a partner in the fight against ISIS.

“We are not going to support the Turks and we are not going to support the S.D.F.,” the official said. “If they go to combat, we’re going to stay out of it.”

There has been grave tension over Syria within the administration, as well.

In late December 2018, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned over Mr. Trump’s surprise order of a full withdrawal of 2,000 American troops from Syria. Two days later, Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the coalition to defeat ISIS, also resigned. In the months afterward, American officials quietly worked behind the scenes to ensure that some level of troops would remain in northeast Syria.

As recently as the week of the United Nations General Assembly summit in late September, senior American officials were saying there was consensus across the United States government, including Mr. Trump, on ensuring the welfare of the Kurdish forces and warding off Turkey’s persistent desire to attack those forces.

But around that same time, Turkish officials were privately saying that they saw things very differently: They said they perceived a sharp division between Mr. Trump and other American officials — most notably generals in the United States Central Command, which oversees troops in the Middle East. While it was clear the generals wanted to bar Turkey from the safe zone and keep American troops there, Mr. Trump clearly wanted the troops out, they said, and in the end he might get his way.

Mr. Erdogan had traveled to New York with the intention of talking about Syria and the Kurds with Mr. Trump in a private meeting. He attended a group dinner hosted by Mr. Trump, but the two did not have a formal meeting there. Mr. Trump did say at one event that Mr. Erdogan had “become a friend of mine.” The telephone call between the two on Sunday might have been organized as a substitute for the meeting that never took place.

“This looks to be another reckless decision made without deliberation or consultation following a call with a foreign leader,” Mr. McGurk said after hearing of Mr. Trump’s decision on Sunday. “The White House statement bears no relation to facts on the ground. If implemented, it will significantly increase risk to our personnel, as well as hasten ISIS’s resurgence.”

Turkish officials pointed to Mr. Trump’s favorable exchanges with Mr. Erdogan during the G20 summit meeting in Japan in June as another sign of a strong relationship between the two leaders. That bilateral meeting was more about a different security flash point between the United States and Turkey — the purchase by Turkey of the Russian S-400 missile defense system. But Mr. Trump has largely brushed that issue aside.

The White House statement on Sunday came as the Islamic State is gathering new strength, conducting guerrilla attacks across Iraq and Syria, retooling its financial networks and targeting new recruits at an allied-run tent camp, American military, counterterrorism and intelligence officers say.

Though Mr. Trump hailed a total defeat of the Islamic State this year — and asserted its territorial demise in Sunday night’s statement — defense officials in the region see things differently, acknowledging that what remains of the terrorist group is here to stay.

Over the past several months, ISIS has made inroads into the sprawling Al Hol tent camp in northeast Syria, and there is no ready plan to deal with the 70,000 people there, including thousands of family members of ISIS fighters.

American intelligence officials say the Al Hol camp, managed by Syrian Kurdish allies with little aid or security, is evolving into a hotbed of ISIS ideology. The American-backed Syrian Kurdish force also holds more than 10,000 ISIS fighters, including 2,000 foreigners, in separate makeshift prisons.

The custody of all these people could be in jeopardy, American officials said Sunday night, depending on whether any Turkish incursion sets off a much larger conflict in northeast Syria.

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

Trump Endorses Turkish Military Operation in Syria, Shifting U.S. Policy

Westlake Legal Group 06dc-military-1sub--facebookJumbo Trump Endorses Turkish Military Operation in Syria, Shifting U.S. Policy United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Terrorism Syria Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense Department Defense and Military Forces

WASHINGTON — In a major shift in United States military policy in Syria, the White House said on Sunday that President Trump had given his endorsement for a Turkish military operation that would sweep away American-backed Kurdish forces near the border in Syria.

Turkey considers the Kurdish fighters to be a terrorist insurgency, and has long sought to end American support for the group. But the Kurdish group, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or S.D.F., has been the United States’ most reliable partner in fighting the Islamic State in a strategic corner of northern Syria.

Now, Mr. Trump’s decision goes against the recommendations of top officials in the Pentagon and the State Department who have sought to keep a small troop presence in northeast Syria to continue counterinsurgency operations against the Islamic State, or ISIS, and to act as a critical counterweight to Iran and Russia.

Administration officials said that Mr. Trump spoke directly with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on the issue on Sunday. And the officials indicated that the 100 to 150 United States military personnel deployed to that area would be pulled back in advance of any Turkish operation but that they would not be completely withdrawn from Syria.

“Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,” the White House said in a statement released just before 11 p.m. in Washington. “The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”

It was unclear how extensive the Turkish operation would be, or whether Turkish forces would clash with the American-backed Kurds, a development that could jeopardize many of the counterterrorism gains achieved by the American military in the fight against ISIS.

Last December, Mr. Trump called for a complete United States withdrawal from Syria, but ultimately reversed himself after a backlash from Pentagon, diplomatic and intelligence officials, as well as important allies in Europe and the Middle East.

Soner Cagaptay, the director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and author of “Erdogan’s Empire: Turkey and the Politics of the Middle East,” said in a telephone interview that a Turkish incursion uncontested by the United States would allow Turkey to cut another swath into Kurdish-controlled territory in Syria. That would give Mr. Erdogan a ready place to send hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and prove yet again his influence with Mr. Trump on Syria policy.

“It’s a quite a significant development,” Mr. Cagaptay said.

Many Syria experts criticized the White House decision and cautioned that American abandonment of its Kurdish allies could widen the eight-year Syrian conflict and prompt the Kurds to ally with the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad to combat the much larger and more technologically advanced Turkish army.

“Allowing Turkey to move into northern Syria is one of the most destabilizing moves we can do in the Middle East,” Representative Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat and former Marine who served in the Iraq war, said on Twitter on Sunday night. “The Kurds will never trust America again. They will look for new alliances or independence to protect themselves.”

Mr. Erdogan has demanded a “safe zone” for his nation to run 20 miles deep and 300 miles along the Turkish-Syrian border east of the Euphrates. That area, he has said, would be reserved for the involuntary return of at least a million Syrian refugees now inside Turkey. Mr. Erdogan has threatened to send a wave of Syrian migrants to Europe instead if the international community does not support the initiative to send them back to Syria.

Since early August, the American and Turkish militaries have been working together on a series of confidence-building measures — including joint reconnaissance flights and ground patrols — in a 75-mile-long strip of that 300-mile border area.

American-backed Kurdish forces have pulled back several miles and destroyed fortifications in that area.

The pace of these operations has not been fast enough for Mr. Erdogan, and last week he began indicating he planned to launch an incursion across the border. He did the same thing over the summer, prompting a flurry of American diplomatic activity bolstered by the military confidence-building measures.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both called their Turkish counterparts last week to try and reduce tensions. But unresolved threats from Turkey apparently resulted in the decision by Mr. Trump on Sunday.

American officials contacted late Sunday would not say how far back from the Turkish border American troops would redeploy, or whether this signals the beginning of a larger overall withdrawal of the 1,000 American troops now in northeast Syria conducting and supporting counterterrorism operations.

