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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 61)

Trump’s 2020 Re-Election Challenges and Strategy to Win

WASHINGTON — Buoyed by his impeachment acquittal and the muddled Democratic primary race, President Trump and his campaign are turning to address his re-election bid’s greatest weaknesses with an aggressive, well-funded but uncertain effort to win back suburban voters turned off by his policies and behavior.

His campaign is aiming to regain these voters in battleground states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, after losing many of them to Democrats in the 2018 midterms. Advisers hope to expand the electoral map for November by winning moderate-leaning states like Minnesota and New Hampshire. And the White House is gearing up to help with policy issues directed at swing states, such as the new trade deal with Mexico and Canada and paid family leave for federal workers.

Trump campaign officials are also stockpiling cash to help with these efforts, with $200 million in the bank now and fund-raising continuing at a brisk pace. They have put up television ads relatively early in the race, allocating $6 million for the final three months of 2019 to highlight a booming economy and the low unemployment numbers.

Among the goals is trying to appeal to black voters and suburban and upper-income white voters with ads such as a spot focusing on criminal justice reform that first aired during the Super Bowl and is continuing on cable channels with large female audiences, like Bravo and Lifetime.

Yet Mr. Trump’s messaging, like so much else about his approach to politics, is contradictory. For all the focus on appealing to moderates, the campaign is also engaging the president’s hard-core supporters with Facebook ads warning of the danger of undocumented “aliens” and their “invasion” of the U.S., and decrying “the impeachment hoax,” while also promoting polarizing policies like curtailing immigration.

Those inflammatory, targeted ads are ones that suburban voters may never see, a reflection of the campaign’s broad strategy: Keep his conservative base energized and chip away at his problems in the suburbs and communities of color.

The challenge facing Mr. Trump’s advisers remains the same as it has been since 2017: The president is among the most deeply divisive leaders in the nation’s history, whose conduct has helped accelerate a realignment of moderate suburban voters toward Democrats. These voters have been the cornerstone of Democrats’ electoral revival since 2016, helping them flip governorships and propelling their capture of the House.

Mr. Trump cannot win a second term without attracting more suburban voters and independents in a handful of states he carried in 2016, but he is highly averse to staying on script and delivering a consistent message aimed at moderate voters rather than his hard-core admirers, or his own need to get things off his chest. Mr. Trump’s advisers argue that the suburban voters who eschewed Republicans in the 2018 midterms will vote differently when the president’s name is on the ballot.

“Suburban women is where he has a challenge,” said Senator Kevin Cramer, Republican from North Dakota.

“I think the biggest problem that he has with suburban women is the part that so many in his base like about him,” Mr. Cramer said. “His rhetoric, his punching down at his opponents. It’s so different than anything they’ve seen.”

Scott Reed, the top political adviser to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, nodded to the fleeting nature of Trump-era politics as he assessed the electoral landscape for the president.

“Politics in Trumpville are great right now, but these days, a week feels like three months and we have a long way to go,” Mr. Reed said.

Republican National Committee officials are tracking the suburban problem. In 2016, about 100,000 Michigan residents who voted in state legislative races left the box for president empty. Many of those voters were men in the suburbs, R.N.C. officials said, and were people who didn’t believe Mr. Trump was truly a conservative, but who have come back after seeing him deliver on conservative judicial appointments and a tax-cut bill.

But suburban women remain difficult to sway, Trump advisers acknowledge. Some messages have moved the dial, if only temporarily: When Mr. Trump talks about Democrats wanting to provide government health care benefits to undocumented immigrants, for instance, Republican officials have seen an uptick of support in their own surveys of the suburbs of Pennsylvania. When Mr. Trump paints the entire Democratic field, falsely, as supporting ending private health insurance, his advisers see room for him to grow. But they admit that it’s a difficult line to walk.

The G.O.P. strategy ultimately depends on who his Democratic opponent turns out to be. And Mr. Trump faces an unknown in Michael R. Bloomberg, a billionaire former New York City mayor running a general election strategy, who is spending so much money that Mr. Trump’s advisers acknowledged that he cannot be ignored even if Mr. Bloomberg loses the Democratic nomination.

Westlake Legal Group 2020-presidential-candidates-promo-1548014688187-articleLarge-v56 Trump's 2020 Re-Election Challenges and Strategy to Win Trump, Donald J Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 elections

Who’s Running for President in 2020?

The field of Democratic presidential candidates has been historically large. Here’s who’s in and who’s out.

With the Democrats enmeshed in the start of their primary season, Mr. Trump is beginning his own new phase: He has reasons to feel reassured about his prospects as he turns more fully to his re-election effort, and the apparatus of the White House and the Republican Party are more able to focus on winning him a second term.

Mr. Trump’s approval ratings have inched up and he’s now around where the last three incumbent presidents were at the start of their own, successful, re-elections. And the economy shows no signs of slowing.

“The White House and the campaign should focus 100 percent on the economic growth and opportunity society Trump is creating for America,” Mr. Reed said, somewhat hopefully.

But greater confidence and a freer hand can lead Mr. Trump to take risks: His phone call with the Ukrainian president on July 25, 2019, which ultimately helped lead to his impeachment in the House, came after he had seen the end of the two-year investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Just this past week, Mr. Trump fired from the White House two witnesses and an ambassador who testified in the House impeachment inquiry, including Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a decorated war veteran, prompting outrage from Democrats and private concern among some Republican lawmakers. On Saturday, he tweeted that Colonel Vindman had earned his dismissal.

As Mr. Trump has repeatedly shown, he can show a measure of discipline in one moment — like his teleprompter-ready speech at the State of the Union that was sprinkled with appeals to different demographic groups — and then do or say something that alienates swing voters.

His 62-minute stemwinder of retribution in the East Room of the White House the day after the acquittal was the type of ventilating performance Mr. Trump had been craving, but which some advisers acknowledge undermines the carefully-crafted efforts at broadening his appeal.

“Many people are evaluating the president based on his conduct and behavior in office rather than the state of the economy,” said Whit Ayres, a longtime Republican pollster. “It’s his conduct and behavior in office that have kept a foot on his job approval rating. Any other president would be in the upper 50s or even low 60s with this economy.”

Most of the president’s aides concede that his base of supporters is not enough to re-elect him, and that he must attract the voters who were repelled by his behavior and voted against Republicans in the 2018 midterms — particularly upscale whites, suburban women and self-described independent voters who polls repeatedly show think the president is racist, or has a troubling temperament, or both.

To that end, the president’s campaign aired a Super Bowl ad featuring Alice Johnson, a black woman convicted on charges related to drug trafficking whose sentence the president commuted. The president also awarded an “Opportunity Zone” scholarship to a young African-American girl during his State of the Union address, and tailored other moments during the speech to appeal to members of the military.

Trump advisers are focused not just on the three states that elected Mr. Trump in 2016 — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — but also the forever battleground of Florida, and battleground states with competitive Senate races that could help the Democratic nominee in Georgia, Arizona and North Carolina.

The campaign also sees opportunities for pickups in New Hampshire and especially in Minnesota, states that have voted for Democrats in recent presidential races but where the margins were close in 2016. But while the campaign manager Brad Parscale has insisted New Mexico is within reach, other Trump advisers say there’s been little movement, in part because of the president’s disinterest in taking the day trips he favors to the western part of the country.

In an interview, Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the R.N.C., said they have the resources to appeal to multiple groups of voters. “That gives us an advantage to focus on the rural vote that we need to turn out, but then also go after places where we’ve lost voters to bring them back in,” she said. And Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman, said they had always planned to woo various demographics, “regardless of what Democrats in Congress were trying to do to him.”

The administration is pulling out the policy stops. Vice President Mike Pence has recently made stops and bus tours in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, highlighting Trump administration efforts like the “school choice” initiative to help low-income students enter private schools.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump tweeted that he was looking to move away from a proposal pushed by his former energy secretary, Rick Perry: storing nuclear waste in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, an effort his two top political advisers, Bill Stepien and Justin Clark, opposed for years. And officials are expected to hold events in the Midwest highlighting provisions aimed at helping domestic automakers that were included in the U.S.M.C.A. trade deal.

“We’ve been chopping wood for a while, and it feels like everyone else is seeing what we’ve been seeing for a long time,” said Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law who is overseeing his campaign. “Everyone else has been distracted, but it’s not like we invented these policies for the State of the Union.”

What’s unclear, and what could prove decisive, is whether the country is exhausted by Mr. Trump and is ready for a so-called return to normalcy, or if voters have grown inured to his eruptions and have effectively priced in his behavior.

A key factor will be the candidate the Democrats eventually nominate. Interviews with more than a dozen Republican strategists, lawmakers and state chairs reveal a consensus that Senator Bernie Sanders would be the easiest Democrat for them to beat because they believe his avowed socialism would help them reclaim suburbanites and better frame the election as a choice.

“It’s easy to call him a socialist because he admits it,” said Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor. “At least Warren tries to deny it.”

Mr. Sanders’s aides, of course, see it very differently and believe that they would tear up Mr. Trump’s 2016 electoral map by reclaiming working-class white voters in states like Michigan and Wisconsin, something some Trump advisers agree with. And Trump advisers have been caught by surprise by the success of Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind.

“We don’t have a Democratic opponent yet,” said Mr. Cramer. “It’s always harder to run against the unnamed opponent. Once you have the opponent, you get to draw the distinctions.”

