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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 62)

Trump Team, Opening Defense, Accuses Democrats of Plot to Subvert Election

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s legal defense team mounted an aggressive offense on Saturday as it opened its side in the Senate impeachment trial by attacking his Democratic accusers as partisan witch-hunters trying to remove him because they could not beat him at the ballot box.

After three days of arguments by the House managers prosecuting Mr. Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors, the president’s lawyers presented the senators a radically different view of the facts and the Constitution, seeking to turn the Democrats’ charges back on them while denouncing the whole process as illegitimate.

“They’re asking you to tear up all of the ballots all across the country on your own initiative, take that decision away from the American people,” Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, said of the House managers. “They’re here,” he added moments later, “to perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in American history, and we can’t allow that to happen.”

From the White House, Mr. Trump weighed in on Twitter with attacks on prominent Democrats including Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead prosecutor for Democrats, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, portraying his impeachment trial as a forum for convicting them instead.

“Our case against lyin’, cheatin’, liddle’ Adam “Shifty” Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, Nervous Nancy Pelosi, their leader, dumb as a rock AOC, & the entire Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrat Party, starts today at 10:00 A.M.,” he wrote.

The abbreviated Saturday trial session, which opened earlier than previous days and lasted about two hours so that senators could leave town for the rest of the weekend, was the first time Mr. Trump’s representatives have formally made a case for him in a congressional proceeding since the House opened its impeachment inquiry back in September.

With the odds stacked against him in the Democratic-run House, Mr. Trump refused to send lawyers to participate in Judiciary Committee hearings last month, complaining that he was not given due process. But he faced a more receptive audience in the Republican-controlled Senate, where the White House has been working in tandem with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_167780757_94a1b020-c73e-4289-9cc4-1524976154ea-articleLarge Trump Team, Opening Defense, Accuses Democrats of Plot to Subvert Election Zelensky, Volodymyr Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Starr, Kenneth W Senate Sekulow, Jay Alan Schiff, Adam B impeachment Dershowitz, Alan M Cipollone, Pat A

President Trump’s defense team will a more receptive audience in the Republican-controlled Senate, where the White House has been working in tandem with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

While the House managers presented a damning case against the president over three days of arguments that wrapped up Friday night, Mr. Trump still appeared certain to win acquittal in a trial that requires the support of two-thirds of senators to convict and remove him from office. So the main priority for the president’s legal team as it opened its arguments was not to undermine its own advantage or give wavering moderate Republican senators reasons to support Democratic requests for witnesses and documentary evidence.

A vote on that question will not come until next week, and it remained the central question of the impeachment trial, with the potential to either prolong the process and yield new revelations that could further damage Mr. Trump, or to bring the proceeding to a swift conclusion. But after long days of exhaustive arguments by the House managers, there was little indication that there would be enough Republican support to extend the trial by considering new evidence.

In keeping with their combative client’s own style, Mr. Trump’s lawyers not only insisted he “did absolutely nothing wrong,” as Mr. Cipollone put it, but also assailed his accusers in unrelenting terms, painting them as partisans not prosecutors. The lawyers sought to turn the tables on the Democrats by hurling back at them some of the same allegations they have made against their client. By their account, the Democrats were the ones who were abusing their power to steal an election.

Mr. Trump faces two articles of impeachment, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, stemming from his effort to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into his Democratic rivals while withholding nearly $400 million in congressionally approved security aid, a decision that a government agency called a violation of law.

His lawyers maintained that he had every right to set foreign policy as he saw fit and that he had valid concerns about corruption in Ukraine and burden sharing with Europe that prompted him to suspend the aid temporarily. They also have argued that he was protecting presidential prerogatives when he refused to allow aides to testify or provide documents in the House proceedings.

Michael Purpura, a deputy White House counsel, said that Mr. Trump did not explicitly link American aid to his demand for investigations during his July 25 phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and noted that Mr. Zelensky has publicly said he did not feel pressured. Mr. Purpura added that there could not have been an illicit quid pro quo because the Ukrainians did not know about the aid freeze until a month later, although some American and Ukrainian officials have said in fact they knew as early as the day of the presidents’ call.

Mr. Purpura dismissed much of the testimony collected during the House impeachment hearings as hearsay, and played video clips of former officials saying they knew of no quid pro quo. He also played a succession of clips of Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, testifying that he “presumed” there was a link between the suspended aid and the demand for investigations but did not actually know it for a fact.

And following the president’s lead, they targeted Mr. Schiff, replaying video from a hearing last year in which he embellished Mr. Trump’s conversation with Ukraine’s leader for dramatic effect, saying he was describing the “sum and character” of what the president had tried to communicate.

“That’s fake,” Mr. Purpura, a White House lawyer, said after the clip ended. “That’s not the real call. That’s not the evidence here.”

The lawyers said the House managers had also left out any exculpatory evidence during their presentation to the Senate.

“Every time you see one of these pieces of evidence, ask yourself, ‘Why didn’t I see that in the first three days?’” Mr. Cipollone said. “They had it. It came out of their process. Why didn’t they show that to the Senate?”

Mr. Purpura offered his own answer: “Because none of this of this fits their narrative and it wouldn’t lead to their predetermined outcome.”

Over the course of their arguments, Mr. Trump’s lawyers signaled they plan to discuss in detail former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden. The younger Mr. Biden earned large paychecks sitting on the board of a Ukrainian energy company at the same time his father managed Ukraine policy for the Obama administration. They also assailed the F.B.I. for its surveillance of a onetime Trump campaign aide, which has been criticized by an inspector general report.

Under the trial rules, the House managers had no speaking opportunity on the floor on Saturday, but they delivered a 28,578-page trial record to the secretary of the Senate that served as the foundation of their case.

“The record delivered today presents a mountain of evidence showing the president has committed the impeachable offenses that the House has charged — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — and he should be removed from office,” the managers said in a statement. “The factual and legal record laid out by the House managers has yet to be substantively rebutted by President Trump or his lawyers, who have instead sought to hide behind novel and frivolous legal theories.”

The White House arguments on Saturday were meant to be what Jay Sekulow, another of the president’s lawyers, called a “sneak preview” before being resumed on Monday.

The White House has also tapped Ken Starr, the former independent counsel whose investigation led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998, and Alan M. Dershowitz, the celebrity lawyer who represented O.J. Simpson, Jeffrey Epstein and other famous defendants.

The White House side has 24 hours over as many as three days to present its side but the president’s lawyers said they will not take that much time.

Senators on both sides of the aisle grew weary as the House team used all of its time, going late into the evening three nights in a row and repeating many of the same arguments. Mr. Trump’s team played to senators’ exhaustion, repeatedly noting that the other side took nearly all of its allotted 24 hours and vowing to be “efficient” themselves.

After the president’s defense is complete, the senators themselves will enter the trial for the first time, although even then without speaking. They will have up to 16 hours over a couple of days to submit questions in writing that will be read by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who is presiding over the trial.

The Senate will then consider any motions to dismiss the case or to call witnesses and demand documents. The House managers need at least four Republican senators to join the Democrats to call witnesses. If no witnesses are called and no motion to dismiss the case is passed, the Senate would then move to final deliberations on conviction or acquittal, with a verdict possible as early as next week.

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Trump Impeachment: Highlights of Saturday’s Trial

Westlake Legal Group 25dc-highlights-facebookJumbo Trump Impeachment: Highlights of Saturday’s Trial United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate impeachment Ethics and Official Misconduct Cipollone, Pat A

Here’s what you need to know:

After three days of arguments by the House managers prosecuting Mr. Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors, the president’s lawyers presented the senators a radically different view of the facts and the Constitution, seeking to turn the Democrats’ charges back on them while denouncing the whole process as illegitimate.

“They’re asking you to tear up all of the ballots all across the country on your own initiative, take that decision away from the American people,” Mr. Cipollone said of the House managers. “They’re here,” he added moments later, “to perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in American history, and we can’t allow that to happen.”