One official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe a fluid military situation, said that American forces were pulling back from northeast Syria to “get out of the way.”

Officials described a military and political tension as the American military is pulled between two important allies in the civil war in Syria. Turkey is a major NATO ally, but the Kurdish S.D.F. forces have been a partner in the fight against ISIS.

“We are not going to support the Turks and we are not going to support the S.D.F.,” the official said. “If they go to combat, we’re going to stay out of it.”

The White House statement and its ramifications come as the Islamic State is gathering new strength, conducting guerrilla attacks across Iraq and Syria, retooling its financial networks and targeting new recruits at an allied-run tent camp, American military, counterterrorism and intelligence officers say.

Though Mr. Trump hailed a total defeat of the Islamic State this year — and asserted its territorial demise in Sunday night’s statement — defense officials in the region see things differently, acknowledging that what remains of the terrorist group is here to stay.

A recent inspector general’s report warned that a drawdown ordered by Mr. Trump this year — from 2,000 American forces in Syria to less than half of that — has meant that the American military has had to cut back support for Syrian partner forces fighting ISIS. For now, American and international forces can only try to ensure that ISIS remains contained and away from urban areas, officials say.

Although there is little concern that the Islamic State will reclaim its former physical territory, a self-declared Islamic caliphate that was once the size of Britain and controlled the lives of up to 12 million people, the terrorist group has still mobilized as many as 18,000 remaining fighters in Iraq and Syria. These sleeper cells and strike teams have carried out sniper attacks, ambushes, kidnappings and assassinations against security forces and community leaders.

Over the past several months, ISIS has made inroads into a sprawling tent camp in northeast Syria, and there is no ready plan to deal with the 70,000 people there, including thousands of family members of ISIS fighters.

American intelligence officials say the Al Hol camp, managed by Syrian Kurdish allies with little aid or security, is evolving into a hotbed of ISIS ideology and a huge breeding ground for future terrorists. The American-backed Syrian Kurdish force also holds more than 10,000 ISIS fighters, including 2,000 foreigners, in separate makeshift prisons.

The custody of all these people could be in jeopardy, American officials said Sunday night, depending on whether any Turkish incursion sets off a much larger conflict in northeast Syria.

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

‘We Absolutely Could Not Do That’: When Seeking Foreign Help Was Out of the Question

WASHINGTON — One day in October 1992, four Republican congressmen showed up in the Oval Office with an audacious recommendation. President George Bush was losing his re-election race, and they told him the only way to win was to hammer his challenger Bill Clinton’s patriotism for protesting the Vietnam War while in London and visiting Moscow as a young man.

Mr. Bush was largely on board with that approach. But what came next crossed the line, as far as he and his team were concerned. “They wanted us to contact the Russians or the British to seek information on Bill Clinton’s trip to Moscow,” James A. Baker III, Mr. Bush’s White House chief of staff, wrote in a memo later that day. “I said we absolutely could not do that.”

President Trump insists he and his attorney general did nothing wrong by seeking damaging information about his domestic opponents from Ukraine, Australia, Italy and Britain or by publicly calling on China to investigate his most prominent Democratic challenger. But for every other White House in the modern era, Republican and Democratic, the idea of enlisting help from foreign powers for political advantage was seen as unwise and politically dangerous, if not unprincipled.

A survey of 10 former White House chiefs of staff under Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama found that none recalled any circumstance under which the White House had solicited or accepted political help from other countries, and all said they would have considered the very idea out of bounds.

“I served three presidents in the White House and don’t remember even hearing any speculation to consider asking for such action,” said Andrew H. Card Jr., who ran the younger Mr. Bush’s White House and was the longest-serving chief of staff in the last six decades.

William M. Daley, who served as commerce secretary under Mr. Clinton and chief of staff under Mr. Obama, said if someone had even proposed such an action, he probably would “recommend the person be escorted out of” the White House, then fired and reported to ethics officials.

Other chiefs were just as definitive. “Did not happen on Reagan’s watch. Would not have happened on Reagan’s watch,” said Kenneth M. Duberstein, his last chief of staff. “I would have shut him down,” said Leon E. Panetta, who served as Mr. Clinton’s chief of staff and Mr. Obama’s defense secretary.

Read the 1992 Memo President George Bush’s Team Sent About Seeking Foreign Help to Beat Bill Clinton

When Republican congressmen suggested Mr. Bush reach out to Russia or Britain for information that could help him win his re-election race against Bill Clinton, James A. Baker III, then the White House chief of staff, wrote this memo. (PDF, 1 page, 4.8 MB)

Westlake Legal Group thumbnail ‘We Absolutely Could Not Do That’: When Seeking Foreign Help Was Out of the Question United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Reagan, Ronald Wilson Presidents and Presidency (US) Presidential Election of 2016 Obama, Barack Clinton, Bill Bush, George W Bush, George Burisma Holdings Ltd Baker, James A III   1 page, 4.8 MB

The sense of incredulity among White House veterans in recent days crossed party and ideological lines. “This is unprecedented,” said Samuel K. Skinner, who preceded Mr. Baker as chief of staff under Mr. Bush. Other chiefs who said they never encountered such a situation included Thomas F. McLarty III and John D. Podesta (Clinton) and Rahm Emanuel, Denis R. McDonough and Jacob J. Lew (Obama).

History has shown that foreign affairs can be treacherous for presidents, even just the suspicion of mixing politics with the national interest. As a candidate in 1968, Richard M. Nixon sought to forestall a Vietnam peace deal by President Lyndon B. Johnson just before the election.

Associates of Mr. Reagan were accused of trying to delay the release of hostages by Iran when he was a candidate in 1980 for fear that it would aid President Jimmy Carter, but a bipartisan House investigation concluded that there was no merit to the charge. Mr. Clinton faced months of investigation over 1996 campaign contributions from Chinese interests tied to the Beijing government.

In none of those cases did an incumbent president personally apply pressure to foreign powers to damage political opponents. Mr. Trump pressed Ukraine’s president this summer to investigate involvement with Democrats in 2016 and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. while holding up $391 million in American aid. Mr. Trump has said he was simply investigating corruption, not trying to benefit himself.

“The right way to look at it is the vice president was selling our country out,” Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, said in an interview on Sunday. Mr. Trump was fulfilling his duty, he said. “I don’t see what the president did wrong.”

Mr. Giuliani has been leading Mr. Trump’s efforts to dig up evidence of corruption by the Democrats in Ukraine, meeting with various officials and negotiating a commitment by the newly installed government in Kiev to investigate conspiracy theories about Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election and supposed conflicts of interest by Mr. Biden.

Told that past White House chiefs of staff said any legitimate allegations should be handled by the Justice Department, not the president, Mr. Giuliani said: “That’s if you can trust the Justice Department. My witnesses don’t trust the Justice Department, and they don’t trust the F.B.I.” He added that he would not have either until Attorney General William P. Barr took over.