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Jeff Sessions Was ‘Trump Before Trump.’ Will Alabama Voters Remember?

Westlake Legal Group merlin_167654064_45fe2826-8e60-4bcd-864e-5f274ececbb0-facebookJumbo Jeff Sessions Was ‘Trump Before Trump.’ Will Alabama Voters Remember? Voting and Voters United States Politics and Government Tuberville, Tommy Trump, Donald J Sessions, Jefferson B III Senate Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Republican Party Moore, Roy S Elections, Senate Conservatism (US Politics) Byrne, Bradley Alabama

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — It was another era, in another Republican Party. Jeff Sessions was a backbench senator from Alabama who defied the Republican president and doomed a bipartisan immigration bill with claims it would let terrorists and child molesters pour across the border.

Donald J. Trump was working on the seventh season of his reality TV show “The Apprentice” and was still registered in New York State as a Democrat.

Thirteen years later, after serving a brief and tormented tenure as President Trump’s attorney general, Mr. Sessions wants his old job in the Senate back.

But he is vexed by a bitter irony as he competes against several other Republicans in a March 3 primary. The Jeff Sessions of the past, who became a beloved figure on the right and helped fuel a populist brush fire that challenged Republicans over the very issues that are now at the heart of Mr. Trump’s nationalist agenda, is a distant memory for many Alabama voters.

Ask Republicans today what they think of Mr. Sessions, who represented Alabama in the Senate for 20 years, and many of the same belittling adjectives that Mr. Trump has hurled at his former attorney general come spilling out.

“He was weak,” said Stasia Madej, the owner of a women’s clothing boutique in Huntsville. She was in between bites of her barbecue dinner on a recent weeknight at a Republican candidates’ forum where four of Mr. Sessions’s opponents were speaking.

“I was hoping he’d be here tonight so we could hear answers to all of the questions we want to ask. I have doubts since he recused himself,” added Ms. Madej, who declared, “I love Trump,” as she started in on Mr. Sessions.

The episode to which Ms. Madej was referring may be the one act in Mr. Sessions’s long career that tips his Senate run in Alabama: his recusal from the Justice Department’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia in 2016. That prompted the appointment of Robert S. Mueller as special counsel and enraged Mr. Trump, who continued his public taunts and insults of the former attorney general — “VERY weak” and his “biggest mistake” as president — long after he forced him out in November 2018.

Mr. Sessions’s predicament says a lot about a Republican Party that Mr. Trump has turned into a vessel for his own political security, held together not by shared beliefs but instead by fealty to him. No one was more of an evangelist for the ideas Mr. Trump ran on than Mr. Sessions. Yet his political fate is now threatened because the president has declared him disloyal.

“We live in a time now when if you don’t fall on your sword for the president, you’re done,” said John Castorani, a candidate for Congress from the Mobile area and a self-described moderate Republican, who said Mr. Sessions did the right thing by recusing himself. “I was proud to be from Alabama — for a moment,” added Mr. Castorani, a 27-year-old veteran and former intelligence officer.

“When we criticize Trump, we are no longer patriots, we are country-hating liberal hacks,” he said. “I’m not going to fall on my sword for him. And if that keeps me from getting elected, I’m O.K.,” he said.

The negative effect of Mr. Trump’s barrage against Mr. Sessions became clear in interviews with 20 Alabama voters. Most brought up the recusal with no prompting. Many said they held it against their former senator, though some admired him for sticking to his principles. And even those who couldn’t recall what exactly Mr. Sessions did had heard enough to understand that whatever happened was bad for the president.

“I know he did something that made the president mad,” said Susan Woodman, a retired speech therapist who came away from the Huntsville event undecided but impressed with one of Mr. Sessions’s rivals, Tommy Tuberville, a former Auburn University football coach.

Mr. Tuberville introduced himself to the audience by saying his biggest reason for wanting to serve in Washington was “to help Donald Trump” — be it on trade or foreign policy or fighting political correctness in schools that he complained teach “climate change, diversity and all that crap.”

All of the candidates have pledged in no uncertain terms to help Mr. Trump and his agenda if elected. Mr. Sessions’s bet is that he can claim something more convincing: He was on board with that agenda first.

“I have a certain authenticity on this that I will acknowledge I don’t think others have,” Mr. Sessions said in an interview at a “Pork & Politics” mixer in Mobile recently. Referring to his opponents, he said there was a difference “between demagoguery and honest advocacy for the American people’s interests.”

“They’re good people,” he added of his rivals. “I just don’t think any of those candidates understand the significance historically of the issues that we are talking about.”

The last time Mr. Sessions ran for Senate, in 2014, he was considered so unbeatable that no one ran against him on either ticket, Republican or Democratic. He was famous for railing against Wall Street bankers and Silicon Valley executives as villains from a Tom Wolfe novel, calling them “masters of the universe” who were putting “the parochial demands of a few powerful C.E.O.s ahead of an entire nation’s hopes.”

During the Obama administration he opposed fellow Republicans who wanted to negotiate new agreements to lower barriers to trade, saying in 2015, “I think we are at a point in history where we cannot afford to lose a single job in this country to unfair trading practices.”

He also broke with his party on Social Security and Medicare spending, favoring an approach that would avoid the steep cuts that party leaders like Paul D. Ryan had supported as a matter of fiscal responsibility.

Working in Mr. Sessions’s office at the time as his communications director was Stephen Miller, now the White House adviser most associated with Mr. Trump’s hard-line approach to immigration.

In February 2016, when most of Mr. Sessions’s colleagues still considered Mr. Trump a joke, he became the first senator to endorse him for president.

There is a depth to Mr. Sessions’s early bond with Mr. Trump that none of his rivals can challenge. Mr. Tuberville has never held political office. Representative Bradley Byrne, who represents a district in southern Alabama, won his seat in 2013 after beating a Tea Party insurgent, thanks in large part to a flood of money from major corporations like Pfizer, Caterpillar and AT&T. After the “Access Hollywood” tape came out a month before the 2016 election, Mr. Byrne called on Mr. Trump to step aside for Mike Pence.

Lately, Mr. Byrne has wrapped himself in the president’s agenda. At the Huntsville forum, his campaign literature fanned out on the tables declared, “We can trust Bradley to stand with President Trump.” He managed to insert Mr. Trump’s name into almost every answer he gave that night, starting with his introduction to the crowd: “I’m a Christian. I’m a conservative,” he said. “And I vote with President Trump 97 percent of the time.”

So far, polls show Mr. Sessions leading Mr. Byrne, Mr. Tuberville and a third opponent, Roy S. Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court whose campaign for Senate in 2017 unraveled amid accusations that he had forced himself on teenage girls, costing Republicans the seat.

Mr. Trump has been uncharacteristically quiet about this year’s race. Should Mr. Sessions prevail in the primary next month but not win an outright majority, a runoff election would not happen for several weeks. And that prospect makes Mr. Sessions’s allies nervous because of the ample time it would allow the president to call off his cease-fire.

Though Mr. Trump is famous for disregarding advice, he has heeded warnings so far from numerous advisers about attacking the former attorney general. According to several people familiar with the conversations, his aides have pointed out that any attempt to interfere could backfire, as it did in 2017 when Mr. Trump backed two candidates in Alabama who lost: Luther Strange, who lost in the primary to Mr. Moore, and then Mr. Moore.

With the exception of a few influential conservatives — including Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, who in an interview last year with the Huntsville radio host Jeff Poor said that “Sessions was Trump long before Trump,” and Laura Ingraham, who in 2014 said Mr. Sessions should be president — most Republicans seem to have conveniently forgotten Mr. Sessions’s contributions to Trumpism. Mr. Carlson and Ms. Ingraham remain fans. And since Mr. Sessions announced his campaign in November on Mr. Carlson’s show, he has been on their prime-time Fox programs a total of nine times.

When the Sessions campaign released a list of 11 former Senate colleagues who were endorsing him, they were all people who were safe from the reprisals and attacks from the president that most Republicans fear. None are running for re-election this year; two are retiring; two others are in their mid-80s; and one, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, already left the Senate at the end of last year because of health issues.

Though Mr. Sessions said he had not spoken to the president since he left the Justice Department over a year ago, preserving the themes of the 2016 Trump campaign inside a party that was often hostile to them is a major reason he wants to be in the Senate.

Asked whether he believed there were a lot of Republicans who would revert to the party orthodoxy on trade and immigration once Mr. Trump is out of office, he said: “That’s my concern. I think there are a number of them that are kind of looking for that wave to go away. And they’ll go back to business as usual.”

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Trump Fires Impeachment Witnesses Gordon Sondland and Alexander Vindman in Post-Acquittal Purge

Westlake Legal Group 07dc-revenge2-facebookJumbo-v2 Trump Fires Impeachment Witnesses Gordon Sondland and Alexander Vindman in Post-Acquittal Purge Vindman, Alexander S United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry National Security Council Defense Department

WASHINGTON — President Trump wasted little time on Friday opening a campaign of retribution against those he blames for his impeachment, firing two of the most prominent witnesses in the House inquiry against him barely 48 hours after being acquitted by the Senate.

Emboldened by his victory and determined to strike back, Mr. Trump ordered Gordon D. Sondland, the founder of a hotel chain who donated $1 million to the president’s inaugural committee, recalled from his post as the ambassador to the European Union on the same day that Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a decorated Iraq war veteran on the National Security Council staff, was marched out of the White House by security guards.