Another of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Mr. Purpura, repeatedly pointed to clips of testimony from the House’s impeachment inquiry that he said undermined the argument that Mr. Trump had engaged in an illicit quid pro quo by holding military aid from Ukraine while pressuring the country to announce investigations into his political rivals.

“We know there was no quid pro quo on the call, we know that from the transcript,” Mr. Purpura said. “There couldn’t possibly have been a quid pro quo because the Ukrainians didn’t know the security assistance was on hold” until a Politico article reported that, he said.

“There can’t be a threat without the person knowing he’s being threatened,” Mr. Purpura said. He played testimony from the House hearings where administration officials testified they did not learn of the freeze until the article published in late August.

But a former Ukrainian deputy foreign minister later said she learned of the aid hold on July 30, and one Defense Department official said in congressional testimony that Ukrainian diplomats knew about it by July 25.

President Trump’s lawyers appear to have noticed how restless senators got during the more than 21 hours of arguments by the House Democratic managers over three days.

The president’s team repeatedly jabbed at the managers for extending their presentations for hours, reminding the senators of how long they had to sit through the Democratic arguments.

Michael Purpura, one of the White House lawyers, noted several times the “21 hours, or more than 21 hours,” that Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead House manager, and the other Democrats spoke.

The defense, like the House managers, was allotted 24 hours over as many as three days to present its side.

Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, opened the arguments with a promise: We’re going to be very respectful of your time, he told the senators, vowing to take “about two to three hours at most, and to be out of here by one o’clock at the latest.”

Just after noon, with nearly an hour left to spare, Mr. Cipollone made his closing remarks.

The strategy appears to have two goals: Remind senators of how much repetition there was in the House managers’ case. And perhaps to earn some good will from the senators as they put on a case that apparently will be much shorter.

Their argument finished, the House managers made one last stab on Saturday morning to underscore the power of their impeachment case against Mr.Trump by marching from the House to the Senate with boxes filled with 28,578 pages of transcripts and other evidence collected during their inquiry.

Shortly after 9:45 a.m., the impeachment managers, led by Mr. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, emerged from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and walked to the Senate as their aides wheeled four carts of white bankers boxes stuffed with binders of documents behind them.

“The record delivered today presents a mountain of evidence showing the president has committed the impeachable offenses that the House has charged — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — and he should be removed from office,” the managers said in a statement. “The factual and legal record laid out by the House managers has yet to be substantively rebutted by President Trump or his lawyers, who have instead sought to hide behind novel and frivolous legal theories.”

This week, Republicans repeatedly rejected Democratic attempts to subpoena more documents and call new witnesses. That question will come up again after arguments from both sides and questions from senators.

Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman, Sharon LaFraniere and Michael D. Shear contributed reporting.

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Lamar Alexander, Set to Leave Office, Is G.O.P. Wild Card on Witnesses

Westlake Legal Group 25dc-alexander-facebookJumbo Lamar Alexander, Set to Leave Office, Is G.O.P. Wild Card on Witnesses Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Stolberg, Sheryl Gay Senate Republican Party Collins, Susan M Alexander, Lamar

WASHINGTON — The ghost of Howard H. Baker Jr., the Republican senator from Tennessee who turned against Richard M. Nixon during Watergate, is hovering over Senator Lamar Alexander.

Mr. Alexander, a third-term Republican from Tennessee who is retiring at the end of this year, has said that no one outside his family has had more influence on him than Mr. Baker, the former Senate majority leader who is remembered for the penetrating question he posed as Nixon stared down impeachment: “What did the president know, and when did he know it?”

Now Mr. Alexander may hold in his hands the fate of another Republican president who is facing removal from office. He is one of four Republican moderates who have expressed openness to bringing witnesses into President Trump’s impeachment trial — and the only one who is not running for re-election and arguably has nothing to lose.

Yet as the Senate heads toward a vote on the matter, Mr. Alexander — who has broken with Mr. Trump over trade, the border wall and health care — does not appear ready for a Howard Baker moment. He has said he will make a decision about witnesses after Mr. Trump’s team presents its defense and senators have an opportunity to ask questions, but he does not sound eager to defect.

“As the House managers have said many times, they’ve presented us with a mountain of overwhelming evidence,” he told reporters in the Capitol on Friday. “So we have a lot to consider already.”

Mr. Alexander’s caution suggests what Republicans in Tennessee and around the country already know: that the Howard Baker wing of their party, the one populated by moderate-leaning conservatives willing to reach across the political aisle, is virtually extinct. Bob Corker, another Tennessee Republican, learned as much when he spoke out against Mr. Trump and then felt compelled to retire in 2018 from the Senate. So did Jeff Flake, the former Republican senator from Arizona, who watched some of Mr. Trump’s trial from the Senate gallery this week.

“As a Republican, it pains me when I see Republicans, House Republicans, try to maintain that the president did no wrong, that this is somehow normal. It’s not,” Mr. Flake told reporters, though he said he was not sure he would vote to convict Mr. Trump.

That kind of talk is absent among Republicans in the Senate these days, even from members like Mr. Alexander, who in 2016 made clear that “Trump was not his first choice for president,” as his hometown newspaper, The Nashville Tennessean reported. But if Mr. Alexander has issues with the president, he tends to raise them quietly, people who know him say.

There is little question that Mr. Alexander will vote to acquit Mr. Trump. He has called the House impeachment inquiry “a circus,” and said Democrats made a “mistake” in charging Mr. Trump with high crimes and misdemeanors for pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. But he was among four Senate Republicans — along with Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah — who pressed Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, to allow a vote on whether to subpoena witnesses and seek new documents.

The White House has regarded Mr. Alexander — who does not have a close relationship with Mr. Trump — as a wild card in the proceeding.

Democrats, who control 47 votes in the Senate, would need four Republicans to join them to expand the scope of the trial, but so far only two — Ms. Collins and Mr. Romney — seem to be leaning into the idea.

And Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, who is close with Mr. Alexander, is determined to hold Republicans together to block it. The two men met in Washington in 1969, when Mr. Alexander was a young aide in Nixon’s White House and Mr. McConnell a legislative assistant on Capitol Hill. It was Mr. Baker who introduced them.

“I seek his counsel on a weekly basis on a whole variety of issues,” Mr. McConnell said in a brief statement. “He’s my closest friend in the Senate.”

Mr. McConnell has sometimes used Mr. Alexander as a conduit to Democrats, particularly to Harry Reid, the former senator from Nevada, when he was minority leader. Mr. Reid and Mr. McConnell did not get along, so Mr. Alexander — who had been in Republican leadership but stepped away to focus more on legislation — served as an “honest broker” between the two, said Jim Manley, a former aide to Mr. Reid.

But Mr. Manley said Mr. Alexander “still toed the party line.”

When Mr. McConnell put forth a resolution setting up a speedy timetable for the impeachment trial, some Republicans balked and Democrats objected. But Mr. Alexander issued a statement praising the rules.

People close to Mr. Alexander say they have no idea whether he will vote to allow witnesses — and that he may not know yet himself. Should he do so, he would be a “pariah” in the state, said one conservative activist in Tennessee, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about a sitting senator.

His seeming reluctance to speak out against Mr. Trump has disappointed some of Mr. Alexander’s admirers. Richard L. Clinton, a professor emeritus of political science at Oregon State University who was in the same fraternity as Mr. Alexander at Vanderbilt more than 60 years ago, posted an open letter this week to the senator on the web site of the progressive newsletter Common Dreams.

Under the headline “Where is Your Courage and Decency?” Mr. Clinton wrote that he remembered Mr. Alexander as “an exceptionally intelligent, hard-working, and trustworthy young man,” and was thus “perplexed” by his silence. He urged the senator to renounce Mr. Trump and “employ his considerable abilities and unique position to begin making our country whole again.”

But aggravating others is not Mr. Alexander’s style; he appears to see himself as more of a bridge builder than a rabble-rouser, which suggests he is unlikely to vote for witnesses in the impeachment trial.

