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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 7)

Trump Defends China Trade Deal After Adviser Says It’s ‘Over’

Westlake Legal Group 22dc-chinatrade1-facebookJumbo Trump Defends China Trade Deal After Adviser Says It’s ‘Over’ United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Economy United States Trump, Donald J Navarro, Peter Lighthizer, Robert E International Trade and World Market Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) China

WASHINGTON — The White House trade adviser, Peter Navarro, said on Monday night that the trade deal between the United States and China was “over,” briefly causing stock markets to dive before he and President Trump quickly walked back the remarks.

“The China Trade Deal is fully intact,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter after Mr. Navarro, a noted China critic, had appeared on Fox News. “Hopefully they will continue to live up to the terms of the Agreement!”

The events underscored the sensitivity of the “Phase 1” trade deal that the United States and China signed in January, which buoyed stock markets and brought to a close a prolonged and bruising trade war. But tensions have been rising sharply between the two countries over the origins of the coronavirus pandemic and China’s assertion of power over Hong Kong, putting that pact into an increasingly precarious position.

Mr. Trump’s tweet was his firmest defense of his signature trade deal in weeks. While some of the president’s advisers believe that he has little to gain politically from scrapping it, others have said that his dissatisfaction with China is growing, raising the question of whether the United States would challenge China’s compliance with the pact.

Mr. Trump has also turned increasingly critical of China because of the spread of the coronavirus, which originated in a city there, and its damaging effects on the United States economy. And agricultural groups that were intended to benefit from the trade deal have complained to the Trump administration that China is lagging significantly behind targets in its promised purchases of farm goods, and that Chinese buyers are bypassing American soybeans for Brazilian ones.

But in testimony before Congress last week, Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative and the deal’s primary architect, forcefully defended China’s progress in fulfilling the pact. He said that he was in frequent contact with Chinese officials and that they were working hard to live up to their agreements.

“Every indication is that in spite of this Covid-19, they are going to do what they say,” Mr. Lighthizer said.

In an interview on Monday evening, Martha MacCallum of Fox News asked Mr. Navarro about the president’s desire to maintain the deal as long as possible. “He wanted them to make good on the promises because there had been progress made on that trade deal, but given everything that’s happened and all the things you just listed, is that over?” she asked.

“It’s over. Yes,” Mr. Navarro responded, adding that the “turning point” was China’s failure to warn the United States about the dangers of the coronavirus, which was spreading even as they concluded the pact.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 22, 2020

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


“It was just minutes after wheels up when that plane took off that we began to hear about this pandemic,” he said.

Shortly after the interview, Mr. Navarro issued a statement recanting the remarks, saying they had been taken “wildly out of context.”

“They had nothing at all to do with the Phase 1 trade deal, which continues in place,” Mr. Navarro said. “I was simply speaking to the lack of trust we now have of the Chinese Communist Party after they lied about the origins of the China virus and foisted a pandemic upon the world.”

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

The President’s Shock at the Rows of Empty Seats in Tulsa

Westlake Legal Group the-presidents-shock-at-the-rows-of-empty-seats-in-tulsa-scaled The President’s Shock at the Rows of Empty Seats in Tulsa Tulsa (Okla) Trump, Donald J Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Parscale, Brad (1976- )

President Trump and several staff members stood backstage and gazed at the empty Bank of Oklahoma Center in horror.

Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had canceled plans at the last minute to speak at an outdoor overflow rally that was almost entirely empty, despite claims of nearly one million people registering for tickets to attend the event in Tulsa, Okla., and the president’s false boast of never having an empty seat at one of his events.

The president, who had been warned aboard Air Force One that the crowds at the arena were smaller than expected, was stunned, and he yelled at aides backstage while looking at the endless rows of empty blue seats in the upper bowl of the stadium, according to four people familiar with what took place. Brad Parscale, the campaign manager who had put the event together, was not present.

Mr. Pence spoke just after 6:30 p.m. in Tulsa and then left, the cue for Mr. Trump to come on. But there was a delay. Mr. Trump’s deputy chief of staff, Dan Scavino, peeked out from behind black curtains to scan the fan-free seats in the top rows.

Mr. Trump eventually entered the arena for a meandering performance in which he excoriated the “fake news” for reporting on health concerns before his event, used racist language to describe the coronavirus as the “Kung Flu” and spent more than 15 minutes explaining away an unflattering video clip of him gingerly descending a ramp after his commencement speech at West Point.

Video

transcript

Why Trump’s Tulsa Rally Put the City’s Black Residents on Edge

President Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Okla., the site of one of the country’s worst episodes of racial violence in 1921, angered the city’s black residents. In this news analysis, we explain what this moment could mean for Mr. Trump’s re-election bid.

This weekend in Tulsa, the president held his first campaign rally since March, after the coronavirus pandemic suspended the campaign trail. “So we begin, Oklahoma we begin. Thank you, Oklahoma!” It was also the weekend of Juneteenth. For many black Americans, Juneteenth is a celebration of the end of slavery in this country. This was a moment that resulted in scenes like this. “You are a sellout!” ”Black people die [inaudible]” [shouting] The timing of the president’s rally, on the weekend of Juneteenth, also comes at a time where there have been weeks of nationwide protests against racism and police brutality. “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” It is particularly poignant in the South, and in Tulsa, because of the history of racial oppression here. Rather than a president that showed deference to the racial history of this city or to try to further the efforts of racial reconciliation, we saw him upend them. “About the first grade, we came to Tulsa. We moved to Tulsa. So, I kind of grew up on Greenwood. When I entered college and took black history, and my professor, he said, ‘Do you all know about the race massacre?’ And we were all like, ‘No. We had a riot here?’ You know. And he was just like, ‘OK, so everybody sit down and listen to this story.’” In the early 1900s, the Greenwood area of Tulsa was a thriving black neighborhood. “African-Americans, two generations out of slavery, pursued and exhibited black excellence.” “We had our own banks and hospitals and theaters and restaurants.” But that success didn’t sit well with the white community. And in 1921, after a black man was accused of disrespecting a white woman, things escalated. A white mob burned and looted Black Wall Street. “The violence lasted roughly 16 hours.” “They shot. They looted. They bombed.” “They threw bodies in the river. They threw them in mass graves.” “When the dust settled, some 100 to 300 people were killed. At least 1,250 homes were destroyed in the black community. Schools, churches and business were destroyed as well.” “Total devastation, like a war zone. What happened here was a momentous tragic event.” “That was the worst horrific story that I ever heard in my life.” “This church, we were building in 1921, our sanctuary — they destroyed that. And our basement miraculously survived. The damage on this pillar comes from when concrete burned. In this room, also we have soil collections from the different sites where people were killed.” After years of ignoring the massacre, many in Tulsa want to make it front and center of the community’s conversation. They set up this bipartisan commission to do a number of initiatives to bring forward the issue of racial reconciliation and commemorate the centennial anniversary of the massacre. And some institutions have apologized. “I’m sorry that the police department did not protect its citizens during the tragic days of 1921.” The hard part has been what to do next. “We demand reparations in honor of all those Americans that were killed! We demand reparations now!” “Saying ‘I’m sorry’ is not repentance. You know, saying ‘I’m sorry’ just recognizes what you did is wrong. Repentance is turning away from what you did that makes you sorry. Before you can even get to atonement, we have to have a society that admits that white supremacy is wrong. We’ve got to have a society that admits that black lives matter.” The president has tried to present himself as a unifying figure, as someone who can bring the country together, particularly in times of these dual crises: the coronavirus pandemic and the national unrest around race and racial inequality. But this weekend shows his challenges on that front and the inability of this administration to, frankly, get out of its own way. Juneteenth is, for many black Americans, a celebration of the emancipation of slavery. The president initially announced a rally on Juneteenth. When you talk to people, they say there was a moment of disbelief that the president was coming to Tulsa. “My first reaction was, ‘How disrespectful.’ I felt like it was a slap in the face.” And after pleas, even from Republican senators in the state, he moved the rally to the next day.” “Beep beep. Beep beep. It’s important to me because it’s history, it’s freedom. Girl, you’re looking good. It’s good to see you, long time. It’s education.” “You want to make America great again? You have to make Black Wall Street great again.” “And it’s important this year because people get to see that, hey, they’re still fighting for a cause, but they’re celebrating our freedom.” “To come on the weekend of Juneteenth shows that he has still not that much respect for our sacred day.” Ultimately, the president’s rally wasn’t as big as his campaign had hoped. But the significance of this weekend is seen in scenes like this. “I see you back there shaking your head. Yes, sir, black lives matter.” And one of the takeaways around this moment, around race in this country, has been the shifting public opinion about questions of systemic racism and persistent inequality. “No justice!” “No peace!” “No justice!” “No peace!” That lack of acknowledgement puts him at odds with even some members of his own party. The president’s strategy on race and on other issues has just narrowed his path to re-election. He has not shown a willingness to try to expand his base, leaving him fairly reliant on a similar group of voters that got him elected in 2016 to do so again in 2020.

Westlake Legal Group 20Tulsa-memo-videoSixteenByNine3000 The President’s Shock at the Rows of Empty Seats in Tulsa Tulsa (Okla) Trump, Donald J Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Parscale, Brad (1976- )
President Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Okla., the site of one of the country’s worst episodes of racial violence in 1921, angered the city’s black residents. In this news analysis, we explain what this moment could mean for Mr. Trump’s re-election bid.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

By the end of the rally, Mr. Trump’s mood had improved, advisers said. But after he left the stage, the fight seemed to have left him, at least temporarily. Leaving the arena, he wasn’t yelling. Instead, he was mostly muted.

