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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 72)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A lawyer for Mr. Fruman declined to comment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A lawyer for Mr. Fruman declined to comment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The recording emerged as Democrats are pressing the Senate to call more witnesses and seek additional evidence for the trial, saying there is more to be learned about the pressure campaign against Ukraine.

Democrats argued on Friday that the recording bolsters their argument that there may be relevant evidence that has yet to be considered.

ABC reported that Mr. Trump could be heard on the tape saying, “Get rid of her.” According to ABC, the president went on to say: “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. O.K.? Do it.”

Mr. Parnas had previously recounted how he and another associate of Mr. Giuliani, Igor Fruman, had met with Mr. Trump at the Trump International Hotel in Washington in April 2018. At that meeting, Mr. Parnas relayed a rumor that Ms. Yovanovitch, then the American ambassador in Kyiv, was bad-mouthing the president — an unsubstantiated claim that Ms. Yovanovitch has denied, according to two people with knowledge of the dinner.

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Trump May Skip Debates, or Seek New Host, if Process Isn’t ‘Fair’

Westlake Legal Group 24dc-debates-facebookJumbo Trump May Skip Debates, or Seek New Host, if Process Isn’t ‘Fair’ Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Parscale, Brad (1976- ) Debates (Political) Commission on Presidential Debates

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s campaign is considering only participating in general election debates if an outside firm serves as the host, and his advisers recently sat down with the nonprofit Commission on Presidential Debates to complain about the debates it hosted in 2016.

The Dec. 19 meeting between Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., a prominent Republican and co-chairman of the commission, Brad Parscale, the campaign manager for Mr. Trump’s re-election effort, and another political adviser, Michael Glassner, came soon after Mr. Trump posted on Twitter that the 2016 debates had been “biased.”

Mr. Fahrenkopf said the meeting was cordial, but that Mr. Parscale essentially reiterated Mr. Trump’s complaints.

Mr. Parscale said “that the president wanted to debate, but they had concerns about whether or not to do it with the commission,” Mr. Fahrenkopf said, including worries about “whether or not the commission would be fair.”

Mr. Trump’s advisers asserted that the debate commission included “anti-Trumpers.” They also complained about previous moderators, Mr. Fahrenkopf said.

Mr. Fahrenkopf, in turn, insisted that the debate commission did not include any anti-Trump bias, and he said he walked Mr. Parscale through the guidelines for commission board members that require their neutrality.

He also said that with one exception, the commission did not think any of the moderators chosen over several decades had exhibited concerning behavior during the debates.

The one moderator he agreed was problematic was Candy Crowley, who was at CNN in 2012 when she moderated a debate between Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, and President Barack Obama.

Ms. Crowley fact-checked Mr. Romney when he wrongly claimed it took Mr. Obama 14 days to call an attack in Benghazi, Libya, an “act of terror.”

The meeting between Mr. Parscale and Mr. Fahrenkopf ended after 45 minutes with no resolution.

Since then, Mr. Parscale has told people that he was investigating other options for hosting the debates. It is not clear which outside firms he or other officials are talking to, and the campaign declined to provide any details.

“We want to have debates that are fair and are more geared toward informing the American people than to boosting the careers of the moderators,” Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for Mr. Trump’s campaign, said of the meeting.

The commission has scheduled three presidential debates, to be held on college campuses in late September and October, as well as one vice-presidential debate.

Mr. Trump has been discussing the possibility of sitting out the general election debates for months. He has harbored bad feelings about the debate commission since the 2016 election, when he accused them of putting him at a disadvantage “on purpose” by giving him a “defective mic” at the first debate. (Mr. Trump was clearly audible to television viewers, but the commission said a technical malfunction affected the volume of his voice in the debate hall.)

After The New York Times reported that Mr. Trump had discussed the possibility of sitting the debates out, he wrote on Twitter that he wanted to face off against his eventual Democratic opponent. But he said that “the problem is that the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates is stacked with Trump Haters & Never Trumpers.”

He added that “there are many options, including doing them directly & avoiding the nasty politics of this very biased Commission. I will make a decision at an appropriate time but in the meantime, the Commission on Presidential Debates is NOT authorized to speak for me (or R’s)!”

Most people close to the president say his advisers are likely using a debate around debates to work with the commission, which was established in 1987 and has attempted to maintain its independence through every presidential cycle since then.

Representatives from both major presidential campaigns typically begin to approach the commission well before the party conventions, as Mr. Parscale did, and the commission spends months working with advisers and campaign lawyers to hammer out the specifics.