“Lamar is not looking for a one-time event to have what I call the shocking headline,” said Tom Griscom, a close friend of Mr. Alexander and former press secretary to Mr. Baker. “You’ve got a template of who he is over a career — that doesn’t change. He’s not looking to write a post-note at the back end of it.”

On policy matters, though, Mr. Alexander has not been afraid to part ways with Mr. Trump. While he has voted with the president 90 percent of the time, according to the website FiveThirtyEight, his departures are significant. He voted to overturn Mr. Trump’s plan to use military funds to build a border wall, fought the president over tariffs and sought to block him from withdrawing troops from Syria.

At 79, Mr. Alexander is an icon in Tennessee politics — twice elected governor; president of the University of Tennessee; education secretary to President George Bush; an unsuccessful presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000 and a senator for the past 17 years. Pale and bespectacled, he is regarded as a serious legislator (he oversees the Senate health committee) and an “institutionalist” — a guardian of the chamber and its traditions.

”I’ve always loved working with him; I’m a big fan of his,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, who is running for her party’s nomination for president. “I just think that he’s someone who really tries to get things done.”

John Geer, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University and co-director of the Vanderbilt Poll, said his surveys show a “strong majority” of Tennesseans believe Mr. Trump did “something wrong,” and while Mr. Alexander is under pressure from conservatives, “the Baker wing” of the Republican Party would stick with him if he voted for witnesses.

“He’s not voting for impeachment; he’s made that very clear,” Professor Geer said. “He’s voting to learn more, which is frankly something pretty easy to defend.”

Mr. Alexander got his start in politics working for Mr. Baker in the 1960s. In 1973, when Mr. Baker was the influential ranking minority member of the Senate Watergate Committee, he asked Mr. Alexander, a lawyer, to be his chief counsel. But Mr. Alexander turned down the job; he wanted to seek public office in Tennessee. He has modeled himself after Mr. Baker, adopting the late senator’s habit of giving careful thought to every decision.

Often forgotten about Mr. Baker is that his famous question was actually uttered in an effort to protect Nixon; only after months and months of hearings did he turn against the president. Victoria Bassetti, a former Senate aide and fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, who has written about the episode, said Mr. Alexander’s situation is different.

“What happened with Howard Baker was the result of the slow, steady accumulation of wisdom and insight and just the scales dropping from his eyes over the course of months and months of close careful attention to what was going on,” she said. “And that’s not happening in the Senate today.”

What is happening instead is that many Republicans reflexively defend Mr. Trump, and those who are unwilling to increasingly feel crowded out of their party, vulnerable to primary challenges from the president’s loyal base. People close to Mr. Alexander deny that he is leaving the Senate for that reason. He simply wants to “go out at the top of his game,” as one friend put it.

But the politics of his state have shifted under Mr. Alexander’s feet. In 2014, he faced a tough primary challenge — his first serious competition in years — from a little-known state representative and conservative Tea Party candidate, Joe Carr. Although Mr. Alexander won the race handily, many in Tennessee say he would have almost certainly faced another primary fight this year.

For now, Mr. Alexander is eager to get back to accomplishing his highest legislative priority: a bipartisan package of bills aimed at lowering the cost of medical care, which has already passed his committee. But no matter what he does on impeachment, like Mr. Baker, he will almost certainly be remembered for it.

“The reality is that this is Lamar’s last year in the Senate,” said Bill Haslam, a former governor of Tennessee. “He would rather be working on legislation that he thinks can make a difference for the country. This is not how he would choose to spend the first month of his last year.”

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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Could Trump Muzzle John Bolton? The Limits of Executive Privilege, Explained

Westlake Legal Group merlin_136614993_a42ae662-fc3d-47b8-bf4a-e37252b17dc7-facebookJumbo Could Trump Muzzle John Bolton? The Limits of Executive Privilege, Explained United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Suits and Litigation (Civil) subpoenas Senate Mulvaney, Mick Law and Legislation Justice Department House of Representatives Freedom of Speech and Expression Executive Privilege, Doctrine of Constitution (US) Bolton, John R

WASHINGTON — Republican senators allied with President Trump are increasingly arguing that the Senate should not call witnesses or subpoena documents for his impeachment trial because Mr. Trump has threatened to invoke executive privilege, and a legal fight would take too long to resolve.

But it is far from clear that Mr. Trump has the power to gag or delay a witness who is willing to comply with a subpoena and tell the Senate what he knows about the president’s interactions with Ukraine anyway — as Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser John R. Bolton has said he would do.

Here is an explanation of executive privilege legal issues.

It is a power that presidents can sometimes use to keep information secret.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution implicitly gives presidents the authority to keep internal communications, especially those involving their close White House aides, secret under certain circumstances. The idea is that if officials fear that Congress might someday gain access to their private communications, it would chill the candor of the advice presidents receive and inhibit their ability to carry out their constitutionally assigned duties.

Not by itself.

The privilege has traditionally been wielded as a shield, not a sword. It has no built-in enforcement mechanism to prevent a former official from complying with a subpoena in defiance of a president’s orders, or to punish one afterward for having done so.

Mr. Bolton, one of the four current and former officials whom Democrats want to call as a witness, has said that he will show up to testify if the Senate subpoenas him for the impeachment trial, even though the White House has told him not to disclose what he knows about Mr. Trump’s private statements and actions toward Ukraine.

A valid assertion of the privilege would protect a current or former official who chooses not to comply with a subpoena.

Three other officials Democrats want to call as witnesses — Mr. Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney; a top national-security aide to Mr. Mulvaney, Robert Blair; and Michael Duffey, an official in the White House budget office who handled the military aid to Ukraine — are expected to resist appearing if subpoenaed.

Normally it is a crime to defy a subpoena, but the Justice Department will decline to prosecute a recalcitrant official if the president invokes the privilege. Congress can also sue that official seeking a court order, but the department, defending that official, will cite the privilege to argue that case should be dismissed — and as grounds to appeal any ruling that the subpoena is nevertheless valid, keeping the case going.

The Trump administration has broadly pursued a strategy of fighting House oversight and impeachment subpoenas, resulting in a string of lower-court losses that have nevertheless succeeded in running down the clock. Senate Republicans have argued that any effort to enforce impeachment subpoenas could result in a long and drawn-out judicial battle as a reason for the moderate members of their caucus not to break ranks and join Democrats in voting to subpoena witnesses and documents.

Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who is leading the House impeachment managers, has proposed that the Supreme Court Chief Justice, John G. Roberts Jr., who is presiding over the trial, could swiftly rule on the validity of any executive privilege claim. The trial has “a perfectly good judge sitting behind me,” Mr. Schiff said.

But Chief Justice Roberts does not embody and is not functioning as the Supreme Court. Several legal experts said that even if he were to rule that any invocation of the privilege is not valid, a subpoena recipient could ignore him and continue to defer to the president.

Then the Senate would likely still have to go through the normal court process to seek a judicial order to hear from the witness.

The administration could try, but it would face serious hurdles.

In theory, the Justice Department could file a lawsuit and ask a judge to issue a restraining order barring Mr. Bolton from testifying on the grounds that he might divulge information that is subject to executive privilege. But the government has never tried to do that.

Even if a judge agreed that the information the Senate would be seeking is covered by a valid claim of executive privilege, it is not clear that any judge or higher court would issue a restraining order. Under a constitutional doctrine called prior restraint, the First Amendment severely limits the ability of the government to gag speech before its expression.

“A restraining order is unlikely because it would be unprecedented, a threat to First Amendment values, and — in this context — a threat to fundamental checks and balances,” said Peter Shane, an Ohio State University professor and the co-author of a casebook on separation-of-powers law.

It’s fuzzy. The scope and limits of the president’s power to keep internal executive branch information secret are ill-defined because in practice, administration officials and lawmakers have typically resolved executive privilege disputes through deals to accommodate investigators’ needs to avoid definitive judicial rulings.

