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

Afghanistan War Enters New Stage as U.S. Military Prepares to Exit

Westlake Legal Group 01dc-afghan-assess1-facebookJumbo Afghanistan War Enters New Stage as U.S. Military Prepares to Exit United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Terrorism Taliban North Atlantic Treaty Organization National Directorate of Security (Afghanistan) Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Haqqani, Sirajuddin Ghani, Ashraf Defense Department central intelligence agency Al Qaeda Afghanistan War (2001- ) Afghanistan Afghan National Security Forces

WASHINGTON — Intelligence briefers regularly present President Trump with a classified map of Afghanistan, usually the only report on the war he examines, displaying the strikes carried out in recent days and, critically, the number of Taliban and other militants killed.

During his presidency, enemy body counts have been the lens through which Mr. Trump has viewed the Afghanistan war — an often meaningless metric in disrepute since the Vietnam War.

Now, America’s de facto war of attrition against the Taliban has, at least theoretically, come to an end. The signing of a deal on Saturday in Doha, Qatar, to start withdrawing United States troops from Afghanistan may not immediately stop the fighting, but it will at least usher in a new era in the 18-year war.

The deal will also begin the process of drawing down the American intelligence presence.

There are many questions about what the role of the remaining military forces and intelligence officers will be, but the rough outline of how the mission is likely to shift has become apparent.

The work that Mr. Trump is most interested in — hunting and killing Qaeda and Islamic State terrorists — will continue for a time, albeit with fewer people to carry out the mission. Raids may eventually have to be launched from other countries, although that is yet to be determined.

Other tasks that have occupied American service members and intelligence professionals, such as the training of Afghan forces and airstrikes on Taliban militants, will wind down or even cease in the months to come if the accord holds, and as international troops draw down and the Taliban sit for talks with the government.

Under the current plan, all of the approximately 12,000 troops now in Afghanistan will leave within 14 months. Whether that timetable will hold up is not known, and less than 24 hours after the signing, the first stumbling block appeared on Sunday as confusion over whether the Afghan government must quickly release Taliban prisoners threatened to inflame tensions.

Many veterans of the Afghanistan war remain wary of the withdrawal accord, even as they welcome a potential end to the long war. Some current and former American diplomats and military officials questioned whether the Taliban and the Afghan government would ever agree to a power-sharing arrangement, or even engage in meaningful talks. Some fear that the Taliban will seek to overthrow the government once the Americans are gone. Even if the Taliban does not seek to control Kabul, the capital, completely, it could allow Al Qaeda to remerge as a power or fail to contain a rejuvenated Islamic State.

A potential terrorist threat remains in the region. Most remaining Qaeda leaders are hiding in Pakistan, but could return to Afghanistan under a Taliban-dominated government. Qaeda and Taliban factions continue to be intertwined in some parts of the country, especially in Afghanistan’s west.

But some analysts and government officials say the risk may be overstated. Many intelligence officials argue that groups like the country’s Islamic State affiliate are much more of a regional threat, posing a problem to the Taliban and Afghan government rather than Americans. Whether that will remain the case after an American exit, however, is the unanswered question.

“No one wants to end endless wars more than those who have experienced them firsthand and understand the price of them,” said David H. Petraeus, a former top American military commander in Afghanistan and C.I.A. director. “That said, we need to end them the right way, or as we have learned in the past, we may have to return to them.”

The deal with the Taliban ultimately calls for all troops to leave. Many officials say that the schedule is likely to slip, but that the Taliban almost certainly would not allow a residual American force to remain indefinitely. To the Taliban, one senior American official said, zero means zero. Some military officers and intelligence officials, however, say America’s long-term national security needs demand a presence there.

But the issue is not just the Taliban. Mr. Trump, too, seems intent on bringing American forces home.

“My biggest concern is the president,” said Bruce O. Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who ran President Barack Obama’s first Afghanistan policy review.

The talk of a complete exit, including the relocation of the American command to neighboring countries, makes some veteran officers nervous. At various points in the war, military planners looking forward to the moment of a peace deal have calculated how small they could shrink the force and still fight terrorist threats and shore up the government in Kabul.

One of those plans called for a residual force of 2,000 to conduct counterterrorism missions. If the United States wants to also continue some training of the Afghan forces, 5,000 troops are needed, said James G. Stavridis, a retired American admiral and former top commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

More important than troops, potentially, is the willingness of the international community to continue to finance the Afghan government after a peace deal.

“The real key to whether Afghanistan avoids falling into an even longer civil war is the degree to which the United States and NATO are willing to fund and train the Afghan security forces over the long term,” Mr. Stavridis said. “When Vietnam collapsed and the helicopters were lifting off the roof of the U.S. Embassy, it was the result of funding being stopped.”

That situation has played out in Afghanistan, as well. Historians note that the Soviet-installed government in Kabul held on to control after the withdrawal of Moscow’s troops in 1989 — and fell to the Taliban only after Boris N. Yeltsin, the new president of a post-Communist Russia, came to power in 1991 and eliminated the large-scale assistance that had flowed to the Kremlin’s former allies in Kabul.

The American command has pledged for now to keep open seven bases, according to Defense Department officials. Those bases are in Herat Province, Mazar-a-Sharif, Bagram, Jalalabad, Kabul (both the airport and the main American base next to the embassy) and Kandahar Airfield in the south. It is unclear what will happen to some of the outposts primarily used by the C.I.A., such as Camp Chapman in the country’s east.

Mr. Trump toyed with replacing American military trainers, advisers and specialized military strike forces, such as Delta Force or SEAL Team 6, with teams led by the C.I.A. Such a plan could have brought in more C.I.A. paramilitary forces to train and carry out missions with Afghan commandos and more agency officers to work with Afghan militia groups, like the Khost Protection Force.

But the shift to a bigger role by the C.I.A. was viewed skeptically in Washington, and in the agency’s Langley headquarters. More important, the Taliban adamantly opposed the idea, which has now been largely discarded.

With the new Taliban deal in place, the C.I.A. will not increase its presence in the country, although the agency will draw down its personnel more slowly than the military, according to people familiar with the matter.

The agency’s mission will change, and its methods in Afghanistan are likely to as well. The agency has long used the military’s intelligence efforts to bolster its own and employed military bases to operate deep inside the country, closer to the terrorist and Islamic State groups that have been its top priority.

The agency, according to current and former government officials, will now look for new ways to collect its intelligence on terrorist groups.

For the C.I.A., the most critical question is the future of its relations with its network of militia partners, which operate under the loose supervision of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security. The militia groups remain deeply divisive in the country, accused of reckless violence causing civilian casualties and criticized by human rights groups.

The structure of the government that emerges in Afghanistan after talks between the Taliban and the administration of President Ashraf Ghani will determine the future of the relationship between the C.I.A. and its militia partners. The Taliban, as a condition of a peace deal, could seek to dismantle or take over the Afghanistan intelligence agency, and end its work with the C.I.A.

Some current and former officials say that finding a way for the C.I.A. and its militia forces to continue to work with a new Afghan government, one that includes the Taliban, is critical to the long-term survival of such a deal.

The prospect of the United States working with its enemy of nearly two decades may seem impossible, but it has been an offer from the Taliban for nearly a decade, and the American military has already taken tentative steps toward such a wary partnership, said David Kilcullen, a former adviser to the United States government in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last year, the United States conducted airstrikes against the Islamic State in Afghanistan, which had the effect of helping the Taliban forces that were fighting the group, said Mr. Kilcullen, the author of a new book on the future of global conflict called “The Dragons and the Snakes.”

“We are already in a de facto sense fighting alongside the Taliban against the more extreme groups, which are actually more of a threat to them than they are to us,” Mr. Kilcullen said.

How aggressive the Taliban will be in keeping Al Qaeda in check is one of the most critical questions of the deal. Sirajuddin Haqqani, a deputy Taliban leader who employed brutal tactics during the war and was responsible for the deaths of thousands, refrained from addressing Al Qaeda by name in a recent Op-Ed in The New York Times. Instead, he referred to Al Qaeda only as a “disruptive” group. While he said it was not in the interest of any Afghan to allow such groups to “hijack” the country, he also said concerns about the groups were “politically motivated exaggerations by the warmongering players on all sides of the war.”

The willingness of a new government, one that includes the Taliban, to work with America to disrupt terrorist groups and prevent civil war is likely to be critical to the success of the withdrawal accord.

Such a strategy will require a shift in thinking in the White House, Mr. Kilcullen said. Mr. Trump will have to give up on his map enumerating how many militants have been killed, switching to an approach heavier on economic power, using trade pacts and development aid to lure the Taliban to keep to a power-sharing deal.

“President Trump hates foreign assistance, and he likes to pressure the Taliban using bombs,” Mr. Kilcullen said. “But there are a lot of tools that don’t involve killing people that could cement a deal.”

Julian E. Barnes and Eric Schmitt reported from Washington, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Kabul, Afghanistan.

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

Afghanistan War Enters New Stage as U.S. Military Prepares to Exit

Westlake Legal Group 01dc-afghan-assess1-facebookJumbo Afghanistan War Enters New Stage as U.S. Military Prepares to Exit United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Terrorism Taliban North Atlantic Treaty Organization National Directorate of Security (Afghanistan) Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Haqqani, Sirajuddin Ghani, Ashraf Defense Department central intelligence agency Al Qaeda Afghanistan War (2001- ) Afghanistan Afghan National Security Forces

WASHINGTON — Intelligence briefers regularly present President Trump with a classified map of Afghanistan, usually the only report on the war he examines, displaying the strikes carried out in recent days and, critically, the number of Taliban and other militants killed.