People close to the president also believe he has a slim window to try to affect who the moderators are, since there may be a presumptive Democratic nominee as soon as mid-March, and that person might push back against Mr. Trump’s attempts to influence the choice.

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Lawmakers say repetition puts facts into context.

Westlake Legal Group 24dc-livevid-sub-facebookJumbo Lawmakers say repetition puts facts into context. United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Tillis, Thomas R Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Senate Schiff, Adam B Politics and Government Lankford, James House of Representatives

As House managers began their third full day of arguments on Friday, one thing is clear: They continue to repeat the same set of facts about the Ukraine pressure campaign again and again — this time in service of their argument about the president’s obstruction of Congress.

Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead manager, acknowledged this week that some of the case would be repetitive but said it was necessary to put the facts in the proper context.

True to his word, the managers on Friday started by detailing now-familiar moments in the pressure campaign: the July 25 call between Mr. Trump and the president of Ukraine; phone calls with Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union; the hold on security aid; video clips from witnesses in the House inquiry.

For some Republican senators, the familiarity is off-putting.

“You hear it again and again and again. I can almost recite the testimony, which has been roughly the same,” said Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina. “There’s about two hours of information you heard for the first time. We heard it with all the motions, we heard it with Schiff in the beginning and the end of the day.”

Senator James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, agreed: “That is the big challenge we are having right now is how often we’re hearing the same story. On Tuesday, all day we heard the same stories, the same videos. On Wednesday, all day, the same stories the same video.”

The House impeachment managers are now at work on the heart of their task for the afternoon: stringing together, bit by bit, a story of how President Trump and lawyers around him tried to conceal his Ukraine pressure campaign.

Discussion of Mr. Trump’s alleged cover-up had focused primarily on Mr. Trump’s defiance of subpoenas for testimony and documents in the impeachment inquiry. But Representatives Hakeem Jeffries of New York and Jason Crow of Colorado suggested to senators that behavior is just one part of a longer cover-up, much of which took place behind the scenes before the House had even learned of the pressure campaign.

“They were determined to prevent Congress and the American people from learning anything about the president’s corrupt behavior,” Mr. Jeffries said of lawyers at the White House and Justice Department who bottled up reports in July 2019 from White House foreign policy advisers alarmed by the legality of a White House meeting with Ukrainian officials and Mr. Trump’s July 25 phone call with the country’s leader.

Mr. Crow said the president’s cover-up intensified after three House Democratic committee chairmen announced in early September that they were investigating the suspension of $391 million in military aid earmarked for Ukraine. Now, White House budget officials rushed to put together a justification for a weeks-old freeze.

“This is where the music stops, and everyone starts running to find a chair,” he said.

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Vice President Mike Pence shaking hands with Giuseppe Conte, the prime minister of Italy, in Rome on Friday.Credit…Filippo Monteforte/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence, who is on a trip abroad but has been in close contact with the president to compare notes over the impeachment trial, told reporters on Friday in Rome that he expected a speedy acquittal in the Senate.

“I think you will hear a strong defense of this president and then senators will have a choice to make,” Mr. Pence said. “The outcome here is that the president should be acquitted.”

He also said that he would consider turning over transcripts of his phone conversations with President Volodymyr Zelensky if he received a “reasonable” request from the Senate. Mr. Pence initially said he would turn over those transcripts nearly three months ago, but he said on Friday that he decided to withhold them as the House impeachment inquiry unfolded.

“We’d consider any reasonable request by the Senate, and we will work with White House counsel” on any such request, he said.

Representative Hakeem Jeffries, one of the House impeachment managers, focused on the role of John A. Eisenberg, the lead lawyer for the National Security Council.

Three National Security Council staff members reported to Mr. Eisenberg about pressure on Ukraine for investigations of the Bidens. One of those staff members, Fiona Hill, testified that Mr. Eisenberg told her that he was concerned. But because Mr. Trump has blocked his aides from testifying, Mr. Jeffries said, it is unknown whether or how Mr. Eisenberg followed up.

Reporting by The New York Times has shown that Mr. Eisenberg reported the complaints to Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, and Mr. Cipollone invited him to brief the president.

If that is true, Mr. Cipollone appears to have passed the buck. Mr. Eisenberg reports directly to him, and unlike Mr. Cipollone, he doesn’t typically meet directly with the president.

Ultimately, Mr. Eisenberg did not take Mr. Cipollone’s advice, according to our article here.

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Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. arriving Friday on Capitol Hill.Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

A premise of the escalating debate over whether the Senate should vote to call witnesses is that four Republicans would need to support that idea. Along with the 47 members of the Democratic caucus, four Republican senators would create a 51-vote majority.