In a 1974 Supreme Court case about whether President Richard M. Nixon had to turn over tapes of his Oval Office conversations to the Watergate prosecutor, the court ruled that executive privilege can be overcome if the information is needed for a criminal case. Nixon resigned 16 days later.

The Supreme Court in the Nixon case noted several times that the information sought did not involve presidential discussions about diplomatic or military matters, so the Justice Department might argue that the Watergate precedent does not cover Mr. Trump’s internal communications about military aid to Ukraine.

Nevertheless, the courts would most likely use a balancing test, weighing the presidency’s need for private internal deliberations against Congress’s need for the specific information to investigate possible high-level wrongdoing, said Mark J. Rozell, a George Mason University professor who has written books about executive privilege.

Noting the Nixon-era precedent, he said he doubted that a claim of executive privilege would be upheld in the context of impeachment because “the courts don’t give all that much deference to claims of presidential secrecy in cases of alleged wrongdoing.”

No.

In a related legal dispute, the Trump administration has argued that White House officials are “absolutely immune” from being compelled to respond to a subpoena when Congress is seeking information about their official duties.

If that were true, it would mean they did not even have to show up, separate and apart from whether they can lawfully decline to answer a particular question in deference to a president’s claim that the answer is covered by executive privilege.

Late last year, a Federal District Court judge rejected that theory in a case involving a congressional subpoena to Mr. Trump’s former White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II. But Mr. McGahn does not want to cooperate and has permitted the Justice Department to file an appeal on his behalf, and the litigation is continuing.

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Could Trump Muzzle John Bolton? The Limits of Executive Privilege, Explained

Westlake Legal Group merlin_136614993_a42ae662-fc3d-47b8-bf4a-e37252b17dc7-facebookJumbo Could Trump Muzzle John Bolton? The Limits of Executive Privilege, Explained United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Suits and Litigation (Civil) subpoenas Senate Mulvaney, Mick Law and Legislation Justice Department House of Representatives Freedom of Speech and Expression Executive Privilege, Doctrine of Constitution (US) Bolton, John R

WASHINGTON — Republican senators allied with President Trump are increasingly arguing that the Senate should not call witnesses or subpoena documents for his impeachment trial because Mr. Trump has threatened to invoke executive privilege, and a legal fight would take too long to resolve.

But it is far from clear that Mr. Trump has the power to gag or delay a witness who is willing to comply with a subpoena and tell the Senate what he knows about the president’s interactions with Ukraine anyway — as Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser John R. Bolton has said he would do.

Here is an explanation of executive privilege legal issues.

It is a power that presidents can sometimes use to keep information secret.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution implicitly gives presidents the authority to keep internal communications, especially those involving their close White House aides, secret under certain circumstances. The idea is that if officials fear that Congress might someday gain access to their private communications, it would chill the candor of the advice presidents receive and inhibit their ability to carry out their constitutionally assigned duties.

Not by itself.

The privilege has traditionally been wielded as a shield, not a sword. It has no built-in enforcement mechanism to prevent a former official from complying with a subpoena in defiance of a president’s orders, or to punish one afterward for having done so.

Mr. Bolton, one of the four current and former officials whom Democrats want to call as a witness, has said that he will show up to testify if the Senate subpoenas him for the impeachment trial, even though the White House has told him not to disclose what he knows about Mr. Trump’s private statements and actions toward Ukraine.

A valid assertion of the privilege would protect a current or former official who chooses not to comply with a subpoena.

Three other officials Democrats want to call as witnesses — Mr. Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney; a top national-security aide to Mr. Mulvaney, Robert Blair; and Michael Duffey, an official in the White House budget office who handled the military aid to Ukraine — are expected to resist appearing if subpoenaed.

Normally it is a crime to defy a subpoena, but the Justice Department will decline to prosecute a recalcitrant official if the president invokes the privilege. Congress can also sue that official seeking a court order, but the department, defending that official, will cite the privilege to argue that case should be dismissed — and as grounds to appeal any ruling that the subpoena is nevertheless valid, keeping the case going.

The Trump administration has broadly pursued a strategy of fighting House oversight and impeachment subpoenas, resulting in a string of lower-court losses that have nevertheless succeeded in running down the clock. Senate Republicans have argued that any effort to enforce impeachment subpoenas could result in a long and drawn-out judicial battle as a reason for the moderate members of their caucus not to break ranks and join Democrats in voting to subpoena witnesses and documents.

Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who is leading the House impeachment managers, has proposed that the Supreme Court Chief Justice, John G. Roberts Jr., who is presiding over the trial, could swiftly rule on the validity of any executive privilege claim. The trial has “a perfectly good judge sitting behind me,” Mr. Schiff said.

But Chief Justice Roberts does not embody and is not functioning as the Supreme Court. Several legal experts said that even if he were to rule that any invocation of the privilege is not valid, a subpoena recipient could ignore him and continue to defer to the president.

Then the Senate would likely still have to go through the normal court process to seek a judicial order to hear from the witness.

The administration could try, but it would face serious hurdles.

In theory, the Justice Department could file a lawsuit and ask a judge to issue a restraining order barring Mr. Bolton from testifying on the grounds that he might divulge information that is subject to executive privilege. But the government has never tried to do that.

Even if a judge agreed that the information the Senate would be seeking is covered by a valid claim of executive privilege, it is not clear that any judge or higher court would issue a restraining order. Under a constitutional doctrine called prior restraint, the First Amendment severely limits the ability of the government to gag speech before its expression.

“A restraining order is unlikely because it would be unprecedented, a threat to First Amendment values, and — in this context — a threat to fundamental checks and balances,” said Peter Shane, an Ohio State University professor and the co-author of a casebook on separation-of-powers law.

It’s fuzzy. The scope and limits of the president’s power to keep internal executive branch information secret are ill-defined because in practice, administration officials and lawmakers have typically resolved executive privilege disputes through deals to accommodate investigators’ needs to avoid definitive judicial rulings.

In a 1974 Supreme Court case about whether President Richard M. Nixon had to turn over tapes of his Oval Office conversations to the Watergate prosecutor, the court ruled that executive privilege can be overcome if the information is needed for a criminal case. Nixon resigned 16 days later.

The Supreme Court in the Nixon case noted several times that the information sought did not involve presidential discussions about diplomatic or military matters, so the Justice Department might argue that the Watergate precedent does not cover Mr. Trump’s internal communications about military aid to Ukraine.

Nevertheless, the courts would most likely use a balancing test, weighing the presidency’s need for private internal deliberations against Congress’s need for the specific information to investigate possible high-level wrongdoing, said Mark J. Rozell, a George Mason University professor who has written books about executive privilege.

Noting the Nixon-era precedent, he said he doubted that a claim of executive privilege would be upheld in the context of impeachment because “the courts don’t give all that much deference to claims of presidential secrecy in cases of alleged wrongdoing.”

No.

In a related legal dispute, the Trump administration has argued that White House officials are “absolutely immune” from being compelled to respond to a subpoena when Congress is seeking information about their official duties.

If that were true, it would mean they did not even have to show up, separate and apart from whether they can lawfully decline to answer a particular question in deference to a president’s claim that the answer is covered by executive privilege.

Late last year, a Federal District Court judge rejected that theory in a case involving a congressional subpoena to Mr. Trump’s former White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II. But Mr. McGahn does not want to cooperate and has permitted the Justice Department to file an appeal on his behalf, and the litigation is continuing.

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What to Watch For in Trump’s Impeachment Trial on Saturday

Westlake Legal Group 25dc-whattowatch-facebookJumbo What to Watch For in Trump’s Impeachment Trial on Saturday United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Sekulow, Jay Alan Schiff, Adam B Republican Party impeachment Democratic Party

President Trump’s lawyers will begin presenting their defense on Saturday, hoping to deliver a sharp counterargument to three days of presentations that House impeachment managers wrapped up Friday night.