During his presidency, enemy body counts have been the lens through which Mr. Trump has viewed the Afghanistan war — an often meaningless metric in disrepute since the Vietnam War.

Now, America’s de facto war of attrition against the Taliban has, at least theoretically, come to an end. The signing of a deal on Saturday in Doha, Qatar, to start withdrawing United States troops from Afghanistan may not immediately stop the fighting, but it will at least usher in a new era in the 18-year war.

The deal will also begin the process of drawing down the American intelligence presence.

There are many questions about what the role of the remaining military forces and intelligence officers will be, but the rough outline of how the mission is likely to shift has become apparent.

The work that Mr. Trump is most interested in — hunting and killing Qaeda and Islamic State terrorists — will continue for a time, albeit with fewer people to carry out the mission. Raids may eventually have to be launched from other countries, although that is yet to be determined.

Other tasks that have occupied American service members and intelligence professionals, such as the training of Afghan forces and airstrikes on Taliban militants, will wind down or even cease in the months to come if the accord holds, and as international troops draw down and the Taliban sit for talks with the government.

Under the current plan, all of the approximately 12,000 troops now in Afghanistan will leave within 14 months. Whether that timetable will hold up is not known, and less than 24 hours after the signing, the first stumbling block appeared on Sunday as confusion over whether the Afghan government must quickly release Taliban prisoners threatened to inflame tensions.

Many veterans of the Afghanistan war remain wary of the withdrawal accord, even as they welcome a potential end to the long war. Some current and former American diplomats and military officials questioned whether the Taliban and the Afghan government would ever agree to a power-sharing arrangement, or even engage in meaningful talks. Some fear that the Taliban will seek to overthrow the government once the Americans are gone. Even if the Taliban does not seek to control Kabul, the capital, completely, it could allow Al Qaeda to remerge as a power or fail to contain a rejuvenated Islamic State.

A potential terrorist threat remains in the region. Most remaining Qaeda leaders are hiding in Pakistan, but could return to Afghanistan under a Taliban-dominated government. Qaeda and Taliban factions continue to be intertwined in some parts of the country, especially in Afghanistan’s west.

But some analysts and government officials say the risk may be overstated. Many intelligence officials argue that groups like the country’s Islamic State affiliate are much more of a regional threat, posing a problem to the Taliban and Afghan government rather than Americans. Whether that will remain the case after an American exit, however, is the unanswered question.

“No one wants to end endless wars more than those who have experienced them firsthand and understand the price of them,” said David H. Petraeus, a former top American military commander in Afghanistan and C.I.A. director. “That said, we need to end them the right way, or as we have learned in the past, we may have to return to them.”

The deal with the Taliban ultimately calls for all troops to leave. Many officials say that the schedule is likely to slip, but that the Taliban almost certainly would not allow a residual American force to remain indefinitely. To the Taliban, one senior American official said, zero means zero. Some military officers and intelligence officials, however, say America’s long-term national security needs demand a presence there.

But the issue is not just the Taliban. Mr. Trump, too, seems intent on bringing American forces home.

“My biggest concern is the president,” said Bruce O. Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who ran President Barack Obama’s first Afghanistan policy review.

The talk of a complete exit, including the relocation of the American command to neighboring countries, makes some veteran officers nervous. At various points in the war, military planners looking forward to the moment of a peace deal have calculated how small they could shrink the force and still fight terrorist threats and shore up the government in Kabul.

One of those plans called for a residual force of 2,000 to conduct counterterrorism missions. If the United States wants to also continue some training of the Afghan forces, 5,000 troops are needed, said James G. Stavridis, a retired American admiral and former top commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

More important than troops, potentially, is the willingness of the international community to continue to finance the Afghan government after a peace deal.

“The real key to whether Afghanistan avoids falling into an even longer civil war is the degree to which the United States and NATO are willing to fund and train the Afghan security forces over the long term,” Mr. Stavridis said. “When Vietnam collapsed and the helicopters were lifting off the roof of the U.S. Embassy, it was the result of funding being stopped.”

That situation has played out in Afghanistan, as well. Historians note that the Soviet-installed government in Kabul held on to control after the withdrawal of Moscow’s troops in 1989 — and fell to the Taliban only after Boris N. Yeltsin, the new president of a post-Communist Russia, came to power in 1991 and eliminated the large-scale assistance that had flowed to the Kremlin’s former allies in Kabul.

The American command has pledged for now to keep open seven bases, according to Defense Department officials. Those bases are in Herat Province, Mazar-a-Sharif, Bagram, Jalalabad, Kabul (both the airport and the main American base next to the embassy) and Kandahar Airfield in the south. It is unclear what will happen to some of the outposts primarily used by the C.I.A., such as Camp Chapman in the country’s east.

Mr. Trump toyed with replacing American military trainers, advisers and specialized military strike forces, such as Delta Force or SEAL Team 6, with teams led by the C.I.A. Such a plan could have brought in more C.I.A. paramilitary forces to train and carry out missions with Afghan commandos and more agency officers to work with Afghan militia groups, like the Khost Protection Force.

But the shift to a bigger role by the C.I.A. was viewed skeptically in Washington, and in the agency’s Langley headquarters. More important, the Taliban adamantly opposed the idea, which has now been largely discarded.

With the new Taliban deal in place, the C.I.A. will not increase its presence in the country, although the agency will draw down its personnel more slowly than the military, according to people familiar with the matter.

The agency’s mission will change, and its methods in Afghanistan are likely to as well. The agency has long used the military’s intelligence efforts to bolster its own and employed military bases to operate deep inside the country, closer to the terrorist and Islamic State groups that have been its top priority.

The agency, according to current and former government officials, will now look for new ways to collect its intelligence on terrorist groups.

For the C.I.A., the most critical question is the future of its relations with its network of militia partners, which operate under the loose supervision of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security. The militia groups remain deeply divisive in the country, accused of reckless violence causing civilian casualties and criticized by human rights groups.

The structure of the government that emerges in Afghanistan after talks between the Taliban and the administration of President Ashraf Ghani will determine the future of the relationship between the C.I.A. and its militia partners. The Taliban, as a condition of a peace deal, could seek to dismantle or take over the Afghanistan intelligence agency, and end its work with the C.I.A.

Some current and former officials say that finding a way for the C.I.A. and its militia forces to continue to work with a new Afghan government, one that includes the Taliban, is critical to the long-term survival of such a deal.

The prospect of the United States working with its enemy of nearly two decades may seem impossible, but it has been an offer from the Taliban for nearly a decade, and the American military has already taken tentative steps toward such a wary partnership, said David Kilcullen, a former adviser to the United States government in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last year, the United States conducted airstrikes against the Islamic State in Afghanistan, which had the effect of helping the Taliban forces that were fighting the group, said Mr. Kilcullen, the author of a new book on the future of global conflict called “The Dragons and the Snakes.”

“We are already in a de facto sense fighting alongside the Taliban against the more extreme groups, which are actually more of a threat to them than they are to us,” Mr. Kilcullen said.

How aggressive the Taliban will be in keeping Al Qaeda in check is one of the most critical questions of the deal. Sirajuddin Haqqani, a deputy Taliban leader who employed brutal tactics during the war and was responsible for the deaths of thousands, refrained from addressing Al Qaeda by name in a recent Op-Ed in The New York Times. Instead, he referred to Al Qaeda only as a “disruptive” group. While he said it was not in the interest of any Afghan to allow such groups to “hijack” the country, he also said concerns about the groups were “politically motivated exaggerations by the warmongering players on all sides of the war.”

The willingness of a new government, one that includes the Taliban, to work with America to disrupt terrorist groups and prevent civil war is likely to be critical to the success of the withdrawal accord.

Such a strategy will require a shift in thinking in the White House, Mr. Kilcullen said. Mr. Trump will have to give up on his map enumerating how many militants have been killed, switching to an approach heavier on economic power, using trade pacts and development aid to lure the Taliban to keep to a power-sharing deal.

“President Trump hates foreign assistance, and he likes to pressure the Taliban using bombs,” Mr. Kilcullen said. “But there are a lot of tools that don’t involve killing people that could cement a deal.”

Julian E. Barnes and Eric Schmitt reported from Washington, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Kabul, Afghanistan.

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

How Coronavirus Is Already Being Viewed Through a Partisan Lens

Get an informed guide to the global outbreak with our daily Coronavirus newsletter.

Public health officials say that injecting politics into the growing outbreak could make it harder to fight.

Westlake Legal Group merlin_169601871_9f80273a-34ce-4b35-bdc5-91a4b836becf-articleLarge How Coronavirus Is Already Being Viewed Through a Partisan Lens Trump, Donald J Republican Party Epidemics Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters during a press briefing on the coronavirus in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. last week.Credit…Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

  • March 1, 2020Updated 5:40 p.m. ET

Rob Maness, a Republican commentator, recently wrote a column, outlining his concerns about how the coronavirus outbreak could disrupt supplies of medicine. He was not ready for the backlash—from his fellow conservatives.

“I got accused of being alarmist and trying to hurt the president,” said Mr. Maness, a staunch President Trump supporter, describing the response on social media. “I actually said the government’s doing a pretty good job.”