Mr. Barr has contacted foreign officials for help in investigating the origin of the special counsel investigation by Robert S. Mueller III into Russian interference and ties with Mr. Trump’s campaign, part of an effort to prove that the whole matter was a “hoax,” as the president has insisted.

Mr. Trump defends himself by saying that other presidents have leaned on foreign governments for help. That is true, but when other presidents have pressured counterparts and even held up American assistance to coerce cooperation, it has generally been to achieve certain policy goals — not to advance the president’s personal or political agenda.

As an example, Mr. Trump often cites Mr. Obama, who was overheard telling President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia in 2012 that he would have more “more flexibility” to negotiate missile defense after the fall election. While that may be objectionable, it is not the same thing as asking a foreign government to intervene in an American election.

“They assume everybody’s as sleazy and dirty as they are, which is not the case,” Mr. Emanuel said.

Mr. Trump points to Mr. Biden, arguing that the former vice president was the one who abused his power by threatening to withhold $1 billion in American aid to Ukraine unless it fired its prosecutor general.

Mr. Biden’s son Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, earning $50,000 a month. The company’s oligarch owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, had been a subject of cases overseen by the prosecutor, and so Mr. Trump contends that Mr. Biden sought the prosecutor’s ouster to benefit his son.

As a matter of appearances, at least, the former vice president’s family left him open to suspicion. Even some of his defenders say it was unseemly for Hunter Biden to seemingly trade on his family name. The elder Mr. Biden has said he never discussed his son’s business dealings in Ukraine with him, but some Democrats suggest he should have if only to prevent just such a situation from arising.

For all of that, however, no evidence has emerged that Mr. Biden moved to push out the prosecutor to benefit his son. No memo or text message has become public linking the two. None of the American officials who were involved at the time have come forward alleging any connection. No whistle-blower has filed a complaint.

In pressing for the prosecutor’s ouster, Mr. Biden was carrying out Mr. Obama’s policy as developed by his national security team and coordinated with European allies and the International Monetary Fund, all of which considered the Ukrainian prosecutor to be deliberately overlooking corruption.

Indeed, at the time Mr. Biden acted, there was no public evidence that the prosecutor’s office was actively pursuing investigations of Burisma, although Mr. Zlochevsky’s allies say the prosecutor continued to use the threat of prosecution to try to solicit bribes from the oligarch and his team.

The 1992 episode involving Mr. Bush and Mr. Baker provides an intriguing case study in the way previous administrations have viewed seeking political help overseas. At the time, Mr. Bush was trailing in the polls and eager for any weapon to turn things around.

Representatives Robert K. Dornan, Duncan Hunter and Duke Cunningham of California and Sam Johnson of Texas urged the president to ask Russia and Britain for help.

Mr. Dornan, reached last week, said Mr. Baker offered no objections during the meeting. “Baker sat there in the Oval Office like a bump on a log,” he recalled. “He said nothing.” If Mr. Baker advised Mr. Bush not to reach out to foreign governments, then he did so after the congressmen had left, Mr. Dornan said.

Mr. Dornan said that was a mistake and that Mr. Bush should have done as Mr. Trump has. “The bottom line from me was, ‘If you don’t do this, Mr. President, leader of the free world, you will lose,’” Mr. Dornan said. “And he didn’t do it and he lost. Baker cost Bush that second term.”

As it was, Mr. Baker and some of his aides got in trouble anyway because State Department employees searched Mr. Clinton’s passport file to determine whether he had ever tried to renounce his American citizenship. They found no such evidence, but an independent counsel was appointed to investigate whether the search violated any laws.

The attorney general who requested the investigation? Mr. Barr, in his first tour running the Justice Department. The independent counsel who was appointed? Joseph diGenova, a lawyer now helping Mr. Giuliani look for information in Ukraine. In the passport case, Mr. diGenova concluded that no laws had been broken and that he should never have been appointed in first place.

As for seeking help from Russia and Britain, Mr. Baker declined to comment last week, but his peers said he did exactly as they would have. “It would have been ludicrous at that stage to do anything,” Mr. Skinner said. “Baker’s decision was obviously the right one.”

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

‘We Absolutely Could Not Do That’: When Seeking Foreign Help Was Out of the Question

WASHINGTON — One day in October 1992, four Republican congressmen showed up in the Oval Office with an audacious recommendation. President George Bush was losing his re-election race, and they told him the only way to win was to hammer his challenger Bill Clinton’s patriotism for protesting the Vietnam War while in London and visiting Moscow as a young man.

Mr. Bush was largely on board with that approach. But what came next crossed the line, as far as he and his team were concerned. “They wanted us to contact the Russians or the British to seek information on Bill Clinton’s trip to Moscow,” James A. Baker III, Mr. Bush’s White House chief of staff, wrote in a memo later that day. “I said we absolutely could not do that.”

President Trump insists he and his attorney general did nothing wrong by seeking damaging information about his domestic opponents from Ukraine, Australia, Italy and Britain or by publicly calling on China to investigate his most prominent Democratic challenger. But for every other White House in the modern era, Republican and Democratic, the idea of enlisting help from foreign powers for political advantage was seen as unwise and politically dangerous, if not unprincipled.

A survey of 10 former White House chiefs of staff under Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama found that none recalled any circumstance under which the White House had solicited or accepted political help from other countries, and all said they would have considered the very idea out of bounds.

“I served three presidents in the White House and don’t remember even hearing any speculation to consider asking for such action,” said Andrew H. Card Jr., who ran the younger Mr. Bush’s White House and was the longest-serving chief of staff in the last six decades.

William M. Daley, who served as commerce secretary under Mr. Clinton and chief of staff under Mr. Obama, said if someone had even proposed such an action, he probably would “recommend the person be escorted out of” the White House, then fired and reported to ethics officials.

Other chiefs were just as definitive. “Did not happen on Reagan’s watch. Would not have happened on Reagan’s watch,” said Kenneth M. Duberstein, his last chief of staff. “I would have shut him down,” said Leon E. Panetta, who served as Mr. Clinton’s chief of staff and Mr. Obama’s defense secretary.

Read the 1992 Memo President George Bush’s Team Sent About Seeking Foreign Help to Beat Bill Clinton

When Republican congressmen suggested Mr. Bush reach out to Russia or Britain for information that could help him win his re-election race against Bill Clinton, James A. Baker III, then the White House chief of staff, wrote this memo. (PDF, 1 page, 4.8 MB)

Westlake Legal Group thumbnail ‘We Absolutely Could Not Do That’: When Seeking Foreign Help Was Out of the Question United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Reagan, Ronald Wilson Presidents and Presidency (US) Presidential Election of 2016 Obama, Barack Clinton, Bill Bush, George W Bush, George Burisma Holdings Ltd Baker, James A III   1 page, 4.8 MB

The sense of incredulity among White House veterans in recent days crossed party and ideological lines. “This is unprecedented,” said Samuel K. Skinner, who preceded Mr. Baker as chief of staff under Mr. Bush. Other chiefs who said they never encountered such a situation included Thomas F. McLarty III and John D. Podesta (Clinton) and Rahm Emanuel, Denis R. McDonough and Jacob J. Lew (Obama).