When he landed back at the White House and walked off Marine One, his tie hung untied around his neck. He waved to reporters, with a defeated expression on his face, holding a crumpled red campaign hat in one hand.

Jared Kushner, the president’s senior adviser and son-in-law who serves as the de facto campaign manager, and who was involved in the decision to choose Tulsa as the host city, was not among the group of advisers with the president at the event. But he will be among those to whom the president turns to figure out what rallies look like going forward.

In a statement, Mr. Parscale, the campaign manager who many advisers singled out for the overhyped numbers, claimed the reports about TikTok users and Korean pop music fans foiling attendance at the rally were inaccurate, and even raised the possibility of not allowing the news media to attend events in the future.

“Leftists and online trolls doing a victory lap, thinking they somehow impacted rally attendance, don’t know what they’re talking about or how our rallies work,” Mr. Parscale said. “Registering for a rally means you’ve RSVP’d with a cellphone number and we constantly weed out bogus numbers, as we did with tens of thousands at the Tulsa rally, in calculating our possible attendee pool.”

Instead, he blamed the news media for the low turnout.

“The fact is that a week’s worth of the fake news media warning people away from the rally because of Covid and protesters, coupled with recent images of American cities on fire, had a real impact on people bringing their families and children to the rally,” he said.

Campaign officials on Sunday privately admitted that many people who had signed up to attend the event were not supporters but online tricksters. One campaign adviser claimed that “troll data” was still useful, claiming it would help the campaign avoid the same pitfall in the future.

The adviser said that the data could be put into the system to “tighten up the formula used to determine projected attendance for rallies.”

In an interview, Mr. Parscale said the empty arena was not his fault, and that local law enforcement in Tulsa had overreacted, making it difficult for supporters to gain entry. He claimed to have thousands of emails from supporters who tried to get into the Bank of Oklahoma Center and were turned away, but he did not share those messages or names of supporters.

And he shrugged off the rumors about his demise, claiming he had been fired 85 weeks in a row.

But unlike most situations in which Mr. Trump’s advisers have tried to keep certain information from him — such as the fact that Mr. Biden outraised him in the month of May — or put a rosy sheen on it, the president saw for himself the empty seats in Oklahoma.

Several White House officials called the rally a disaster, and an unforced error that heightened tensions among some of the president’s government advisers and his campaign aides. What’s more, Mr. Trump’s White House advisers had repeatedly cautioned campaign aides against announcing an added appearance at an outdoor space, advice that was ignored as Mr. Parscale and campaign surrogates talked about it publicly.

The event does not portend additional large Trump rallies this summer, people familiar with the discussions said. The campaign had hoped to use the Tulsa event as a reset after the president’s slide in the polls in the wake of his administration’s failures responding to the coronavirus, and after his stoking of racial tensions amid nationwide protests over police brutality prompted by the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

For days before the rally, Mr. Trump was giddy about his first arena outing since March 2, telling one interviewer after another how big it would be based on the numbers that Mr. Parscale had cited publicly.

Mr. Parscale and others believed the event would demonstrate a real pent-up demand for Mr. Trump’s appearances — one the campaign has insisted exists. But some advisers privately questioned the data even before the event, and they feared the Tulsa rally was setting the team up for failure.

Now, some White House officials said the campaign was being dishonest about what had gone wrong, and they conceded that many of the president’s older supporters had decided attending the rally was too risky amid coronavirus fears that Mr. Trump has repeatedly played down.

Veteran campaign hands in both major political parties were highly skeptical of the Trump operation’s claims that one million people had signed up even before the rally.

Outside advisers to the president said his team was fielding calls from nervous donors and Republican lawmakers, who were asking whether the poorly attended rally indicated problems that were too big to fix with just over four months until Election Day.

It also was not clear if there would be a personnel switch because of the disastrous optics, but some officials recalled what happened in 2017, after an event in Arizona that did not go as Mr. Trump had hoped. George Gigicos, one of the original campaign hands and his rally organizer, was fired by the president.

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

For Barr, Standoff With Prosecutor Adds to String of Miscues

WASHINGTON — From the onset of his tenure, William P. Barr has been billed as the attorney general that President Trump was looking for. And Mr. Barr has taken some pride in this role, telling Fox News this past weekend that he speaks with the president “very regularly.”

But for a man who projects unswerving confidence in his political and legal skills, his efforts this month to play presidential intimate have backfired, embarrassing both him and his boss.

The month has brought a string of unusually high-profile miscues for the attorney general. He has been at odds with the White House at critical moments, showing how even top administration officials known for their loyalty can fall out of sync with a president laser-focused on his own political popularity.

Mr. Barr came under fire for his role in ordering federal officers to clear Lafayette Square near the White House on June 1 just before Mr. Trump’s widely criticized photo op in front of a nearby church.

He annoyed some White House officials when he said the Secret Service had earlier ordered Mr. Trump to shelter in the building’s bunker because of the threat of violence from protesters. That contradicted Mr. Trump’s explanation that he was merely inspecting the bunker, not seeking protection.

And Mr. Trump distanced himself almost immediately from his and Mr. Barr’s decision last week to fire Geoffrey S. Berman as the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, even though he had discussed the move with Mr. Barr and a possible successor to Mr. Berman, according to two people briefed on the deliberations.

Mr. Barr asked Mr. Berman to leave on Friday afternoon, and he announced the prosecutor’s resignation on Friday night after Mr. Berman refused to go, essentially firing him in public. Mr. Berman then publicly declared that he was not going anywhere. Facing a public relations debacle and legal constraints that made it difficult for Mr. Barr to get rid of Mr. Berman, the attorney general was forced to ask the president to step in and officially fire him.

But soon after Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, suggested he would not merely rubber-stamp an administration nominee to replace Mr. Berman, Mr. Trump backed away from the whole affair.

“We spent very little time, we spent very little time talking about it,” he told Fox News on Saturday. “But the president has to sign a document or I guess give the OK.”

The result was that Mr. Barr looked as though he had acted without the full backing of the president. He also ended up agreeing to install Mr. Berman’s deputy, Audrey Strauss, as the acting U.S. attorney instead of his preferred pick, Craig Carpenito, now the top federal prosecutor for New Jersey.

“As attempted power plays go, this was an abject failure and served only to further undermine the credibility of both the attorney general and the president,” said Greg Brower, a former federal prosecutor who once headed the F.B.I.’s congressional affairs office.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment for this article.

Even when a judge made favorable statements about the possibility of a legal victory for Mr. Trump this month, it was eclipsed by the Berman debacle. A federal judge ruled that the former national security adviser John R. Bolton may be in jeopardy of forfeiting his $2 million advance or even be prosecuted for failing to scrub classified information out of his new book, as Justice Department lawyers had argued that he was legally required to do.

But the judge refused to order copies of the political memoir seized, noting that more than 200,000 of them were already in the hands of booksellers by the time the department acted. The reasons the department filed so long after the books had been distributed to booksellers are not clear, but days before the judge ruled, the department’s division that was handling the case suddenly found itself rudderless.

Joseph H. Hunt, the chief of the civil division, suddenly resigned without even informing Mr. Barr, who had sometimes bypassed him to deal directly with his deputies. Mr. Barr’s penchant for closely managing his staff and impatience with what he sees as too much deliberation have grown in recent weeks, according to department employees who have sat in on meetings with him.

Mr. Hunt’s departure also seemed to emphasize the risks of handling cases involving Mr. Trump’s associates in Mr. Barr’s Justice Department. Other federal prosecutors have either resigned or withdrawn from criminal prosecutions of Mr. Trump’s former aides after Mr. Barr intervened to drop charges or seek lighter punishment.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_173122887_e716f72e-b2f9-4db8-9f6b-1f8278d2bce6-articleLarge For Barr, Standoff With Prosecutor Adds to String of Miscues United States Politics and Government United States Attorneys Trump, Donald J Manhattan (NYC) Lafayette Square (Washington, DC) Justice Department Hunt, Joseph H George Floyd Protests (2020) Berman, Geoffrey S Barr, William P Attorneys General Appointments and Executive Changes
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The month began with a blast of criticism over the law enforcement response to the protests outside the White House that began May 29 over the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis who died after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes.

While the protest was largely peaceful, some demonstrators threw bricks at the Secret Service, others defaced the Treasury Department building next to the White House with graffiti and several broke through a police barricade before being arrested. Just before Mr. Trump set out across Lafayette Square to hold a bible in front of St. John’s Church on June 1, law enforcement officials fired a chemical irritant at the crowd to clear the area.

Mr. Barr played a far more critical role in the law enforcement response than was initially understood, essentially assuming battlefield control over a hodgepodge of security forces in Washington for days from a command center he set up, according to people who received briefings inside the center. He was effectively the general overseeing the operation that allowed the president his photo op.

As criticism deepened over the havoc surrounding the photo op, Mr. Barr insisted that he took charge because the protest was turning violent and had to be brought under control — not to set up a publicity stunt. But his presence at Mr. Trump’s side that day made him look less like a commander of officers and more like a presidential prop, a situation he privately said made him uncomfortable, according to two people told of those conversations.

In a June 5 interview with The Associated Press, the attorney general gave a hairsplitting description of his role in directing the law enforcement actions. He never issued a “tactical command” to clear the protesters from Lafayette Square, he said, but his attitude was that officers needed to “get it done.”

Mr. Barr also insisted two days later in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” that both he and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper agreed that as a last resort, the president could invoke the Insurrection Act allowing him to deploy active-duty troops to control protests around the nation, a notion that Mr. Esper had previously seemed to disavow.

Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

That controversy was still fresh when the Justice Department, under pressure from a federal lawsuit, released some passages last week that Mr. Barr and his aides had previously redacted from the 2019 public report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, about Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Although Mr. Barr has aggressively challenged the basis for that whole inquiry and defended the president, the newly disclosed text showed that prosecutors questioned whether Mr. Trump was telling them the truth in written answers to their questions.

The situation with Mr. Berman, the top prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, again raised the question of whether Mr. Barr was bending over backward to protect the president. A Republican, Mr. Berman pursued a string of cases that have rankled Mr. Trump, including an investigation of hush payments to a woman whose allegations that she had an affair with him threatened to derail his 2016 campaign.

Mr. Berman also obtained an indictment of a state-owned bank in Turkey with political connections that had drawn the president’s attention. In his book, Mr. Bolton wrote that Mr. Trump had promised President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey in 2018 that he would intervene in the inquiry against the bank for violating sanctions against Iran. Multiple people close to both Mr. Berman and Mr. Barr said both men felt that charges needed to be brought, but that they clashed over questions of law and strategy.

Prosecutors under Mr. Berman were scrutinizing whether the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani violated laws on lobbying for foreign entities in his efforts to dig up damaging information in Ukraine on the president’s political rivals. If the Trump administration was hoping to exert political pressure to derail that investigation, some former prosecutors said, firing Mr. Berman appears to have backfired.

“The Berman situation was mishandled both procedurally and substantively,” said Mr. Brower, the former federal prosecutor and senior F.B.I. official. “The Southern District of New York continues to investigate whatever it is investigating, and Barr’s preferred new United States attorney doesn’t actually get the job.”

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting from New York.

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What’s Facebook’s Deal With Donald Trump?

Westlake Legal Group whats-facebooks-deal-with-donald-trump What’s Facebook’s Deal With Donald Trump? Zuckerberg, Mark E Warren, Elizabeth United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Thiel, Peter A Social Media Sandberg, Sheryl K Republican Party Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Political Advertising Online Advertising McNamee, Roger Kushner, Jared Kaplan, Joel D Justice Department Instagram Inc Google Inc Facebook Inc Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr Antitrust Laws and Competition Issues

Last Nov. 20, NBC News broke the news that Mark Zuckerberg, Donald Trump and a Facebook board member, Peter Thiel, had dined together at the White House the previous month. “It is unclear why the meeting was not made public or what Trump, Zuckerberg and Thiel discussed,” the report said.

That was it. Nothing else has emerged since. Not the date, not who arranged the menu, the venue, the seating, not the full guest list. And not whether some kind of deal got done between two of the most powerful men in the world. The news cycle moved on, and the dinner became one of the unsolved mysteries of American power.

But I was able to pry some of those details loose last week from White House officials along with current and former senior Facebook employees and people they speak to. Most said they would only talk on the condition their names not be used, since the company is not eager to call attention to Mr. Zuckerberg’s relationship with the president.

Their accounts painted a picture of an unusual gathering — something in between a high-stakes state dinner between the leaders of uneasily allied superpowers and the awkward rehearsal dinner before a marriage that has both families a little rattled.

Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, pulled together the dinner on Oct. 22 on short notice after he learned that Mr. Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, and his wife, Priscilla Chan, would be in Washington for a cryptocurrency hearing on Capitol Hill, a person familiar with the planning said. The dinner, the person said, took place in the Blue Room on the first floor of the White House. The guest list included Mr. Thiel, a Trump supporter, and his husband, Matt Danzeisen; Melania Trump; Mr. Kushner; and Ivanka Trump. The president, a person who has spoken to Mr. Zuckerberg said, did most of the talking. The atmosphere was convivial, another person who got an account of the dinner said. Mr. Trump likes billionaires and likes people who are useful to him, and Mr. Zuckerberg right now is both.

But looming over the private dinner is a question: Did Mr. Trump and Mr. Zuckerberg reach some kind of accommodation? Mr. Zuckerberg needs, and appears to be getting, a pass both on angry tweets from the president and the serious threats of lawsuits and regulation that face other big tech companies. Mr. Trump needs access to Facebook’s advertising platform and its viral power.

Both men are getting what they want, and it’s fair to wonder whether this is a mere alignment of interests or something more.

“I believe they have a deal,” said Roger McNamee, an early Facebook investor who is now a fierce critic, who added that it was “probably implied rather than explicit.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group 21BENSMITH-02-articleLarge What’s Facebook’s Deal With Donald Trump? Zuckerberg, Mark E Warren, Elizabeth United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Thiel, Peter A Social Media Sandberg, Sheryl K Republican Party Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Political Advertising Online Advertising McNamee, Roger Kushner, Jared Kaplan, Joel D Justice Department Instagram Inc Google Inc Facebook Inc Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr Antitrust Laws and Competition Issues
Credit…Callaghan O’Hare/Bloomberg

“Mark’s deal with Trump is highly utilitarian,” he said. “It’s basically about getting free rein and protection from regulation. Trump needs Facebook’s thumb on the scale to win this election.”

Jesse Lehrich, the co-founder of Accountable Tech, a new nonprofit group pushing Facebook to tighten controls on its platform, suggested that the two men have a tacit nonaggression pact. “Trump can rage at Big Tech and Mark can say he’s disgusted by Trump’s posts, but at the end of the day the status quo serves both of their interests,” Mr. Lehrich said.

Officials at Facebook and in the administration scoff at the notion that there is some kind of secret pact. And it’s hard to imagine that anyone — certainly not Mr. Zuckerberg — would be dumb enough to make a secret deal with a president known for keeping neither secrets nor deals.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Zuckerberg had met just once before the dinner, an Oval Office encounter last September. Afterward, the president boasted about his giant following on the platform. But October was a hot political month at Facebook: Mr. Zuckerberg was in an open battle with a leading Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Elizabeth Warren, who was threatening to break up Facebook and whom he called “an existential threat” to the company. The morning of their dinner, a top British official demanded answers on why Facebook would tolerate false political advertising.

Mr. Zuckerberg, a Facebook executive said, seems to view Mr. Trump as a peer. By contrast, he told amused top aides at one of his regular Monday meetings in March that Mr. Kushner was calling him so often about help with the administration’s coronavirus response that he couldn’t keep up, two people familiar with the meeting said. (“Mark does not think of himself as a peer to this president or any president,” a Facebook spokesman, Tucker Bounds, said, adding that Mr. Zuckerberg had initiated the conversation with Mr. Kushner about the coronavirus response.)

Mr. Zuckerberg has played the high-stakes and unpredictable politics of the Trump years as well as any other corporate executive. And a week before the dinner last October, he made clear in a speech that his interests and the president’s aligned: Mr. Zuckerberg would reject a growing movement to limit the false or inflammatory statements of the American president.

“I don’t think it’s right for a private company to censor politicians or the news in a democracy,” he said in the address at Georgetown University on Oct. 17. “We don’t do this to help politicians, but because we think people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying.”

Mr. Trump, for his part, has been notably softer on Facebook than on Amazon, Google, Twitter or Netflix at a moment when his regulatory apparatus often focuses on the political enemies he identifies in tweets.

Credit…Pool photo by Doug Mills

Still Facebook, like other tech giants, finds itself in a political bind: Democrats hate and distrust them because they spread right-wing misinformation and helped elect Donald Trump; Republicans hate and distrust them because they’re run by California liberals and delete some right-wing speech. But Facebook has avoided that trap deftly over the last three and a half years, by moving faster and more earnestly than its competitors to mollify conservatives.

Facebook has always had a keener ear to the right side of Washington than much of Silicon Valley, directed in part by Joel Kaplan, a Zuckerberg friend and former Bush administration official who is Facebook’s vice president of global public policy. But it began focusing intently on winning over the conservative media in the spring of 2016, when Gizmodo alleged that the content moderation on the short-lived Trending Topics product on Facebook “suppressed conservative news.” A right-wing apparatus that had spent decades claiming bias in the media turned its sights on the tech giant. And Mr. Zuckerberg gave them the response they’d always hoped for — he shut down the product, welcomed his critics to meetings and signaled that he shared their concerns.

The next year, Mr. Trump continued to push the norms of truth and civility, and the social media platforms began reckoning with their broader misinformation and harassment problem. That set him on an inevitable — and to his supporters, welcome — collision course with the new gatekeepers. Mr. Trump’s dependence on Facebook as an advertising vehicle — he spent $44 million on the platform in 2016, and is expected to far exceed that this year — means that he needs the company as much as it needs him. And, as Mike Isaac, Sheera Frenkel, and Cecilia Kang reported in May, Mr. Zuckerberg increasingly embodies his company.

So Mr. Zuckerberg’s warm relationship with the president and his family is a victory for the company’s internal policy team led by Mr. Kaplan. But the company, people involved in its political strategy say, has been having an internal debate over balancing the reality of Republican control of regulatory agencies with the fact that Democrats are far more likely, in the long run, to actually push through new oversight or try to break up the company by forcing the sale of Instagram or WhatsApp. The balance, in the Trump years, has shifted right. Sheryl Sandberg, a leading Democrat and Mr. Zuckerberg’s powerful deputy, has seen her connections with Democrats fray as the company defies them and her power in the company fades as well.