There’s been little discussion of it, but there’s a musty precedent from the 1868 Andrew Johnson trial whereby, in theory, it could take three Republicans. The catch is that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. would have to support the idea, too.

If only three Republicans were to vote for a motion to call witnesses, the Senate would be split 50-50. That means the motion would fail. But twice in the 1868 trial, Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, in his role as the presiding officer, cast a tie-breaking vote on a procedural motion — which therefore passed.

Some senators believed Chase lacked the power to break ties, but votes to nullify his intervention failed, creating a precedent. To be sure, both of those votes were far less momentous than a motion to call witnesses in President Trump’s trial: They involved whether the Senate should take a short break and adjourn for the day, respectively.

In the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, Chief Justice William Rehnquist did not cast any tie-breaking votes.

During debate on Tuesday on the impeachment trial rules, Republican senators blocked a bid by Democrats to leave it up to Chief Justice Roberts to decide whether evidence or testimony was relevant and should be allowed.

President Trump’s legal team plans to make a brief appearance on Saturday, using only a few hours to begin to lay out its case on a day when few people are watching, according to people briefed on the plan.

Both Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, and Jay Sekulow, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, will appear. Each will speak for about an hour, although officials said the planning was still fluid.

On Monday, Mr. Trump will get his made-for-television presentation.

That day, another person helping the team, Alan Dershowitz, the veteran defense lawyer, will make a short presentation arguing that the accusations against the president are not impeachable offenses. Mr. Dershowitz, who frequently appears as a television commentator, has rejected the articles against Mr. Trump in his remarks.

As they circle around a now familiar set of facts and their time grows shorter, the Democratic House managers are turning a greater part of their attention to pre-emptively rebut what they expect will be the White House’s arguments.

That’s because they may not have much chance to do so later. Under the rules of the trial, the White House defense will be followed by a short debate on witnesses and documents, with perhaps a chance for short closing statements.

So on Friday, Representative Jason Crow, Democrat of Colorado and one of the managers, said the following: “Now since we won’t have an opportunity to respond to the president’s presentation, I want to take a minute to respond to some of the arguments that I expect them to make.”

One of those, he said, was the argument repeatedly made by President Trump and his Republican allies: that the pressure campaign claimed by Democrats must not be true because the security aid for Ukraine was eventually delivered without an announcement of investigations that Mr. Trump had repeatedly sought.

That argument is sure to feature prominently in the White House defense, so early on Friday afternoon, Mr. Crow set out to challenge it before it is even made.

“Regardless of whether the aid was ultimately released, the fact that the hold became public sent a very important signal to Russia that our support was wavering,” he said. “The damage was done.”

He went on to warn senators about the tactics he expected the president’s lawyers to use when they begin their arguments on Saturday.

“You will notice I’m sure that they will ignore significant portions of the evidence will try and cherry pick individual statements here and there to manufacture defenses,” Mr. Crow said. “But don’t be fooled.”

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Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead House impeachment manager, Friday on Capitol Hill.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Representative Adam B. Schiff’s closing speech Thursday night was drawing acclaim from Democrats for its rousing delivery and pointed depiction of President Trump as untrustworthy and selfish.

But it fell flat with some of its intended audience — Senate Republicans. Multiple senators said they found the remarks offensive and off-putting.

Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the No. 3 Senate Republican, ticked off positive economic indicators from the Trump era and said the president’s record should be decided by the voters, not politicians.

“What we heard from Democrats is they don’t trust the voters,” he said.

Mr. Barrasso also made the point that Democrats were not only trying to oust the president, but also trying to keep his name off the ballot in November — a claim that left some puzzled.

But the Senate could take such a step if it convicted the president. A little-known aspect of impeachment would allow the Senate to take a second vote to disqualify Mr. Trump from holding office again. And unlike the 67-vote threshold for removal, the disqualification clause requires only a majority vote.

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Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, preparing to testify before Congress last November.Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

A recording of President Trump saying “take her out,” in an apparent reference to the American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, has emerged, ABC News reported on Friday.

According to ABC News, the recording dates to spring 2018, when Mr. Trump and two associates of his private lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani were dining at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

“Get rid of her” says the voice that appears to be Mr. Trump, according to the ABC report. “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. O.K.? Do it.”

One of the associates at the dinner, Lev Parnas, who is under federal indictment, said in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that Mr. Trump ordered Ms. Yovanovitch removed at the dinner. ABC did not air the recording, but it said it had reviewed it.

A new voice recording of Mr. Trump like this could generate more calls from Democrats for additional witnesses to be called in the impeachment trial and for new evidence to be sought. The Senate appears likely to consider next week whether to call more witnesses, with nearly all Republicans opposed. The Senate has long been expected acquit Mr. Trump.