History has shown that foreign affairs can be treacherous for presidents, even just the suspicion of mixing politics with the national interest. As a candidate in 1968, Richard M. Nixon sought to forestall a Vietnam peace deal by President Lyndon B. Johnson just before the election.

Associates of Mr. Reagan were accused of trying to delay the release of hostages by Iran when he was a candidate in 1980 for fear that it would aid President Jimmy Carter, but a bipartisan House investigation concluded that there was no merit to the charge. Mr. Clinton faced months of investigation over 1996 campaign contributions from Chinese interests tied to the Beijing government.

In none of those cases did an incumbent president personally apply pressure to foreign powers to damage political opponents. Mr. Trump pressed Ukraine’s president this summer to investigate involvement with Democrats in 2016 and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. while holding up $391 million in American aid. Mr. Trump has said he was simply investigating corruption, not trying to benefit himself.

“The right way to look at it is the vice president was selling our country out,” Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, said in an interview on Sunday. Mr. Trump was fulfilling his duty, he said. “I don’t see what the president did wrong.”

Mr. Giuliani has been leading Mr. Trump’s efforts to dig up evidence of corruption by the Democrats in Ukraine, meeting with various officials and negotiating a commitment by the newly installed government in Kiev to investigate conspiracy theories about Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election and supposed conflicts of interest by Mr. Biden.

Told that past White House chiefs of staff said any legitimate allegations should be handled by the Justice Department, not the president, Mr. Giuliani said: “That’s if you can trust the Justice Department. My witnesses don’t trust the Justice Department, and they don’t trust the F.B.I.” He added that he would not have either until Attorney General William P. Barr took over.

Mr. Barr has contacted foreign officials for help in investigating the origin of the special counsel investigation by Robert S. Mueller III into Russian interference and ties with Mr. Trump’s campaign, part of an effort to prove that the whole matter was a “hoax,” as the president has insisted.

Mr. Trump defends himself by saying that other presidents have leaned on foreign governments for help. That is true, but when other presidents have pressured counterparts and even held up American assistance to coerce cooperation, it has generally been to achieve certain policy goals — not to advance the president’s personal or political agenda.

As an example, Mr. Trump often cites Mr. Obama, who was overheard telling President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia in 2012 that he would have more “more flexibility” to negotiate missile defense after the fall election. While that may be objectionable, it is not the same thing as asking a foreign government to intervene in an American election.

“They assume everybody’s as sleazy and dirty as they are, which is not the case,” Mr. Emanuel said.

Mr. Trump points to Mr. Biden, arguing that the former vice president was the one who abused his power by threatening to withhold $1 billion in American aid to Ukraine unless it fired its prosecutor general.

Mr. Biden’s son Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, earning $50,000 a month. The company’s oligarch owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, had been a subject of cases overseen by the prosecutor, and so Mr. Trump contends that Mr. Biden sought the prosecutor’s ouster to benefit his son.

As a matter of appearances, at least, the former vice president’s family left him open to suspicion. Even some of his defenders say it was unseemly for Hunter Biden to seemingly trade on his family name. The elder Mr. Biden has said he never discussed his son’s business dealings in Ukraine with him, but some Democrats suggest he should have if only to prevent just such a situation from arising.

For all of that, however, no evidence has emerged that Mr. Biden moved to push out the prosecutor to benefit his son. No memo or text message has become public linking the two. None of the American officials who were involved at the time have come forward alleging any connection. No whistle-blower has filed a complaint.

In pressing for the prosecutor’s ouster, Mr. Biden was carrying out Mr. Obama’s policy as developed by his national security team and coordinated with European allies and the International Monetary Fund, all of which considered the Ukrainian prosecutor to be deliberately overlooking corruption.

Indeed, at the time Mr. Biden acted, there was no public evidence that the prosecutor’s office was actively pursuing investigations of Burisma, although Mr. Zlochevsky’s allies say the prosecutor continued to use the threat of prosecution to try to solicit bribes from the oligarch and his team.

The 1992 episode involving Mr. Bush and Mr. Baker provides an intriguing case study in the way previous administrations have viewed seeking political help overseas. At the time, Mr. Bush was trailing in the polls and eager for any weapon to turn things around.

Representatives Robert K. Dornan, Duncan Hunter and Duke Cunningham of California and Sam Johnson of Texas urged the president to ask Russia and Britain for help.

Mr. Dornan, reached last week, said Mr. Baker offered no objections during the meeting. “Baker sat there in the Oval Office like a bump on a log,” he recalled. “He said nothing.” If Mr. Baker advised Mr. Bush not to reach out to foreign governments, then he did so after the congressmen had left, Mr. Dornan said.

Mr. Dornan said that was a mistake and that Mr. Bush should have done as Mr. Trump has. “The bottom line from me was, ‘If you don’t do this, Mr. President, leader of the free world, you will lose,’” Mr. Dornan said. “And he didn’t do it and he lost. Baker cost Bush that second term.”

As it was, Mr. Baker and some of his aides got in trouble anyway because State Department employees searched Mr. Clinton’s passport file to determine whether he had ever tried to renounce his American citizenship. They found no such evidence, but an independent counsel was appointed to investigate whether the search violated any laws.

The attorney general who requested the investigation? Mr. Barr, in his first tour running the Justice Department. The independent counsel who was appointed? Joseph diGenova, a lawyer now helping Mr. Giuliani look for information in Ukraine. In the passport case, Mr. diGenova concluded that no laws had been broken and that he should never have been appointed in first place.

As for seeking help from Russia and Britain, Mr. Baker declined to comment last week, but his peers said he did exactly as they would have. “It would have been ludicrous at that stage to do anything,” Mr. Skinner said. “Baker’s decision was obviously the right one.”

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‘We Absolutely Could Not Do That’: When Seeking Foreign Help Was Out of the Question

WASHINGTON — One day in October 1992, four Republican congressmen showed up in the Oval Office with an audacious recommendation. President George Bush was losing his re-election race, and they told him the only way to win was to hammer his challenger Bill Clinton’s patriotism for protesting the Vietnam War while in London and visiting Moscow as a young man.

Mr. Bush was largely on board with that approach. But what came next crossed the line, as far as he and his team were concerned. “They wanted us to contact the Russians or the British to seek information on Bill Clinton’s trip to Moscow,” James A. Baker III, Mr. Bush’s White House chief of staff, wrote in a memo later that day. “I said we absolutely could not do that.”

President Trump insists he and his attorney general did nothing wrong by seeking damaging information about his domestic opponents from Ukraine, Australia, Italy and Britain or by publicly calling on China to investigate his most prominent Democratic challenger. But for every other White House in the modern era, Republican and Democratic, the idea of enlisting help from foreign powers for political advantage was seen as unwise and politically dangerous, if not unprincipled.