The ousters of Mr. Sondland and Colonel Vindman — along with Mr. Vindman’s brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, an Army officer who also worked on the National Security Council staff — may only presage a broader effort to even accounts with the president’s perceived enemies. In the two days since his acquittal in the Senate, Mr. Trump has railed about those who stood against him, calling them “evil,” “corrupt” and “crooked,” while his press secretary declared that those who hurt the president “should pay for” it.

Even as he began purging administration officials who testified in the House impeachment inquiry, Mr. Trump assailed a Democratic senator who he had hoped would side with him during the trial but did not and called on the House to “expunge” his impeachment because he deems it illegitimate.

The flurry of actions and outbursts drew quick condemnation from Democrats, who said the president was demonstrating that he feels unleashed, and complicated the politics of impeachment for moderate Republicans who stood by him while arguing that he had learned his lessons and would be more restrained in the future.

“There is no question in the mind of any American why this man’s job is over, why this country now has one less soldier serving it at the White House,” David Pressman, Colonel Vindman’s lawyer, said in a statement. “Lt. Col. Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful.”

Colonel Vindman spoke publicly only once, after being ordered to under subpoena, Mr. Pressman added. “And for that, the most powerful man in the world — buoyed by the silent, the pliable and the complicit — has decided to exact revenge.”

Mr. Sondland took a more measured approach, confirming that he had been dismissed without offering any protest.

“I was advised today that the president intends to recall me effective immediately as United States ambassador to the European Union,” he said in a statement hours after Colonel Vindman’s dismissal. “I am grateful to President Trump for having given me the opportunity to serve, to Secretary Pompeo for his consistent support and to the exceptional and dedicated professionals at the U.S. Mission to the European Union.”

Mr. Sondland and Colonel Vindman were two of the most crucial witnesses in the House impeachment hearings. Mr. Sondland, who was deeply involved in the effort to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into Mr. Trump’s Democratic rivals, testified that “we followed the president’s orders” and that “everyone was in the loop.” Colonel Vindman testified that he brought concerns about Mr. Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president to National Security Council officials.

The White House made no effort to portray the ousters as anything other than a response to the impeachment battle now that it has ended. Mr. Trump foreshadowed Colonel Vindman’s fate hours ahead of time. “Well, I’m not happy with him,” the president said. “You think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I’m not.”

The president continued to assail lawmakers who voted for conviction, targeting Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who bitterly disappointed Mr. Trump by sticking with his party. “I was told by many that Manchin was just a puppet for Schumer & Pelosi,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “That’s all he is!”

Even as Mr. Trump flew to North Carolina to highlight his economic record, he called on the House to “expunge” his impeachment, an idea with no precedent or basis in the Constitution. “They should because it was a hoax,” he told reporters. “It was a total political hoax.” And he accused Ms. Pelosi of committing a crime by ripping up a copy of his State of the Union address. “She broke the law,” he asserted.

The president’s critics had warned that he would feel unbound if acquitted, and some said that the dismissal of Mr. Sondland and the Vindman brothers proved their point, quickly calling it “the Friday night massacre,” as Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, put it.

“These are the actions of a man who believes he is above the law,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the lead House impeachment manager. Mr. Schumer said the White House was running from the truth. “This action is not a sign of strength,” he said. “It only shows President Trump’s weakness.” Ms. Pelosi said, “This goes too far.” At the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. asked the audience to stand in support of Colonel Vindman.

The White House would not discuss the Vindman decision. “We do not comment on personnel matters,” said John Ullyot, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, celebrated the dismissals, offering mock thanks to Mr. Schiff for investigating his father. “Were it not for his crack investigation skills, @realDonaldTrump might have had a tougher time unearthing who all needed to be fired,” he tweeted.

“The president had every right to make the moves that he did today,” Representative Lee Zeldin, Republican of New York, said in an interview. “Moving Lt. Col. Vindman, for example, is a good move based on the fact that there is a lack of trust. He disagrees with the president’s policies.” As for Mr. Sondland, “the president can recall an ambassador at any time with or without cause, and in the case of Gordon Sondland, the guy was a hot mess, anyway.”

Other impeachment witnesses have left with less drama in recent weeks. Marie L. Yovanovitch, the ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled from her post last spring because she was seen as an obstacle to the president’s plans, retired last month from the Foreign Service. William B. Taylor Jr., who replaced her in an acting capacity, was essentially brought back early, as well. And Jennifer Williams, a career official detailed to Vice President Mike Pence’s office, quietly left recently to return to the Defense Department.

Several had already left the government, like Fiona Hill, the Europe policy chief at the National Security Council, and Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy for Ukraine, who resigned days before testifying. But others, so far, remain at their posts, including George P. Kent at the State Department, Laura Cooper at the Defense Department and David Holmes at the embassy in Ukraine.

Mr. Sondland began discussions with senior officials about leaving his post shortly after he testified in November, according to two people briefed on the matter. He believed that remaining as ambassador would be untenable given his role in impeachment and hoped to exit gracefully, they said.

A decision on when to step down was put off until after impeachment, but on Friday, State Department officials told Mr. Sondland that they wanted him to resign, the people said. Mr. Sondland relayed to them that he would not step down amid what was clearly a purge of impeachment witnesses and that he would have to be fired, the people said. In response, State Department officials recalled him.

Colonel Vindman’s brother seemed to be collateral damage. Yevgeny Vindman, who goes by Eugene, worked as a lawyer for the National Security Council and had no role in the impeachment hearings other than showing up to sit behind his brother when he appeared in November. He was given no explanation for his dismissal “despite over two decades of loyal service to this country,” said Mr. Pressman, the lawyer. “He deeply regrets that he will not be able to continue his service at the White House.”

Both Vindmans, whose tours at the White House were scheduled to last until July, will retain their Army ranks and return to military service. Alexander Vindman, who had been expecting the move and had begun removing personal items, was told he would go to the Pentagon before moving to the National War College in July as originally planned. Yevgeny Vindman was more surprised and was told he would report to the office of the Army general counsel.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said service members who return to the military would be welcomed back. “We protect all of our persons, service members, from retribution or anything like that,” he told reporters.

Mr. Trump, on the other hand, has made clear his personal antipathy for both Vindmans. “Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and his twin brother, right?” the president said on Thursday during a rambling hourlong venting session at the White House, his voice dripping with disdain. “We had some people that — really amazing.”

On Friday morning, Mr. Trump retweeted a message from a supporter advocating Alexander Vindman’s dismissal: “Vindman’s behavior is a scandal. He should be removed from the @RealDonaldTrump White House ASAP to protect our foreign policy from his machinations.”

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican who voted to acquit the president but expressed hope that he would learn a lesson from the impeachment, said that witnesses should not be punished. “I obviously am not in favor of any kind of retribution against anyone who came forward with evidence,” she said in Maine, according to The Portland Press Herald.

Colonel Vindman has been subjected to virulent attacks on his patriotism on Fox News and social media. The president called him a “Never Trumper,” a term the colonel rejected. Fox aired a segment suggesting his service in the White House might amount to “espionage.” And Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, attacked him on Twitter: “How patriotic is it to badmouth and ridicule our great nation in front of Russia, America’s greatest enemy?”

With impeachment over, Mr. Trump is debating additional personnel changes. Some advisers are encouraging him to part ways with his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who was involved in freezing security aid to Ukraine, which paved the way for impeachment.

Other advisers are telling Mr. Trump that he should wait to make major changes until after the election in November. Some advisers hope that Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina, will join the White House as a senior adviser. Mr. Meadows traveled with the president on Friday to North Carolina.

Mr. Trump denied that Mr. Mulvaney would be pushed out in favor of Mr. Meadows. “I have a great relationship with Mick,” the president told reporters on Friday. “I have a great relationship with Mark. And it’s false.”

Peter Baker and Michael S. Schmidt reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman and Danny Hakim from New York. Lola Fadulu contributed reporting from Charlotte, N.C.

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Trump Fires Impeachment Witnesses Gordon Sondland and Alexander Vindman in Post-Acquittal Purge

Westlake Legal Group 07dc-revenge2-facebookJumbo-v2 Trump Fires Impeachment Witnesses Gordon Sondland and Alexander Vindman in Post-Acquittal Purge Vindman, Alexander S United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry National Security Council Defense Department

WASHINGTON — President Trump wasted little time on Friday opening a campaign of retribution against those he blames for his impeachment, firing two of the most prominent witnesses in the House inquiry against him barely 48 hours after being acquitted by the Senate.

Emboldened by his victory and determined to strike back, Mr. Trump ordered Gordon D. Sondland, the founder of a hotel chain who donated $1 million to the president’s inaugural committee, recalled from his post as the ambassador to the European Union on the same day that Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a decorated Iraq war veteran on the National Security Council staff, was marched out of the White House by security guards.

The ousters of Mr. Sondland and Colonel Vindman — along with Mr. Vindman’s brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, an Army officer who also worked on the National Security Council staff — may only presage a broader effort to even accounts with the president’s perceived enemies. In the two days since his acquittal in the Senate, Mr. Trump has railed about those who stood against him, calling them “evil,” “corrupt” and “crooked,” while his press secretary declared that those who hurt the president “should pay for” it.

Even as he began purging administration officials who testified in the House impeachment inquiry, Mr. Trump assailed a Democratic senator who he had hoped would side with him during the trial but did not and called on the House to “expunge” his impeachment because he deems it illegitimate.