Credit…Dominic Lipinski/Press Association, via Associated Press

Mr. Trump’s administration has reciprocated. The Justice Department is currently conducting antitrust investigations of the tech giants. But while Google and Amazon face “mature investigations,” the Facebook inquiry is “not real at all,” a person who has been briefed on the investigation said. And Facebook has acted like a company with no worries in Washington. It has continued to acquire companies, as Mr. Isaac reported last week, and moved to allow users to send messages between Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram — a merging of the services that could further fuel monopoly concerns. (Facebook’s view is that it’s far less dominant in any market than the other big tech companies and has less to worry about than Google or Amazon.)

The summer of 2020 is one of those moments when corporate Washington starts to panic. What had looked like deft Trump-era politics now looks like exposure and risk. Top Democrats, including Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Nancy Pelosi — who was infuriated when a distorted video of her went viral — have singled out Facebook as a bad actor. Mr. Trump is, at the moment, viewed by Washington’s insider class as likely to lose in November, though Mr. Biden poses less of a threat to Facebook than Senator Warren would have.

While executives across Facebook insist that Mr. Zuckerberg’s position on free speech on the platform is a matter of long-term planning and principle, not political expediency, his political team also recognizes that they are badly out of position for a Democratic administration. And in recent days, Facebook has been eager to show its independence from the White House. The company has been unhesitatingly enforcing existing policy against Mr. Trump’s posts, and has been quick to point it out to the media, as it did last Thursday, when a Trump ad used a symbol associated with Nazi Germany.

Mr. Zuckerberg has not budged, however, on his core insistence that Mr. Trump should be able to say what he wants on the platform, and most of what he wants in ads — including false statements, as long as they aren’t misleading on specific, narrow topics, like the census. But he did reportedly tell Mr. Trump that he objected, personally, to Mr. Trump’s warning that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” And he and Ms. Chan wrote to scientists funded by their nonprofit organization that they were “deeply shaken and disgusted by President Trump’s divisive and incendiary rhetoric.”

Those gestures may have appeased Facebook’s work force, but they’ve gone largely unnoticed in Washington.

“All the big companies tacked to the right after Trump won, and Facebook probably moved farther than the others,” said Nu Wexler, a Democrat who worked in policy communications for Facebook in Washington. “But the politics of tech are changing, and companies should be worried about Democrats as well. The days of just keeping the president happy are over.”

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Public Health Experts Reject President’s View of Fading Pandemic

Westlake Legal Group merlin_173632221_62c15d16-03b4-4fef-ab12-f474c98b6af6-facebookJumbo Public Health Experts Reject President’s View of Fading Pandemic your-feed-healthcare Wolf, Chad F. University of Minnesota Tulsa (Okla) Trump, Donald J Texas south carolina Oklahoma Masks johns hopkins university Homeland Security Department Harvard University Gottlieb, Scott (1972- ) Florida Coronavirus Reopenings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Arizona

Public health experts warned on Sunday that the coronavirus pandemic is not going away anytime soon. They directly contradicted President Trump’s promise that the disease that has infected more than two million Americans would “fade away” and his remarks that disparaged the value of evidence from coronavirus tests.

A day after President Trump told a largely maskless audience at an indoor rally in Tulsa, Okla., that he had asked to “slow down the testing” because it inevitably increased the number of confirmed coronavirus cases, infectious disease experts countered that the latest rise of infections in the United States is real, the country’s response to the pandemic is not working and rallies like the president’s risk becoming major spreading events.

Dr. Tom Inglesby, the director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said on “Fox News Sunday” that the spikes in confirmed cases in many states in the South and West are not simply a result of increased testing. Data show that the percentage of tests that are positive is increasing, he said, and in some states is accompanied by increased hospitalizations. In states like Arizona, Texas, North and South Carolina and Florida, he said, “That’s a real rise.”

On “Face the Nation” on CBS, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said, “We’re seeing the positivity rates go up. That’s a clear indication there is now community spread underway, and this isn’t just a function of testing more.”

And Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, repeated his call for a national plan to respond to the pandemic, calling the existing patchwork of state-by-state policy “disjointed.”

In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Dr. Osterholm noted, “We’re at 70 percent of the number of cases today that we were at the very height of the pandemic cases in early April.”

He said that although his center had put out a report in April showing different possible waves and troughs of infection as the pandemic progressed, he had changed his thinking: “I don’t see this slowing down for the summer or into the fall.”

“I think this is more like a forest fire,” he said. “I think that wherever there’s wood to burn, this fire is going to burn it.”

The experts mainly urged greater use of proven interventions to slow the spread of disease, like hand-washing, mask-wearing and maintaining social distancing when out in public.

When asked whether states should consider reversing the levels of reopening, Dr. Inglesby did not recommend a return to lockdown.

“Each state has a different story,” he said, adding that “leaders should be encouraging people to use the tools we know work.”

He said indoor gatherings like the president’s rally were a concern, as were outdoor demonstrations like the mass protests against police brutality, but to a lesser degree. “We know from what we’ve seen so far in the last few months,” said Dr. Inglesby, “that outdoors is less of a risk than indoors and that mask use has a major impact.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he noted, has advised that “the highest-risk gatherings are those that are large indoors, where people can’t stay apart from each other more than six feet, and where people travel from out of town. And this rally met all of those criteria.”

He and other public health specialists expressed concerns about the potential for a significant spreading event. Oklahoma has a rapidly rising infection rate, although its absolute numbers are still small. It had a record number of cases — 450 — and the last five days have been the highest the state has recorded. Deaths in that state have been in the single digits since the end of April.

U.S. cases are up 15 percent in the past two weeks, with at least 2.2 million confirmed infections since the start of the pandemic and cases on the rise in 22 states.

Earlier in the week, Mr. Trump told Sean Hannity on Fox News that the virus will disappear. “It’s going to fade away,” he said.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 16, 2020

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said on CNN, “Not only is it not fading out — this will be with us for at least another 12 months, and that’s the most optimistic scenario for having a vaccine.”

Dr. Jah also responded to the president’s comments on testing. Peter Navarro, President Trump’s trade adviser, said on “State of the Union” on CNN, that the president’s comment about testing was “tongue-in- cheek.” “This is unfortunately not a joke,” Dr. Jha said. He mentioned families who had lost relatives in nursing homes and Americans who had not been able to get tests.

Chad F. Wolf, acting secretary of Homeland Security, appearing on NBC’s news program, defended the precautions taken at the Trump rally as meeting C.D.C. guidelines, since masks were offered and social distancing was voluntary. He also said the administration was trying to get the country “up and running” in a safe way.

“And I think we’re doing a great job at that,” he said.

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Trump Rally Has Tulsa on Edge

Westlake Legal Group trump-rally-has-tulsa-on-edge Trump Rally Has Tulsa on Edge United States Politics and Government Tulsa (Okla) Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 juneteenth Disease Rates Demonstrations, Protests and Riots

TULSA, Okla. — President Trump’s attempt to revive his re-election campaign sputtered badly on Saturday night as he traveled to Tulsa for his first mass rally in months and found a far smaller crowd than his aides had promised him, then delivered a disjointed speech that did not reckon with the multiple crises facing the nation or scandals battering him in Washington.

Visiting a 2016 electoral stronghold, Mr. Trump had hoped to declare a “great American comeback” before a jam-packed arena like he repeatedly had during his first presidential campaign. Instead, the event only raised questions about his drawing power and political skills at a time when his poll numbers are falling and allies are worried about his electoral prospects for a second term.

While the president’s campaign had claimed that more than a million people had sought tickets for the rally, the 19,000-seat BOK Center was still half empty by the time Mr. Trump landed in Tulsa. A second, outdoor venue where Mr. Trump was set to declare a “great American comeback” was so sparsely attended that he and Vice President Mike Pence both canceled appearances there.

Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, falsely blamed the small numbers on “radical protesters” and the news media who he said frightened away supporters. But there were few protests in the area, a strong security presence and no one blocking entrances.

The disappointing turnout came as Mr. Trump already found himself under siege about his sudden firing of the U.S. attorney in Manhattan and his losing legal battle over the release of a memoir full of damaging revelations by John R. Bolton, his former national security adviser. And in Tulsa, Mr. Trump faced criticism for ignoring pleas from officials about health risks to rallygoers and for restarting his “Make America Great Again!” rallies in a city where a white mob massacred hundreds of black residents 99 years ago.

In rambling, grievance-filled remarks, Mr. Trump made no reference to George Floyd, whose death at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis sparked global demands for racial justice. Instead, he railed about “left-wing radicals” who he falsely claimed were rioting in cities across the country.

“The unhinged left wing mob is trying to vandalize our history, desecrate our monuments, our beautiful monuments, tear down our statues and punish, cancel, and persecute anyone who does not conform to their demands for absolute and total control,” Mr. Trump said. He was referring in part to attempts to remove Confederate monuments, efforts that have support in both parties.

The president once again shrugged off the threat from the coronavirus, at one point calling it the “Chinese virus” and the “Kung Flu.” He bragged that he has done “a phenomenal job” fighting the pandemic but admitted that increased testing for the virus revealed more cases of infection that he felt made the country look bad.

“So I said to my people, ‘slow the testing down,’” he said.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_173760378_a962a3d2-0a78-4d25-81e5-af8a2de47798-articleLarge Trump Rally Has Tulsa on Edge United States Politics and Government Tulsa (Okla) Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 juneteenth Disease Rates Demonstrations, Protests and Riots
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Many of the thousands of Trump supporters at the rally did not wear masks or stand six feet apart — health precautions that Mr. Trump himself has ignored. The campaign conducted temperature checks and handed out masks, yet health experts remained concerned that the event could be a dangerous incubator for the virus, spreading through the building’s recirculated air.