As Democrats ended their opening arguments, Republican senators appeared largely unmoved in their belief that Mr. Trump should remain in office, and dismissed the notion that the president’s actions rose to the level of an impeachable offense. But some conceded that the managers, in particular Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, had pieced together a case that at times was impressive.

For a few hours this weekend, Mr. Trump’s legal team will have a chance to change the tone in the Senate chamber.

What we’re expecting to see: A first look at how the president’s defense strategy will play out in the Senate, and at the confrontational approach his lawyers seem prepared to take in their full formal arguments next week.

When we’re likely to see it: The Senate has asked Mr. Trump’s team to begin at 10 a.m. and limit itself to three hours.

How to follow it: The New York Times’s congressional and White House teams will be following all of the developments. Visit nytimes.com for coverage throughout the day.

On Friday, Jay Sekulow, a member of Mr. Trump’s legal team, characterized the presentation he and his colleagues plan to make on Saturday as “a trailer” and “coming attractions.” He added that the more meaningful and substantial presentation of his team’s case will be reserved for next week.

Nonetheless, the president’s lawyers will have three hours, and anything they say will resonate over the weekend and could be seized on by Democratic presidential candidates who will be campaigning aggressively ahead of the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.

With this in mind, the president’s lawyers are likely to take the opportunity to try out a few sound bites that could foreshadow the arguments they plan to push in their fuller presentation on Monday.

Senate Democrats on Friday began openly expressing doubt that they would be able to muster the support they need from Republicans to subpoena new witnesses or introduce new evidence in the trial. Yet as House managers brought their opening arguments to a close, new evidence emerged in the form of a recording that seemed to document the president demanding the removal of Marie L. Yovanovitch as the United States ambassador to Ukraine.

How Republicans react to the recording’s existence could provide clues as to whether it has the potential to affect the vote expected next week on whether any additional evidence will be entered into the record before the trial’s conclusion.

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Lev Parnas Says He Has Recording of Trump Calling for Ambassador’s Firing

Westlake Legal Group 24dc-recording-facebookJumbo Lev Parnas Says He Has Recording of Trump Calling for Ambassador’s Firing Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Parnas, Lev impeachment House Committee on Intelligence Giuliani, Rudolph W Fruman, Igor ABC News

WASHINGTON — A former associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, said on Friday that he had turned over to congressional Democrats a recording from 2018 of the president ordering the removal of Marie L. Yovanovitch as the United States ambassador to Ukraine.

The associate, Lev Parnas, who worked with Mr. Giuliani to oust the ambassador and to pressure the Ukrainian government to pursue investigations to help Mr. Trump, located the recording on Friday after its existence was first reported by ABC News, said Joseph A. Bondy, Mr. Parnas’s lawyer.

Mr. Bondy said the recording was “of high materiality to the impeachment inquiry” of Mr. Trump and that he had provided it to the House Intelligence Committee, whose chairman, Representative Adam B. Schiff, is leading the impeachment managers in their presentation of the case.

The recording emerged as Democrats continued to press the Senate to call more witnesses and seek additional evidence for the trial.

While it does not appear to provide any substantive new information about the effort to oust Ms. Yovanovitch, the possibility of the recording being played in public could provide a powerful political moment for Democrats by hammering home Mr. Trump’s personal involvement. It also illustrates that there could be more revelations from untapped evidence, even as Democrats are wrapping up their case in the Senate.

That was precisely the argument they made on Friday as they sought to overcome Republican resistance to seeking new information and extending the trial.

Patrick Boland, a spokesman for the Intelligence Committee, declined to comment.

In the recording, ABC News reported, Mr. Parnas can be heard saying that “the biggest problem there, I think where we need to start is we gotta get rid of” Ms. Yovanovitch.

“She’s basically walking around telling everybody, ‘Wait, he’s gonna get impeached, just wait,’” Mr. Parnas says on the recording, according to ABC News.

“Get rid of her!” a voice that sounds like Mr. Trump’s responds, according to ABC News. “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. O.K.? Do it.”

Those comments were directed at one of Mr. Trump’s aides who was in the room at the time, Mr. Parnas has previously said.

Ms. Yovanovitch remained in her job for another year after Mr. Trump’s remarks until she was recalled on the White House’s orders, according to testimony in the impeachment inquiry. It is not clear whether the president changed his mind, forgot about his order or was talked out of dismissing her.

Asked about the recording by Fox News, Mr. Trump said he was “not a big fan” of Ms. Yovanovitch. “I want ambassadors that are chosen by me,” he said. “I have a right to hire and fire ambassadors, and that’s a very important thing.”

The campaign to remove Ms. Yovanovitch is among the central elements of the Democratic case that Mr. Trump abused his power in an effort to pressure Ukraine’s government into announcing investigations into purported meddling in the 2016 election and into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his diplomacy in Ukraine.

Mr. Parnas had previously recounted how he and another associate of Mr. Giuliani’s, Igor Fruman, had met with Mr. Trump during a dinner for a small group of donors in a private suite at the Trump International Hotel in Washington in late April 2018. At that dinner, Mr. Parnas relayed a rumor that Ms. Yovanovitch, then the American ambassador in Kyiv, was bad-mouthing the president — an unsubstantiated claim that Ms. Yovanovitch has denied.

Republicans have sought to challenge Mr. Parnas’s credibility by noting that he is under indictment. But the recording seemed to buttress his claims that he had discussions with Mr. Trump about ousting Ms. Yovanovitch, who Mr. Parnas and Mr. Giuliani later came to believe was blocking their efforts to press the Ukrainians to commit to the investigations.

Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman had obtained direct access to the president by donating to Republican committees, and the recording suggests he spoke in front of them in a remarkably unfiltered and undiplomatic way, given their relative obscurity.

The April 2018 meeting came months before Mr. Giuliani began working with Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman to win support in Ukraine for investigations that could have helped Mr. Trump’s re-election prospects. Mr. Giuliani came to believe that Ms. Yovanovitch was blocking his efforts to advance the investigations. By early last year, Mr. Parnas had become a key intermediary between Mr. Giuliani and Ukrainian officials, including Yuriy Lutsenko, the country’s chief prosecutor at the time, who was also seeking Ms. Yovanovitch’s ouster.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly said he does not know Mr. Parnas or Mr. Fruman, who are facing federal campaign finance charges brought by prosecutors in Manhattan. They have pleaded not guilty. Mr. Giuliani is under investigation by the same prosecutors, who are examining his efforts to remove Ms. Yovanovitch.

Mr. Parnas has broken with Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump. He has provided reams of records and data to House impeachment investigators and signaled his willingness to cooperate with the prosecutors in Manhattan. Mr. Fruman’s legal team is working closely with lawyers for Mr. Giuliani — “they talk two, three times a week” — according to Mr. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor.

The recording was captured on Mr. Fruman’s phone, according to people familiar with the matter.

A lawyer for Mr. Fruman declined to comment.

Mr. Parnas and his legal team did not provide the recording to ABC News, Mr. Bondy said.

After ABC News’s report, Mr. Bondy said Mr. Parnas “undertook a renewed search of his iCloud accounts and found a copy of the recording.”

The recording “appears to corroborate” Mr. Parnas’s recollection of the April 2018 gathering at which Mr. Trump issued the order, Mr. Bondy said.

In an interview with the MSNBC host Rachel Maddow last week, Mr. Parnas said that Mr. Trump had tried to recall Ms. Yovanovitch “at least four, five times.” Mr. Parnas said he had personally spoken “once or twice” to the president “about firing her,” including at the dinner, which he said was also attended by Mr. Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr.

“I don’t know how the issue is — the conversation came up, but I do remember me telling the president the ambassador was bad-mouthing him and saying he was going to get impeached, something to that effect,” Mr. Parnas recalled. “And at that time, he turned around” to an aide “and said, ‘fire her.’ And we all — there was a silence in the room.”

Mr. Parnas added that Mr. Trump raised the subject again: “I don’t know how many times at that dinner, once or twice or three times. But he fired her several times.”