The flurry of actions and outbursts drew quick condemnation from Democrats, who said the president was demonstrating that he feels unleashed, and complicated the politics of impeachment for moderate Republicans who stood by him while arguing that he had learned his lessons and would be more restrained in the future.

“There is no question in the mind of any American why this man’s job is over, why this country now has one less soldier serving it at the White House,” David Pressman, Colonel Vindman’s lawyer, said in a statement. “Lt. Col. Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful.”

Colonel Vindman spoke publicly only once, after being ordered to under subpoena, Mr. Pressman added. “And for that, the most powerful man in the world — buoyed by the silent, the pliable and the complicit — has decided to exact revenge.”

Mr. Sondland took a more measured approach, confirming that he had been dismissed without offering any protest.

“I was advised today that the president intends to recall me effective immediately as United States ambassador to the European Union,” he said in a statement hours after Colonel Vindman’s dismissal. “I am grateful to President Trump for having given me the opportunity to serve, to Secretary Pompeo for his consistent support and to the exceptional and dedicated professionals at the U.S. Mission to the European Union.”

Mr. Sondland and Colonel Vindman were two of the most crucial witnesses in the House impeachment hearings. Mr. Sondland, who was deeply involved in the effort to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into Mr. Trump’s Democratic rivals, testified that “we followed the president’s orders” and that “everyone was in the loop.” Colonel Vindman testified that he brought concerns about Mr. Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president to National Security Council officials.

The White House made no effort to portray the ousters as anything other than a response to the impeachment battle now that it has ended. Mr. Trump foreshadowed Colonel Vindman’s fate hours ahead of time. “Well, I’m not happy with him,” the president said. “You think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I’m not.”

The president continued to assail lawmakers who voted for conviction, targeting Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who bitterly disappointed Mr. Trump by sticking with his party. “I was told by many that Manchin was just a puppet for Schumer & Pelosi,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “That’s all he is!”

Even as Mr. Trump flew to North Carolina to highlight his economic record, he called on the House to “expunge” his impeachment, an idea with no precedent or basis in the Constitution. “They should because it was a hoax,” he told reporters. “It was a total political hoax.” And he accused Ms. Pelosi of committing a crime by ripping up a copy of his State of the Union address. “She broke the law,” he asserted.

The president’s critics had warned that he would feel unbound if acquitted, and some said that the dismissal of Mr. Sondland and the Vindman brothers proved their point, quickly calling it “the Friday night massacre,” as Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, put it.

“These are the actions of a man who believes he is above the law,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the lead House impeachment manager. Mr. Schumer said the White House was running from the truth. “This action is not a sign of strength,” he said. “It only shows President Trump’s weakness.” Ms. Pelosi said, “This goes too far.” At the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. asked the audience to stand in support of Colonel Vindman.

The White House would not discuss the Vindman decision. “We do not comment on personnel matters,” said John Ullyot, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, celebrated the dismissals, offering mock thanks to Mr. Schiff for investigating his father. “Were it not for his crack investigation skills, @realDonaldTrump might have had a tougher time unearthing who all needed to be fired,” he tweeted.

“The president had every right to make the moves that he did today,” Representative Lee Zeldin, Republican of New York, said in an interview. “Moving Lt. Col. Vindman, for example, is a good move based on the fact that there is a lack of trust. He disagrees with the president’s policies.” As for Mr. Sondland, “the president can recall an ambassador at any time with or without cause, and in the case of Gordon Sondland, the guy was a hot mess, anyway.”

Other impeachment witnesses have left with less drama in recent weeks. Marie L. Yovanovitch, the ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled from her post last spring because she was seen as an obstacle to the president’s plans, retired last month from the Foreign Service. William B. Taylor Jr., who replaced her in an acting capacity, was essentially brought back early, as well. And Jennifer Williams, a career official detailed to Vice President Mike Pence’s office, quietly left recently to return to the Defense Department.

Several had already left the government, like Fiona Hill, the Europe policy chief at the National Security Council, and Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy for Ukraine, who resigned days before testifying. But others, so far, remain at their posts, including George P. Kent at the State Department, Laura Cooper at the Defense Department and David Holmes at the embassy in Ukraine.

Mr. Sondland began discussions with senior officials about leaving his post shortly after he testified in November, according to two people briefed on the matter. He believed that remaining as ambassador would be untenable given his role in impeachment and hoped to exit gracefully, they said.

A decision on when to step down was put off until after impeachment, but on Friday, State Department officials told Mr. Sondland that they wanted him to resign, the people said. Mr. Sondland relayed to them that he would not step down amid what was clearly a purge of impeachment witnesses and that he would have to be fired, the people said. In response, State Department officials recalled him.

Colonel Vindman’s brother seemed to be collateral damage. Yevgeny Vindman, who goes by Eugene, worked as a lawyer for the National Security Council and had no role in the impeachment hearings other than showing up to sit behind his brother when he appeared in November. He was given no explanation for his dismissal “despite over two decades of loyal service to this country,” said Mr. Pressman, the lawyer. “He deeply regrets that he will not be able to continue his service at the White House.”

Both Vindmans, whose tours at the White House were scheduled to last until July, will retain their Army ranks and return to military service. Alexander Vindman, who had been expecting the move and had begun removing personal items, was told he would go to the Pentagon before moving to the National War College in July as originally planned. Yevgeny Vindman was more surprised and was told he would report to the office of the Army general counsel.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said service members who return to the military would be welcomed back. “We protect all of our persons, service members, from retribution or anything like that,” he told reporters.

Mr. Trump, on the other hand, has made clear his personal antipathy for both Vindmans. “Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and his twin brother, right?” the president said on Thursday during a rambling hourlong venting session at the White House, his voice dripping with disdain. “We had some people that — really amazing.”

On Friday morning, Mr. Trump retweeted a message from a supporter advocating Alexander Vindman’s dismissal: “Vindman’s behavior is a scandal. He should be removed from the @RealDonaldTrump White House ASAP to protect our foreign policy from his machinations.”

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican who voted to acquit the president but expressed hope that he would learn a lesson from the impeachment, said that witnesses should not be punished. “I obviously am not in favor of any kind of retribution against anyone who came forward with evidence,” she said in Maine, according to The Portland Press Herald.

Colonel Vindman has been subjected to virulent attacks on his patriotism on Fox News and social media. The president called him a “Never Trumper,” a term the colonel rejected. Fox aired a segment suggesting his service in the White House might amount to “espionage.” And Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, attacked him on Twitter: “How patriotic is it to badmouth and ridicule our great nation in front of Russia, America’s greatest enemy?”

With impeachment over, Mr. Trump is debating additional personnel changes. Some advisers are encouraging him to part ways with his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who was involved in freezing security aid to Ukraine, which paved the way for impeachment.

Other advisers are telling Mr. Trump that he should wait to make major changes until after the election in November. Some advisers hope that Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina, will join the White House as a senior adviser. Mr. Meadows traveled with the president on Friday to North Carolina.

Mr. Trump denied that Mr. Mulvaney would be pushed out in favor of Mr. Meadows. “I have a great relationship with Mick,” the president told reporters on Friday. “I have a great relationship with Mark. And it’s false.”

Peter Baker and Michael S. Schmidt reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman and Danny Hakim from New York. Lola Fadulu contributed reporting from Charlotte, N.C.

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Victors in Iowa, Sanders and Buttigieg Are Targets in Democratic Debate

Westlake Legal Group 07debate-ledeall-facebookJumbo Victors in Iowa, Sanders and Buttigieg Are Targets in Democratic Debate Yang, Andrew (1975- ) Warren, Elizabeth Trump, Donald J Steyer, Thomas F Sanders, Bernard Presidential Election of 2020 Manchester (NH) Klobuchar, Amy Debates (Political) Buttigieg, Pete (1982- ) Biden, Joseph R Jr

MANCHESTER, N.H. — The two victors in the Iowa caucuses, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., came under sharp and sustained criticism in a Democratic presidential debate on Friday, as the group of candidates assailed Mr. Sanders for his left-wing policy platform and pushed Mr. Buttigieg onto the defensive over his light experience in government.

In the opening stages of the most contentious debate so far, taking place four days before the New Hampshire primary, the runners-up in the Iowa contest charged at the winners in a bid to stop their momentum, focusing above all on the question of whether they could triumph in the general election.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. warned that nominating Mr. Sanders would brand down-ballot Democratic candidates with the label of socialism, while asserting that Mr. Buttigieg had shown no ability to mobilize black and Latino voters.

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, another moderate, said Democrats could not defeat “the divider in chief” by nominating a divisive candidate of their own, and in an even blunter exchange she accused Mr. Buttigieg of presenting himself as a “cool newcomer” by dismissing the value of service in Washington.

Mr. Sanders and Mr. Buttigieg gave no ground to their critics, arguing determinedly for their distinctive theories of the 2020 campaign. Mr. Sanders insisted that Democrats would win if they campaigned on “an agenda that works for the working people of this country,” reigniting a now-familiar debate about the practicality of single-payer health care. And Mr. Buttigieg batted away skepticism about his relative inexperience.

“I freely admit that if you’re looking for the person with the most years of Washington establishment experience under their belt,” he said, “then you’ve got your candidate and of course it’s not me.”

The gibe drew forceful pushback from both Mr. Biden and Ms. Klobuchar, who quoted back to Mr. Buttigieg a dry line he delivered in Iowa, saying he found the impeachment proceedings “exhausting” and would have preferred to watch cartoons. She suggested Mr. Buttigieg was taking an unserious approach by playing to voters’ distaste for the federal government.