House Democrats will rest their case on Friday and, despite bipartisan praise for their presentation, it does not appear to have accomplished its chief objective of persuading enough Republicans that they need to hear from live witnesses and see withheld documents.

Both Republicans and Democrats said that the seven Democratic impeachment managers had done a commendable job, singling out Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead prosecutor, in particular. But even Democrats were not optimistic there had been a breakthrough.

“Mr. Schiff was phenomenal,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, “but I’m skeptical he moved any votes.”

Many Republicans simply said they had heard enough — and heard it over and over.

“It became mind-numbing after a while,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.”

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

Those two would never have voted for witnesses in any regard. And the jury is still out on whether the other senators considered in play — Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee — would join with Democrats.

But the increasing expectation in the Senate on Friday was that a vote sometime next week to call witnesses would fall short, moving the trial into its end game.

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Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, arriving Friday on Capitol Hill.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump’s White House lawyers will begin their defense of the president at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, announced at the start of proceedings Friday afternoon.

The early start will give the White House legal team more time to begin making its case on Saturday, though it is not clear whether that will happen. Mr. McConnell said only that he expected the proceeding to go “for several hours” on Saturday. And Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s lawyers, has been cagey about how many hours his team would use to defend Mr. Trump.

One thing is clear: The president would prefer his defense be presented during the week, when more people are watching. In an early morning tweet, Mr. Trump said Saturdays are “Death Valley” for television.

With President Trump’s acquittal all but certain, Republican leaders have narrowed their focus to one overriding strategic goal: ensuring that the Senate does not vote in favor of calling new witnesses or allowing in evidence that could prolong the impeachment trial and scramble the ultimate outcome.

In the hallways of the Capitol, Republican senators were trying out at least a half dozen arguments, all of them apparently aimed at a handful of fellow Republicans who have expressed openness to gathering additional evidence. Here’s a look at some of their most common refrains:

  • A vote for witnesses would surely result in a protracted legal fight to secure testimony, prolonging the trial and paralyzing the government indefinitely.

  • Calling witnesses now would reward the House for rushing its case.

  • The House impeachment managers have claimed to have all the evidence they need to prove Mr. Trump is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, so why bother with more information?

    “The number of times they have made it very clear that they have clear and convincing evidence and that the evidence is all clear and convincing,” said Senator Mike Rounds, Republican of South Dakota. “Time and time again, they have told us how much they’ve gotten.”

  • A fight over access to witnesses could force the courts to settle tricky questions about the scope of the president’s executive privilege, which could result in rulings that could weaken the presidency.

    “I don’t want to call John Bolton because they could have chosen to call him and they refused to,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. He was referring to House Democrats, who did not subpoena Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser after it became clear he would refuse to appear. “I’m not going to destroy executive privilege, I’m not going to let the House put me in this box,” Mr. Graham added.

  • Be careful what you wish for.

    Some Republicans are playing hardball, threatening to call witnesses pleasing to Mr. Trump, like Hunter Biden or the anonymous whistle-blower whose complaint prompted the impeachment inquiry, that could turn the trial into a circus. The idea, in part, is to send a warning to moderate Republican senators who have signaled they might be open to witnesses that they should not go down that path.

Complaining they were tired of listening to the Democratic impeachment managers repeat the same arguments day after day, and piqued by closing remarks made by Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Republican senators close to President Trump began urging his defense team to mount a vigorous rebuttal focused on the substance of Democrats’ case, not just the process.

Seizing on the House managers’ decision to talk at length about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, Hunter Biden, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, called on the White House defense team to “make a compelling case that there is something, based on good government and foreign policy, to look at here.”

Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, said in an interview that he would encourage the president’s lawyers “to clarify some of these videos” of witness testimony “that have been played that are clipped in ways that don’t really tell the whole story.”

“This will be the first time that the president’s story will be able to be told,” Mr. Barrasso said.

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Senator Lamar Alexander speaking to reporters last week on Capitol Hill.Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Senator Lamar Alexander, one of four Republicans who have signaled an openness to calling witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial, said on Friday that he wouldn’t make up his mind on the matter until after senators had had a chance to question House Democratic impeachment managers and the president’s team.

The Democratic prosecutors are scheduled to complete their oral arguments against Mr. Trump on Friday, and the president’s lawyers are slated to begin up to 24 hours of his defense as early as Saturday. Under trial rules adopted this week, those presentations will be followed by a question-and-answer period for senators.