It was unclear whether fears about the virus kept Trump supporters away despite the president’s repeated efforts to dismiss the need for social distancing and other precautions.

A few hours before the event, the campaign disclosed that six Trump campaign staff members who had been working on the rally had tested positive for the coronavirus during a routine screening. Two members of the Secret Service in Tulsa also tested positive for the virus, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Trump, who was made aware of the sick campaign aides before departing for the rally, was incensed that the news was made public, according to two people familiar with his reaction.

While rallies are Mr. Trump’s favorite events, election-year politics has changed since his last one, on March 2. The coronavirus has largely shut down the campaign trail, and more recently the national political conversation has been dominated by a fierce debate over police violence against black Americans after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Mr. Floyd’s death has sparked global protests against systemic racism and demands for police reform.

But the altered political landscape has had little effect on the president, whom advisers describe as feeling like a caged animal during the national lockdown that forced him to abandon most travel. They say he is determined to recapture the excitement of his pre-virus campaign rallies, but this one seemed unlikely to offer much relief to Mr. Trump.

He flew to Oklahoma amid mounting questions about the firing of Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney in Manhattan, whose office had investigated some of the president’s closest allies, imprisoning Michael Cohen, his former personal lawyer, and began an inquiry into Rudolph W. Giuliani, his current lawyer.

On Saturday morning, Attorney General William P. Barr announced that Mr. Trump had personally approved Mr. Berman’s firing. But only hours later, as Mr. Trump left the White House for the trip to Tulsa, the president said that “we have a very capable attorney general, so that’s really up to him. I’m not involved.”

The campaign had chosen to return first to Oklahoma, which the president won by 36 points in 2016, because they assumed he would be wildly popular there. Aides to Mr. Trump spent the week boasting about enormous interest from people in the rally, and Mr. Trump bragged on Saturday as he left for Oklahoma that ”the crowds are unbelievable” — a fiction that could raise questions about whether Trump rallies still have political potency.

Speaking at the rally before the president took the stage, Mr. Pence urged the crowd to bring the enthusiasm that helped sweep Mr. Trump into office in 2016. “Get ready. Buckle up,” he said. “It’s on. We’ve got a little more than four months to win four more years for President Donald Trump in the White House. So get ready to bring it

During the first half of Mr. Trump’s speech, he delivered a 15-minute explanation of images that showed him ambling slowly down a ramp after delivering the commencement address at the West Point military academy. He blamed his slow walk on “leather soles” on his shoes and said he was trying not to fall on his behind.

Many people in Tulsa, worried about the record numbers of coronavirus cases in Oklahoma in recent days, did not welcome the rally. On Saturday afternoon, local black leaders held a news conference in the city’s historic Greenwood neighborhood, where the 1921 massacre took place, pleading with the city’s mayor, G.T. Bynum, a Trump ally, to cancel the rally.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

In the streets around the BOK Center, the president’s supporters — some of whom had lined up for days in the hopes of ensuring a seat in the stadium — gathered not far from Black Lives Matter protesters and people in town for the Juneteenth celebration. Many wore red MAGA hats while others wore caps with patriotic emblems or colors. Some waved red, white and blue banners with the Trump 2020 logo, the American flag, or the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag. Some wore them like capes. Almost none wore masks.

“If it is God’s will that I get coronavirus that is the will of the Almighty. I will not live in fear,” said Robert Montanelli, a resident of Broken Arrow, a Tulsa suburb.

The president and his advisers hope the return to campaign trail will help deflect attention from a daily stream of crises engulfing the White House. On Saturday, a federal judge refused to block the release of Mr. Bolton’s book, though he said the former national security aide may be personally liable for revealing classified information.

People close to Mr. Trump also said that the lack of regular adulation that he receives from the cheering crowds since the coronavirus lockdowns has left him morose and irritable. And his advisers hope that the rally will be an outlet for his energy, as opposed to his Twitter feed, where he has posted several self-destructive messages in the last several weeks.

Driven in part by poll numbers showing his support slipping as he prepares to face former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the fall, Mr. Trump had initially scheduled his rally for Friday. He later said he was unaware of the significance of the Juneteenth holiday, which celebrates the end of slavery in the country.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Under fire, the campaign moved the event to Saturday, leaving Mr. Trump to make the wild claim that he had revealed the existence of the holiday to many people despite the fact that millions of black Americans have celebrated Juneteenth annually for years.

“I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous,” Mr. Trump bragged in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it.”

Local officials expressed anxiety about the possibility of clashes between supporters of Mr. Trump and protesters, a fear that was heightened when the president on Friday appeared to threaten the use of military force to quell any violence that might erupt during his visit. But the protests leading up to the rally were peaceful and relatively small.

Mr. Trump’s rally is taking place amid a spike of coronavirus cases in Oklahoma recently. The state reported its highest number of cases in a single day on Thursday, with more than 450 people testing positive for the virus, more than twice the average number of positive cases during the last several months.

Still, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled on Friday that Mr. Trump’s rally could move forward in its usual, boisterous manner, turning back a lawsuit by local business owners and others in Tulsa who had demanded that the president’s campaign adhere to social distancing rules or cancel the rally altogether.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

By late morning in Tulsa on Saturday, a steadily growing line of rallygoers had assembled. Some had traveled significant distances, but many other attendees were Tulsa locals or came from nearby states, like Kansas and Missouri, or elsewhere in deep-red Oklahoma. The crowd was overwhelmingly white, and in more than a dozen interviews, most people ranged in age from their 40s to their 60s, though a sizable number of attendees also brought their children.

No one interviewed expressed serious concerns about coronavirus risk at the rally.

“It’s all fake,” said Mike Alcorn, 40, who works in maintenance and lives in Wichita, Kan. “They’re just making the numbers up. I haven’t seen anybody die, not from coronavirus. I don’t even know anybody who’s got it.”

Cynthia Bellino, who said she arrived at the rally site at 3 a.m. with her daughter, was there to support Mr. Trump in part out of appreciation for the anti-abortion measures he backs, an issue several attendees raised as they gathered in this conservative state. She was aware of his faltering poll numbers, but said she was tuning them out.

“The polls the first time were completely wrong,” she said. “I don’t pay them any attention.”

Ben Fenwick and Katie Glueck contributed reporting from Tulsa.

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Waiting for Trump: Hats, Flags, Little Fear of the Virus

TULSA, Okla. — Public health experts issued dire warnings. Local officials expressed unease. The coronavirus cases continued to climb.

And still, they came.

President Trump’s most faithful supporters — intensely devoted, but ultimately fewer in number than the campaign had hoped — piled into tents or lounged in lawn chairs, some wearing masks and others dismissing the need for face coverings, as they waited hours and, in some cases, days to join in his return to the campaign trail. By Saturday afternoon, the line of voters waiting for Mr. Trump’s evening rally was bustling with attendees eager to enter the 19,000-seat BOK Center in defiance of public health recommendations — though as the program began in the evening, the arena was far from full and an overflow stage was dismantled.

Mr. Trump arrives in Tulsa at a moment of political peril. His poll numbers nationally and in critical battleground states have plummeted, he faces disapproval of his stewardship of the coronavirus and outrage over his posture toward peaceful protesters of police brutality, and he has struggled to press a clear case against Joseph R. Biden Jr., his Democratic opponent.

The rally itself had produced a chaotic several days in Tulsa, coming on the weekend of the Juneteenth holiday, which celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. Mr. Trump’s discordant stance toward the holiday — he originally was unaware of it, then later took credit for making it “very famous’’ — and his divisive rhetoric about Americans protesting against racial injustice had added to the fraught nature of the weekend in a city with a painful history for black residents.

His supporters waited for the rally around a mile from Greenwood Avenue, which in 1921 was the site of one of America’s worst racist massacres. Black Tulsans had gathered there on Friday to commemorate Juneteenth and many had denounced police brutality. A number of Trump backers, while expressing support for peaceful protesters, also argued that if the nation countenanced demonstrators congregating in large crowds, then they should be free to participate in the president’s rally without criticism — though public health experts have said that large indoor gatherings are more dangerous than outdoor events.

The Trump campaign on Saturday also acknowledged that six staff members had tested positive for the virus during routine testing ahead of the event.

“You have people who, for political reasons, will be great with a transgender rally in New York or a protest, but if you go to church or a Trump rally, well, you’ve got to be concerned about Covid,” said former Representative Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, who planned to attend as a Trump surrogate. He called the virus “real” and urged precautions, but added, “This rally is no less risky than the protests that were taking place over the last three weeks.”

The scene here on the sidewalks and roads near the arena offered a vivid illustration of the president’s power over the most committed elements of the Republican base even when he is at his most vulnerable — and empty seats in an Oklahoma arena, a state Mr. Trump won by 36 percentage points, was sure to reinforce perceptions of that vulnerability.

Still, the Trump faithful on Saturday lined up wearing Trump hats and shirts, and carrying flags — Trump flags, American flags, flags bearing images of Mr. Trump kissing an American flag. A “four more years” chant broke out before 7 a.m. For blocks, the scene was more reminiscent of a sports tailgate than a political rally, as music blared and beer flowed between supporters, some of whom had traveled hundreds of miles.

Salespeople set up tents hawking Trump memorabilia, and as attendees began to enter the checkpoint for the rally, they left lawn chairs abandoned on the street.