A survey of 10 former White House chiefs of staff under Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama found that none recalled any circumstance under which the White House had solicited or accepted political help from other countries, and all said they would have considered the very idea out of bounds.

“I served three presidents in the White House and don’t remember even hearing any speculation to consider asking for such action,” said Andrew H. Card Jr., who ran the younger Mr. Bush’s White House and was the longest-serving chief of staff in the last six decades.

William M. Daley, who served as commerce secretary under Mr. Clinton and chief of staff under Mr. Obama, said if someone had even proposed such an action, he probably would “recommend the person be escorted out of” the White House, then fired and reported to ethics officials.

Other chiefs were just as definitive. “Did not happen on Reagan’s watch. Would not have happened on Reagan’s watch,” said Kenneth M. Duberstein, his last chief of staff. “I would have shut him down,” said Leon E. Panetta, who served as Mr. Clinton’s chief of staff and Mr. Obama’s defense secretary.

Read the 1992 Memo President George Bush’s Team Sent About Seeking Foreign Help to Beat Bill Clinton

When Republican congressmen suggested Mr. Bush reach out to Russia or Britain for information that could help him win his re-election race against Bill Clinton, James A. Baker III, then the White House chief of staff, wrote this memo. (PDF, 1 page, 4.8 MB)

Westlake Legal Group thumbnail ‘We Absolutely Could Not Do That’: When Seeking Foreign Help Was Out of the Question United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Reagan, Ronald Wilson Presidents and Presidency (US) Presidential Election of 2016 Obama, Barack Clinton, Bill Bush, George W Bush, George Burisma Holdings Ltd Baker, James A III   1 page, 4.8 MB

The sense of incredulity among White House veterans in recent days crossed party and ideological lines. “This is unprecedented,” said Samuel K. Skinner, who preceded Mr. Baker as chief of staff under Mr. Bush. Other chiefs who said they never encountered such a situation included Thomas F. McLarty III and John D. Podesta (Clinton) and Rahm Emanuel, Denis R. McDonough and Jacob J. Lew (Obama).

History has shown that foreign affairs can be treacherous for presidents, even just the suspicion of mixing politics with the national interest. As a candidate in 1968, Richard M. Nixon sought to forestall a Vietnam peace deal by President Lyndon B. Johnson just before the election.

Associates of Mr. Reagan were accused of trying to delay the release of hostages by Iran when he was a candidate in 1980 for fear that it would aid President Jimmy Carter, but a bipartisan House investigation concluded that there was no merit to the charge. Mr. Clinton faced months of investigation over 1996 campaign contributions from Chinese interests tied to the Beijing government.

In none of those cases did an incumbent president personally apply pressure to foreign powers to damage political opponents. Mr. Trump pressed Ukraine’s president this summer to investigate involvement with Democrats in 2016 and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. while holding up $391 million in American aid. Mr. Trump has said he was simply investigating corruption, not trying to benefit himself.

“The right way to look at it is the vice president was selling our country out,” Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, said in an interview on Sunday. Mr. Trump was fulfilling his duty, he said. “I don’t see what the president did wrong.”

Mr. Giuliani has been leading Mr. Trump’s efforts to dig up evidence of corruption by the Democrats in Ukraine, meeting with various officials and negotiating a commitment by the newly installed government in Kiev to investigate conspiracy theories about Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election and supposed conflicts of interest by Mr. Biden.

Told that past White House chiefs of staff said any legitimate allegations should be handled by the Justice Department, not the president, Mr. Giuliani said: “That’s if you can trust the Justice Department. My witnesses don’t trust the Justice Department, and they don’t trust the F.B.I.” He added that he would not have either until Attorney General William P. Barr took over.

Mr. Barr has contacted foreign officials for help in investigating the origin of the special counsel investigation by Robert S. Mueller III into Russian interference and ties with Mr. Trump’s campaign, part of an effort to prove that the whole matter was a “hoax,” as the president has insisted.

Mr. Trump defends himself by saying that other presidents have leaned on foreign governments for help. That is true, but when other presidents have pressured counterparts and even held up American assistance to coerce cooperation, it has generally been to achieve certain policy goals — not to advance the president’s personal or political agenda.

As an example, Mr. Trump often cites Mr. Obama, who was overheard telling President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia in 2012 that he would have more “more flexibility” to negotiate missile defense after the fall election. While that may be objectionable, it is not the same thing as asking a foreign government to intervene in an American election.

“They assume everybody’s as sleazy and dirty as they are, which is not the case,” Mr. Emanuel said.

Mr. Trump points to Mr. Biden, arguing that the former vice president was the one who abused his power by threatening to withhold $1 billion in American aid to Ukraine unless it fired its prosecutor general.

Mr. Biden’s son Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, earning $50,000 a month. The company’s oligarch owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, had been a subject of cases overseen by the prosecutor, and so Mr. Trump contends that Mr. Biden sought the prosecutor’s ouster to benefit his son.

As a matter of appearances, at least, the former vice president’s family left him open to suspicion. Even some of his defenders say it was unseemly for Hunter Biden to seemingly trade on his family name. The elder Mr. Biden has said he never discussed his son’s business dealings in Ukraine with him, but some Democrats suggest he should have if only to prevent just such a situation from arising.

For all of that, however, no evidence has emerged that Mr. Biden moved to push out the prosecutor to benefit his son. No memo or text message has become public linking the two. None of the American officials who were involved at the time have come forward alleging any connection. No whistle-blower has filed a complaint.

In pressing for the prosecutor’s ouster, Mr. Biden was carrying out Mr. Obama’s policy as developed by his national security team and coordinated with European allies and the International Monetary Fund, all of which considered the Ukrainian prosecutor to be deliberately overlooking corruption.

Indeed, at the time Mr. Biden acted, there was no public evidence that the prosecutor’s office was actively pursuing investigations of Burisma, although Mr. Zlochevsky’s allies say the prosecutor continued to use the threat of prosecution to try to solicit bribes from the oligarch and his team.

The 1992 episode involving Mr. Bush and Mr. Baker provides an intriguing case study in the way previous administrations have viewed seeking political help overseas. At the time, Mr. Bush was trailing in the polls and eager for any weapon to turn things around.

Representatives Robert K. Dornan, Duncan Hunter and Duke Cunningham of California and Sam Johnson of Texas urged the president to ask Russia and Britain for help.

Mr. Dornan, reached last week, said Mr. Baker offered no objections during the meeting. “Baker sat there in the Oval Office like a bump on a log,” he recalled. “He said nothing.” If Mr. Baker advised Mr. Bush not to reach out to foreign governments, then he did so after the congressmen had left, Mr. Dornan said.

Mr. Dornan said that was a mistake and that Mr. Bush should have done as Mr. Trump has. “The bottom line from me was, ‘If you don’t do this, Mr. President, leader of the free world, you will lose,’” Mr. Dornan said. “And he didn’t do it and he lost. Baker cost Bush that second term.”