“After all of that, I think the question is, do we need more evidence,” Mr. Alexander said on his way into a briefing on Capitol Hill. “Do we need to hear witnesses? Do we need more documents? And I think that question can only be answered then.”

Mr. Alexander, who is retiring from the Senate, is regarded as a potential defector on the question of witnesses who might feel compelled by his reverence for the institution to press for a more thorough airing of evidence in the impeachment trial.

But on Friday, he suggested he may have heard as much as he needs to.

“As the House managers have said many times, they’ve presented us with a mountain of overwhelming evidence, so we have a lot to consider already,” Mr. Alexander told reporters.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week in Bogota, Colombia.Credit…Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine next week during a trip to Ukraine and four other countries in Europe and Central Asia,the State Department said on Friday. It will be the first meeting between a member of President Trump’s cabinet and Mr. Zelensky since the impeachment inquiry against Mr. Trump began in the fall.

Mr. Pompeo has twice canceled planned trips to Ukraine in recent months. The first trip had been planned for November, when American officials were testifying in the House about the Ukraine affair, and the second had been intended for this month. When Mr. Pompeo canceled that trip on Jan. 1, the State Department said that he was staying in Washington because of anti-American protests at the embassy in Baghdad. During that period, Mr. Trump, Mr. Pompeo and other top officials were planning a drone strike on Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s most powerful general.

The State Department said Mr. Pompeo planned to arrive in Kyiv on Thursday, where he would seek “to highlight U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” It said he also planned to take part in a wreath-laying ceremony “to honor those who have fallen” in Donbass, where the Ukrainian military is fighting a yearslong insurgency that is supported by Russia. The American military aid at the center of the impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump is intended to bolster the Ukrainians in that war and to help deter Russian aggression.

As discussion of possible witnesses heats up in the Capitol, there continues to be a widespread misconception about whom precisely Democrats most want to hear from at President Trump’s trial.

While much of the news media is focused on John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Senate Democrats and the House impeachment managers privately say they are more interested in Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff.

Their reasons are pretty simple, but have been obscured somewhat since Mr. Bolton volunteered this month that he would be willing to testify at the trial. Unlike Mr. Bolton, whom witness testimony suggests watched with alarm as the pressure campaign on Ukraine unfolded, Mr. Mulvaney appears to have been intimately involved at every step.

“All of the testimony seems clear that this entire thing was run through Mulvaney,” said Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut. “Mulvaney was the one talking to Trump on a regular basis.”

Speaking to reporters Friday morning, Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, called Mr. Mulvaney “the chief cook and bottle washer in this whole evil scheme.”

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Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, gave an impassioned speech urging senators to convict and remove President Trump.Image by Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Representative Adam B. Schiff, the former federal prosecutor who has steered the House impeachment investigation into President Trump, secured his place as a liberal rock star — and villain to conservatives — with the fiery closing argument he delivered Thursday night, imploring senators to convict and remove Mr. Trump because “you know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country.”

By Friday morning, the phrase #RightMatters — from the last line of Mr. Schiff’s speech — was trending as a hashtag on Twitter, which was lighting up with reaction from across the philosophical spectrum. “I am in tears,” wrote Debra Messing, the “Will & Grace” actress and outspoken Trump critic. “Thank you Chairman Schiff for fighting for our country.”

Even some Republicans are giving Mr. Schiff, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, grudging respect for delivering a masterful performance. But they also view him as nothing more than a shrewd political operator, and say that his words made clear that for Democrats, impeachment is about undoing the results of the 2016 election — and preventing the president from winning in 2020.

“Adam Schiff is already disputing the results of the 2020 election. Impeachment 2.0?” wrote Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee.

Mr. Schiff is known on Capitol Hill for his serious demeanor and dry laconic wit. But on Thursday, he was filled with passion, his voice rising and his face reddening as he made a late-night appeal to a tired and bitterly divided audience of senators, which he was promoting with a video clip on his own Twitter feed on Friday.

“You know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country — you can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump,” he said, adding, “This is why if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed. Because right matters. Right matters and the truth matters. Otherwise we are lost.”

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Democrats want to call Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, as a witness.Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Friday is the moment of truth for House managers in the Senate impeachment trial as they seek to convince a handful of Republican lawmakers to support their demand for additional witnesses and documentary evidence. So far, there is little apparent evidence that they will succeed.

On Thursday, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the top Senate Democrat, declined to say he was optimistic but said he still had “hope.”

Democrats have accused Republicans of abetting a cover-up by Mr. Trump by refusing to subpoena documents that the Trump administration did not hand over during their inquiry and by refusing to demand testimony from additional witnesses like John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser, and Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff.