As the day wore on and rallygoers congregated in line, the group — which was overwhelmingly white — increasingly included both the most die-hard Trump supporters and also more rank-and-file fans of the president. Both sets of voters were skeptical that the virus posed a serious risk to them.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 21tulsascene-2-articleLarge Waiting for Trump: Hats, Flags, Little Fear of the Virus Tulsa (Okla) Trump, Donald J Race and Ethnicity Presidential Election of 2016 juneteenth Coronavirus Risks and Safety Concerns
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

In interviews, some of them described the virus that has killed nearly 120,000 Americans as overblown. The death toll, they argued, was exaggerated or manipulated — a view experts say is inaccurate. Several people made clear they were more focused on risks from possible protests than they were on getting sick, and there was a heavy security presence visible by Saturday morning.

For many supporters who crowded the sidewalks here, the coronavirus seemed like just one more risk to mitigate, as with anything else in life — but no reason to skip seeing the president.

“This is a chance of a lifetime,” said Sue Williams, 72, of Tulsa. Ms. Williams, who was not wearing a mask, is in an age demographic that is especially vulnerable to the coronavirus crisis. But she said she had no concerns. “I’ve been praying. I’m in good health. When they have the rally, I’ll wear a mask.”

In interviews, attendees said they viewed the president as a strong leader on the economy, despite millions being out of work during the pandemic. They appreciated his disdain for political correctness and praised his opposition to abortion rights, echoing views shared by Trump supporters in 2016.

“I like that he’s created more jobs, I like that he’s pro-life, he sticks up for Christians,” said Shelly Braden, 48, a schoolteacher from Lamont, Okla., who said she believed the chances of contracting the virus were “low.”

Mr. Trump drew widespread criticism when his administration ordered aggressive police action to clear peaceful protesters in order to be photographed holding a Bible, but to some, the image appeared to break through in a positive way. “I’ve seen him on TV praying, I’ve seen him on TV with a Bible in his hand,” Ms. Williams said.

In an interview on Thursday, State Representative James White, Republican of Texas, expressed confidence that social distancing would be achievable at the rally because, he said, any event put on by the president would certainly adhere to safety protocols issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a federal agency.

“I don’t see why the president would violate his own guidelines,” said Mr. White, a Trump surrogate who plans to attend the rally. “If I get there and people are on top of each other, that would look kind of interesting because I believe the C.D.C. works for the president.”

On Saturday masks were handed out, but wearing them was not enforced. Attendees did, however, undergo temperature checks, though that would not prevent individuals who have the virus but are asymptomatic from attending.

Few of those lined up to see Mr. Trump seemed concerned about maintaining significant distances from one another. People jammed up next to each other in line on Saturday, where cheering, chatting and the occasional cough took place in proximity to fellow attendees.

At least one attendee said he had spent a night this week sleeping in a lawn chair, sharing a tent with others he had met only the previous day.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“This coronavirus is a little bit hyped up,” said that man, who would identify himself only as Jason, 48, an electrician from Seattle. He declined to give a last name, citing a fear of being doxxed. “The media hypes things.”

The coronavirus outbreak combined with a national debate over systemic racism brought two of America’s crises into focus in Oklahoma this weekend.

Mr. White, who is African-American, said that on his trip he also intended to visit Greenwood Avenue.

“We support the president, my district supports the president, at least based on the last voting tally I looked at in 2016,” Mr. White said, explaining his reasons for going to Tulsa. But, he added, “This is not just going up for the president — it’s having some opportunity to visit Greenwood and reflect on that horrible massacre.”

Nevertheless, the president was hardly promoting a moment of national reflection as Juneteenth approached. On Thursday night, he tweeted two fake videos, one about a racist baby that both Twitter and Facebook removed. And on Friday, he tweeted a barely veiled threat at protesters, suggesting there would be no lenience if they caused trouble at his event — a message several people waiting in line could quote nearly verbatim even as they said they supported peaceful protests.

In the Greenwood Avenue neighborhood, that message was instead taken as an unmistakable threat. The Rev. Al Sharpton, a frequent critic of the president who was the keynote speaker at Friday’s Juneteenth event, said of the tweet: “We won’t bend, we won’t bow, we won’t give up. ”

The contentious nature of Saturday’s rally, and the split screen of Mr. Trump’s Tulsa and the one that embraced Mr. Sharpton, stands in contrast to the spirit of racial reconciliation that Tulsa has long tried to foster. Because of the city’s history, and the approaching centennial anniversary of the 1921 race massacre, Republicans and Democrats have sought to form a shared political vocabulary, particularly when it comes to race. Senator James Lankford, a Republican and staunch ally of Mr. Trump, attended the Juneteenth celebrations with his family.

Credit…Chris Creese for The New York Times

Phil Armstrong, one of the leaders of a commission established to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the massacre, which Mr. Lankford has supported, bemoaned the effect that outsiders — including Mr. Trump’s fans from around the country — could have on Tulsa’s carefully balanced relationships across race and political party.

“When white mobs destroyed Greenwood, there was a mind-set that people said, We’re going to rebuild and make this bigger and better,” Mr. Armstrong said. “We have that same mind-set now. Trump is coming? And on Juneteenth weekend? No. We’re going to come together and we’re going to be a countermessage.”

However, he said he was still nervous as Saturday approached, saying he worried about outside groups promoting violence. In Oklahoma, guns may be carried without a license by most state residents.

Back at the Trump encampment, there was at least one person focused on the virus: David Edmondson of Dallas, who said he works at the face shield company TrueHero, coaxed attendees to put on shields he was distributing, in part, by assuring them the goods were not made in China.

“I want people to take them,” said Mr. Edmondson, a Trump supporter, citing the risks of the virus. “It’s not political,’’ he said. “You’ve got some people thinking it’s made up.”

Mr. Edmondson did not plan to attend the rally.

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Jay Clayton, Low-Profile Regulator, Is Catapulted Into a Political Fight

Westlake Legal Group jay-clayton-low-profile-regulator-is-catapulted-into-a-political-fight Jay Clayton, Low-Profile Regulator, Is Catapulted Into a Political Fight United States Politics and Government United States Attorneys Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Legal Profession Clayton, Walter J Berman, Geoffrey S Barr, William P Appointments and Executive Changes

After three years at the helm of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Jay Clayton had made it known to colleagues, friends and the Trump administration that he was itching to go back to New York.

The longtime and highly-paid corporate lawyer, who had spent his career at Sullivan & Cromwell representing some of the world’s biggest financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, wanted to be closer to his family.

In a private discussion with Attorney General William P. Barr, Mr. Clayton, 53, expressed interest in becoming the top prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, according to a Justice Department official. After a lifetime of practicing securities law and prepping companies for initial public offerings, Mr. Clayton told friends he saw the job as a way to establish his litigation credentials, according to people who know him.

Mr. Barr did not object — the two lawyers have known each other for years — and Mr. Clayton has a good relationship with President Trump. The two played golf together last Saturday at the president’s club in Bedminster, N.J., according to people familiar with the matter, and he has golfed with the president several times in the past.

In recent days, talks about Mr. Clayton succeeding Geoffrey S. Berman, the current United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, picked up, according to a person briefed on the matter.

On Friday night, Mr. Clayton appeared close to getting the job he wanted. But within an hour, that dream job had morphed into a nightmare as Mr. Clayton found himself embroiled in a huge political fight after Mr. Berman refused to resign and the administration was accused of trying to force out a prosecutor whose office has been at the forefront of corruption inquiries into Mr. Trump’s inner circle.

On Saturday afternoon, Mr. Barr told Mr. Berman in a letter that Mr. Trump had fired him and that he had named the deputy U.S. attorney, Audrey Strauss, as acting head.

Even before the firing, Republicans suggested that confirming Mr. Clayton would not be easy. Democrats called on him to withdraw his name or face reputational ruin.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a close Trump ally, indicated that he would allow New York’s two Democratic senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, to block Mr. Clayton’s nomination through a procedural maneuver known as a blue slip.

Both Mr. Schumer and Ms. Gillibrand said Mr. Clayton should drop out of contention and said not doing so was akin to allowing the administration to muzzle an independent prosecutor.

“Jay Clayton can allow himself to be used in the brazen Trump-Barr scheme to interfere in investigations by the U.S. Attorney for SDNY, or he can stand up to this corruption, withdraw his name from consideration, and save his own reputation from overnight ruin,” Mr. Schumer said on Twitter.

It is unclear whether Mr. Clayton was aware of the controversy that his nomination was going to elicit. Those that know Mr. Clayton said they found it hard to believe that he would have agreed to be nominated had he known Mr. Berman was not planning to step down. Mr. Berman said on Friday night that he only learned that he was “stepping down” from a Justice Department news release. Mr. Clayton and Mr. Berman know each other professionally and have established a good working relationship, according to people familiar with the matter.

While Mr. Clayton has golfed with Mr. Trump, he is not viewed as a political acolyte or someone who courts controversy in the way the president seems to relish. He did not contribute to the president’s 2016 campaign but has given money to candidates of both parties over the years. Mr. Clayton is not a registered Republican or Democrat.

His tenure at the S.E.C. has been fairly muted and Mr. Clayton has not played a high-profile role within the administration. But public scrutiny of Mr. Clayton is likely to increase with his nomination, particularly if he intends to see it through.

Mr. Clayton “will surely find himself under considerable pressure from his professional circle not to become a pawn in what will likely be a serious fight,” said Daniel C. Richman, a former federal prosecutor and Columbia Law School professor.

Rebecca Roiphe, a New York Law School professor of ethics, put it more simply: “I think he should withdraw his name,” she said. “The process has become politicized and the public would have little faith in him at this point, especially because he doesn’t have the traditional experience and profile of most people who have had the job in the past.”