As it was, Mr. Baker and some of his aides got in trouble anyway because State Department employees searched Mr. Clinton’s passport file to determine whether he had ever tried to renounce his American citizenship. They found no such evidence, but an independent counsel was appointed to investigate whether the search violated any laws.

The attorney general who requested the investigation? Mr. Barr, in his first tour running the Justice Department. The independent counsel who was appointed? Joseph diGenova, a lawyer now helping Mr. Giuliani look for information in Ukraine. In the passport case, Mr. diGenova concluded that no laws had been broken and that he should never have been appointed in first place.

As for seeking help from Russia and Britain, Mr. Baker declined to comment last week, but his peers said he did exactly as they would have. “It would have been ludicrous at that stage to do anything,” Mr. Skinner said. “Baker’s decision was obviously the right one.”

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Legal Team Says It Represents a Second Whistle-Blower Over Trump and Ukraine

Westlake Legal Group 06dc-trump-facebookJumbo Legal Team Says It Represents a Second Whistle-Blower Over Trump and Ukraine Zelensky, Volodymyr Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Stephanopoulos, George ABC News

WASHINGTON — A lawyer for the whistle-blower whose complaint set off an impeachment inquiry of President Trump said Sunday that the same legal team was now representing a second whistle-blower, an intelligence official with firsthand knowledge of the president’s interactions with Ukraine.

The new whistle-blower “made a protected disclosure under the law and cannot be retaliated against,” Mark S. Zaid, one of the lawyers, said on Twitter.

Mr. Zaid confirmed a report by the ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos on his show, “This Week,” which said the new whistle-blower had already been interviewed by the intelligence community’s inspector general’s office, but had not yet communicated with any congressional committees.

Another member of the legal team confirmed on Twitter that the firm was now representing “multiple whistleblowers” but declined to comment further.

The New York Times reported on Friday that an intelligence official with more direct knowledge of Mr. Trump’s dealing with Ukraine than the first whistle-blower, and who had grown alarmed by the president’s behavior, was weighing whether to come forward. The second official was among those interviewed by the intelligence community inspector general to corroborate the allegations of the original whistle-blower, one of the people briefed on the matter said.

The new whistle-blower matches the description of the official that The Times reported on last week. Mr. Zaid said he did not know whether the individual was the same person.

It is also not clear if the new whistle-blower will file a formal complaint. Mr. Zaid said the second whistle-blower’s act of coming forward to the inspector general had already secured whistle-blower protections.

The first whistle-blower, a C.I.A. officer who was detailed to the National Security Council, filed a complaint in August outlining how Mr. Trump used his power to push Ukraine to investigate his domestic political rivals, setting off an impeachment inquiry. Mr. Trump has tried to undermine the credibility of the first whistle-blower, whose identity is not publicly known, by saying that the individual was trading on secondhand information.

“The first so-called second hand information ‘Whistleblower’ got my phone conversation almost completely wrong, so now word is they are going to the bench and another ‘Whistleblower’ is coming in from the Deep State, also with second hand info,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday night, referring to his now-infamous July 25 phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, in which he leaned on Mr. Zelensky to investigate Joseph R. Biden Jr., the former vice president and current presidential candidate, as well as his son Hunter Biden. “Keep them coming!”

Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, framed the news of the new whistle-blower on Sunday as a political hit on the president. “SURPRISE Democrat lawyer has other secret sources,” Mr. Giuliani wrote on Twitter. He added that the bottom line was that there was “no quid pro quo” attached to Mr. Trump’s pressure on Ukrainian officials to investigate his political rivals, and called the story an “ORCHESTRATED DEM CAMPAIGN LIKE KAVANAUGH,” referring to the sexual misconduct allegations against Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

Mr. Zaid works for Compass Rose Legal Group, a law firm that specializes in representing whistle-blowers. He is part of the legal team that is now representing both individuals who have come forward. The team also includes Andrew P. Bakaj, the lead lawyer, and I. Charles McCullough III.

“I can confirm that my firm and my team represent multiple whistleblowers in connection to the underlying August 12, 2019, disclosure to the Intelligence Community Inspector General,” Mr. Bakaj said on Twitter. “No further comment at this time.”

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Second Whistle-Blower Has Been Interviewed Over Trump’s Ukraine Dealings

Westlake Legal Group 06dc-trump-facebookJumbo Second Whistle-Blower Has Been Interviewed Over Trump’s Ukraine Dealings Zelensky, Volodymyr Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Stephanopoulos, George ABC News

WASHINGTON — The legal team for the whistle-blower alarmed by President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine is now representing a second whistle-blower, an intelligence official with firsthand knowledge of the president’s interactions, the ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos reported Sunday.

The new whistle-blower has already been interviewed by the intelligence community’s inspector general’s office, but has not yet communicated with any congressional committees, Mr. Stephanapoulos said on his show, “This Week.” The new whistle-blower has the full legal protection for those who raise alarms about wrongdoing in the executive branch, he said.

A member of the legal team confirmed on Twitter that the firm was now representing a second whistle-blower.

The New York Times reported on Friday that an intelligence official with more direct knowledge of Mr. Trump’s dealing with Ukraine than the first whistle-blower, and who had grown alarmed by the president’s behavior, was weighing whether to come forward. The second official was among those interviewed by the intelligence community inspector general to corroborate the allegations of the original whistle-blower, one of the people briefed on the matter said.

The new whistle-blower matches the description of the official that The Times reported on last week. But Mr. Stephanapoulos said that Mark Zaid, one of the lawyers representing the whistle-blower, did not know whether the individual was the same person.

The first whistle-blower, a C.I.A. officer who was detailed to the White House, filed a complaint last month outlining how Mr. Trump used his power to push Ukraine to investigate his domestic political rivals, setting off an impeachment inquiry. Mr. Trump has tried to undermine the credibility of the first whistle-blower, whose identity is not publicly known, by saying that the individual was trading on secondhand information.

“The first so-called second hand information ‘Whistleblower’ got my phone conversation almost completely wrong, so now word is they are going to the bench and another ‘Whistleblower’ is coming in from the Deep State, also with second hand info,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday night, referring to his now-infamous July 25 phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. “Keep them coming!”

Mr. Zaid works for Compass Rose Legal Group, a law firm that specializes in representing whistle-blowers. He is part of the legal team that is now representing both individuals who have come forward. The team also includes Andrew P. Bakaj, the lead lawyer, and Charles McCullough III.

“I can confirm that my firm and my team represent multiple whistleblowers in connection to the underlying August 12, 2019, disclosure to the Intelligence Community Inspector General,” Mr. Bakaj said on Twitter. “No further comment at this time.”

Mr. Zaid did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Italy’s Connection to the Russia Investigation, Explained

WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr has said he is reviewing the origins of the Russia investigation. As part of the review, Mr. Barr met recently with officials in Italy, where in 2016 a Trump campaign adviser met Joseph Mifsud, a professor whose actions figured prominently into the F.B.I.’s rationale for opening the Russia inquiry.