In their third day presenting their case, the managers will focus on the second article of impeachment, in which they accuse Mr. Trump of obstructing Congress by blocking witnesses and documents from being provided to the House impeachment inquiry.

For Democrats, that argument — which is expected to once again take the Senate trial late into the evening — could be the ideal backdrop to pressure potentially wavering Republicans who might be willing to break from their party to support the Democratic demands for witnesses.

But the potential targets, a handful of Republican senators, are staying quiet for now. They include Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

On Saturday, Mr. Trump’s White House lawyers will take over for up to three days as they present their defense. Both sides will get an additional two hours to sum up their argument on the issue of witnesses and documents sometime next week. But for the House managers, Friday’s presentation may be their last, best hope.

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan will deliver the Democrats’ response to the State of the Union.Credit…Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Democrats, looking ahead to President Trump’s State of the Union address, announced on Friday that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan will deliver the Democrats’ response to the president’s speech, scheduled for Feb. 4 — even though his impeachment trial may still be underway.

Representative Veronica Escobar of Texas, who made history as one of the first two Latinas from that state to serve in Congress, will deliver the Spanish-language response to the speech, according to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, who issued a joint statement about the selections.

The two praised Governor Whitmer, a lawyer, educator and former prosecutor, as a get-things-done type of leader, “whether it’s pledging to ‘Fix the Damn Roads’ or investing in climate solutions,” as Mr. Schumer said.

The response to the State of the Union is generally reserved for rising stars in the opposition party, offering a chance for the minority to lay out its own agenda, in contrast to the president.

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With the impeachment trial set to begin at 1 p.m., senators are attending a bipartisan briefing on coronavirus, with Senator Dan Sullivan, Republican of Alaska, telling reporters he hoped to learn about preventive measures being taken. The virus is spreading and has sickened hundreds, mostly in Asia.

But senators were also stopping to weigh in on impeachment, as reporters, cordoned off behind velvet ropes, shouted questions about witnesses and the length of the Saturday session of the trial.

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Senator Mitt Romeny, Republican of Utah, on his way out of the Capitol on Thursday night via its subway.Credit…Calla Kessler/The New York Times

Republican moderates are in the spotlight on Friday as House managers conclude their oral arguments and senators turn to the question of whether to call witnesses and seek new documents in the impeachment trial. All four of the senators opposed Democratic motions for witnesses and documents at the beginning of the trial, but have said they might be open to switching their stances after opening arguments have been completed.

So far, however, none have committed to do so.

Here are the Republican senators to watch:

Mitt Romney of Utah has not said much since the trial started. But earlier, he indicated he would be open to new witnesses, and said he wants to hear from John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser.

Susan Collins of Maine is usually a swing vote in the Senate. Facing re-election this year, she is facing brutal blowback in her state for voting to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh for his seat on the Supreme Court. She has strongly suggested that she will ultimately vote to call witnesses. Doing so could help her mend fences with moderate voters she needs to keep her seat.

Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is an independent voice in the Senate. She was the only Republican to oppose Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation and has indicated she could be open to having the Senate examine additional evidence in the impeachment case.

Lamar Alexander of Tennessee is retiring after a long career in the Senate. He has not given clear answers to whether he might support additional witnesses and is extremely close with Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader. But Democrats hope his institutionalist impulses might prompt him to be the fourth vote they need.

There has been additional focus on a fifth senator, Cory Gardner of Colorado. Mr. Gardner is a first-term senator who is facing a tough re-election race this year in a politically competitive state. He will need support from independent voters and even some Democrats to win, but Mr. Garnder has so far been mum on the question of witnesses, and has criticized the impeachment inquiry as a politically motivated exercise.

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People preparing for the March for Life on Friday.Credit…Calla Kessler/The New York Times

Even as the Senate geared up for the third day hearing from prosecutors in the impeachment trial, a different kind of political clash was gathering outside the Capitol.

People attending the annual March for Life — and counterprotesters who support abortion rights — were already arriving Friday morning for an event that is expected to feature an address by President Trump, the first time a sitting president has attended.

People wearing “March for Life” sweatshirts crossed the Capitol grounds on the way to the march, along with others sporting red “TRUMP2020” baseball caps. Nearby, a separate group of counter protesters wearing sweatshirts that said “Literally, no one asked you” chanted “We love abortion, abortion is cool!”

The annual event protesting abortion started after the 1973 Rove v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States.

Other Republican presidents have addressed the gathering by video, but none has attended. Mr. Trump tweeted on Tuesday: “See you on “See you on Friday … Big Crowd!” Friday…Big Crowd!”