Ms. Yovanovitch came into Mr. Parnas’s sights at least partly because he had come to believe that she was opposed to his business efforts in Ukraine, where he and Mr. Fruman had hoped to break into the natural gas market, according to associates of the two men, both of whom are Soviet-born American citizens.

Prosecutors have accused Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman of donating money and pledging to raise additional funds in 2018 — some violating legal limits — for a congressman who was then enlisted in the campaign to oust Ms. Yovanovitch.

While the congressman is not named in court filings, campaign finance records identify him as former Representative Pete Sessions, Republican of Texas, who lost his re-election bid in 2018.

Less than two weeks after his dinner with Mr. Trump, Mr. Parnas met with Mr. Sessions to discuss his gas venture in Ukraine, and the meeting eventually turned to Ms. Yovanovitch. After the meeting, Mr. Sessions wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying that Ms. Yovanovitch should be fired for privately expressing “disdain” for the current administration.

Mr. Sessions has said that he wrote the letter independently of Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman, but when Ms. Yovanovitch was not removed, Mr. Sessions provided Mr. Parnas with a copy of the letter, signing his name across the back of the envelope. “Mr. President” appeared across the front.

Photographs appearing to show the signed envelope — and Mr. Parnas presenting it to Mr. Trump — were included in a batch of records provided earlier this month by Mr. Parnas to the House Intelligence Committee.

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Branding Trump a Danger, Democrats Cap the Case for His Removal

WASHINGTON — The House impeachment managers concluded their arguments against President Trump on Friday with a forceful plea for the Senate to call witnesses, while portraying his pressure campaign on Ukraine as part of a dangerous pattern of Russian appeasement that demanded his removal from office.

Ending their three-day presentation in the Senate, the president’s Democratic prosecutors summoned the ghosts of the Cold War and the realities of geopolitical tensions with Russia to argue that Mr. Trump’s abuse of power had slowly shredded delicate foreign alliances to suit his own interests.

“This is Trump first, not America first, not American ideals first,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead House manager. “And the result has been, and will continue to be, grave harm to our nation if this chamber does not stand up and say this is wrong.”

Hours later, as his time ticked down, Mr. Schiff sought to appeal to the consciences of Republican senators weighing whether to hear from witnesses and seek more documents that Mr. Trump suppressed from House investigators.

“I ask you — I implore you,” Mr. Schiff said. “Give America a fair trial. She’s worth it.”

But at one point, Mr. Schiff’s fiery final oration appeared to alienate the very Republicans he was attempting to win over. When he referred to an anonymously sourced news report that Republican senators had been warned that their heads would be “on a pike” if they voted against Mr. Trump, several of them vigorously shook their heads and broke the trial’s sworn silence to say “not true.”

“I hope it’s not true,” Mr. Schiff responded, pressing his point.

Mr. Schiff and the six other managers prosecuting the president spent much of Friday tying up the facts of the second charge, obstruction of Congress, and arguing that Mr. Trump’s attempts to shut down a congressional inquiry into his actions toward Ukraine was unprecedented and undermined the very ability of the government to correct itself.

“He is a dictator,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York. “This must not stand.”

But even as the managers pulled together their complex case, the Republican-controlled Senate appeared unmoved — not just on the question of whether to acquit Mr. Trump, which it is expected to do, but also on the crucial question of compelling witnesses and documents that the president has suppressed.

“We have heard plenty,” said Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the No. 3 Senate Republican.

He said that many in his party had quickly soured on the soaring appeals by House Democrats to repudiate Mr. Trump’s behavior. As day turned to evening on the fourth full day of the trial, many senators unaccustomed to long hours in the Capitol appeared to have simply been numbed by the House managers, and were anticipating the president’s defense, set to begin Saturday.

They were presented with three days of often vivid narrative and painstaking legal arguments that Mr. Trump sought foreign interference in the 2020 election on his own behalf, by using vital military aid and a White House meeting as leverage to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. Yet the pool of moderate Republican senators that had expressed openness to joining Democrats in insisting on witnesses or new documents appeared to be dwindling, not growing.

Comments by Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska suggested that they may have cooled to the idea, although Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah gave no indication that they had shifted.

Still, Ms. Collins was among those shaking her head when Mr. Schiff referred to the purported threat against Republican defectors, as he portrayed Mr. Trump as a tyrant bent on intimidating would-be critics.

“‘Head on a pike,’ that’s where he lost me,” Ms. Murkowski said afterward, clarifying that she meant in the speech, not necessarily on votes for witnesses. “I thought he did fine until he overreached.”

Throughout Friday, inside and outside the chamber, the House managers and Democratic senators worked in tandem to appeal to their consciences, hinting strongly at the political stakes if they failed to press for a more thorough airing of the charges against the president.

“We’ve made the argument forcefully, the American people have made the argument forcefully that they want the truth,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. “Will four Republican senators — just four — rise to the occasion, do their duty to the Constitution, to their country to seek the truth?”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_167720496_e41957fe-74dc-4276-a2ff-bbe9bc7711db-articleLarge Branding Trump a Danger, Democrats Cap the Case for His Removal Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates House of Representatives

“It was clear who was the chief cook and bottle washer in this whole horrible scheme, this whole evil scheme: Mick Mulvaney,” Mr. Schumer said before the proceedings got underway.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

They got an unexpected lift early in the day when a 2018 recording surfaced of Mr. Trump appearing to order the firing of Marie L. Yovanovitch, then the United States ambassador to Ukraine. The recording was first reported by ABC News and later handed over to the House by Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer.

The recording appeared to confirm earlier claims by Mr. Parnas that he had told Mr. Trump about rumors that Ms. Yovanovitch was not loyal to him. The House’s impeachment inquiry concluded that the ambassador was ultimately removed in 2019 as part of Mr. Trump’s attempt to strong-arm Ukraine to announce investigations of his political adversaries.

“Get rid of her,” Mr. Trump can be heard to say, according to ABC. “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care.”

Without an agreement to take new testimony or subpoena documents relevant to the case, Mr. Trump may be headed toward a historically speedy acquittal in as little as a week from now, before the Iowa caucuses or his planned State of the Union address. That would make the third impeachment trial of a president in American history the shortest.

Mr. Trump’s defense team plans to open its arguments on Saturday, though senators were expected to meet for only an abbreviated, two- to three-hour session before adjourning the trial until Monday afternoon.

Mr. Trump was not pleased about the schedule, writing Friday morning on Twitter that his team had been “forced” to start on a Saturday, a time “called Death Valley in T.V.” He also turned around Democrats’ accusation, declaring that “the Impeachment Hoax is interfering with the 2020 Election,” not him.

Jay Sekulow, one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, said his team would treat the weekend session like a “trailer,” providing an overview of their case for acquittal while holding back until Monday the president’s more television-friendly lawyers, the former independent counsel Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz.

Democrats used almost every one of the 24 hours afforded to them by senators to make their case, determined to persuade American voters watching at home who will cast ballots in just 10 months, if not senators.

On Wednesday, Mr. Schiff and each of the managers took turns introducing the facts of the case in narrative form, unfolding the tale of Mr. Trump’s alleged misconduct chapter by chapter. Beginning with the abrupt removal of Ms. Yovanovitch, they said that Mr. Trump empowered first Mr. Giuliani and then American officials to push Ukraine to announce investigations of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats, before himself asking that country’s leader to “do us a favor.”

When the Ukrainians resisted, they added, he withheld a coveted White House meeting and almost $400 million in military aid the fledgling democracy badly needed to fend off a menacing Russia. And when Congress found out, he undertook an across-the-board campaign to block officials from testifying or producing records that would reveal the scheme.

On Thursday, Mr. Nadler lectured extensively on the constitutional and historical standards for impeachment, setting the stage for the managers to methodically argue that Mr. Trump’s actions toward Ukraine constituted an impeachable abuse of power that warrants his removal from office.