Mr. Clayton has said little since the Friday night uproar. The only statement he has made was an email he sent, just after midnight on early Saturday, to all S.E.C. employees in which he said “pending confirmation, I will remain fully committed to the work of the Commission and the supportive community we have built,” according to a copy reviewed by The New York Times.

Just a day earlier, Mr. Clayton had emailed his staff to say that, while they were continuing to work remotely for the summer months, he looked forward to seeing them again in person, offering no indication that he was planning to leave the agency, according to a person briefed on the email.

Even without the controversy, Mr. Clayton was facing a tough path to confirmation. He is not a litigator or a former prosecutor — often prerequisites to being named as a U.S. attorney, particularly for a prestigious office like the Southern District, which is known for its independence, policing Wall Street and going after major corporate fraud cases. It has aggressively pursued cases involving insider trading and Ponzi schemes, including prosecuting Bernard L. Madoff, Steven A. Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors (known now as Point72 Asset Management) and Representative Chris Collins of New York.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 20dc-clayton2-articleLarge Jay Clayton, Low-Profile Regulator, Is Catapulted Into a Political Fight United States Politics and Government United States Attorneys Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Legal Profession Clayton, Walter J Berman, Geoffrey S Barr, William P Appointments and Executive Changes
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Before being named S.E.C. chair, Mr. Clayton was a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, where he did work for banks, hedge funds and big corporations such as Goldman Sachs, Barclays and Alibaba. Within the firm he had a reputation as being a well-placed but cautious person not known for his political views.

His pick was seen as evidence that the Trump administration wanted someone in the position with strong ties to corporate America who might be inclined to take a lighter touch to enforcing securities laws and punishing corporate wrongdoers.

In many ways he was the classic Republican pick. At the time, he said he would divest himself of 175 investment funds and stock holdings that either he or his wife, who then worked at Goldman Sachs, held. The disclosure form listed Mr. Clayton and his family’s wealth at around $50 million.

One of the few whiffs of intrigue surrounding his nomination was that billionaire investor Carl C. Icahn, a one-time unpaid special adviser to Mr. Trump, had met with Mr. Clayton before his confirmation hearing before the Senate.

In joining the S.E.C., he took with him another Sullivan & Cromwell partner, Steven Peikin, a former federal prosecutor in Manhattan and longtime defense lawyer. Mr. Peikin was an assistant prosecutor in Manhattan during the time that James B. Comey, the former director of the F.B.I. who was fired by Mr. Trump, served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District.

The S.E.C. under Mr. Clayton has been aggressive in cracking down on fraudulent offerings of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

In his first speech as S.E.C. chairman, Mr. Clayton said his No. 1 concern was looking out for the “long-term interests of the Main Street investor.” In the speech before the Economic Club of New York, he peppered his talk with folksy language, referring to ordinary investors as “Mr. and Ms. 401(k).”

Mr. Clayton’s focus on mom-and-pop investors was seen just a few days ago when the S.E.C. raised serious questions about a plan by Hertz to raise up to $500 million in cash by selling stock to investors amid its bankruptcy case. In a bankruptcy proceeding, shares of a company are often wiped out and worthless so the stock offering raised considerable eyebrows on Wall Street.

On Thursday, the car rental company said it was withdrawing the planned stock sale in light of the S.E.C. inquiry.

But the commission’s actions sometimes appeared at odds with Mr. Clayton’s stated focus on ordinary investors.

The S.E.C. has proposed changes in auditor independence rules that some feared could relax standards meant to prevent conflicts of interest. And last summer the commission adopted a so-called best interest rule governing the conduct of stockbrokers that consumer advocates said actually did little to protect investors. Critics said the rule did not go far enough in defining what it means for a broker to act in a customer’s best interest.

There have also been few high-profile corporate enforcement actions during Mr. Clayton’s tenure. Many of the billions of dollars of fines that the S.E.C. has taken in have come from cracking down on Ponzi schemes. Last year, the commission imposed a $1 billion penalty on the Woodbridge Group of Companies and its former owner, which securities regulators contend had run a real estate scheme that defrauded 8,400 retail investors.

A review by The New York Times in 2018 found a significant decline in the size of penalties imposed by the S.E.C. on corporate wrongdoers under the Trump administration than in the final 20 months of the Obama administration.

His tenure, however, may be best remembered for sanctions the S.E.C. brought against Elon Musk to step aside as chairman of Tesla for three years and pay a $20 million fine because of misleading information he posted on Twitter about a potential buyout of the electric car company.

In that case, the S.E.C. moved far faster than it usually does — filing a civil fraud action against Mr. Musk just weeks after his post set off a firestorm. But some critics felt the settlement that regulators struck with Mr. Musk did not go far enough to punish the voluble entrepreneur.

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Trump Fires Berman After Tensions Rose Over Inquiries

Westlake Legal Group trump-fires-berman-after-tensions-rose-over-inquiries Trump Fires Berman After Tensions Rose Over Inquiries United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Manhattan (NYC) Justice Department Giuliani, Rudolph W Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Berman, Geoffrey S Barr, William P

President Trump on Saturday personally fired the United States Attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, whose office has pursued one case after another that has rankled the president and his allies, putting his former personal lawyer in prison and investigating his current one.

It was the culmination of an extraordinary clash after years of tension between the White House and New York federal prosecutors.

In a statement, Attorney General William P. Barr said Mr. Berman, who had refused to step down from his position on Friday night, had “chosen public spectacle over public service.”

“Because you have declared that you have no intention of resigning, I have asked the President to remove you as of today, and he has done so,” the statement read. Mr. Barr said Mr. Berman’s top deputy, Audrey Strauss, would become the acting United States Attorney.

A spokesman for the office said Mr. Berman would not immediately comment. The dismissal of Mr. Berman came after his office brought a series of highly sensitive cases that worried and angered Mr. Trump and others in his inner circle.

First, there was the arrest and prosecution in 2018 of Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s longtime legal fixer. Then, there was the indictment last year of a state-owned bank in Turkey with political connections that had drawn the president’s attention. More recently, the Manhattan prosecutors launched an inquiry into Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer and one of his most ardent supporters.

These simmering tensions finally erupted Friday night in the most public fashion possible as Mr. Barr suddenly announced that Mr. Berman was stepping down — only to discover two hours later that Mr. Berman had made his own announcement: that he was going nowhere.

Given the number of sore spots between the feuding agencies, it remained unclear precisely what prompted Mr. Barr to seek Mr. Berman’s removal well after nightfall at the start of a summer weekend. At least two of the politically sensitive cases — involving the Turkish bank and Mr. Giuliani — remain ongoing.

Throughout the day on Saturday, many current and former employees of the Southern District of New York, as the Manhattan prosecutors’ office is formally known, marveled at just how sour relations with their colleagues in Washington had gotten. Some worried openly that the move threatened the independence of federal prosecutors.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_173591163_60d3f989-ca0f-4119-a895-c287fd841ce9-articleLarge Trump Fires Berman After Tensions Rose Over Inquiries United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Manhattan (NYC) Justice Department Giuliani, Rudolph W Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Berman, Geoffrey S Barr, William P
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“While there have always been turf battles between the Southern District and the Justice Department in Washington, and occasionally sharp elbows, to take someone out suddenly while they’re investigating the president’s lawyer, it is just unprecedented in modern times,” said David Massey, a defense attorney, who served as a Southern District prosecutor for nearly a decade.

A spokesman for the office said Mr. Berman would not immediately comment.

The struggle over Mr. Berman came amid a broader purge of administration officials, one that has intensified in the months since the Republican-led Senate acquitted Mr. Trump at an impeachment trial. Since the beginning of the year, the president has fired or forced out inspectors general with independent oversight over executive branch agencies and other key figures from the trial.

But the attempt to remove Mr. Berman unfolded with particularly dizzying speed and seemed to take even several of the participants aback.

On Friday, Mr. Barr came to New York to meet with senior New York Police Department officials and, after nearly a month of public protests, to talk with them about “policing issues that have been at the forefront of national conversation and debate,” according to a Justice Department news release.

When he later met with Mr. Berman, according to two people familiar with the conversation, Mr. Barr suggested that Mr. Berman could take over the civil division of the Justice Department if he agreed to leave his position in Manhattan.

But Mr. Berman declined, and Mr. Barr quickly moved to fire him, announcing his decision in a highly unusual late-night Justice Department news release. Hours later, Mr. Berman issued a counterstatement denying he was leaving.

“I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position,” Mr. Berman’s statement said. He added that he had learned of Mr. Barr’s actions only from the news release.

In one sign that Mr. Barr’s efforts may have been hastily arranged, even the man poised to take Mr. Berman’s place, Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, appeared to be caught off guard.

Mr. Clayton, who is friendly with Mr. Trump and has golfed with the president at his club in Bedminster, N.J., had recently signaled to his friends that he wanted to return to his home in New York City and was interested in Mr. Berman’s job.

Still, Mr. Clayton sent an email to his staff on Thursday saying that he looked forward to seeing them in person, once work-at-home restrictions that had been put in place because of the coronavirus could be lifted. The email offered no indication that Mr. Clayton was planning to leave the S.E.C., according to a person briefed on it.

Just after midnight on Saturday, Mr. Clayton sent another email to his employees, telling them about his new position. “Pending confirmation,” he wrote, “I will remain fully committed to the work of the commission and the supportive community we have built,” according to a copy reviewed by The New York Times.

Mr. Clayton could not be reached for comment.