The coronavirus does not discriminate between political parties. But as Mr. Trump and his allies have defended his actions and accused Democrats and the news media of fanning fears to “bring down the president,” a growing public health crisis has turned into one more arena for bitter political battle, where facts are increasingly filtered through a partisan lens. Democrats accused Mr. Trump of failing to respond adequately to the health threat and then politicizing it instead.

At a rally on Friday in South Carolina, Mr. Trump called Democrats’ concerns about coronavirus “their new hoax,” reprising a term he used to dismiss his impeachment and the special-counsel investigation into Russian election interference. He walked that back somewhat the next day, saying he wasn’t claiming the coronavirus was a hoax. But unlike other political fights, this one is a matter of public health. And some scientists and officials say they are worried that sparring over a growing outbreak, which has now spread to California, Oregon, Washington State and Rhode Island could undermine the public’s trust in government responses or even goad skeptics into dismissing any real threats as Fake News.

“If the public perceives that issues regarding communicable diseases are influenced by political considerations, they will lose confidence in the information,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University. “That will be to the detriment of all of us.”

Already, the partisanship has seeped into how many Americans, in particular Mr. Trump’s supporters, view the crisis.

In interviews across the country, several dismissed Democrats’ concerns about whether the United States was prepared to handle the growing outbreak.

“It’s been a three-year witch hunt, three years they’ve been trying to get this guy out of office,” said Doug Davis, 57, a former concrete form builder in western Pennsylvania who wished that Mr. Trump had shut down the border completely. “You know as well as I do it’s garbage — everything they’ve brought up.”

  • How Is the U.S. Being Affected?

    Updated Feb. 29, 2020

    • At least 65 people in the U.S. have been infected with the virus, with some newer cases not believed to be connected to recent overseas travel or contact with a person known to be infected.
    • An outbreak would test the American education system. Few schools have detailed plans to teach online if schools were closed for long periods.
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that Americans should brace for the likelihood that the virus will spread in the U.S. Some lawmakers questioned whether the nation is prepared.
    • Can a state force a city to house coronavirus patients? A federal judge ruled that Costa Mesa, Calif., does not have to, at least for now.
    • The outbreak has left some Asian-Americans feeling an unsettling level of public scrutiny.
    • An Omaha hospital that drew attention for treating Ebola patients is now playing a key role again.
    • Most experts agree: To protect yourself wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
    • Mask hoarders may increase the risk of an outbreak in the U.S. Health care workers risk infection if they cannot get the protective gear.

Last week a government whistle-blower said federal employees interacted with quarantined Americans without proper medical training or protective gear, then scattered into the general population. Democratic lawmakers said the whistle-blower faced retaliation after these concerns were shared.

Conservative commentators have, as ever, rushed to Mr. Trump’s side, praising the administration’s response and dismissing fears as a media-hyped overreaction. They have labeled Democrats “The Pandemic Party.”

Some public-health experts and elected officials who have handled outbreaks said Mr. Trump’s tirades against Democrats and his boasts that the United States was “way ahead” and “totally prepared” for an unpredictable contagion were undercutting statements from the administration’s own health experts.

Katherine Foss, a media studies professor at Middle Tennessee State University who has written a book on the how the media has covered past American epidemics, said the public needs credible, useful information during a health crisis.

She said Mr. Trump’s attempts to minimize the threat posed by the coronavirus was a dramatic departure from the way most political figures have approached past health emergencies

“We’ve never had a political leader say stuff like this,” she said.

But, she added, “at the same what we can’t do is just have media messages that focus on his words and not address practical things that people can do,” concrete information that she said everyone, Trump supporters and critics alike, are hungry for.

That national outlets may be more alarmist and politicized than local ones is common to nearly every epidemic she has studied. But what sets this one apart from most of those is that it is unfolding on Facebook and Twitter as well.

“The most alarming messages have come from just people speculating on social media and other people taking that as fact,” she said.

Already, a number of Democratic voters said they had little confidence in Mr. Trump’s public statements.

“I don’t think he gives a damn,” said Shelli Hunt, 62, a saleswoman for a cable company in Las Vegas who voted for Bernie Sanders in last month’s Democratic caucuses. “It’s all about the spin. If he spent half of the energy he does running the country that he does into tweeting and blaming people, we’d be in a lot better shape.”

Other experts questioned whether Mr. Trump has the credibility to guide the country through a public-health crisis given his history of making false claims. After Hurricane Maria shattered Puerto Rico in 2017 leaving thousands homeless or without power for months, Mr. Trump hailed himself in 2019 as “the best thing that’s ever happened to Puerto Rico” and disputed the official estimates that about 3,000 people died because of the storm.

As mayor of Dallas in 2014, Mike Rawlings led the city’s response to an Ebloa outbreak when two nurses tested positive for the deadly virus. He said he had tried to maintain public confidence by holding regular briefings and being honest about delivering bad news.

“I hope the governors and the mayors focus on what needs to be done, ,” he said. “We’ve all got to be a team. This is hard work. We don’t have time for politics. People may die.”

Mr. Trump was a harsh critic of President Obama’s response to the Ebola outbreak.

In deeply Republican areas where President Trump still enjoys strong support, health officials said they are trying to focus less on the political storm, and more how they could prepare schools and hospitals for coronavirus as they tried to tamp down fears and dispel falsehoods.

In Mesa County, Colo., public-health teams are running coronavirus scenarios with hospitals while fielding the occasional question about whether it is safe to eat at an Asian restaurant (Yes, of course it is). Alabama health officials, on edge, are sending out information sheets to schools. In Mississippi, state health officials are giving outbreak presentations to county leaders and chambers of commerce.

“Some of the social media stuff certainly has gotten people all wound up and every new sensational story gets people twisted into knots,” said Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the Mississippi state health officer. But, he went on, “we know those things that are likely to be most effective and we just need to make sure people look at those things rationally.”

Darrell Scott, a Cleveland pastor who also serves as co-chair of Black Voices for Trump, has set up stations with hand sanitizer at his church and is encouraging congregants to say hello with a fist bump, not a handshake. He believes Mr. Trump has handled the threat capably.

“What’s sad is that the Democrats are politicizing something that we should all be uniting to fight,” Mr. Scott said. “The Democrats are acting as if the president should have gone on TV and declared a state of emergency,” Mr. Scott added. “If he had, they’d have said he should have been calm.”

But Steve DeKoster, 65, a real-estate agent in Grand Rapids, Mich., who voted for Mr. Trump, saw a more nuanced picture. He agreed that there were people on television who were using the virus to take shots at Mr. Trump, but at the same time, he said “we just don’t know how hard it’s going to hit us.”

Mr. DeKoster’s daughter has tickets to visit Milan, Italy and has been in daily contact with friends there about whether she should make the trip, given the virus outbreak there.

“Like everything, it’s complicated,” he said.

Jack Healy reported from Denver, Campbell Robertson from Pittsburgh and Sabrina Tavernise from Madison, Wisc. Elizabeth Dias contributed reporting from Washington.

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

How Coronavirus Is Already Being Viewed Through a Partisan Lens

Get an informed guide to the global outbreak with our daily Coronavirus newsletter.

Public health officials say that injecting politics into the growing outbreak could make it harder to fight.

Westlake Legal Group merlin_169601871_9f80273a-34ce-4b35-bdc5-91a4b836becf-articleLarge How Coronavirus Is Already Being Viewed Through a Partisan Lens Trump, Donald J Republican Party Epidemics Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters during a press briefing on the coronavirus in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. last week.Credit…Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

  • March 1, 2020Updated 5:40 p.m. ET

Rob Maness, a Republican commentator, recently wrote a column, outlining his concerns about how the coronavirus outbreak could disrupt supplies of medicine. He was not ready for the backlash—from his fellow conservatives.

“I got accused of being alarmist and trying to hurt the president,” said Mr. Maness, a staunch President Trump supporter, describing the response on social media. “I actually said the government’s doing a pretty good job.”

The coronavirus does not discriminate between political parties. But as Mr. Trump and his allies have defended his actions and accused Democrats and the news media of fanning fears to “bring down the president,” a growing public health crisis has turned into one more arena for bitter political battle, where facts are increasingly filtered through a partisan lens. Democrats accused Mr. Trump of failing to respond adequately to the health threat and then politicizing it instead.

At a rally on Friday in South Carolina, Mr. Trump called Democrats’ concerns about coronavirus “their new hoax,” reprising a term he used to dismiss his impeachment and the special-counsel investigation into Russian election interference. He walked that back somewhat the next day, saying he wasn’t claiming the coronavirus was a hoax. But unlike other political fights, this one is a matter of public health. And some scientists and officials say they are worried that sparring over a growing outbreak, which has now spread to California, Oregon, Washington State and Rhode Island could undermine the public’s trust in government responses or even goad skeptics into dismissing any real threats as Fake News.

“If the public perceives that issues regarding communicable diseases are influenced by political considerations, they will lose confidence in the information,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University. “That will be to the detriment of all of us.”

Already, the partisanship has seeped into how many Americans, in particular Mr. Trump’s supporters, view the crisis.

In interviews across the country, several dismissed Democrats’ concerns about whether the United States was prepared to handle the growing outbreak.