Mr. Schiff completed that case on Friday, directly engaging the national security implications of Mr. Trump’s actions as he argued that the president was a serial offender in seeking foreign help for his own political benefit, allowing himself to be used as a tool of Moscow’s agenda in the process. As a candidate, Mr. Trump welcomed Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to help him win the White House, Mr. Schiff noted, and then as president, he repeatedly cast doubt on the conclusions of American intelligence agencies about that interference. Later, Mr. Trump said outright that he would welcome foreign campaign assistance again.

The California Democrat played a video of the news conference in Helsinki, Finland, where Mr. Trump stood next to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and accepted his denial that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election.

“That’s one hell of a Russian intelligence coup,” Mr. Schiff said. “They got the president of the United States to provide cover for their own interference with our election.”

At another point, Mr. Schiff showed a clip of Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who was an outspoken champion of Ukraine and Russia hawk, promoting the benefits of bipartisan American support for Kyiv to contain Russia and its anti-democratic agenda.

The move appeared to be a subtle effort to appeal to Republican senators, many of whom respected Mr. McCain and share his strongly anti-Russia stance, to place those values above their loyalty to the president.

As the managers moved on to the obstruction of Congress charge, they contended that Mr. Trump’s blockade of evidence was far more pernicious than the kind of partisan squabbles that are typical between Congress and the White House.

Even Presidents Bill Clinton and Richard M. Nixon, they said, had produced documents to the investigations that would threaten them with impeachment. Mr. Trump’s administration had not handed over a single page, declaring for the first time an across the board objection to House subpoenas.

Trying to head off Mr. Trump’s defense team, which argues that the president was lawfully protecting the interests of the executive branch from a politically motivated House, the managers pointed out that he never actually invoked executive privilege, the legal mechanism afforded to presidents.

“Only one person in the world has the power to issue an order to the entire executive branch,” said Representatives Val B. Demings, Democrat of Florida. “And President Trump used that power not to faithfully execute the law, but to order agencies and employees of the executive branch to conceal evidence of his misconduct.”

Reporting was contributed by Maggie Haberman, Carl Hulse, Catie Edmondson, Michael D. Shear and Emily Cochrane.

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Trump Tries to Upstage Drama in the Senate With His Own Programming

Westlake Legal Group merlin_167724795_de7d1367-d8ed-4e63-b3b5-e5ec9be8a5d8-facebookJumbo Trump Tries to Upstage Drama in the Senate With His Own Programming Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Palestinians Middle East Israel impeachment Abortion

WASHINGTON — On the chilly grounds of the National Mall, within sight of the gleaming white Capitol where he is on trial for high crimes and misdemeanors, President Trump on Friday rallied abortion opponents gathered for their annual march and equated their battle with his own.

“They are coming after me,” Mr. Trump declared about a half-hour before the day’s trial session opened, with two of the juror-senators joining him onstage, “because I am fighting for you and we are fighting for those who have no voice. And we will win because we know how to win. We all know how to win. We all know how to win.”

For Mr. Trump, the strategy to win these days is counterprogramming. While Democrats and Republicans debate whether he should be convicted and removed from office, the president has offered up an alternative menu of events intended to focus attention on his economic record, present himself as a peacemaker and cater to his conservative base.

As the trial opened in earnest this week, he was hobnobbing with global corporate titans in Davos, Switzerland, trumpeting the growth of jobs and markets back home. As the House managers prosecuting him wrapped up their case on Friday, he became the first sitting president to attend the March for Life, bolstering his ties to the anti-abortion movement. And as senators begin posing their own questions next week, he plans to host Israeli leaders and release his long-awaited Middle East peace plan.

In case those are not enough to draw away attention from the proceedings in the Senate chamber, Mr. Trump has scheduled not one but two campaign rallies next week, one in New Jersey on Tuesday and another in Iowa on Thursday — even as four of his putative Democratic rivals are stuck at his trial, unable to campaign in the last days before the Iowa caucuses.

And he sought to get the last word in on Friday, giving an interview to air on Fox News at 10 p.m., just an hour after the House managers wrapped up their opening arguments. In the interview, he defended the decision to recall Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch, who was viewed by his associates as an impediment to their effort to get Ukraine to investigate Democrats.

Still, while Mr. Trump hoped to distract from the prosecution case led by Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, the past three days, the ever-ratings-conscious former reality show star was clearly irritated that his own lawyers would be opening their arguments on Saturday, when the television audience presumably may be smaller.

“After having been treated unbelievably unfairly in the House, and then having to endure hour after hour of lies, fraud & deception by Shifty Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer & their crew, looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.,” the president wrote on Twitter on Friday.

But the primary challenge for the White House legal team will not be earning ratings so much as doing no harm. With acquittal all but assured given the requirement for a two-thirds vote for conviction, the president’s lawyers will try to poke holes in the prosecution’s case to buttress Republican senators already inclined to vote for the president. At the same time, they will have to make sure they do not lose any of the handful of relative moderates who at one point may have been up for grabs.

Mindful that senators of both parties have grown weary and were eager to get out of town, if only for part of the weekend, the White House team agreed to a Senate request to start Saturday’s proceedings early and use only a portion of its time. The session will open at 10 a.m. instead of 1 p.m. and last no more than three hours. Then the White House team will put on a full presentation on Monday.

“I guess I would call it a trailer, coming attractions — that would be the best way to say it,” Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s lawyers, told reporters.

Mr. Sekulow also previewed the aggressive and confrontational approach the White House lawyers intend to take when it is their turn. They will argue that it was the Democrats who accepted foreign help in 2016, citing a research dossier by a British former intelligence officer, and that Mr. Trump has been persecuted from the start. They will highlight a recent report criticizing the F.B.I. for the way it obtained a warrant to continue surveillance on a onetime Trump campaign adviser.

They will also focus attention on former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, arguing that Mr. Trump had legitimate reasons to accuse them of corruption. Mr. Sekulow said the managers not only opened the window to discussing the Bidens by spending so much time on Thursday defending them but they “kicked the door open.” He and his colleagues will argue that Democrats were trying to influence the 2020 election by taking Mr. Trump off the ballot.

“They put their case forward,” said Mr. Sekulow. “It’s our time next.”

As the trial has gotten underway, Mr. Trump uncharacteristically has limited his public pushback to select moments, instead making an effort to appear focused on other matters, much like President Bill Clinton sought to do during his own impeachment trial in 1999. He largely stuck to the topic of abortion at the march on Friday, turning to other issues during an afternoon public meeting with mayors from around the country.

But there have moments this week when his grievance and anger got the better of him and he has lashed out, usually on Twitter. On Wednesday, as Mr. Schiff and his team had the Senate floor to themselves and without interruption all afternoon and deep into the night, Mr. Trump posted or reposted 142 messages on Twitter, many assailing the managers and their case, setting a record for his presidency.

The effort to counterprogram with other public initiatives has led to some strategic gambles. Mr. Trump’s decision to attend the March for Life in person on Friday defied the conventional wisdom that led other anti-abortion Republican presidents like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush to play it more cautiously by staying away and sending taped or telephoned messages instead.

Likewise, the president chose now, of all times, to finally unveil his plan to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians. For three years, he and his team have said they would wait for the most opportune moment, then suddenly concluded that this was that time, even though Israel is focused on its third election in a year and the Palestinians are not on speaking terms with the Trump administration.

Underscoring just how unsettled the moment really is, Mr. Trump plans to host Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the White House on Tuesday, and has invited Mr. Netanyahu’s major campaign opponent, Benny Gantz, as well, unsure who his negotiating partner will be in just a matter of weeks.

Yet the president’s friend, Mr. Netanyahu, eager to hang onto office, may be just as eager for a distraction from his domestic troubles as Mr. Trump, leading to the odd spectacle of an American president on trial in the Senate for abuse of power hosting an Israeli prime minister indicted on charges of corruption.

For Mr. Trump, at least, the public remains largely unmoved. A new poll by The Washington Post and ABC News found that Americans remain as divided as they have been for months over whether he should be removed from office, with 47 percent for and 49 percent against. His approval rating stood at 44 percent.