“It’s easy to go after Washington, because that’s a popular thing to do,” Ms. Klobuchar said. “It is much harder to lead and much harder to take those difficult positions.”

And Ms. Klobuchar drew a biting comparison between Mr. Buttigieg’s outsider message and that of the Democrats’ shared adversary: “We got a newcomer in the White House,” she said, and look where it got us.”

The debate came at a moment of tumult and anxiety for Democrats, whose leadoff contest in Iowa on Monday turned into a fiasco of technical breakdowns, stalled and fumbled vote-counting and accusations of electoral illegitimacy from multiple presidential campaigns. On Friday afternoon, Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. Sanders both claimed victory in Iowa on different grounds, with Mr. Sanders brandishing his lead in the popular vote and Mr. Buttigieg staking his claim on a hairbreadth lead over Mr. Sanders in state delegates, the traditional metric for judging a winner in the caucuses there.

The discussion of electability was not confined to Mr. Sanders and Mr. Buttigieg: Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, hammering at a theme that has come to define her campaign, argued that Democrats could unite their party and win crossover support in the general election by campaigning against corruption. “We can bring in independents and Republicans on that,” Ms. Warren said. “They hate the corruption as well.”

And Tom Steyer, the wealthy investor, also cast a skeptical nod toward Mr. Buttigieg, arguing that the eventual nominee must “be able to go toe-to-toe with” President Trump on the debate stage, and for that reason he was “worried about Mayor Pete.”

Mr. Steyer said the Democratic nominee had to be able to win support from minority voters, a feat he noted Mr. Buttigieg had not yet managed. By contrast, Mr. Steyer added, in an awkwardly clinical turn of phrase, that a recent poll showed that he had “24 percent of blacks in South Carolina” supporting him.

The lively back-and-forth, involving nearly all of the seven candidates onstage, showed that, for all the apparent momentum behind Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. Sanders, none of their opponents appeared poised to stand down and give way.

But Mr. Biden also conceded in his first answer that the political currents were against him in the primary on Tuesday, and tried to set high expectations for Mr. Sanders, who captured New Hampshire easily in his 2016 presidential primary campaign.

“I took a hit in Iowa and I’ll probably take a hit here,” Mr. Biden said, adding, “Bernie won by 20 points last time.”

Even as Mr. Sanders defended himself from his current rivals, he sought to tamp down tensions with his previous primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, who has repeatedly criticized him this month.

“Our job is to look forward and not back to 2016,” he said. “And I hope that Secretary Clinton and all of us can come together and move forward.”

At a moment when Mr. Sanders’s supporters are assailing Iowa Democrats and the Democratic National Committee for the chaotic aftermath of the caucuses there, claiming that he was the victim of an establishment plot, his remarks were an indication he wanted to defuse tensions with the party establishment.

The clash between the Democratic candidates on Friday evening in Manchester had the potential to set the primary race on a new trajectory after the Iowa caucuses — or to scramble, once again, a nomination fight that has long resisted clear definition.

Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. Sanders both entered the debate with a chance to cement their claims on their respective wings of the party, with Mr. Buttigieg emerging from a strong finish in Iowa to present himself as a leader of more centrist forces and Mr. Sanders establishing a clear upper hand over Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on the left.

Polls in New Hampshire this week suggested that Mr. Sanders and Mr. Buttigieg had the best chance of winning the state’s primary; if one of them prevailed here, it could bolster the winner’s prospects in the Nevada caucuses and South Carolina primary later this month, and across the Super Tuesday landscape in early March.

But neither man has an open path forward, and even a commanding debate performance would seem unlikely to change that. Mr. Sanders has continued to struggle to grow his support beyond a sizable progressive faction, and as long as Ms. Warren remains a dogged competitor he is unlikely to be able to unify the left behind his candidacy. Mr. Buttigieg, meanwhile, still trails Mr. Biden by a wide margin in national polls, and moderate voters continue to be divided among the two of them and Ms. Klobuchar.

Mr. Biden in particular was under considerable pressure to deliver a reassuring performance in New Hampshire — starting with the debate — after his slump in Iowa. His campaign appears to be under financial strain, and on Friday it announced a staff shake-up, elevating the veteran Democratic strategist Anita Dunn over his campaign manager and other advisers.

For Mr. Biden, Ms. Warren and Ms. Klobuchar, the debate appeared to be the best opportunity to rally support and ignite the kind of new energy that could give one of them a chance to pull off an upset on Tuesday. And Mr. Biden is not alone in showing signs of strain on the fund-raising front: Ms. Warren trimmed back her television advertising in some places this week, while Andrew Yang, the entrepreneur who finished near the back of the pack in Iowa, laid off some members of his staff. After staking her campaign on Iowa, Ms. Klobuchar could well be nearing the end of her resources after a fifth-place finish there.

The results in Iowa pointed to a fractured Democratic primary electorate with no candidate yet emerging as a clear front-runner. Five different candidates recorded support in the double digits — Mr. Buttigieg, Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren, Mr. Biden and Ms. Klobuchar — and the top finishers earned little more than a quarter of the vote. Unless one of those candidates rises to sweep the remainder of the February contests, there is a high likelihood that Democrats will be headed for a long season of indecision, dragged out over dozens of primary elections.

But events in Washington, as much as in Iowa, have made this a trying moment for Democratic voters, who are singularly focused on selecting a nominee capable of defeating Mr. Trump. The continuing debacle of the Iowa caucuses coincided with Mr. Trump’s acquittal of impeachment charges by the Republican-controlled Senate, and a jobs report on Friday that suggested the economy remained in sturdy condition. While the president is unpopular by historical standards, he looks to be far from a pushover in the general election.

Perhaps befitting those stakes, the tenor of the Democratic race grew sharply more combative this week, as Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders shifted their footing to take on Mr. Buttigieg more directly. After trying to ignore his rivals and stay above the fray for most of the race, Mr. Biden appeared suddenly to recognize the urgency of the threats to his campaign, and in New Hampshire he bluntly questioned Mr. Buttigieg’s qualifications for the presidency.

Democrats, Mr. Biden said, should not “nominate someone who’s never held an office higher than the mayor of a town of 100,000 people in Indiana.”

And Mr. Sanders, who has also largely avoided confrontation and focused instead on hammering away at his core message about economic inequality, argued at an event in Manchester on Friday morning that Mr. Buttigieg was too beholden to the wealthy people who “control not only our economy but our political system.”

Yet even as Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders trained their criticism at the former mayor, both men also took aim at other candidates, including each other. Mr. Biden urged Democrats not to choose a far-left nominee, plainly alluding to Mr. Sanders when the former vice president told voters this week that Mr. Trump was “desperate to pin the socialist label” on all Democratic candidates. Mr. Sanders accused former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, who is not competing in New Hampshire, of seeking to buy the nomination with his multibillion-dollar fortune.

In an email newsletter sent out by aides, the Sanders campaign attacked Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. Bloomberg even more bluntly: “You can’t change a corrupt system by taking its money,” said the message, which described Mr. Buttigieg as “the chosen candidate of billionaires” and “the chosen candidate of the health care industry”

Other contenders have been eager to do battle in New Hampshire, too: Mr. Steyer, the wealthy former hedge fund manager whose campaign has focused chiefly on Nevada and South Carolina, began airing a commercial swiping at both Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg and urging Democrats not to “nominate another insider or an untested newcomer who doesn’t have the experience to beat Trump on the economy.”

So far, Ms. Warren and Ms. Klobuchar have diverged from other candidates in declining to seek out fresh conflict in New Hampshire. But Ms. Klobuchar has proved comfortable clashing with her rivals in previous debates and, more than any other candidate, she has proved willing to take on Mr. Buttigieg and raise questions about his political credentials and claims to electoral strength.

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Trump Fires Gordon Sondland Hours After Dismissing Impeachment Witness Alexander Vindman

Westlake Legal Group merlin_164751228_0abe9ffa-8305-4e48-af19-1f4fed3eebc7-facebookJumbo Trump Fires Gordon Sondland Hours After Dismissing Impeachment Witness Alexander Vindman Vindman, Alexander S United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry National Security Council Defense Department

WASHINGTON — President Trump and his aides wasted little time opening a campaign of retribution against those he blames for his impeachment, firing on Friday two of the most prominent witnesses in the inquiry against him barely 48 hours after the Senate acquitted the president.

Emboldened by his victory and determined to strike back, Mr. Trump fired Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, within hours of the White House dismissing Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a decorated Iraq war veteran who was a Ukraine expert on the National Security Council. Both officials testified to a House committee about the president’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to help him against his domestic political rivals.

“I was advised today that the president intends to recall me effective immediately as United States Ambassador to the European Union,” Mr. Sondland said in a statement just hours after Colonel Vindman’s dismissal. He expressed gratitude to Mr. Trump “for having given me the opportunity to serve.”

Colonel Vindman was escorted out of the White House by security officers on Friday afternoon and told that his services were no longer needed. His twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, who also worked on the N.S.C. staff, was fired too and escorted out at the same time. Both will be sent back to the Defense Department.

“There is no question in the mind of any American why this man’s job is over, why this country now has one less soldier serving it at the White House,” David Pressman, Alexander Vindman’s lawyer, said in a statement. “Lt. Col. Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful.”

Colonel Vindman spoke publicly only once, when ordered to under subpoena, Mr. Pressman added. “And for that, the most powerful man in the world — buoyed by the silent, the pliable, and the complicit — has decided to exact revenge.”