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10:14 a.m. Jan. 24, 2020

By

The cameras in the Senate are government controlled by the Senate staff, and photographs are not allowed — limiting what viewers can see as lawmakers consider the case against President Trump. To get a more complete picture of the proceedings, here are two alternatives.

A Sketch Artist’s View of the Impeachment Trial

Drawings of the proceedings from inside the Senate chamber, where no photos are allowed.

Jan. 16, 2020

The Senate chamber may be familiar to viewers of C-SPAN, but the room has undergone some significant changes to accommodate the proceedings.

A 3-D Tour of How the Senate Was Transformed for the Impeachment Trial

An immersive diagram of the storied chamber where President Trump’s trial is taking place — including what you won’t see in photos.

Jan. 23, 2020

President Trump complained Friday that his lawyers would begin his defense on Saturday, a day the president said in the world of television was “called Death Valley,” as he unleashed dozens of tweets and retweets attacking the Senate trial.

The president began his social media assault just after 6 a.m. by retweeting Greg Jarrett, a conservative Fox News analyst, who was attacking the Democrats’ case. In one post, Mr. Jarrett accused Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead House manager, of lying about the evidence.

Over the next several hours, he retweeted articles by breitbart.com; Lou Dobbs, the Fox Business Network host; Ben Ferguson, a conservative commentator; Dan Bongino, the host of a conservative radio talk show; and several Republican lawmakers, including Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader in the House.

Later in the morning, Mr. Trump started tweeting his own attacks on the impeachment trial. In addition to complaining about the expected weekend start for his lawyers, Mr. Trump said he had “to endure hour after hour of lies, fraud and deception by Shifty Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer and their crew.”

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Representative Val B. Demings of Florida and the other House impeachment managers will conclude their oral arguments on Friday.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The House managers prosecuting the case against President Trump will wrap up their arguments on Friday with a focus on the second article of impeachment: the accusation that the president obstructed Congress by blocking witnesses and documents in an attempt to cover up his misconduct.

It will be their last opportunity to appeal to a handful of moderate Republican senators on the question of seeking additional witnesses and documents before the president’s lawyers take center stage. Debate on that vital question is expected to happen early next week, after the conclusion of the arguments and a period of questions about the case from senators.

In the meantime, the Senate trial has tested the patience of senators, who have sat restlessly in their seats for more than 16 hours over two long days. Despite being admonished that they must remain silent and at attention “upon pain of imprisonment,” some have doodled, traded notes, whispered with their neighbors, or even nodded off.

Mr. Trump’s legal defense team is scheduled to begin their presentation on Saturday, angering the president, who complained on Twitter on Friday morning that “my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.”

There have been discussions in the Capitol that senators could start the Saturday session earlier than the usual 1 p.m., which could give them the chance to leave earlier, especially if the White House lawyers decide to reserve more of their presentation for Monday.

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Trump Gives Speech at 2020 March for Life Rally in Washington, D.C.

Westlake Legal Group 24dc-march1-facebookJumbo Trump Gives Speech at 2020 March for Life Rally in Washington, D.C. United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 march for life Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Abortion

WASHINGTON — Demonstrators flooded the National Mall on Friday morning in anticipation of a historic moment for the anti-abortion movement: the first sitting president to address the annual March for Life in person.

Past Republican presidents who opposed abortion merely sent in video messages, or delegated a surrogate to speak in their place. But when President Trump announced last week on Twitter that he planned to speak in front of the group, he made it clear he was intent on solidifying his support with socially conservative voters on the day House Democrats were making their final formal argument for his removal from office.

Roy Hagemyer, 62, a pastor from Mohave Valley, Arizona, who was standing at the corner of 15th Street and Constitution Avenue giving out signs reading “Human Rights begin in the Womb,” could barely contain his excitement ahead of Mr. Trump’s speech.

“The president is going to speak here today, the first time in history,” he said, smiling. “That really puts a lot of horse power behind our movement.”

Mr. Hagemyer said Mr. Trump’s support makes him even more optimistic about the future. “I firmly believe that in my lifetime we will see Roe V. Wade overturned,” he said referring to the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that extended federal protections to abortion. “The tide is turning. People are starting to realize abortion is not something we should be doing.”

Mr. Trump’s relationship with the anti-abortion movement has been a transactional one since he entered politics in 2016. He has focused his efforts in particular on white evangelicals and Catholics, a critical part of his base in 2016, who could also be equally important in November.

In exchange for the appointment of anti-abortion judges, his unwavering support for Israel and his attempts to protect the rights of students to pray in schools, they have generally overlooked Mr. Trump’s own complicated past with the issue and his own history of three marriages and two divorces.