Whether that will change as a result of the trial remains uncertain. But Mr. Trump said his legal team starting on Saturday will reinforce his message that he has been unfairly targeted by a partisan witch hunt.

“What my people have to do is just be honest, just tell the truth,” he said in the Fox interview. “They’ve been testifying, the Democrats, they’ve been telling so many lies, so many fabrications, so much exaggeration. And this is not impeachable.”

Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

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Lev Parnas Says He Has Recording of Trump Calling for Ambassador’s Firing

Westlake Legal Group 24dc-recording-facebookJumbo Lev Parnas Says He Has Recording of Trump Calling for Ambassador’s Firing Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Parnas, Lev impeachment House Committee on Intelligence Giuliani, Rudolph W Fruman, Igor ABC News

WASHINGTON — A former associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, said on Friday that he had turned over to congressional Democrats a recording from 2018 of the president ordering the removal of Marie L. Yovanovitch as the United States ambassador to Ukraine.

The associate, Lev Parnas, who worked with Mr. Giuliani to oust the ambassador and to pressure the Ukrainian government to pursue investigations to help Mr. Trump, located the recording on Friday after its existence was first reported by ABC News, said Joseph A. Bondy, Mr. Parnas’s lawyer.

Mr. Bondy said it was “of high materiality to the impeachment inquiry” of Mr. Trump, which House Democrats are presenting in the Senate. He said he provided the recording to the House Intelligence Committee, whose chairman, Representative Adam B. Schiff, is leading the House impeachment managers in their presentation of the case.

The recording emerged as Democrats continued to press the Senate to call more witnesses and seek additional evidence for the trial.

While the recording does not appear to provide any substantive new information about the effort to oust Ms. Yovanovitch, the possibility of it being played in public could provide a powerful political moment for Democrats by hammering home Mr. Trump’s personal involvement. It also illustrates that there could be more revelations from untapped evidence, even as Democrats are wrapping up their case in the Senate.

That was precisely the argument they made on Friday as they sought to overcome Republican resistance to seeking new information and extending the trial.

Patrick Boland, a spokesman for the Intelligence Committee, declined to comment.

In the recording, ABC News reported, Mr. Parnas can be heard saying that “the biggest problem there, I think where we need to start is we gotta get rid of” Ms. Yovanovitch.

“She’s basically walking around telling everybody, ‘Wait, he’s gonna get impeached, just wait,’” Mr. Parnas says on the recording, according to ABC News.

“Get rid of her!” a voice that sounds like Mr. Trump’s responds, according to ABC News. “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. O.K.? Do it.”

Mr. Trump’s comments were directed at one of his aides who was in the room at the time, Mr. Parnas has previously said.

Ms. Yovanovitch remained in her job for another year after Mr. Trump’s remarks until she was recalled on the White House’s orders, according to testimony in the impeachment inquiry. It is not clear whether the president changed his mind, forgot about his order or was talked out of dismissing her.

Asked about the recording by Fox News, Mr. Trump said he was “not a big fan” of Ms. Yovanovitch. “I want ambassadors that are chosen by me,” he said. “I have a right to hire and fire ambassadors, and that’s a very important thing.”

The campaign to remove Ms. Yovanovitch is among the central elements of the Democratic case that Mr. Trump abused his power in an effort to pressure Ukraine’s government into announcing investigations into purported meddling in the 2016 election and into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his diplomacy in Ukraine.

Mr. Parnas had previously recounted how he and another associate of Mr. Giuliani’s, Igor Fruman, had met with Mr. Trump during a dinner for a small group of donors in a private suite at the Trump International Hotel in Washington in late April 2018. At that dinner, Mr. Parnas relayed a rumor that Ms. Yovanovitch, then the American ambassador in Kyiv, was bad-mouthing the president — an unsubstantiated claim that Ms. Yovanovitch has denied.

Republicans have sought to challenge Mr. Parnas’s credibility by noting that he is under indictment. But the recording seemed to buttress Mr. Parnas’s claims that he had discussions with Mr. Trump about ousting Ms. Yovanovitch, who Mr. Parnas and Mr. Giuliani later came to believe was blocking their efforts to press the Ukrainians to commit to the investigations.

Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman had obtained direct access to the president by donating to Republican committees, and the recording suggests he spoke in front of them in a remarkably unfiltered and undiplomatic way, given their relative obscurity.

The April 2018 meeting came months before Mr. Giuliani began working with Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman to win support in Ukraine for investigations that could have helped Mr. Trump’s re-election prospects. Mr. Giuliani came to believe that Ms. Yovanovitch was blocking his efforts to advance the investigations. By early last year, Mr. Parnas had become a key intermediary between Mr. Giuliani and Ukranians officials, including Yuriy Lutsenko, the country’s chief prosecutor at the time, who was also seeking Ms. Yovanovitch’s ouster.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly said he does not know Mr. Parnas or Mr. Fruman, who are facing federal campaign finance charges brought by prosecutors in Manhattan. They have pleaded not guilty. Mr. Giuliani is under investigation by the same prosecutors, who are examining his efforts to remove Ms. Yovanovitch.

Mr. Parnas has broken with Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump. He has provided reams of records and data to House impeachment investigators and signaled his willingness to cooperate with the prosecutors in Manhattan. Mr. Fruman’s legal team is working closely with lawyers for Mr. Giuliani — “they talk two, three times a week” — according to Mr. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor.

The recording was captured on Mr. Fruman’s phone, according to people familiar with the matter.

A lawyer for Mr. Fruman declined to comment.

Mr. Parnas and his legal team did not provide the recording to ABC News, Mr. Bondy said.

After ABC News’s report, Mr. Bondy said Mr. Parnas “undertook a renewed search of his iCloud accounts and found a copy of the recording.”

The recording “appears to corroborate” Mr. Parnas’s recollection of the April 2018 gathering at which Mr. Trump issued the order, Mr. Bondy said.

In an interview with the MSNBC host Rachel Maddow last week, Mr. Parnas said that Mr. Trump had tried to recall Ms. Yovanovitch “at least four, five times.” Mr. Parnas said he had personally spoken “once or twice” to the president “about firing her,” including at the dinner, which he said was also attended by Mr. Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr.

“I don’t know how the issue is — the conversation came up, but I do remember me telling the president the ambassador was bad-mouthing him and saying he was going to get impeached, something to that effect,” Mr. Parnas recalled. “And at that time, he turned around” to an aide “and said, ‘fire her.’ And we all — there was a silence in the room.”

Mr. Parnas added that Mr. Trump raised the subject again later in the dinner: “I don’t know how many times at that dinner, once or twice or three times. But he fired her several times.”

Ms. Yovanovitch came into Mr. Parnas’s sights at least partly because he had come to believe that she was opposed to his business efforts in Ukraine, where he and Mr. Fruman had hoped to break into the natural gas market, according to associates of the two men, both of whom are Soviet-born American citizens.

Prosecutors have accused Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman of donating money and pledging to raise additional funds in 2018 — some violating legal limits — for a congressman who was then enlisted in the campaign to oust Ms. Yovanovitch.

While the congressman is not named in court filings, campaign finance records identify him as former Representative Pete Sessions, Republican of Texas, who lost his re-election bid in 2018.

Less than two weeks after his dinner with Mr. Trump, Mr. Parnas met with Mr. Sessions to discuss his gas venture in Ukraine, and the meeting eventually turned to Ms. Yovanovitch. After the meeting, Mr. Sessions wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying that Ms. Yovanovitch should be fired for privately expressing “disdain” for the current administration.

Mr. Sessions has said that he wrote the letter independently of Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman, but when Ms. Yovanovitch was not removed, Mr. Sessions provided Mr. Parnas with a copy of the letter, signing his name across the back of the envelope. “Mr. President” appeared across the front.

Photographs appearing to show the signed envelope — and Mr. Parnas presenting it to Mr. Trump — were included in a batch of records provided earlier this month by Mr. Parnas to the House Intelligence Committee.

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