“It’s been a three-year witch hunt, three years they’ve been trying to get this guy out of office,” said Doug Davis, 57, a former concrete form builder in western Pennsylvania who wished that Mr. Trump had shut down the border completely. “You know as well as I do it’s garbage — everything they’ve brought up.”

  • How Is the U.S. Being Affected?

    Updated Feb. 29, 2020

    • At least 65 people in the U.S. have been infected with the virus, with some newer cases not believed to be connected to recent overseas travel or contact with a person known to be infected.
    • An outbreak would test the American education system. Few schools have detailed plans to teach online if schools were closed for long periods.
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that Americans should brace for the likelihood that the virus will spread in the U.S. Some lawmakers questioned whether the nation is prepared.
    • Can a state force a city to house coronavirus patients? A federal judge ruled that Costa Mesa, Calif., does not have to, at least for now.
    • The outbreak has left some Asian-Americans feeling an unsettling level of public scrutiny.
    • An Omaha hospital that drew attention for treating Ebola patients is now playing a key role again.
    • Most experts agree: To protect yourself wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
    • Mask hoarders may increase the risk of an outbreak in the U.S. Health care workers risk infection if they cannot get the protective gear.

Last week a government whistle-blower said federal employees interacted with quarantined Americans without proper medical training or protective gear, then scattered into the general population. Democratic lawmakers said the whistle-blower faced retaliation after these concerns were shared.

Conservative commentators have, as ever, rushed to Mr. Trump’s side, praising the administration’s response and dismissing fears as a media-hyped overreaction. They have labeled Democrats “The Pandemic Party.”

Some public-health experts and elected officials who have handled outbreaks said Mr. Trump’s tirades against Democrats and his boasts that the United States was “way ahead” and “totally prepared” for an unpredictable contagion were undercutting statements from the administration’s own health experts.

Katherine Foss, a media studies professor at Middle Tennessee State University who has written a book on the how the media has covered past American epidemics, said the public needs credible, useful information during a health crisis.

She said Mr. Trump’s attempts to minimize the threat posed by the coronavirus was a dramatic departure from the way most political figures have approached past health emergencies

“We’ve never had a political leader say stuff like this,” she said.

But, she added, “at the same what we can’t do is just have media messages that focus on his words and not address practical things that people can do,” concrete information that she said everyone, Trump supporters and critics alike, are hungry for.

That national outlets may be more alarmist and politicized than local ones is common to nearly every epidemic she has studied. But what sets this one apart from most of those is that it is unfolding on Facebook and Twitter as well.

“The most alarming messages have come from just people speculating on social media and other people taking that as fact,” she said.

Already, a number of Democratic voters said they had little confidence in Mr. Trump’s public statements.

“I don’t think he gives a damn,” said Shelli Hunt, 62, a saleswoman for a cable company in Las Vegas who voted for Bernie Sanders in last month’s Democratic caucuses. “It’s all about the spin. If he spent half of the energy he does running the country that he does into tweeting and blaming people, we’d be in a lot better shape.”

Other experts questioned whether Mr. Trump has the credibility to guide the country through a public-health crisis given his history of making false claims. After Hurricane Maria shattered Puerto Rico in 2017 leaving thousands homeless or without power for months, Mr. Trump hailed himself in 2019 as “the best thing that’s ever happened to Puerto Rico” and disputed the official estimates that about 3,000 people died because of the storm.

As mayor of Dallas in 2014, Mike Rawlings led the city’s response to an Ebloa outbreak when two nurses tested positive for the deadly virus. He said he had tried to maintain public confidence by holding regular briefings and being honest about delivering bad news.

“I hope the governors and the mayors focus on what needs to be done, ,” he said. “We’ve all got to be a team. This is hard work. We don’t have time for politics. People may die.”

Mr. Trump was a harsh critic of President Obama’s response to the Ebola outbreak.

In deeply Republican areas where President Trump still enjoys strong support, health officials said they are trying to focus less on the political storm, and more how they could prepare schools and hospitals for coronavirus as they tried to tamp down fears and dispel falsehoods.

In Mesa County, Colo., public-health teams are running coronavirus scenarios with hospitals while fielding the occasional question about whether it is safe to eat at an Asian restaurant (Yes, of course it is). Alabama health officials, on edge, are sending out information sheets to schools. In Mississippi, state health officials are giving outbreak presentations to county leaders and chambers of commerce.

“Some of the social media stuff certainly has gotten people all wound up and every new sensational story gets people twisted into knots,” said Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the Mississippi state health officer. But, he went on, “we know those things that are likely to be most effective and we just need to make sure people look at those things rationally.”

Darrell Scott, a Cleveland pastor who also serves as co-chair of Black Voices for Trump, has set up stations with hand sanitizer at his church and is encouraging congregants to say hello with a fist bump, not a handshake. He believes Mr. Trump has handled the threat capably.

“What’s sad is that the Democrats are politicizing something that we should all be uniting to fight,” Mr. Scott said. “The Democrats are acting as if the president should have gone on TV and declared a state of emergency,” Mr. Scott added. “If he had, they’d have said he should have been calm.”

But Steve DeKoster, 65, a real-estate agent in Grand Rapids, Mich., who voted for Mr. Trump, saw a more nuanced picture. He agreed that there were people on television who were using the virus to take shots at Mr. Trump, but at the same time, he said “we just don’t know how hard it’s going to hit us.”

Mr. DeKoster’s daughter has tickets to visit Milan, Italy and has been in daily contact with friends there about whether she should make the trip, given the virus outbreak there.

“Like everything, it’s complicated,” he said.

Jack Healy reported from Denver, Campbell Robertson from Pittsburgh and Sabrina Tavernise from Madison, Wisc. Elizabeth Dias contributed reporting from Washington.

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A Virus Spreads, Stocks Fall, and Democrats See an Opening to Hit Trump

Westlake Legal Group 01dems-econ1-facebookJumbo A Virus Spreads, Stocks Fall, and Democrats See an Opening to Hit Trump Warren, Elizabeth United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Sanders, Bernard Presidential Election of 2020 Interest Rates Income Inequality Federal Reserve System Epidemics Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Bloomberg, Michael R Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidates have seized on President Trump’s response to the spreading global coronavirus outbreak, and the growing threat it poses to America’s record-long economic expansion, to attack the president on what has been his greatest strength with voters: the economy.

Until last week, the candidates had largely attacked Mr. Trump’s economic management on inequality grounds, at a time when growth has been steady and unemployment has sunk to a half-century low. But they have begun to attack his stewardship more directly after fears over the effects of the virus dealt stock markets their worst week since 2008 and forced Federal Reserve officials to reassure investors that they were considering interest rate cuts to combat a potential growth slowdown.

Two candidates in desperate need of delegates on Super Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, revamped their stump speeches in recent days to aggressively attack Mr. Trump’s handling of the issue and portray themselves as the type of president the United States needs to endure a potential economic and public health crisis.

Mr. Trump has played down the virus, insisting several times last week that it might not spread any further in the United States, and the economic threats from it. And he has lashed out at Democrats, saying they were the ones spooking investors.

“Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” he tweeted on Monday, before four more days of losses. As markets continued to slide, he and members of his administration encouraged Americans to buy stock. “The market will all come back,” Mr. Trump told reporters on Saturday. “The markets are very strong. The consumer is unbelievably strong.”

Mr. Bloomberg told a Democratic Party dinner in Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday night that “the White House is endangering lives and hurting our economy” in its response to the virus. He has reserved three minutes of paid network airtime on Sunday evening to address the nation on the subject.

“We all know the stock market has plunged out of fear,” Mr. Bloomberg said in Charlotte, “but also because investors have no confidence that this president is capable of managing the crisis.”

Ms. Warren, who warned last summer that the economy could be tipped into recession by an outside shock, also called the virus an economic crisis in a speech Saturday night in Houston. She called for targeted stimulus measures, including direct support from Congress to businesses that have seen supply chains disrupted by quarantines and factory shutdowns in Asia, and low-interest loans from the Fed “to companies that agree to support their workers and that need a little help to make it through the next few months.”

“The impact on our families, particularly on babies and elderly people and people with other health challenges, could be severe” from the spread of the virus, she said. “And the impact on our economy could also be brutal, putting jobs risk, threatening savings, undermining economic stability and even potentially destabilizing our giant, globally interconnected banks.”

The front-runners in the race, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who won the South Carolina primary Saturday, have also criticized Mr. Trump’s management of the virus response. They have focused less than Ms. Warren and Mr. Bloomberg on the economic effects and have emphasized public health issues.

Asked on Friday in a CNN interview how bad he thought the economic woes from the virus could get, Mr. Biden replied, “Well, I’m less concerned about the immediate economic impact than I am about whether or not we gain control of this.” He went on to criticize the Trump administration’s response. “The concern is: Do they have any idea what they’re doing?”

None of the candidates have changed their core economic platforms, which to varying degrees all call for trillions of dollars in new taxes on the wealthy to fund programs meant to help the middle class and the poor. And they have often cited threats from the virus as new evidence to support the need for their plans, such as universal health care.

Mr. Sanders said in a tweet last week that the outbreak showed that “it has never been more important to finally guarantee health care as a human right by passing Medicare for All.”

Mr. Trump has called for the Federal Reserve to slash interest rates, though some economists caution that such a move may have a limited effect. And he has hinted at middle-class tax cuts, though tax experts who have spoken with the administration see the effort as more of a campaign centerpiece than an immediate stimulus package.