President Trump and some of his allies have asserted without evidence that a cabal of American officials — the so-called deep state — embarked on a broad operation to thwart Mr. Trump’s campaign. The conspiracy theory remains unsubstantiated, and the Justice Department has not explained why Mr. Barr feels the allegations merit a review, though he would need to run down all leads if he is to conduct a thorough audit.

Mr. Mifsud was a professor at the London Academy of Diplomacy who also spent time as a political science faculty member at Link Campus University, a school in Rome.

Some of the president’s allies have pushed an unfounded theory that the Maltese-born Mr. Mifsud is a Western intelligence agent possibly under the control of the F.B.I. or C.I.A. whom the deep state officials dispatched as a counterintelligence trap for the Trump campaign.

Mr. Mifsud told a Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, in the spring of 2016 that the Russians had “thousands” of stolen Democratic emails that could prove damaging to Mr. Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, if they became public.

James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, has called Mr. Mifsud a Russian agent. Mr. Mifsud maintained contacts with Russians associates, including a former employee of the Internet Research Agency, which used social media posts to sow discord in 2016 as part of Russia’s election sabotage.

Mr. Mifsud told an Italian newspaper in 2017 that he was not a secret agent. “I never got any money from the Russians,” he said. “My conscience is clear.”

Mr. Mifsud and Mr. Papadopoulos first met in March 2016 in Italy. The following month, after Mr. Mifsud had traveled to Moscow, they met again in London, where Mr. Mifsud revealed that the Russians possessed information that could damage Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Mifsud suggested that the Russian government could assist the Trump campaign through the “anonymous release of information that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton,” according to the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who took over the Russia investigation in May 2017.

Mr. Papadopoulos bragged in May 2016 to a pair of Australian diplomats about Mr. Mifsud’s offer of Russian dirt about Mrs. Clinton’s hacked emails. The Australian government passed the information to the United States, but only months later — after WikiLeaks published the stolen Democratic emails.

The Australians’ account, including the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign may have had inside information about the email hacking, was a driving factor in the F.B.I.’s counterintelligence investigation in July 2016 into Russia’s attempts to disrupt the election and whether any Trump associates conspired.

The F.B.I. began investigating him, along with three other Trump associates, as part of the counterintelligence inquiry. When agents questioned Mr. Papadopoulos about his interactions with Mr. Mifsud, he repeatedly lied, according to court records, hindering investigators’ attempts to potentially detain Mr. Mifsud.

He had been in the United States and agents interviewed him once, but Mr. Mifsud left the country. He has since disappeared from public view.

Westlake Legal Group impeachment-investigation-tracker-promo-1570214529724-articleLarge-v2 Italy’s Connection to the Russia Investigation, Explained United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Rome (Italy) Presidential Election of 2016 Papadopoulos, George (1987- ) Mueller, Robert S III Mifsud, Joseph Italy Great Britain Federal Bureau of Investigation Espionage and Intelligence Services central intelligence agency Barr, William P Australia

The Evidence Collected So Far in the Trump Impeachment Inquiry

The status of the documents and witness testimony being collected by congressional investigators.

Mr. Papadopoulos was eventually convicted of lying to federal investigators and served 12 days in prison.

Since leaving prison, Mr. Papadopoulos has promoted unfounded assertions and outright conspiracy theories about the Russia investigation. He wrote a book, “Deep State Target,” accusing the Obama administration of mounting a coordinated effort to spy on the Trump campaign and keep Mr. Trump from being elected and asserting that he was a pawn in that operation.

Mr. Papadopoulos has posited that Mr. Mifsud was “an Italian intelligence asset who the C.I.A. weaponized” as part of the unsubstantiated “deep state” plot. The president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani has claimed, also without evidence, that Mr. Mifsud was a “counterintelligence operative, either Maltese or Italian.”

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia last week alleging that one of its former diplomats who met with Mr. Papadopoulos was involved in the supposed plot. Australian officials rejected Mr. Graham’s characterization of the diplomat’s role in the episode.

On Friday, Mr. Trump also raised the specter of the conspiracy. “They think it could have been by U.K. They think it could have been by Australia. They think it could have been by Italy,” he said, without elaborating on the accusations themselves or who was making them.

Mr. Mifsud worked for neither the F.B.I. nor the C.I.A., former American officials said. If he had been an F.B.I. informant, prosecutors could have easily found and questioned him. If Mr. Mifsud were working for the C.I.A., the agency would have had an obligation to tell the F.B.I. as it investigated Mr. Papadopoulos.

So to believe the conspiracy that Mr. Mifsud was secretly working for the C.I.A. is to believe that either the intelligence community withheld from prosecutors that he was one of their agents or that prosecutors conspired to deceive federal courts.

To believe that another Western government secretly employed Mr. Mifsud as part of a plot against the president is to believe that an elaborate conspiracy entirely eluded the special counsel’s office in its exhaustive investigation, which included more than 2,800 subpoenas, nearly 500 search warrants, 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence and interviews of about 500 witnesses.

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Barr and a Top Prosecutor Cast a Wide Net in Reviewing the Russia Inquiry

Westlake Legal Group 00dc-durham1-facebookJumbo Barr and a Top Prosecutor Cast a Wide Net in Reviewing the Russia Inquiry United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2016 Papadopoulos, George (1987- ) Mueller, Robert S III Mifsud, Joseph Justice Department Italy Great Britain Federal Bureau of Investigation Espionage and Intelligence Services Durham, John H Classified Information and State Secrets central intelligence agency Barr, William P Australia

WASHINGTON — After a jet carrying Attorney General William P. Barr touched down in Rome late last month, some diplomats and intelligence officials at the American Embassy were unsure why he had come to the Eternal City. They were later surprised, two officials said, to discover that he had circumvented protocols in arranging the trip, where he met with Italian political and intelligence officials.

Everything about the visit was unusual — perhaps most of all, the attorney general’s companion and his mission. Mr. Barr and a top federal prosecutor, John H. Durham, who is reviewing the origins of the Russia investigation, sought evidence that might bolster a conspiracy theory long nurtured by President Trump: that some of America’s closest allies plotted with his “deep state” enemies in 2016 to try to prevent him from winning the presidency.

Mr. Trump has embraced the theory in his interactions with world leaders since the days after the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, testified to lawmakers in July that his investigation found insufficient evidence to charge any Trump associates with conspiring with Russia to help subvert the election. An emboldened Mr. Trump — who could benefit politically if Mr. Durham were to unearth facts that undermined Mr. Mueller’s investigation — began pressing close allies to cooperate with the review.

The trip to Italy generated criticism that Mr. Barr was doing the president’s bidding and micromanaging a supposedly independent investigation. But Mr. Barr seems to have embraced his role, signaling that he has made the investigation a priority and is personally overseeing it.

Now, glimpses of the Durham review are emerging. Investigators have interviewed F.B.I. officials about their work in 2016, examined intelligence files from around that time and cast a wide net in setting up interviews with a foreign cast of characters who played disparate roles in the pre-election drama.