Mr. Trump signaled Colonel Vindman’s fate hours ahead of time when he told reporters that a decision would be coming soon. “Well, I’m not happy with him,” the president said of Colonel Vindman. “You think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I’m not.”

The ouster of the Vindman brothers and Mr. Sondland may only presage a broader effort to even accounts with the president’s perceived enemies. In the two days since his acquittal in the Senate, Mr. Trump has railed about those who stood against him like Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, calling them “evil,” “corrupt” and “crooked,” while his White House press secretary declared that those who hurt the president “should pay for” it.

The president continued to go after lawmakers who voted for conviction, targeting Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, one of the Democrats the White House had hoped to win over only to be bitterly disappointed when he voted along with the rest of his party. “I was told by many that Manchin was just a puppet for Schumer & Pelosi,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “That’s all he is!

Even as Mr. Trump flew to North Carolina to highlight his economic record, he called on the House to “expunge” his impeachment, an idea with no precedent or basis in the Constitution. “They should because it was a hoax,” he told reporters. “It was a total political hoax.”

The president’s critics had warned that he would feel unbound if acquitted, no longer restrained by the threat of congressional action, and some said the dismissal of the Vindman brothers proved their point.

“This is shameful of course,” said Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “But this is also what we should now expect from an impeached president whose party has decided he is above the law and accountable to no one.”

Mr. Schumer said the action showed that the White House was running away from the truth. “This action is not a sign of strength,” he said. “It only shows President Trump’s weakness.”

The White House would not discuss the decision. “We do not comment on personnel matters,” said John Ullyot, a spokesman for the N.S.C.

Colonel Vindman was the latest impeachment witness to lose his job, but the first to be dismissed with security guards taking him out of the White House compound.

Marie L. Yovanovitch, the ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled from her post because she was seen as an obstacle to the president’s plans, retired from the Foreign Service last month. William B. Taylor Jr., who replaced her in an acting capacity, was essentially brought back early as well. Jennifer Williams, a career official detailed to Vice President Mike Pence’s office, quietly left recently to return to the Defense Department.

Several who testified had already left the government, like Fiona Hill, the Europe policy chief at the National Security Council, while Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy for Ukraine, resigned days before testifying. But others so far remain at their posts, including George Kent at the State Department, Laura Cooper at the Defense Department and David Holmes at the embassy in Ukraine.

Both Vindman brothers, whose tours at the White House were scheduled to last until July, will retain their Army ranks and return to military service. Alexander Vindman, who had been expecting the move and had begun removing personal items, was told he will go to the Pentagon before moving to the National War College in July as originally planned, according to one person close to the situation. Yevgeny Vindman, who goes by Eugene, was more surprised and told he will report to the office of the Army general counsel.

Eugene Vindman did not testify and had no role in the impeachment hearings other than to show up to sit behind his brother when he appeared in November. He was given “no explanation for his dismissal “despite over two decades of loyal service to this country,” said Mr. Pressman, the lawyer. “He deeply regrets that he will not be able to continue his service at the White House.”

Alexander Vindman, a Ukrainian immigrant who earned a Purple Heart after being injured while serving in Iraq, told the House Intelligence Committee that he was surprised to hear Mr. Trump pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats during a July 25 telephone call. He told lawmakers that he reported his concerns to other N.S.C. officials.

Mr. Trump has made clear his personal antipathy for Colonel Vindman. “Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and his twin brother, right?” the president said at one point during a rambling hourlong venting session at the White House on Thursday, his voice dripping with disdain. “We had some people that — really amazing.”

On Friday morning, the president reposted a Twitter message from a supporter advocating the colonel’s dismissal: “Vindman’s behavior is a scandal. He should be removed from the @RealDonaldTrump White House ASAP to protect our foreign policy from his machinations.”

Ms. Pelosi said she was “stunned” by Colonel Vindman’s dismissal. “That’s such a shame,” she told reporters. “What a patriotic person. This goes too far.”

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican who voted to acquit but expressed hope that Mr. Trump would learn a lesson from the impeachment, said that witnesses should not be punished for giving the House required testimony. “I obviously am not in favor of any kind of retribution against anyone who came forward with evidence,” she said in Maine, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Even before the hearing, Colonel Vindman was subjected to virulent attacks on his patriotism on Fox News and social media that caused concern for his personal safety. Mr. Trump called him a “Never Trumper,” a term the colonel rejected. Fox aired a segment in which commentators noted that Colonel Vindman was an immigrant “working inside the White House, apparently against the president’s interest,” suggesting that might amount to “espionage.”

Colonel Vindman made Mr. Trump and his allies even angrier when he wore his uniform at the televised hearing and made comments that seemed more political than the other witnesses. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, called the colonel “a low level partisan bureaucrat and nothing more.”

The attacks resumed during the Senate trial. Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, wrote on Twitter that Colonel Vindman was no patriot. “How patriotic is it to bad-mouth and ridicule our great nation in front of Russia, America’s greatest enemy?” she asked.

She posted another message a few hours later quoting a former commander about Colonel Vindman: “Do not let the uniform fool you. He is a political activist in uniform.” Mr. Trump retweeted the post.

Colonel Vindman’s lawyer fired back at what he called the senator’s “slander” and “cowardice,” saying his client would continue to “serve our country dutifully and with honor.”

In recent weeks, Colonel Vindman was still doing his day-to-day job of coordinating Ukraine policy with career officials at other agencies, but had been largely cut off from political appointees and had not yet met the new national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, who has been in the job since September.

With impeachment over, Mr. Trump is debating whether to make additional changes in the White House staff. Some advisers are encouraging him to part ways with his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who was involved in freezing security aid to Ukraine, which paved the way for impeachment.

Other advisers are telling Mr. Trump that he should wait to make major changes until after the election. Some advisers hope that Representative Mark Meadows, Republican from North Carolina, who is retiring, will join the White House as a senior adviser, though not as chief of staff. Mr. Meadows traveled with Mr. Trump on Air Force One to North Carolina on Friday.

Mr. Trump disputed speculation that Mr. Mulvaney would be pushed out in favor of Mr. Meadows. “I have a great relationship with Mick,” the president told reporters. “I have a great relationship with Mark. And it’s false.”

Peter Baker and Michael Schmidt reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman and Danny Hakim from New York. Lola Fadulu contributed reporting from Charlotte, N.C.

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Justice Department Drops Antitrust Probe Against Automakers That Sided With California on Emissions

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WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has dropped its antitrust inquiry into four automakers that had sided with California in its dispute with the Trump administration over reducing climate-warming vehicle pollution, deciding that the companies had violated no laws, according to people familiar with the matter.

The investigation, launched last September, had escalated a dispute over one of President Trump’s most significant rollbacks of global warming regulations. The Justice Department’s move was one of a slew of seemingly retributive actions by the White House against California, as the state worked with the four automakers — Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen of America, Honda and BMW — to defy Mr. Trump’s planned rollback of national fuel economy standards.

A spokeswoman from Ford confirmed Friday afternoon that the company had been notified by the Justice Department that the investigation was closed. Representatives from BMW, Volkswagen and Honda did not respond to requests for comment. The Justice Department did not release a statement.

The closure may mark something of a détente in the political battle between the White House and California. Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, has been working with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to address the city’s homeless crisis as well.

The Justice Department’s decision could boost the efforts of the auto companies and California to move ahead with tighter vehicle pollution standards than those being finalized by the federal government.

California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, welcomed the news. “These trumped-up charges were always a sham — a blatant attempt by the Trump administration to prevent more automakers from joining California and agreeing to stronger emissions standards,” he said in a statement. He called the decision “a victory for anyone who cares about the rule of law and clean air.”

In July, the four automakers announced that they had reached an agreement in principle with California on emissions standards that would be stricter than those being sought by the White House. The announcement came as an embarrassment for the Trump administration, which assailed the move as a “P.R. stunt.”

The Justice Department then opened an investigation into whether the four automakers violated federal antitrust laws by working together to reach their deal with California, on the grounds that the agreement could potentially limit consumer choice.

At the time Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, wrote in an opinion article in USA Today that the investigation was not politically motivated. “Those who criticize even the prospect of an antitrust investigation should know that, when it comes to antitrust, politically popular ends should not justify turning a blind eye to the competition laws,” Mr. Delrahim wrote.

In the months after California struck the deal with the automakers, the administration and Justice Department pushed an unusual series of legal and policy moves against California and the auto companies that backed the state’s climate change plan. In September, the Trump administration formally revoked California’s legal authority to set tougher state-level vehicle emissions standards than those set by the federal government.

The Justice Department then filed suit to force California to drop the Canadian province of Quebec from its carbon emissions market, a central effort to limit greenhouse gases from power plants by capping emissions and forcing polluters to buy permits to emit climate-warming carbon dioxide. The Justice Department argued that including Quebec was tantamount to a state illegally conducting foreign policy.

Also in September, the Environmental Protection Agency threatened to withhold federal highway funding from California if it did not address a decades-long backlog of air pollution control plans.

But on Friday, Justice Department lawyers told automakers that they had concluded that they had not broken any rules or laws in their dealings with California, according to the people familiar with the matter.

In the coming weeks, the administration is expected to finalize a rule that would permanently roll back the federal Obama-era standards, which would have required automakers to roughly double the fuel economy of their new cars, pickup trucks and SUVs by 2025. Under those rules, new vehicles would have had to average about 54 miles per gallon.