Democratic strategists say the virus — and its potential economic effects — have given candidates a new opportunity to criticize Mr. Trump’s management abilities.

“Candidates are right to be critical when the president and his economic team are whistling past the graveyard and putting out happy talk about the economy when it’s clear that a significant disruption is happening globally,” said Ben LaBolt, a partner at Bully Pulpit Interactive who was the press secretary for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. “There’s no doubt it could be a defining issue of the campaign.”

Economic forecasters say the spread of the virus in China — and the supply chain disruptions it has already caused — will at least temporarily slow growth around the world, including in the United States, this year.

Some economists expect the U.S. and global economies to rebound in the second half of the year, with minimal lasting damage: Goldman Sachs and Bank of America researchers have marked down their forecasts for U.S. growth this year by 0.1 percent because of virus effects.

Still, Goldman Sachs economists warned in a research note last week that “the risks are clearly skewed to the downside until the outbreak is contained.”

Morgan Stanley researchers said on Friday that in a worst-case scenario, where the virus spreads more widely across countries and sectors of the economy, growth could slow to a near halt in the United States for much of this year, resulting in a 0.5 percent growth rate overall in 2020, which would be the worst since the financial crisis. The unemployment rate would climb back above 5 percent in that projection.

Such a slowdown could hamstring Mr. Trump’s re-election prospects. Voters give him significantly higher marks on economic management than his overall performance as president.

That strength, and a relative lack of interest in economic issues among Democratic voters, has complicated candidates’ efforts to criticize Mr. Trump on his signature issue.

Some pockets of the Democratic electorate, particularly black voters, rate the economy as their top concern, according to a new nationwide poll conducted for The New York Times by the online research firm SurveyMonkey. But Democratic voters overall rate health care and the environment as more important issues. They are about half as likely as independent voters to call the economy a top issue.

Over the course of the campaign, Democratic candidates have generally sought to emphasize that the strong economy was not being felt by ordinary Americans, who they insisted were struggling to make ends meet. Several candidates blame Mr. Trump’s trade war with China for hurting American workers. Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren have called for broad transformations of the economy, with far steeper taxes on wealthy people and corporations. The leading Democratic candidates are all eager to raise taxes on the rich, though they disagree about how far to go with increases.

Mr. Bloomberg and Ms. Warren levied more direct attacks this weekend, while championing their own qualifications to steer the country through economic tumult. Mr. Bloomberg said he had dealt with public health and economic crises as a mayor, as a philanthropist and as the leader of his business, Bloomberg L.P., “so I understand the economic damage that bad policies can cause.”

Ms. Warren said on Saturday night that the crisis demanded a more skilled leader than Mr. Trump or several of her Democratic rivals, taking shots at Mr. Sanders, Mr. Biden and Mr. Bloomberg. The moment required “someone whose core values can be trusted, who has a plan for how to govern and who can actually get it done,” she said.

Mr. Trump, in turn, has blamed his Democratic rivals for unnerving investors. “I think they’re not very happy with the Democrat candidates, when they see them,” he told reporters on Friday. “I think that has an impact.”

Jim Tankersley reported from Washington, and Thomas Kaplan from Charlotte, N.C.

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At CPAC, Trump Takes Aim at Rivals

Westlake Legal Group 29dc-cpac-facebookJumbo At CPAC, Trump Takes Aim at Rivals Trump, Donald J Time magazine Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017) Presidential Election of 2020 Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Conservative Political Action Conference Comey, James B Bloomberg, Michael R Biden, Joseph R Jr Appointments and Executive Changes

WASHINGTON — President Trump crouched underneath his microphone on Saturday, mimicking the height of Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City who is running for president.

Mr. Trump pointed at the ceiling above him, marveling at all of his own success. “Maybe it’s right there, right?” he said. “Thank you. Thank you, God.”

Throughout an animated 90-minute speech in front of conservative activists at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, a confident Mr. Trump attacked his rivals in nasty terms while gloating about and inflating his own achievements.

He even exited the stage by embracing the American flag in both of his arms, mouthing the words “I love you” and planting a kiss on the stars and stripes.

Mr. Trump talked up what he said were his administration’s successes: the appointment of conservative judges, the killing of terrorists, tax cuts and the passage of trade deals. But he appeared most animated when riffing about the Democratic presidential field, on the same day that voters in South Carolina headed to the polls to vote in the first primary where a majority-black electorate is set to weigh in.

Mr. Bloomberg, whose mammoth spending has privately concerned Mr. Trump, “writes checks like a drunken sailor,” the president said, ribbing the former mayor for spending more than half a billion dollars on a presidential bid that Mr. Trump predicted would not make it past Super Tuesday on March 3.

“That was probably the worst debate performance in the history of presidential debates,” he said of Mr. Bloomberg’s debut this month on the debate stage, which was widely viewed as a bubble-bursting showing for a potential dark horse candidate. “It just shows you, you can’t buy an election. You got to bring the goods a little bit, too.”

Handicapping the Democratic primary, Mr. Trump said that he expected to face off against Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, or former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

“Everyone knows he’s not a communist,” he said of Mr. Biden. “With Bernie, there’s a real question about that.” But Mr. Trump said his concern about Mr. Biden was his mental acuity.

“The difference is Joe’s not going to be running the government,” he said. “He’s just going to be sitting in a home some place.”

Mr. Trump, who arrived late at CPAC after holding a last-minute news conference at the White House to announce expanded travel restrictions related to the spread of the coronavirus, mentioned the outbreak only in passing.

Congratulating himself on his administration’s response, Mr. Trump said the decision to impose early travel restrictions “has been now given very good grades, like an A +++.” And he promised a nonpartisan response to the coronavirus, even as he attacked Democrats.

“The extreme fringes called us racists,” he said. “They wanted to let infected people pour into our country.”

On Friday, Mr. Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, addressed the same audience at CPAC, and accused journalists of hyping the coronavirus because “they think this will bring down the president — that’s what this is all about.”

On Saturday afternoon, however, Mr. Trump appeared less interested in discussing the outbreak that has been the first public health crisis of his presidency. Instead, he was eager to bask in the warm reception of the conservative audience, who spent the past four days listening to a procession of speakers road-testing messages for Mr. Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.

He lauded his decision to fire James B. Comey as the F.B.I. director. “That was a great firing,” he said.

He claimed that even Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the lone Republican to vote to impeach Mr. Trump on one article, abuse of power, split the baby. “Even him, I got half a vote,” he said. “He couldn’t do it all. He wanted to get nice free publicity for himself.”

Mr. Trump also falsely characterized the 2017 tax law as the “largest” in history (several others outrank it), and claimed that he had eliminated the estate tax. In reality, the law increased the threshold but it still exists.

Mr. Trump has been a regular speaker at CPAC for years, and has credited the organization for giving him a platform long before he officially declared his run for president. In 2015, however, when he was still a New York businessman, the crowd booed him when he proposed fighting ISIS with troops on the ground in the Middle East.

But for the past four years, he has been the main attraction and headliner of the conference, which has been molded in his image. Last year, Mr. Trump delivered the longest speech of his presidency from the CPAC stage, clocking in at two hours and five minutes. (That year, he opened, rather than closed, with a flag hug.)

In an election year, his address was more in line with the staple speeches he has been giving at campaign rallies, and set no new records for length.

But he appeared particularly awed by his own abilities to keep the spotlight on himself.

“I can get elected twice over the wall, can you believe this,” he told the crowd, while claiming, falsely, that Mexico was paying for the construction of a wall along the southern border.

“Yes they are, they are paying for it,” he said, adding, without explaining himself, “oh, they’re going to die when I put in what I’m going to do.”

Mr. Trump also claimed he was not bothered that Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist that Time named its person of the year, occupied a magazine cover he has long coveted, even though he chose to bring up an issue that was published over two months ago. “The whole world revolves around this person,” he said, referring to himself. “Every story is Trump or Trump-related.”

Linda Qiu contributed reporting from Washington.

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After 18 Years, Is This Afghan Peace, or Just a Way Out?

Westlake Legal Group merlin_165196431_c22ab82e-8518-421b-96d6-27696f484943-facebookJumbo After 18 Years, Is This Afghan Peace, or Just a Way Out? Trump, Donald J Taliban State Department Pompeo, Mike Obama, Barack North Atlantic Treaty Organization National Security Council Ghani, Ashraf Esper, Mark T Doha (Qatar) Defense Department Defense and Military Forces central intelligence agency Bush, George W bin Laden, Osama Afghanistan War (2001- ) Afghanistan

President Trump has left no doubt that his first priority in Afghanistan is a peace treaty that would enable him to claim that he is fulfilling his vow to withdraw American troops.

But a parade of his former national security aides say he is far less interested in an actual Afghan peace.

And that creates an enormous risk for Mr. Trump and for Afghanistan: that, like President Richard M. Nixon’s peace deal with North Vietnam in January 1973, the accord signed Saturday will speed an American exit and do little to stabilize a democratically-elected government. In the case of Vietnam, it took two years for the “decent interval,” in Henry A. Kissinger’s famous phrase, to expire and for the South Vietnamese government to be overrun.

“Trump would not be the first president to exaggerate the meaning of a truce in an election year,” said Joseph Nye, an emeritus professor at Harvard whose newest book, “Do Morals Matter? President and Foreign Policy From F.D.R. to Trump,” examines the Vietnam precedent.