One of Mr. Trump’s efforts to aid the review, a discussion with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine one day after Mr. Mueller’s testimony, so unnerved White House officials that it sparked a whistle-blower complaint, as well as formal impeachment proceedings and questions about whether the president hijacked American diplomacy for political gain.

Mr. Barr has portrayed the review as an attempt to ferret out any abuse of power by law enforcement or intelligence officials. But it is also a politically charged effort that takes aim at the conclusions of the American law enforcement and intelligence communities about Russia’s election interference based on years of work by multiple agencies.

The review could fray diplomatic relations with overseas partners and affect Mr. Trump’s political fortunes. And it is testing traditional boundaries drawn to keep the powers of American law enforcement out of electoral politics.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment. This article is based on documents and interviews with current and former American and foreign officials as well as others familiar with the Durham review.

The review already created a minor diplomatic dust-up when Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and one of the president’s closest allies in Congress, fired off a letter to leaders of Britain, Italy and Australia on Wednesday, urging them to help “investigate the origins and extent of foreign influence in the 2016 election.”

All three countries play some role in a counternarrative pushed by the president’s supporters that the real story of election sabotage in 2016 was not the well-documented saga of Russian internet trolls and leaked stolen emails, but anti-Trump elements in the intelligence and law enforcement agencies working with sympathetic foreign allies to try to block Mr. Trump’s victory.

Mr. Graham asserted without evidence in his letter that an Australian former diplomat was involved in the supposed plot. Australia’s ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, responded sharply, rejecting Mr. Graham’s description of the role of the diplomat, Alexander Downer.

The president further stoked the flames on Friday, suggesting a broad foreign plot against him. “And just so you know — just so you know, I was investigated,” he told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. “I was investigated. O.K.? Me. Me. I was investigated. I was investigated. And they think it could have been by U.K. They think it could have been by Australia. They think it could have been by Italy.”

He did not say whom he meant by “they.”

One consequence of the president’s attempts to investigate the investigators could be that some American allies might think twice before providing politically sensitive information.

“I’m gravely concerned if our Australian intelligence colleagues believe that they are sharing information with us for domestic political purposes, that trust could erode,” said Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Mr. Warner said he and his colleagues have pressed the Justice Department for information about the scope of the review but have gotten no response.

The president has handed Mr. Barr sweeping powers to conduct the review. It was not begun as a criminal investigation, though it is not clear whether that has changed. In conducting a review, Mr. Durham, the United States attorney in Connecticut and a veteran prosecutor who has broken up mafia rings and investigated C.I.A. torture, has no power to subpoena witnesses or documents and instead has the authority only to read materials the government already gathered and to request voluntary interviews from witnesses.

Typically, he would write a report at the end of his review summarizing his findings. If he finds evidence of a crime, Mr. Durham could make a criminal referral to the Justice Department.

Mr. Barr has asked Mr. Trump to help gain access to foreign officials for the inquiry, and the president has complied. Mr. Trump has called the leaders of Ukraine and Australia, and the attorney general has spoken directly to officials in Britain, Australia and Italy, according to a Justice Department official.

Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham traveled to Italy — the attorney general’s second trip there in weeks — where a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, met a Maltese professor in the spring of 2016. During a later meeting, Mr. Papadopoulos told investigators, the professor said that Russia had politically damaging information about Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.”

The professor, Joseph Mifsud, has effectively disappeared since the Mueller investigation revealed his discussions with Mr. Papadopoulos, and Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors suggested in a court filing that he may have served as a cutout for Russian intelligence.

Mr. Trump’s allies have asserted, without evidence, that he was actually a C.I.A. agent working as part of an Obama administration plot to spy on the Trump campaign.

“Mifsud was an Italian operative handled by the C.I.A.,” Mr. Papadopoulos wrote on Twitter on Sept. 27, the day Mr. Barr was in Italy. “Italy holds the keys to the kingdom. Right government, right time.”

On Friday, former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy said he was suing Mr. Papadopoulos for slander because he told an Italian right-wing newspaper that Mr. Renzi, while in office, had taken orders from former President Barack Obama to try to derail Mr. Trump’s candidacy. “See you in court,” Mr. Renzi wrote on Facebook.

Mr. Papadopoulos served 12 days in prison last year for lying to F.B.I. agents in the Russia investigation, and investigators said his lies hindered their ability to question Mr. Mifsud. An Italian government official confirmed that Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham traveled to Rome in part to gain more information about Mr. Mifsud.

Mr. Barr opened the Justice Department review this year after he said he did not get “satisfactory” answers when he asked why law enforcement officials opened the 2016 counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign. He turned to Mr. Durham to review the origins of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation and whether it was properly predicated.

Mr. Durham has a track record with delicate cases where the investigative focus is on F.B.I. agents and C.I.A. officers. In 1999, Attorney General Janet Reno asked him to investigate the F.B.I.’s handling of James “Whitey” Bulger, a notorious mobster whom agents used as an informant. He secured convictions and unraveled a corrupt network of law enforcement officials working with Mr. Bulger.

Almost a decade later, Mr. Durham was directed to investigate the destruction of C.I.A. videotapes depicting the torture of detainees in secret prisons run by the agency. During that investigation, he interviewed Gina Haspel, now the director of the C.I.A., about her role in the destruction of the tapes. The investigation was expanded to include abuses of C.I.A. detainees. It ended with no criminal charges.

His most recent assignment involved investigating James A. Baker, the widely respected former top lawyer at the F.B.I., over a suspected leak of classified information. Mr. Durham quietly used agents with the United States Postal Service in that case because the Justice Department had decided that the F.B.I. could not investigate itself, people familiar with the investigation said. Mr. Baker has denied wrongdoing and was never charged with a crime.

For his review, Mr. Durham has enlisted Nora R. Dannehy, a veteran federal prosecutor who worked with him in Connecticut and led a two-year inquiry into whether department officials under President George W. Bush broke the law in firing several United States attorneys.

Many of the F.B.I. and C.I.A. officials that Mr. Durham is expected to attempt to interview have left government, including Bill Priestap, the bureau’s top counterintelligence agent during the Russia inquiry. Mr. Priestap privately told Congress last year that there was no F.B.I. conspiracy against Mr. Trump or his campaign.

He was also asked whether he met Mr. Mifsud on an overseas trip, a suggestion the F.B.I. was secretly working with the professor. Mr. Priestap said no.

For his part, Mr. Barr does not seem to mind that his travels in aid of the Durham review create an appearance that he is trying to protect the president. During a speech on Thursday, Mr. Barr recalled a recent episode when he was asked which country he planned to visit next. “Greenland,” he joked, a reference to one of Mr. Trump’s previous controversies.

Jason Horowitz contributed reporting from Rome, and Julian E. Barnes from Washington.

Follow Mark Mazzetti, Adam Goldman and Katie Benner on Twitter: @MarkMazzettiNYT, @adamgoldmanNYT and @ktbenner.

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