In a 1999 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he described himself as “pro-choice in every respect.” And four years ago this month, leading abortion opponents including Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, wrote a letter urging Iowans “to support anyone but Trump” in the Republican caucus, because “on the issue of defending unborn children and protecting women from the violence of abortion, Mr. Trump cannot be trusted.”

That changed once he won the Republican nomination. Ms. Dannenfelser led Mr. Trump’s Pro-Life Coalition. And evangelical misgivings about Mr. Trump, widely voiced during the 2016 campaign, have largely disappeared as a result of his efforts as president.

But a critical editorial last month in Christianity Today, a flagship evangelical magazine, raised concerns in the White House about the depth of Mr. Trump’s evangelical support.

More than 80 percent of white evangelical voters supported him in 2016, and he needs to maintain or increase support in his core base to win in November. At campaign rallies, Mr. Trump now routinely talks about mothers “executing babies” and brands Democrats the “party of late-term abortion.”

In fact, late-term abortions are extremely rare and doctors do not kill babies who survive abortions, as Mr. Trump has claimed.

His aides, like Kellyanne Conway, the White House counselor, this week were quick to promote him as the “most pro-life president in history.” And hours before Mr. Trump took the stage in Washington, Vice President Mike Pence discussed the March for Life with Pope Francis during a trip to the Vatican, another sign that the alliance between evangelicals and Catholics is key to Mr. Trump’s continued success.

Mr. Trump’s appearance at the March for Life is the most significant moment for the movement since it began in 1974, the year after the Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide. His presence signifies just how mainstream he has made their cause, which for years lacked power and resources as Planned Parenthood’s political influence grew.

That concern is hard to remember today. After he won the nomination, Mr. Trump wrote to anti-abortion leaders and publicly committed pursuing their core policy objectives, and they worked to elect him.

The political movement to end legalized abortion has become even more interwoven into the core strategy of Republican efforts to re-elect Mr. Trump in November, by motivating white evangelical and Catholic voters.

“The difference between 2016 and now is how fully the Republican Party has accepted the issue as a driving force at the center of elections,” Ms. Dannenfelser said in a phone interview.

“This president is the reason why,” she said. “He took it on, put it at the center of his campaign-fulfilled promises and is putting this cause at the center of his re-election this year.”

Mr. Trump has previously addressed the March for Life, but remotely. “He understands that physical presence communicates commitment and attachment,” Ms. Dannenfelser said. “Phoning it in is just what it sounds like — it was a signal that the life movement was to be kept at arms distance. But no more.”

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34 Troops Have Brain Injuries From Iranian Missile Strike, Pentagon Says

Westlake Legal Group merlin_167307816_d0e6c57a-9e1f-4363-861b-39c3ef72e87b-facebookJumbo 34 Troops Have Brain Injuries From Iranian Missile Strike, Pentagon Says United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Traumatic Brain Injury Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Iraq Iran Defense Department brain

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department said Friday that 34 American service members have traumatic brain injuries from Iranian airstrikes on Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, contradicting President Trump’s dismissal of injuries among American troops earlier this week.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told a news conference that eight of the affected service members have returned to the United States from an American military hospital in Germany.

Mr. Trump on Wednesday dismissed concussion symptoms felt by the troops as “not very serious,” even as the Pentagon acknowledged that a number of American service members were being studied for possible traumatic brain injury caused by the attack.

“I heard they had headaches,” Mr. Trump told a news conference in Davos, Switzerland. “I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries I have seen.”

The comments of the president, who avoided the Vietnam War draft thanks to a diagnosis of bone spurs, drew swift criticism from veterans groups.

“Don’t just be outraged by #PresidentMayhem’s latest asinine comments,” Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, wrote in a Twitter post that day. “Take action to help vets facing TBIs,” meaning traumatic brain injuries.

Traumatic brain injuries result from the powerful changes in atmospheric pressure that accompany an explosion like that from a missile warhead.

The missiles were launched by Iran in retaliation for the killing of a top Iranian general, Qassim Suleimani, by an American drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3. The Trump administration at first said that there were no injuries from the Iranian attack on American troops.

Pentagon and military officials said subsequently that any delay in reporting the injuries was because it took time for the information to work its way up the chain of command to leaders in Washington. Officials also noted that symptoms from brain injuries do not always appear immediately.

Of the 34 service members diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries, 17 were flown by medical evacuation aircraft to Germany. Nine remain in the military hospital there, while the others were flown to the United States.

One person was taken by medevac to Kuwait. Sixteen service members were treated for traumatic brain injury in Iraq and have returned to duty, officials said.

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.

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