In the heat of the 1972 election, Mr. Nye notes, “Nixon made great claims about an imminent peace in Vietnam,” and it was only after his re-election — and his resignation — that the image of a frantic helicopter evacuation from Saigon came to mark the failure of a long, costly American experiment.

Afghanistan in 2020, of course, is driven by a different dynamic than Vietnam a half-century ago. But there are haunting echoes.

Three successive American presidents have promised victory in Afghanistan, even if they each defined it differently. Each experienced failures of political will, and on the battlefield.

President George W. Bush began the Afghan war to hunt down Osama Bin Laden in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Yet he soon turned his attention to Iraq and, despite denials by the White House at the time, bled resources from the Afghan effort to fuel his next war.

President Barack Obama called Iraq a strategic mistake, but pledged that America would not lose the “good war” in Afghanistan. Yet his brief “surge” failed to strike a decisive blow. Strategy was soon turned over to a small group inside his White House that was aptly nicknamed the “Afghan Good Enough” committee.

Mr. Trump has long lamented the cost of “endless wars,” and by the time he took up direct negotiations with the Taliban, he knew American voters were interested mostly in one thing: ending participation in a war that has now dragged on for more than 18 years, its objectives always shifting.

When historians look back at the moment, they may well conclude that Washington ended up much like other great powers that entered Afghanistan’s rugged mountains and punishing deserts: frustrated, immobilized, no longer willing to bear the huge costs. The British retreated in 1842 after suffering 4,500 killed, amid massacres that preceded the invention of the roadside bomb. They gave up their sovereignty over the country in 1919, in another retreat that heralded the beginning of the unwinding of an empire.

The Soviet Union abandoned its decade-long effort to control the country in 1989, months before the fall of the Berlin Wall marked the collapse of the Communist superpower. That led to the chaos and power vacuums that Bin Laden exploited, and that the United States vowed it would never again allow to fester.

The American-led attack began on Oct. 7, 2001, with the name “Operation Enduring Freedom.” Mr. Bush, in an address to the nation from the Treaty Room of the White House, promised to “win this conflict by the patient accumulation of successes, by meeting a series of challenges with determination and will and purpose.”

After the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, a plane that hit the Pentagon and another that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, the country was behind him. While a few warned of the dangers of entering the “graveyard of empires,” it seemed more a war of retribution and justice seeking than an effort at nation building.

Yet inevitably, mission creep set in.

After Bin Laden was hunted down in Pakistan in May 2011, and with Al Qaeda a much-diminished threat, politicians struggled to explain what American troops were fighting to accomplish. More than 2,400 service members have died in combat since the invasion, according to the website icasualties.org. Neither Mr. Obama nor Mr. Trump could make a plausible case that after nearly two decades the United States had much of a role to play other than prop up a weak democracy.

For a while, at least, that role seems likely to continue.

The accord signed on Saturday — with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo overseeing the moment but not actually signing it himself — will initially bring down American troop levels to about 8,600 from about 12,000 now. That is almost exactly where they were three years ago, at the end of Mr. Obama’s term. That is the minimum number of Special Operations forces, intelligence officers and support and security personnel that the Pentagon and C.I.A. believe are necessary to hold the capital, Kabul, battle militants of the Islamic State and advise an Afghan military that remains, at best, a fractured, inconsistent fighting force after close to two decades of training and billions of dollars in American and NATO investment.

If the Afghan government can reach its own accord with the Taliban — in a so-called intra-Afghan process that is now supposed to begin — the American troop levels may drop further, officials say. But just as the South Vietnamese were not part of the Paris peace talks a half-century ago, the Afghan government, whose survival is at stake, was excluded from the long negotiations with the Taliban.

That explains why President Ashraf Ghani was so suspicious, and often furious, with the negotiating process — and made clear during the Munich Security Conference this year that he had little confidence that the next step in the accord would come to pass.

It was telling that he was not at the signing ceremony in Doha, Qatar; instead, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper was dispatched to Kabul for a separate ceremony with Mr. Ghani and the secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to signal the allied support of the government. The only party missing was the Taliban, whose leaders on Friday refused to meet with an informal Afghan negotiating team.

The purpose of the Kabul ceremony was to reassure Mr. Ghani that the American and NATO troops would not go anywhere until the Afghan government and the Taliban reach their own accord. But the Afghans have reason to fear they will be abandoned.

“One risk here is that the president wakes up one morning and decides that he is just going to pull out the rest of the American troops,” said Douglas E. Lute, a former Army general who served first as Mr. Bush’s coordinator on Afghanistan for the National Security Council and then stayed on for several years in a similar role for Mr. Obama before becoming American ambassador to NATO.

“The odds of this breaking down, or coming to gridlock, are significant,” Mr. Lute said in an interview. “And if the Americans truly left, there’s reason to be concerned” that the Taliban could ultimately take Kabul, just as the North Vietnamese took Saigon.

It is exactly that concern that led more than 20 Republicans and Democrats to send a letter this week to Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Esper warning that “the Taliban is not a de facto counterterrorism partner, and pretending that they are ignores their longtime jihadist mission and actions.” It added, “They have never publicly renounced Al Qaeda or turned over Al Qaeda leaders living in their safe havens,” or “apologized for harboring the terrorists who carried out the September 11 attacks.”

Of course, breaking the link between the Taliban and Al Qaeda was the first objective of the war, before many others were piled on. Those ranged from assuring that Afghan girls could attend school, to building a model democracy for the region, to pledging that the new Afghan government could defend itself. For years, such ambitions were the subjects of regular speeches by American presidents and cabinet members before Congress and at West Point.

Mr. Trump, in contrast, talks about only one objective: getting out. He senses, accurately, that most of the American public is with him. They can no longer explain what the United States is trying to accomplish, or reconcile the fact that the youngest American troops being sent to Afghanistan these days were born after the attack on the United States that precipitated the war.

“Trump is probably more interested in getting a deal that allows him to start drawing down before Election Day than he is in the parameters of this deal,” said Stephen Tankel, who worked on Afghan issues at both the Pentagon and the House of Representatives.

He added: “It’s unclear what the plan is for the 8,600 remaining U.S. troops if the Afghan peace process falters and conditions don’t improve. But this shouldn’t negate the opportunity the deal creates for an Afghan peace process.”

In fact, there has been little public discussion about the exact conditions the deal sets. There are reportedly a series of not-so-secret annexes to the agreement that allow both Special Operations forces and the C.I.A. to retain a presence in the country. But even Congress appears in the dark. The letter from lawmakers noted that Mr. Pompeo “rightfully fought for the disclosure of secret side deals with Iran” when Mr. Obama was president, and insisted that the public deserves to know the details of this accord.

Mr. Trump, however, has made clear he is not particularly interested in those. Afghanistan has gone from being the urgent “good war” that America must win to the longstanding burden that, like the British, the Soviets and a series of others, it now seeks to unload.

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Trump Accuses Media and Democrats of Exaggerating Coronavirus Threat

Westlake Legal Group 28dc-trump1-facebookJumbo Trump Accuses Media and Democrats of Exaggerating Coronavirus Threat United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Travel Warnings Presidential Election of 2020 Pence, Mike Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

WASHINGTON — President Trump and members of his administration mobilized on Friday to confront the threat of the coronavirus — not just the outbreak, but the news media and the Democrats they accused of exaggerating its danger.

While stock markets tumbled, companies searched for new supply chains and health officials scrambled to prevent a spread of the virus, Mr. Trump and his aides, congressional allies and backers in the conservative media sought to blame the messenger and the political opposition in the latest polarizing moment in the nation’s capital.

Mr. Trump said that news outlets like CNN were “doing everything they can to instill fear in people,” while some Democrats were “trying to gain political favor by saying a lot of untruths.” His acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, went even further, telling conservative activists that journalists were hyping the coronavirus because “they think this will bring down the president; that’s what this is all about.”

At a campaign rally on Friday evening in South Carolina, the president denounced Democrats, describing the concerns they have expressed about the virus as “their new hoax” after the Russia investigation and then impeachment. “Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus,” he said. “We did one of the great jobs. You say, ‘How’s President Trump doing?’ They go, ‘Oh, not good, not good.’ They have no clue. They don’t have any clue. They cannot even count the votes in Iowa.”

The accusations came as other elements of the federal government moved to head off a broader wave of infections like those in China. The State Department urged Americans to reconsider traveling to Italy, where the virus has spread, and health officials reported three more cases of unknown origin, in California, Oregon and Washington State, raising fears of local transmission. The World Health Organization reported cases in 56 countries and warned of a “very high” global risk, while stock markets closed their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general said that it would begin a “comprehensive review” of the federal government’s coronavirus response, speeding up a process that had already been underway to monitor how the health agency was organizing its resources for a potential domestic outbreak.

While other presidents in moments like this have sought to transcend politics and assert national leadership, Mr. Trump has framed the issue in partisan terms while playing down the risk to the United States. Privately he has been consumed by concern that his enemies will use the coronavirus and the economic impact it has against him as he seeks re-election.

Democrats said that Mr. Trump was making the crisis all about himself rather than the American public. “For Mick Mulvaney to suggest that Americans turn off their TVs and bury their heads in the sand when they’re worried about a global health pandemic is Orwellian, counterproductive, dangerous and would be repeating China’s mistake,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.

Democrats argued that the virus posed a greater threat to Americans than General Suleimani, and Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island asserted that the Trump administration had not been forthcoming about the real risks each presented.