The Trump administration’s plan will roll back that standard to about 40 miles per gallon.

The agreement reached between California and the four automakers, which account for about 30 percent of the United States auto market, requires an average fleetwide fuel economy of 51 miles per gallon by 2026. California has legal authority under the Clean Air Act to write air pollution rules that go beyond the federal government’s.

Automakers fear that a rift between Washington and Sacramento will split the domestic market between California and 13 other states enforcing one standard and the rest of the states following the more lenient federal standards.

To avert that outcome, the four automakers entered secretive negotiations with California hoping to agree on standards that would apply to vehicles sold nationwide.

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Justice Department Drops Antitrust Probe Against Automakers That Sided With California on Emissions

Westlake Legal Group 07automakers-antitrustinv-facebookJumbo Justice Department Drops Antitrust Probe Against Automakers That Sided With California on Emissions United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Justice Department Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming Fuel Emissions (Transportation) Fuel Efficiency environment Automobiles

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has dropped its antitrust inquiry into four automakers that had sided with California in its dispute with the Trump administration over reducing climate-warming vehicle pollution, deciding that the companies had violated no laws, according to people familiar with the matter.

The investigation, launched last September, had escalated a dispute over one of President Trump’s most significant rollbacks of global warming regulations. The Justice Department’s move was one of a slew of seemingly retributive actions by the White House against California, as the state worked with the four automakers — Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen of America, Honda and BMW — to defy Mr. Trump’s planned rollback of national fuel economy standards.

A spokeswoman from Ford confirmed Friday afternoon that the company had been notified by the Justice Department that the investigation was closed. Representatives from BMW, Volkswagen and Honda did not respond to requests for comment. The Justice Department did not release a statement.

The closure may mark something of a détente in the political battle between the White House and California. Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, has been working with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to address the city’s homeless crisis as well.

The Justice Department’s decision could boost the efforts of the auto companies and California to move ahead with tighter vehicle pollution standards than those being finalized by the federal government.

California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, welcomed the news. “These trumped-up charges were always a sham — a blatant attempt by the Trump administration to prevent more automakers from joining California and agreeing to stronger emissions standards,” he said in a statement. He called the decision “a victory for anyone who cares about the rule of law and clean air.”

In July, the four automakers announced that they had reached an agreement in principle with California on emissions standards that would be stricter than those being sought by the White House. The announcement came as an embarrassment for the Trump administration, which assailed the move as a “P.R. stunt.”

The Justice Department then opened an investigation into whether the four automakers violated federal antitrust laws by working together to reach their deal with California, on the grounds that the agreement could potentially limit consumer choice.

At the time Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, wrote in an opinion article in USA Today that the investigation was not politically motivated. “Those who criticize even the prospect of an antitrust investigation should know that, when it comes to antitrust, politically popular ends should not justify turning a blind eye to the competition laws,” Mr. Delrahim wrote.

In the months after California struck the deal with the automakers, the administration and Justice Department pushed an unusual series of legal and policy moves against California and the auto companies that backed the state’s climate change plan. In September, the Trump administration formally revoked California’s legal authority to set tougher state-level vehicle emissions standards than those set by the federal government.

The Justice Department then filed suit to force California to drop the Canadian province of Quebec from its carbon emissions market, a central effort to limit greenhouse gases from power plants by capping emissions and forcing polluters to buy permits to emit climate-warming carbon dioxide. The Justice Department argued that including Quebec was tantamount to a state illegally conducting foreign policy.

Also in September, the Environmental Protection Agency threatened to withhold federal highway funding from California if it did not address a decades-long backlog of air pollution control plans.

But on Friday, Justice Department lawyers told automakers that they had concluded that they had not broken any rules or laws in their dealings with California, according to the people familiar with the matter.

In the coming weeks, the administration is expected to finalize a rule that would permanently roll back the federal Obama-era standards, which would have required automakers to roughly double the fuel economy of their new cars, pickup trucks and SUVs by 2025. Under those rules, new vehicles would have had to average about 54 miles per gallon.

The Trump administration’s plan will roll back that standard to about 40 miles per gallon.

The agreement reached between California and the four automakers, which account for about 30 percent of the United States auto market, requires an average fleetwide fuel economy of 51 miles per gallon by 2026. California has legal authority under the Clean Air Act to write air pollution rules that go beyond the federal government’s.

Automakers fear that a rift between Washington and Sacramento will split the domestic market between California and 13 other states enforcing one standard and the rest of the states following the more lenient federal standards.

To avert that outcome, the four automakers entered secretive negotiations with California hoping to agree on standards that would apply to vehicles sold nationwide.

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Alexander Vindman Fired and Escorted From the White House

Westlake Legal Group 07dc-vindman-facebookJumbo Alexander Vindman Fired and Escorted From the White House Vindman, Alexander S United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry National Security Council Defense Department

WASHINGTON — The White House on Friday fired Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, whose testimony in the House impeachment hearings infuriated President Trump and his allies, escorting him out of the complex just days after the Senate trial ended in acquittal, his lawyer said.

“There is no question in the mind of any American why this man’s job is over, why this country now has one less soldier serving it at the White House,” David Pressman, the lawyer, said in a statement. “Lt. Col. Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful.”

Colonel Vindman’s twin brother, Yevgeny Vindman, also an Army lieutenant colonel who worked at the White House, was fired as well and escorted out at the same time, according to two people briefed on the developments.

The dismissal was foreshadowed earlier in the day when Mr. Trump essentially confirmed to reporters before leaving on a trip to North Carolina that Colonel Alexander Vindman would be pushed out. “Well, I’m not happy with him,” the president said of Colonel Vindman. “You think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I’m not.”

The president then reposted a Twitter message from a supporter advocating the colonel’s dismissal: “Vindman’s behavior is a scandal. He should be removed from the @RealDonaldTrump White House ASAP to protect our foreign policy from his machinations.”

Both brothers, whose tours at the White House were scheduled to last until July, will retain their Army ranks and now return to military service. Alexander Vindman, who had been expecting the move and had begun removing personal items, was told he will go to the Pentagon before moving to the National War College in July as originally planned, according to one person close to the situation. Yevgeny Vindman, who goes by Eugene, was more surprised and told he will report to the office of the Army general counsel.

The action comes just two days after Mr. Trump was acquitted in a Senate impeachment trial that turned in part on the testimony of Colonel Vindman and other administration officials who described a campaign to pressure Ukraine into announcing corruption investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

Mr. Trump has made clear his personal antipathy for Colonel Vindman, who oversaw American policy toward Ukraine on the National Security Council staff. “Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and his twin brother, right?” the president said at one point during a rambling hourlong venting session at the White House on Thursday, his voice dripping with disdain. “We had some people that — really amazing.”

The decision to move Colonel Vindman out of the White House complex, reported previously by Bloomberg News and The Washington Post, came as Mr. Trump and his allies have made clear that they will seek to exact payback against those he blames for triggering his impeachment and trial. During his White House event, Mr. Trump denounced the “evil” and “corrupt” people who investigated him, and his spokeswoman went on television to declare that anyone who hurt the president “should pay for” it.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who orchestrated the House impeachment, said she was “stunned” to hear that Colonel Vindman would be pushed out of the White House. “That’s such a shame,” she told reporters. “What a patriotic person. This goes too far.”

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said that the Pentagon had assured him that whistle-blowers “like LTC Vindman” would be protected. “Any reprisals against him or others who came forward to tell the truth are wrong and should be seen for what they are: An extension of President Trump’s cover-up,” he wrote on Twitter.

At least one Republican joined the protest. Senator Susan Collins of Maine said witnesses should not be punished for giving the House required testimony. “I obviously am not in favor of any kind of retribution against anyone who came forward with evidence,” she said in Maine, according to the Portland Press Herald.

As of a few weeks ago, Colonel Vindman was still doing his day-to-day job of coordinating Ukraine policy with career officials at other agencies, but had been largely cut off from political appointees and had not yet met the new national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, who has been in the job since September, according to the person briefed on the plans.

Colonel Vindman, a Ukrainian immigrant and decorated Iraq war veteran, told the House Intelligence Committee in November that he was surprised when he heard Mr. Trump pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate Mr. Biden and a conspiracy theory involving Democrats and the 2016 election during a July 25 telephone call. He told lawmakers that he reported his concerns to other N.S.C. officials.

Republicans questioning his motivations during the hearing pointed to the fact that Ukrainian officials sounded him out about becoming the country’s defense minister, a suggestion he said he rejected and reported to his superiors.

Even before the hearing, Colonel Vindman was subjected to virulent attacks on his patriotism on Fox News and social media that caused concern for his personal safety. Mr. Trump called him a “Never Trumper,” a term the colonel rejected. Fox aired a segment in which commentators noted that Colonel Vindman was an immigrant “working inside the White House, apparently against the president’s interest,” suggesting that might amount to “espionage.”

Colonel Vindman made Mr. Trump and his allies even angrier when he wore his uniform at the televised hearing and made comments that seemed more political than the other witnesses. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, called the colonel “a low level partisan bureaucrat and nothing more.”

The attacks resumed during the Senate trial last month. “Adam Schiff is hailing Alexander Vindman as an American patriot,” Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, wrote on Twitter during the trial, referring to the lead House manager prosecuting the case. “How patriotic is it to bad-mouth and ridicule our great nation in front of Russia, America’s greatest enemy?”