Before Mr. Barr released his statement, Mr. Berman pointedly showed up to work on Saturday, arriving at his office in Lower Manhattan carrying a brown leather briefcase and clad in a blue suit. He was met outside the squat gray concrete building by a handful of photographers and television crews. “I’m just here to do my job,” he said, before walking inside.

Under Mr. Trump, the Justice Department has long believed that the Southern District was out of control. In no small part that was because prosecutors delayed in warning their colleagues in Washington that they were naming name Mr. Trump — as “Individual-1” — in court documents in the Cohen prosecution.

When Mr. Barr became attorney general, officials in the deputy attorney general’s office, which oversees regional prosecutors, asked him to rein in Mr. Berman, who they believed was exacerbating the Southern District’s propensity for autonomy. The office has embraced its nickname the “Sovereign District” of New York because of its tradition of independence.

One particular point of contention was the question of how Mr. Berman and his staff should investigate Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank that the office indicted last year, according to one department and two current lawyers.

In a new book, John Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, wrote that Mr. Trump had promised the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in 2018 that he would intervene in the investigation of the bank, which had been accused of violating sanctions against Iran.

Then there was the inquiry into Mr. Giuliani, which has focused on whether he violated laws on lobbying for foreign entities in his efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine on the president’s political rivals. That probe began after Mr. Berman’s office brought indictments against two of Mr. Giuliani’s close associates.

Mr. Trump has told advisers he was pleased with the move to dismiss Mr. Berman, and a person close to the president described it as a long time coming.

Mr. Trump has been dissatisfied with Mr. Berman, despite choosing him for the post himself, going back to 2018. That year, he told the acting attorney general at the time, Matthew G. Whitaker, that he was frustrated that Mr. Berman had been recused from the case against Mr. Cohen and wanted him to somehow undo it.

A Republican who contributed to the president’s campaign and worked at the same law firm as Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Berman maintains that the Justice Department cannot fire him because of the way he came into his job.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Last year, Mr. Barr considered replacing Mr. Berman with Edward O’Callaghan, a top Justice Department official and a former Southern District prosecutor, according to people familiar with the matter. The plan fell through, however, in part because of the complex legal issues around how Mr. Berman was appointed.

In another potential issue, ousting Mr. Berman last year could have looked like retaliation after his office secured an indictment against the two associates of Mr. Giuliani, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Barr’s attempt to fire Mr. Berman got pushback on Saturday from an unexpected source: Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a close ally of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — the body that would approve Mr. Clayton’s nomination — suggested in a statement that he would allow New York’s two Democratic senators to thwart the nomination through a procedural maneuver. He complimented Mr. Clayton but noted that he had not heard from the administration about any formal plans to name him.

Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, urged Mr. Clayton to withdraw his name from consideration for the post and called for an investigation into the decision to dismiss Mr. Berman.

The move to push Mr. Berman out echoed Mr. Barr’s decision earlier this year to remove Jessie K. Liu from her role as the U.S. attorney in Washington, after Mr. Trump’s allies complained to the president and the attorney general that she was not sufficiently loyal.

Benjamin Weiser and Deborah Solomon contributed reporting.

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Who Can Fire a Court-Appointed U.S. Attorney? A New Legal Fight, Explained

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Westlake Legal Group 20dc-legal-pix-facebookJumbo Who Can Fire a Court-Appointed U.S. Attorney? A New Legal Fight, Explained United States Politics and Government United States Attorneys Trump, Donald J Presidents and Presidency (US) Office of Legal Counsel (US) Manhattan (NYC) Law and Legislation Justice Department Federal Courts (US) Courts and the Judiciary Berman, Geoffrey S Barr, William P Attorneys General Appointments and Executive Changes

WASHINGTON — The declaration by the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan that he would stay in his job despite Attorney General William P. Barr’s attempt to fire him raised not just the factual mystery of what was behind Mr. Barr’s move, but also a legal question: Who has the authority to remove him?

No definitive and settled Supreme Court precedent exists to look to for guidance, and federal statutes appear to conflict on the question. That sets up the possibility of a protracted fight in court if the Trump administration pushes forward and Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, continues to resist.

But legal experts pointed to a 1979 Justice Department opinion to suggest that the ultimate result of any courtroom confrontation will likely be that President Trump — though not Mr. Barr — has the authority to fire Mr. Berman.

“It’s probably the case that Trump, but not Barr, would have to remove Berman and take the political responsibility for doing so,” said Martin S. Lederman, a Georgetown University law professor who served in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in the Obama administration.

Normally, under the Constitution, the power to remove government officials rests with whomever appointed them, except in instances where Congress set up an alternative mechanism. At issue is how that framework applies to the position of a United States attorney who was appointed by a court, as Mr. Berman was in 2018.

While the president appoints most U.S. attorneys following Senate confirmation, a law permits an attorney general to appoint a prosecutor to fill those vacancies for 120 days. If that temporary appointment expires, judges can fill it. A prosecutor appointed by the court will “serve until the vacancy is filled,” the statute says.

That is how Mr. Berman became U.S. attorney. He was initially appointed by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and federal judges in Manhattan reappointed him after the 120-day period expired. In his statement on Friday night, Mr. Berman indicated that Mr. Barr could not fire him because he had been appointed by the court, and declared he intended to remain in office until the Senate confirms a successor.

“I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position, to which I was appointed by the judges of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York,” he said. “I will step down when a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate.”

However, another federal law says that U.S. attorneys may be removed by the president. It appears to make no exception for those appointed by courts. That raises the question of whether Congress has established that presidents may remove prosecutors appointed by courts.

In 1979, during the Carter administration, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which analyzes legal issues for the executive branch, looked at this question. It concluded that the president — but not the attorney general — could fire such an official.

In a memorandum opinion, John Harmon, the head of the office at the time, cited the law that says presidents may fire U.S. attorneys. He wrote that the law’s broad wording makes sense if it is applied not only to presidentially appointed U.S. attorneys “but also is to be read as extending to ‘each’ U.S. attorney, including the court-appointed ones whom the president could not remove without congressional leave.”

Mr. Harmon also pointed to constitutional arguments to back his conclusion: U.S. attorneys exercise executive power, making the president responsible for the conduct of their offices, so the president “must have the power to remove one he believes is an unsuitable incumbent, regardless of who appointed him,” he wrote.

District court judges in Manhattan may be inclined to disagree and back an alternative interpretation that leaves them with the power to remove a U.S. attorney they appointed. But if potential litigation over the issue were to go all the way to the Supreme Court, a majority of the justices are Republican appointees steeped in a conservative ideology of White House power that includes a robust view of the president’s ability to remove officials who exercise executive power.

In addition, Mr. Harmon wrote in 1979, it might violate constitutional protections for due process of law if judges overseeing cases as neutral arbiters had the power to fire prosecutors if the judges did not like how they handle their responsibilities.

Office of Legal Counsel opinions are generally considered to be binding interpretations of the law for Justice Department officials, but they are not legal precedents in the sense of judicial opinions by appeals courts or the Supreme Court. The 1979 opinion pointed to one district court opinion from 1963 — also in Manhattan — which expressed the view that a president may remove a court-appointed prosecutor.

Even if that is the case, Mr. Barr overstepped by trying to oust Mr. Berman on his own. Kelly Currie, a former acting U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, said Mr. Berman had “called the attorney general’s bluff” because only the president, not Mr. Barr, had the power to remove him.

“It’s telling that Berman’s statement following Barr’s attempt to oust him by press release explicitly defended ongoing investigations in that office,” Mr. Currie said.

“It’s hard not to suspect that Barr’s move is anything but an effort to thwart investigations that could be damaging to the president or his associates,” he added.

Even if courts agree with that analysis and Mr. Trump backs up Mr. Barr by ousting Mr. Berman, one other question would remain: Who gets to appoint a temporary successor to fill the vacancy while the Senate considers Mr. Trump’s nominee — Mr. Barr, as he purported to do on Friday night by designating the U.S. attorney for New Jersey to also hold that role in Manhattan, or the court?

That could be particularly important because there is reason to believe that the Senate will not confirm Mr. Trump’s nominee for the position, Jay Clayton. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said on Saturday that he will not move the nomination without the assent of New York’s two Democratic senators.

While it would be an abuse of power for Mr. Trump to fire Mr. Berman if his motive was that Mr. Berman was investigating his associates, the president’s motive is not the kind of questions the courts are likely to address, Mr. Lederman said.

Complicating matters, he added, is that it is far less clear that the Trump administration could unilaterally install any temporary successor to lead the office.

In 1986, when Samuel A. Alito Jr., now a Supreme Court justice, worked at the Office of Legal Counsel, he wrote a memorandum suggesting the attorney general cannot make successive interim appointments. Still, in 1987, Charles J. Cooper, then the head of the office, wrote in another memo that “it could be argued” that after a president removes a court-appointed U.S. attorney, the power to appoint an interim successor reverts to the attorney general.

“It’s not at all clear that either Trump or Barr — as opposed to the court — could name Berman’s temporary replacement,” Mr. Lederman said.

In any case, the Trump administration is heading into legally and politically murky waters. Back in 1979, Mr. Harmon acknowledged some ambiguity even about who could fire a court-appointed U.S. attorney in the first place. He left open the possibility that district court judges might interpret the conflicting statutes in a way that was more favorable to their own powers rather than the president’s.

Mr. Harmon warned that just because he thought Mr. Carter could remove a court-appointed U.S. attorney did not necessarily mean it would be a good idea “since the incumbent U.S. attorney apparently has the backing of the district court. That court might react unfavorably to any action that does not carefully comport with the letter of the statute.”

William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting from New York.

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