“Because of the dishonesty from this administration on this and many other issues, Americans have lost trust in their government,” Mr. Cicilline told the secretary. “Now we’re facing a serious global health crisis in the form of the coronavirus and trust is more important than ever.”

Mr. Pompeo bristled at what he considered a political ambush. “We agreed that I’d come today to talk about Iran, and the first question today is not about Iran,” he complained.

Republicans defended Mr. Pompeo by going on offense against the Democrats. “This hearing is a joke,” declared Representative Lee Zeldin of New York.

With Vice President Mike Pence leading the response to the virus, the administration has moved to coordinate its communication with the public. But officials sought on Friday to dispel the impression that they were clamping down on scientific information or limiting the availability of experts whose tone has suggested more alarm than the president’s.

In a briefing with congressional officials on Friday morning, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that he “was not muzzled” by Mr. Pence’s office, but he did say that he had to get permission for roughly a half-dozen television appearances that had already been planned.

Administration officials held a briefing at the White House featuring Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, along with Russell T. Vought, the budget director, and Eric Ueland, the White House legislative director. After each official read off a series of prepared talking points, they took only a handful of questions from journalists.

Of the three officials, Mr. Azar went the furthest in suggesting that the United States might face a difficult next phase of the coronavirus, if it spreads. Mr. Trump has repeatedly told advisers he is concerned that Mr. Azar and others in the administration are presenting an “alarmist” view.

“The administration has ignored or sidelined expert staff at agencies like the C.D.C. and the N.I.H., offered the public inconsistent and confusing information, and failed to provide clear leadership,” said Dr. Kathleen Rest, the executive director of the Union of Concerned Scientists and a health policy expert, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.

Mr. Pence went to Florida on Friday for a previously scheduled fund-raiser for the state’s Republican delegation, although he planned to give a briefing to Gov. Ron DeSantis while there. He also stopped by the radio broadcaster Rush Limbaugh’s studio to insist that the administration was not focused on politics.

“Washington is always going to have a political reflexive response to things,” Mr. Pence said. “But we’re going to tune that out.”

Mr. Limbaugh has been among the conservative commentators who have blamed the news media and political opponents for overemphasizing the coronavirus, which he compared to the common cold. “It looks like the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump,” Mr. Limbaugh, who was recently given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Mr. Trump, said on his show on Monday.

That theme has been amplified by some of the president’s favorite Fox News hosts, like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, in recent days and animated Mr. Mulvaney’s appearance on Friday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Md.

“The reason you’re seeing so much attention to it today is that they think this is going to be the thing that brings down the president,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “That’s what this is all about it.”

Mr. Mulvaney noted that the administration took action weeks ago to prevent a public health emergency by limiting travel from China, where the worst outbreak has centered. “Why didn’t you hear about it?” Mr. Mulvaney asked. “What was still going on four or five weeks ago? Impeachment, that’s all the press wanted to talk about.”

The news media, in fact, has been covering the global spread of coronavirus intensively for months, including the Trump administration’s travel restrictions.

Following the president’s lead, Mr. Mulvaney also minimized concerns over the virus. “The flu kills people,” he said. “This is not Ebola. It’s not SARS, it’s not MERS. It’s not a death sentence; it’s not the same as the Ebola crisis.”

Mr. Trump sounded off to reporters as he left the White House for the rally in South Carolina. “They’re doing everything they can to instill fear in people, and I think it’s ridiculous,” Mr. Trump said of CNN and other news outlets. “And some of the Democrats are doing it the way it should be done, but some of them are trying to gain political favor by saying a lot of untruths.”

That message was quickly picked up and repeated at the conservative conference. “It’s overblown in the media,” said Lee Murphy, a congressional candidate in Delaware and an actor who played a defense secretary once on “House of Cards.” “They want to get at President Trump every chance they can, but this should not be political. I’m tired of it being overblown and being political.”

Jeff Jordan, running for Congress in Virginia, said too much has been made of the coronavirus, which he compared with the common flu. “The media at large is not a fan of the president,” he said. “The media will take any opportunity they can to cause damage.”

On Capitol Hill, the attacks on coverage drew scorn from Democrats. “The problem is the American people need to be able to trust that their government will tell them the truth, no matter what the truth is,” said Representative Andy Levin of Michigan. “And I’m very concerned that the American people cannot trust this government.”

Tony Fratto, who served as a deputy press secretary to President George W. Bush during multiple crises, including the last time the stock markets fell so far so fast, said blaming others in such a situation is counterproductive and urged the White House to keep its attention on the underlying issue.

“Focus only on health and safety, and I know they don’t believe this, but if they keep Americans safe, they will definitely get credit for it,” he said. “Because of the White House’s attacks, if things do go poorly, they’re going to be blamed for taking their eye off the ball even if they’ve done all the right things.”

Reporting was contributed by Maggie Haberman, Lara Jakes, Catie Edmondson and Noah Weiland.

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Trump Accuses Media and Democrats of Exaggerating Coronavirus Threat

Westlake Legal Group 28dc-trump1-facebookJumbo Trump Accuses Media and Democrats of Exaggerating Coronavirus Threat United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Travel Warnings Presidential Election of 2020 Pence, Mike Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

WASHINGTON — President Trump and members of his administration mobilized on Friday to confront the threat of the coronavirus — not just the outbreak, but the news media and the Democrats they accused of exaggerating its danger.

While stock markets tumbled, companies searched for new supply chains and health officials scrambled to prevent a spread of the virus, Mr. Trump and his aides, congressional allies and backers in the conservative media sought to blame the messenger and the political opposition in the latest polarizing moment in the nation’s capital.

Mr. Trump said that news outlets like CNN were “doing everything they can to instill fear in people,” while some Democrats were “trying to gain political favor by saying a lot of untruths.” His acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, went even further, telling conservative activists that journalists were hyping the coronavirus because “they think this will bring down the president; that’s what this is all about.”

At a campaign rally on Friday evening in South Carolina, the president denounced Democrats, describing the concerns they have expressed about the virus as “their new hoax” after the Russia investigation and then impeachment. “Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus,” he said. “We did one of the great jobs. You say, ‘How’s President Trump doing?’ They go, ‘Oh, not good, not good.’ They have no clue. They don’t have any clue. They cannot even count the votes in Iowa.”

The accusations came as other elements of the federal government moved to head off a broader wave of infections like those in China. The State Department urged Americans to reconsider traveling to Italy, where the virus has spread, and health officials reported three more cases of unknown origin, in California, Oregon and Washington State, raising fears of local transmission. The World Health Organization reported cases in 56 countries and warned of a “very high” global risk, while stock markets closed their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general said that it would begin a “comprehensive review” of the federal government’s coronavirus response, speeding up a process that had already been underway to monitor how the health agency was organizing its resources for a potential domestic outbreak.

While other presidents in moments like this have sought to transcend politics and assert national leadership, Mr. Trump has framed the issue in partisan terms while playing down the risk to the United States. Privately he has been consumed by concern that his enemies will use the coronavirus and the economic impact it has against him as he seeks re-election.

Democrats said that Mr. Trump was making the crisis all about himself rather than the American public. “For Mick Mulvaney to suggest that Americans turn off their TVs and bury their heads in the sand when they’re worried about a global health pandemic is Orwellian, counterproductive, dangerous and would be repeating China’s mistake,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.

Democrats argued that the virus posed a greater threat to Americans than General Suleimani, and Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island asserted that the Trump administration had not been forthcoming about the real risks each presented.

“Because of the dishonesty from this administration on this and many other issues, Americans have lost trust in their government,” Mr. Cicilline told the secretary. “Now we’re facing a serious global health crisis in the form of the coronavirus and trust is more important than ever.”

Mr. Pompeo bristled at what he considered a political ambush. “We agreed that I’d come today to talk about Iran, and the first question today is not about Iran,” he complained.

Republicans defended Mr. Pompeo by going on offense against the Democrats. “This hearing is a joke,” declared Representative Lee Zeldin of New York.

With Vice President Mike Pence leading the response to the virus, the administration has moved to coordinate its communication with the public. But officials sought on Friday to dispel the impression that they were clamping down on scientific information or limiting the availability of experts whose tone has suggested more alarm than the president’s.

In a briefing with congressional officials on Friday morning, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that he “was not muzzled” by Mr. Pence’s office, but he did say that he had to get permission for roughly a half-dozen television appearances that had already been planned.

Administration officials held a briefing at the White House featuring Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, along with Russell T. Vought, the budget director, and Eric Ueland, the White House legislative director. After each official read off a series of prepared talking points, they took only a handful of questions from journalists.

Of the three officials, Mr. Azar went the furthest in suggesting that the United States might face a difficult next phase of the coronavirus, if it spreads. Mr. Trump has repeatedly told advisers he is concerned that Mr. Azar and others in the administration are presenting an “alarmist” view.

“The administration has ignored or sidelined expert staff at agencies like the C.D.C. and the N.I.H., offered the public inconsistent and confusing information, and failed to provide clear leadership,” said Dr. Kathleen Rest, the executive director of the Union of Concerned Scientists and a health policy expert, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.

Mr. Pence went to Florida on Friday for a previously scheduled fund-raiser for the state’s Republican delegation, although he planned to give a briefing to Gov. Ron DeSantis while there. He also stopped by the radio broadcaster Rush Limbaugh’s studio to insist that the administration was not focused on politics.