She posted another message a few hours later quoting a former commander about Colonel Vindman: “Do not let the uniform fool you. He is a political activist in uniform.” Mr. Trump retweeted the post.

Colonel Vindman’s lawyer fired back at what he called the senator’s “slander” and “cowardice,” saying his client would continue to “serve our country dutifully and with honor.”

With impeachment over, Mr. Trump is debating whether to make additional changes in the White House staff. Some of his advisers are encouraging him to part ways with his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney; those advisers have pointed fingers at Mr. Mulvaney for his role in the freeze of the security aid to Ukraine that paved the way for the impeachment inquiry in the House. Mr. Mulvaney was ordered to freeze the aid by Mr. Trump, according to several administration officials.

Other advisers are telling Mr. Trump that he should wait to make major changes until after the election. Some advisers hope that Representative Mark Meadows, Republican from North Carolina, who is retiring, will join the White House as a senior adviser, though not as chief of staff. Mr. Meadows was traveling with Mr. Trump on Air Force One to North Carolina on Friday.

Mr. Trump disputed speculation that Mr. Mulvaney would be pushed out in favor of Mr. Meadows. “I have a great relationship with Mick,” the president told reporters. “I have a great relationship with Mark. And it’s false.”

Maggie Haberman reported from New York and Peter Baker from Washington. Danny Hakim contributed reporting from New York.

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Trump Hails Acquittal and Lashes Out at His ‘Evil’ and ‘Corrupt’ Opponents

Westlake Legal Group 06dc-trumpspeechpromo-facebookJumbo-v7 Trump Hails Acquittal and Lashes Out at His ‘Evil’ and ‘Corrupt’ Opponents Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate impeachment

WASHINGTON — President Trump and his Republican allies focused on exacting payback against his political opponents on Thursday after his acquittal in his Senate impeachment trial, signaling that the conflict that has consumed Washington for months may only escalate rather than recede.

Choosing retaliation over reconciliation, Mr. Trump lashed out at Democrats and the one Republican senator who voted for conviction. He turned a prayer breakfast into a launching pad for political attacks and then staged a long, rambling venting session at the White House where he denounced “evil” and “crooked” lawmakers and the “top scum” at the F.B.I. for trying to take him down.

Mr. Trump’s team indicated that his desire to turn the tables on his foes may go beyond just tough language. The White House press secretary declared that Democrats “should pay for” impeaching the president, and the Trump administration worked to facilitate a Senate Republican investigation of Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the goal of Mr. Trump that was at the heart of his impeachment.

“It was evil,” Mr. Trump said of the investigations that led to his Senate trial in an hourlong stream-of-consciousness address to supporters in the East Room of the White House, tossing aside the more calibrated text prepared by his staff. “It was corrupt. It was dirty cops. It was leakers and liars, and this should never ever happen to another president, ever. I don’t know that other presidents would have been able to take it.”

Democrats showed little sign of backing down either. House Democrats have already said they are likely to resume their investigation into Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to incriminate the Bidens, while a Senate Democrat on Thursday called for an inquiry into whether the administration covered up related information by improperly classifying it.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who sat just feet from Mr. Trump as he questioned her faith during the annual National Prayer Breakfast, later pushed back against his implication that she was disingenuous for saying she prayed for him. Some of his remarks, she said, were “particularly without class” and “so inappropriate at a prayer breakfast.”

She also suggested that Mr. Trump appeared to be on medication during his State of the Union address on Tuesday. “He looked to me like he was a little sedated,” she told reporters. “Looked that way last year, too.”

Mr. Trump’s vituperative performance on Thursday was the diametrical opposite of how President Bill Clinton responded to his own acquittal after a Senate impeachment trial in 1999. On the day he was cleared of charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, Mr. Clinton appeared alone in the Rose Garden, said he was “profoundly sorry” and called for “reconciliation and renewal.”

His Republican opponents at the time were just as eager to move on, feeling burned after losing seats in midterm elections and watching not one but two of their House speakers step down. One important difference is that Mr. Clinton was in his second term, while Mr. Trump is seeking re-election in a campaign framed in part by the impeachment debate.

For Mr. Trump, the Senate’s rejection of the two articles of impeachment against him on Wednesday was marred by the fact that Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, was the only senator to break rank, joining every Democrat in voting to convict Mr. Trump for abuse of power.

Angry at Mr. Romney’s defection, Mr. Trump waited a day to appear in person with supporters in the East Room in a ceremony that veered between celebration and confrontation.

Mr. Trump held up a copy of The Washington Post to show its banner headline, “Trump Acquitted,” then reviewed the long litany of investigations against him over the last three years, dismissing them as partisan efforts to stop him from serving as president.

“We first went through Russia, Russia, Russia,” he said, mocking the investigations into the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 presidential election on his behalf and ties between his campaign and Moscow. “It was all bullshit,” he said, the first time he or any president has been known to use that profanity in a formal event on camera in the East Room, according to Factba.se, a research service.

The talk included a greatest-hits string of attacks on some of Mr. Trump’s top villains, including the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey (“that sleazebag”), his onetime deputy Andrew G. McCabe, the former F.B.I. officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok (“two lowlifes”), the former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, as well as Hunter Biden, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

He called Ms. Pelosi “a horrible person,” Mr. Romney “a failed presidential candidate” who used “religion as a crutch” and Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the lead House manager, a “corrupt politician.”

The president thanked his lawyers and congressional Republicans, praising them one by one for their support. In particular, he highlighted Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader and his most important defender in the Senate. “You did a fantastic job,” Mr. Trump told him.

He called out more than a dozen other Republican defenders, including Representatives Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader; Jim Jordan of Ohio; Mark Meadows of North Carolina; and Elise Stefanik of New York. Noticeably absent, and unmentioned by the president, were Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal lawyer at the center of the Ukraine pressure campaign, and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of his most outspoken allies.

“This is sort of a day of celebration, because we went through hell,” Mr. Trump said. “But I’m sure they’ll try and cook up other things,” he added of the Democrats, “because instead of wanting to heal our country and fix our country, all they want to do — in my opinion, it’s almost like they want to destroy our country. We can’t let it happen.”

In the wake of Mr. Trump’s acquittal, Republican senators pressed their inquiries into Hunter Biden’s finances, seeking to prove that the president was right to insist that Ukraine investigate him and the former vice president.

A spokeswoman for Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said the Treasury Department had readily complied with a request by the Republican majority for documents related to Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine, contrasted with the administration’s refusal to provide papers for the House impeachment inquiry.

For their part, Democrats were still seeking investigations, too. Senator Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut asked the Government Accountability Office to review whether the Trump administration misused classification power to hide information about the president’s Ukraine pressure campaign. And House Democrats have already said they will probably subpoena John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, to ask about Ukraine.

Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said Democrats should be made to answer for what she called a dishonest attack on Mr. Trump. “Maybe people should pay for that,” she said on Fox News. Asked to elaborate, she equated Mr. Trump with the United States. “People should be held accountable for anything they do to hurt this country and this president,” she said.

Mr. Trump’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast was as overtly political as any president has delivered at the annual event, traditionally a bipartisan affair marked by talk of faith and common ground. He triumphantly held up newspapers reporting his acquittal, cited rising stock markets, boasted about his approval rating and urged the audience to vote in the fall.

Mr. Trump’s speech followed a keynote address by Arthur Brooks, a Harvard professor and prominent conservative thinker, who called on Americans to “love your enemies.” At one point, Mr. Brooks asked the audience, “How many of you love somebody with whom you disagree politically?” Hands around the room shot up. “I’m going to round that off to 100 percent,” he said. But Mr. Trump did not raise his hand.

“Contempt is ripping our country apart,” Mr. Brooks continued. “We’re like a couple on the rocks in this country.” Without directly mentioning Mr. Trump, Mr. Brooks added: “Ask God to take political contempt from your heart. And sometimes when it’s too hard, ask God to help you fake it.”

Mr. Trump made no effort to fake it. “Arthur, I don’t know if I agree with you,” he said when he took the microphone. “I don’t know if Arthur is going to like what I’m going to say.”

He then launched into his grievances. “As everybody knows, my family, our great country and your president have been put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people,” he said.

Without naming them, Mr. Trump singled out Mr. Romney and Ms. Pelosi. “I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Romney. Then, referring to Ms. Pelosi, he said, “Nor do I like people who say, ‘I pray for you,’ when they know that’s not so.”

It was the first time the speaker and the president had appeared together since the State of the Union address, when Mr. Trump refused to shake Ms. Pelosi’s hand before his speech and she ripped up her copy of his speech after he gave it. When Ms. Pelosi gave a short talk at Thursday’s breakfast about the poor and persecuted, Mr. Trump refused to look at her, glowering with undisguised antipathy.

By the end of his own speech at the prayer breakfast, Mr. Trump recognized that his message did not fit the love-your-enemies theme. “I apologize. I’m trying to learn,” he said. “It’s not easy. It’s not easy. When they impeach you for nothing, then you’re supposed to like them? It’s not easy, folks. I do my best.”

At a news conference later at the Capitol, Ms. Pelosi dismissed Mr. Trump’s comments. “I don’t know if the president understands about prayer,” she told reporters, but said she prays “hard for him because he’s so off the track of our Constitution, our values.”

“He really needs our prayers,” she added. “He can say whatever he wants. But I do pray for him.”

Reporting was contributed by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Alan Rappeport, Michael Crowley and Maggie Haberman.

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