“Washington is always going to have a political reflexive response to things,” Mr. Pence said. “But we’re going to tune that out.”

Mr. Limbaugh has been among the conservative commentators who have blamed the news media and political opponents for overemphasizing the coronavirus, which he compared to the common cold. “It looks like the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump,” Mr. Limbaugh, who was recently given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Mr. Trump, said on his show on Monday.

That theme has been amplified by some of the president’s favorite Fox News hosts, like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, in recent days and animated Mr. Mulvaney’s appearance on Friday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Md.

“The reason you’re seeing so much attention to it today is that they think this is going to be the thing that brings down the president,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “That’s what this is all about it.”

Mr. Mulvaney noted that the administration took action weeks ago to prevent a public health emergency by limiting travel from China, where the worst outbreak has centered. “Why didn’t you hear about it?” Mr. Mulvaney asked. “What was still going on four or five weeks ago? Impeachment, that’s all the press wanted to talk about.”

The news media, in fact, has been covering the global spread of coronavirus intensively for months, including the Trump administration’s travel restrictions.

Following the president’s lead, Mr. Mulvaney also minimized concerns over the virus. “The flu kills people,” he said. “This is not Ebola. It’s not SARS, it’s not MERS. It’s not a death sentence; it’s not the same as the Ebola crisis.”

Mr. Trump sounded off to reporters as he left the White House for the rally in South Carolina. “They’re doing everything they can to instill fear in people, and I think it’s ridiculous,” Mr. Trump said of CNN and other news outlets. “And some of the Democrats are doing it the way it should be done, but some of them are trying to gain political favor by saying a lot of untruths.”

That message was quickly picked up and repeated at the conservative conference. “It’s overblown in the media,” said Lee Murphy, a congressional candidate in Delaware and an actor who played a defense secretary once on “House of Cards.” “They want to get at President Trump every chance they can, but this should not be political. I’m tired of it being overblown and being political.”

Jeff Jordan, running for Congress in Virginia, said too much has been made of the coronavirus, which he compared with the common flu. “The media at large is not a fan of the president,” he said. “The media will take any opportunity they can to cause damage.”

On Capitol Hill, the attacks on coverage drew scorn from Democrats. “The problem is the American people need to be able to trust that their government will tell them the truth, no matter what the truth is,” said Representative Andy Levin of Michigan. “And I’m very concerned that the American people cannot trust this government.”

Tony Fratto, who served as a deputy press secretary to President George W. Bush during multiple crises, including the last time the stock markets fell so far so fast, said blaming others in such a situation is counterproductive and urged the White House to keep its attention on the underlying issue.

“Focus only on health and safety, and I know they don’t believe this, but if they keep Americans safe, they will definitely get credit for it,” he said. “Because of the White House’s attacks, if things do go poorly, they’re going to be blamed for taking their eye off the ball even if they’ve done all the right things.”

Reporting was contributed by Maggie Haberman, Lara Jakes, Catie Edmondson and Noah Weiland.

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

Court Rules Congress Cannot Sue to Force Executive Branch Officials to Testify

Westlake Legal Group 29dc-mcgahn-facebookJumbo Court Rules Congress Cannot Sue to Force Executive Branch Officials to Testify United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Republican Party Justice Department House of Representatives House Committee on the Judiciary

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court ruled on Friday that Congress could not sue to enforce its subpoenas of executive branch officials, handing a major victory to President Trump and dealing a severe blow to the power of Congress to conduct oversight.

In a ruling that could have far-reaching consequences for executive branch secrecy powers long after Mr. Trump leaves office, a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed a lawsuit brought by the House Judiciary Committee against Mr. Trump’s former White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II.

On Mr. Trump’s instructions, Mr. McGahn defied a House subpoena seeking to force him to testify about Mr. Trump’s efforts to obstruct the Russia investigation. The House sued him, seeking a judicial order that he show up to testify, and won in district court in November.

But two of the three appeals court judges ruled on Friday that the Constitution gave the House no standing to file any such lawsuit in what they characterized as a political dispute with the executive branch. If their decision stands, its reasoning would shut the door to judicial recourse whenever a president directs a subordinate not to cooperate with congressional oversight investigations.

“The committee now seeks to invoke this court’s jurisdiction to enforce its subpoena,” wrote Judge Thomas B. Griffith. The Justice Department, “on behalf of McGahn, responds that Article III of the Constitution forbids federal courts from resolving this kind of interbranch information dispute.”

“We agree and dismiss this case,” he wrote.

Judge Griffith said that Congress had political tools to induce presidents to negotiate and compromise in disputes over oversight demands for information about the government — like withholding appropriations or derailing the president’s legislative agenda — and that courts should not be involved.

“The absence of a judicial remedy doesn’t render Congress powerless,” he wrote, adding, “Congress can wield these political weapons without dragging judges into the fray.”

But the dissenting judge, Judith W. Rogers, warned that the ruling would embolden presidents to flout legislative oversight and deprive lawmakers of a powerful tool to obtain information they sought, undermining core prerogatives of Congress enshrined in the Constitution.

“The court removes any incentive for the executive branch to engage in the negotiation process seeking accommodation, all but assures future presidential stonewalling of Congress, and further impairs the House’s ability to perform its constitutional duties,” she wrote.

The ruling deflates a primary argument used by Mr. Trump’s defense team to question the legitimacy of the impeachment process. His lawyers insisted that the House should have pursued all of its legal avenues to secure testimony rather than charging the president with obstruction of Congress. But even as the impeachment trial unfolded, the Justice Department was arguing in the McGahn case that such lawsuits were invalid and, ultimately, the court adopted that reasoning.

If it stands, the ruling could halt a growing trend of Congress resorting to lawsuits to enforce its oversight powers in a polarized era when previous norms of bipartisan cooperation have broken down. It was once vanishingly rare for Congress and the executive branch to square off in court, but it has become increasingly common — especially in the past year, after Mr. Trump vowed to stonewall “all” oversight subpoenas by House Democrats.

Brianna Herlihy, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, which was defending Mr. McGahn in court, said the Trump administration was “extremely pleased” with the ruling, calling it historic.

“Suits like this one are without precedent in our nation’s history and are inconsistent with the Constitution’s design,” she said. “The D.C. Circuit’s cogent opinion affirms this fundamental principle.”

Spokesmen for Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, had no immediate comment. But it seemed likely that the House would appeal to the full appeals court to rehear the case.

Both judges in the majority were appointed by Republican presidents — Judge Griffith was appointed by George W. Bush and Judge Karen L. Henderson, who joined him in the decision, was appointed by George Bush. Judge Rogers was appointed by President Bill Clinton, a Democrat.

The ruling was the latest in a string of developments that have eroded Congress’s power to subpoena information from the executive branch. Originally, Congress was understood to have “inherent contempt” power to arrest recalcitrant witnesses, but that is now seen as unrealistic.

Under administrations of both parties, the Justice Department has refrained from charging executive branch officials with criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena when the president has invoked executive privilege, even when Congress disputes whether the invocation was valid.

Against that backdrop, the prospect of a civil lawsuit asking a judge to order an executive branch official to comply with a subpoena has been the rare remaining tool to incentivize presidents to negotiate with Congress in an information dispute and try to reach an accommodation.

The case against Mr. McGahn was only the first of several brought last year against the executive branch by House Democrats seeking to enforce their subpoenas. Others included efforts to obtain Mr. Trump’s tax returns and internal documents showing why his administration tried to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census.

Mr. Trump had instructed Mr. McGahn not to show up, declaring that his former legal aide was “absolutely immune” from being compelled to testify about his duties, meaning he had no obligation to appear.

In a twist, Judge Henderson wrote in a concurring opinion that she disagreed with that argument. Along with Judge Rogers’s rejection of it, that meant there was a shadow majority against the absolute-immunity theory. But because Judge Henderson joined Judge Griffith in asserting that Congress could not file lawsuits to enforce its subpoenas in the first place, it did not matter.

A Federal District Court judge rejected the absolute immunity theory in a 2008 case involving a congressional investigation into the Bush administration’s firings of United States attorneys, one of the first lawsuits by Congress to enforce a subpoena for executive branch information. The case was resolved, however, without any definitive appeals court ruling.

In 2012, there was another subpoena lawsuit brought by House Republicans related to the botched gun-trafficking case known as Operation Fast and Furious. That case involved documents, not testimony, and it was also resolved without any definitive appeals court ruling on whether the House had a right to bring it in the first place.

Late last year, after House Democrats sued Mr. McGahn, another lower-court judge rejected the claims that the House had no standing to sue and that a former top White House aide is absolutely immune, ordering him to comply with the subpoena.

But in throwing out the case, Judge Griffith worried that the judiciary was getting increasingly dragged into sticky political disputes. He pointed out that if Mr. McGahn did show up but Mr. Trump then invoked executive privilege to block him from answering specific questions, the same matter would end up right back in court.

Judge Rogers, however, noted that at least since the Watergate scandal nearly 50 years ago, the threat of a potential lawsuit has hung over such negotiations. Removing that threat, she argued, would thus disrupt — not reaffirm — the process for resolving information disputes.

“Future presidents may direct wide-scale noncompliance with lawful congressional inquiries, secure in the knowledge that Congress can do little to enforce a subpoena dramatically undermining its ability to fulfill its constitutional obligations now and going forward,” she warned.

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